NYC Skyline Cropped

New York City Sunset Cruise –
The Ultimate Guide

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Looking for a New York City Sunset Cruise?

Chances are that you’re visiting New York seeking unforgettable moments and lasting memories. Let me tell you, few experiences rival that of a New York City sunset cruise.

Whether it’s your first or fifty-first visit to New York City, you’ll never tire of the incredible skyline at sunset. New York City transforms into a breathtaking spectacle as the sun dips below the horizon.

Yes, you can watch the sunset from atop one of New York’s many skyscrapers, but to be out on the water, with the wind in your hair, soaking in the panoramic views, is an unparalleled experience!

Chelsea Pier
Flag on cruise ship
Chelsea Pier at sunset

What are the top rated
New York City Sunset Cruises?

There are many types of sunset cruises offered, so you’ll want to choose carefully as you select which is best for your group and your budget!

The plethora of choices include sunset cruises with snacks and drinks for purchase, cruises with one complimentary beverage, dinner cruises with a buffet dinner and a DJ for dancing, smaller boats with fewer passengers, and private boats for your exclusive group.

Some cruises allow you to bring your own food and drinks, or even a catered meal. You can find champagne cruises, jazz cruises, holiday cruises, and more.

To help you pair it down, I’m recommending the following four choices.

These cruises range from one to two hours. I’ve listed the top rated cruises in order of budget friendly to more expensive. Each of these has a five star rating.

Statue of Liberty at sunset

This cruise leaves from Pier 16 at South Street Seaport and is five star rated. It sells out frequently! The boat holds about 149 passengers and takes you to the Statue of Liberty and back. Beverages and snacks are available for purchase. It’s reviewed with words like “Great experience,” “affordable,” “breathtaking.” It’s a one hour cruise for $29 per person.

This cruise leaves from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. It’s five star rated and offers a small group tour on a classic yacht. This cruise allows you to avoid crowds as you catch the views from inside or out on the deck. It’s reviewed with words like “wonderful experience,” “great crew,” “felt like a private tour.”  (Apparently finding the meeting spot can be a little tricky). A complimentary beverage is included. The cruise is for 90 minutes and costs $86 per person.

This cruise leaves from Chelsea Pier. It’s five star rated, a little more expensive, but also less crowded, and comes with a complimentary beverage. It’s reviewed with words like “amazing,” “the highlight of the trip,” and “relaxing.” This is a two hours cruise for $96 per person.

This cruise departs from the North Cove Marina near the Freedom Tower. Its a private tour for you and your group. Bring your own food and drinks as you cruise by the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. This excursion is reviewed as “exceptional,” “flawless,” and “once in a lifetime.” It’s a two hour private charter cruise for $599.

sunset on the Hudson River

Where do the New York City Sunset Cruises take you?

Sunset cruises launch from the famous Chelsea Pier near Little Island by the Hudson River Park, at the South Street Seaport, the Freedom Tower, or from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

The cruises sail into the Hudson River, which is along New York City’s west side and separates Manhattan from New Jersey. The cruises also sail into the East River, which is the estuary that flows between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Hudson and East Rivers meet at the bottom tip of Manhattan.

As you leave the pier and cruise into the river, you’ll catch the mesmerizing backdrop of the Lower Manhattan skyline, including One World Trade Center.

The tours sail past Ellis Island, and then approach the iconic Statue Of Liberty just as the sun sets. As the cruise continues, you’ll see the Brooklyn Bridge up close and will be dazzled by the city lights as you cruise back into the harbor.

The silhouette of the buildings against the setting sun is truly breathtaking. It gets me every time!

NYC skyline
NYC sunset

When is the best time to go on a NYC sunset cruise?

I can honestly say that anytime of year is good for a sunset cruise. I’ve been on NYC sunset cruises in Winter, Spring, and Summer.

Obviously, it’s colder out on the deck in the winter, but the sky is clear and the air is crisp and that makes the experience invigorating and exciting.

The Spring and Summer cruises were also lovely and required fewer layers for being outside.

All the cruises offer some indoor seating for you to warm up and watch the skyline through the windows.

As the sun sets at different times of the year, you’ll need to check with your cruise company for departure times.

The Statue of Liberty at Night

What to wear on a NYC sunset cruise?

Some people like to dress up for a cruise, but it’s not at all necessary.

You’ll want comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes.

Bring layers no matter what the season, because you may start off feeling a warm breeze but will be surprised at the temperature drop as the sun goes down on the water.

NYC cruise chip
NYC Cruise boat
Chelsea Pier

Where to Stay Near the Chelsea Piers

→ Gansevoort Meatpacking – An excellent location just steps from the Whitney Museum and Highline. It features an outdoor pool on the rooftop. Reviews say its great value, amazing location, and excelent staff.

Quick & Easy Links

  Flights & Hotels: I recommend Expedia
  Vacation rentals: I recommend VRBO
  Car Rental: I recommend Hertz
  Tours: I recommend Viator
  Gear: Check out my Travel Stuff
  Create Your Travel Memory Books with MILK

Some Pre-New York City Sunset Cruise Activities

I recommend spending your pre-cruise time in Lower Manhattan because all the boats depart from this part of the city and it will be easier for you to get to the dock on time.

Here my short list of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan. Learn more here.

~ One World Trade Center/Oculus/911 Memorial – One of the most significant spots in Lower Manhattan is the area where the twin towers once stood. The magnificent new World Trade Center or Freedom Tower, the train station and shopping mall known as the Oculus, and the stunning 911 Memorial site are a must in your visit to New York. The plaza with its cascading waterfalls and the stunning architecture surrounding it are both beautiful and powerful. 

~ Little Island at Pier 55 is a playful surprise along the Hudson Park near the Chelsea Piers. It’s a delightful, man-made artificial island that was built to bring green space to lower Manhattan after the piers were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

 ~ The Whitney Art Museum is a personal favorite and is across the street from the piers and Little Island. The Whitney is dedicated to American Art and always offers fabulous exhibits along with its great permanent collection.

~ The High Line is the 1.45 mile walk from Gansevoort St. to 34th St. above the sidewalks, along what used to be the railway distributing meat from the meatpacking district.  It’s now a public park filled with plants and art elevated above the streets on Lower Manhattan’s West Side. I love walking the High Line in all kinds of weather because of the ever changing flora and fauna and the unique perspective of the streets below.

~ The NY Stock Exchange & The Charging Bull & The Fearless Girl are all part of the famous financial district (FiDi) or Lower Manhattan. There is so much history to learn about in this part of New York, you could spend a whole day. Look for the Fearless Girl in front of the Stock Exchange and then walk a few blocks to find the Bull for another iconic photo shoot.

~ China Town is a vibrant Chinese community filled with shops, markets, and restaurants. Get to Mott Street between Bleecker and Chatham Square or Canal Street.

~ Little Italy is adjacent to China Town and is very lively Italian neighborhood with the best bakeries and great food. Get to Mulberry Street and start eating!

~ Washington Sq Park is the famous park near the New York University in the heart of New York’s Lower West Side. Known for its wild and free spirit, this park is a unique experience of its own!

NYC Bridge
NYC Boat Flag

Some Post-Cruise Dinner Choices

I am crazy about New York restaurants and most of my favorites are in the lower Manhattan neighborhoods. Here are just a few of my top recommendations for you. FInd out what time your boat will dock and then make a reservation at one of these spots:

~ Lure Fishbar, Japanese

~ Jajaja, Mexican

~ Katz Deli, Jewish Deli

~ Lola Taverna, Greek/Mediterranean

~ The Waverly Inn, American

~ Via Carota, Italian

NYC sunset

A sunset cruise is the perfect addition to your New York day. You’ll never forget what its like to sail past Lady Liberty all lit up, cruise underneath the Brooklyn Bridge,  and see the Manhattan skyline in its nighttime glory.

It’s truly magical to get off the concrete and onto the water and gain a different perspective of all that New York has to offer.

Add a New York City sunset cruise to your itinerary. Ahoy!



Hi There! I’m Carrie.

Carrie Green-Zinn Bio Page

I’m a native New Englander, turned New Yorker, turned California girl! Following a dance career, working as a dance therapist, and being a school psychologist, I’m now ready to share my passion for photography and travel with you! I absolutely love seeing the world with my family and friends. I know you feel the same! Let’s go! 

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