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Photograph: City Cruises
Photograph: City Cruises

The best boat parties in NYC

Ahoy! It’s time to head for the harbor so you can get tipsy aboard some of the best boat parties that NYC has to offer

Written by Will Gleason, Annalise Mantz, Jennifer Picht and Keith Flanagan in association with Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold
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Forget everything you were told, because this summer, you have our permission to rock the boat. New York’s waterways are overflowing with boat parties and floating escapades that go overboard with perks. Replete with full bars, great food, and live music, getting out on the water offers one of the most refreshing ways to soak up the open skies—not to mention, stunning views of Manhattan’s skyline. Oh, and since New York has no shortage of places to drink outside, make sure to also check out our favorite outdoor dining spots, rooftop bars and boat bars for sipping cocktails in the open-air. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC

Best boat parties in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

The North River Lobster Company offers trips on its three-story yacht and a summery menu by executive chef Gil Martinez that includes mouth-watering lobster rolls and an indulgent raw bar. The "Shelly" (for a cool $99) is New York City’s biggest lobster roll at over two feet long. Of course, it's meant to be shared — it's packed with Atlantic lobster, Old Bay mayo, celery, lemon zest, and lettuce all set on a giant 28-inch potato roll. You can wash it all down with a refreshing Watermelon Mule, the Frozé! Frozé! Frozé, the Lifesaver with Ketel Botanical Peach and Orange Blossom Vodka, Triple Sec, orange and grenadine or a crisp margarita or sangria — all come in a standard 12-ounce serving, a 24-ounce keepsake illuminated Lighthouse cup, or a 64-ounce pitcher. You can also order buckets of ice-cold beer, cider and hard seltzer, too. All you need is a boarding pass for $10 to hop on the boat and go for a sale. Just check northriverlobsterco.com for sailing times.

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Refreshing agave-based spirits and tasty tacos are now being served onboard a three-story boat in the Hudson River. La Barca Cantina, the only Mexican restaurant on a boat in NYC, has reopened to the public with a summer street food-inspired menu that'll get the party started for you and your friends. Based at Pier 81, next to its sister-restaurant North River Lobster Company, La Barca spans three levels with an expansive outdoor top deck with a bar and table seating, a bi-level interior space with two bars, table seating and booth-like tables—perfect for large groups. Even better, it takes short cruises multiple times per day, five days a week, offering up sweeping views of the NYC skyline. (It's a must to reserve a table for cocktails at sunset.) It sets sail Wednesday and Thursday between 5 and 10pm; Friday from 3-10pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 1-10pm. You can get a boarding pass for $10 online or in-person at the box office at Pier 81. 

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You didn’t forget all about Happy Hour, did you? It’s basically your dang right after making it through your day job. Gather your clocked-out coworkers and friends and board the Alive After Five cruise, which makes the most of happy hour—it actually lasts two hours—along the Hudson River in City Cruises’ Sensation yacht. You’ll have two climate-controlled desks to choose from, plus a covered roof deck, and multiple dance floors if that’s your jam. And if you still have sea legs for social life after all that social distancing, the cruise has a DJ to get the party moving.
Meets at Pier 15, Chelsea Piers (hornblowernewyork.com). Thu–Sat at 5:30pm; from $37.

Rocks Off Concert Cruises
Photograph: Courtesy Rocks Off Concert Cruises / Deneka Peniston

4. Rocks Off Concert Cruises

If you’re looking for yacht rock, look away: the savvy organizers of this floating concert snare hard rock bands like Murphy’s Law, Badfish, and Electric Six that draw die hard fans for serious—and often seriously sweaty—rock sessions. They know the ropes when it comes to pulling off a bash in a boat, so make sure you’re ready for plenty of percussion and less calls for mutiny than encores.
Various dates, times, locations and prices (rocksoff.com). 

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Is it really a party if you’re sitting down? Yes—it’s called a dinner party. On the fancier side (semi-formal dress is encouraged), this dinner cruise looks particularly swell inside the European-inspired Bateaux New York, a glass-roofed boat that soaks in Manhattan’s lit skyline after sunset while navigating the East and Hudson Rivers. The experience takes it up a notch with live music—a two-piece acoustic band led by a female vocalist—and takes dinner to the next level with seafood towers, filet mignon, and lobster tails.
Meets at Pier 61, Chelsea Piers (www.cityexperiences.com). Various dates and times; from $205.

If you’re keen to get the party started earlier, climb aboard City Cruises’ Bubbles, Beats & Brunch excursion. The boat boasts all of your daytime drinking requisites—at least the only ones that matter, like bottomless mimosas—along with a well-stocked bar and shared plates like jumbo shrimp cocktail, sweet pastries, root vegetable fricassee, and other breakfast treats. And just like the early bird you are, you'll make your way back to the dock at 2:00pm, leaving plenty of time for a lengthy disco nap before you head back out into the city for a nightcap.
Meets at Pier 15. Sat at 11:30am; from $93.

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7. Classic Cocktails with a Twist

Head to Chelsea Piers and say cheers with an afternoon cocktail party aboard a 1920’s inspired yacht, an intimate little party boat that rounds out a 1.75 hour journey with modern riffs on old-school cocktails, like a Sake Gimlet or a Rosemary Rickey. The charter, Sail NYC, runs a tight ship—and we mean that literally, considering the boat’s smaller size—that’ll get you tipsy in no time. Yes, the focus is technically on the booze, but also on the views seen from the yacht’s large windows as you ease past classic sites like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Ellis Island.
Meets at Pier 62, Chelsea Piers (sail-nyc.com). From $78.

Evening Wine and Jazz Cruise
Photograph: Manhattan By Sail

8. Evening Wine and Jazz Cruise

Feeling snazzy? There’s just something about live jazz that brings pinky-up vibes, yet not too stuck up that you can’t pack your own picnic to bring on board. This Manhattan by Sail excursion takes place on the Shearwater Classic Schooner, a restored 1929 sailing ship, 82 feet long, with an original Rangoon teak deck and mahogany interiors. This year, you’ll get three glasses of wine plus an extra of good vibes: it partners with Keyed UP, a program by Jazz Generation that helps fund jazz performances across NYC, thus giving local jazz musicians—plus jazz in general—a boost.
Departs from the south side of North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place (www.manhattanbysail.com). From $98.

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