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13 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a New York City Dinner Cruise

13 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a New York City Dinner Cruise

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A dinner cruise is one of the best things to do in New York. I mean, what better way to see the city than cruising down the famous Hudson river as you marvel at the city’s iconic skyline?

We’ve been on dinner cruises all over the world, but the one that we did in New York was the best one we’ve ever done – seriously, it was incredible! It was the highlight of our time in the city, and a fantastic experience from start to finish. 

It feels as though there are hundreds of cruises on offer in New York City, which is why we’ve put together this blog so that you can book the right one for you. It’s best to go in knowing what to expect so that you can make the most of your experience and enjoy an unforgettable evening in the Big Apple.

Don’t have time to read the full article? The absolute best dinner cruise you can do in New York is this particular Premier Dinner Cruise. It includes a 3-course plated dinner, live band entertainment, and some of the best views you can imagine!

1. Why book a New York City Dinner Cruise?

Bailey enjoys a glass of wine onboard the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
But the Bateaux is the more luxurious choice!
Daniel and Bailey with the Brooklyn bridge on a dinner cruise in NYC
The Brooklyn Bridge!

The dinner cruise that we did (the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise) was the highlight of our time in the city. It was the best tour we’ve done in a long time, and our favorite-ever dinner cruise experience. We really did love every minute of it! 

A dinner cruise is also a fantastic way to see the Statue of Liberty without doing a day cruise. Bailey has done day cruises in New York before and didn’t particularly enjoy them, especially not compared to the dinner cruise (the day cruises can be a little boring and hot in the mid-day sun!) Plus, you get to see the Statue of Liberty lit up at night which is absolutely magical! 

It’s also a great way to see a lot of the city’s most famous buildings in a short time, so it’s a fantastic thing to do if you don’t have long in New York. You sail past iconic skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building and the One World Trade Center, which is pretty amazing! 

2. Where do New York City Dinner Cruises go? 

The city of New York at night as seen from a New York City dinner cruise
It’s a fantastic way to take in New York City without the hustle and bustle!

The cruises in NYC sail down the Hudson and East River, giving you a magnificent view of the skyline. You’ll have a first-class view of the city’s famous skyline as you sail past iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. You’ll also head to the Upper New York Bay, where you’ll see the Statue of Liberty lit up at night. It’s fantastic!

Related Read: Only have a few days in NYC? Check out our 4-day New York itinerary!

3. What are the highlights of a New York City dinner cruise?

Bailey enjoys her dinner with the Statue of Liberty in the background during the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in New York City
Our main course with the Lady Liberty!
A singer sings with passion on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
Any cruise with live entertainment is a plus!

Statue of Liberty

Most New York City dinner cruises go past the Statue of Liberty. We did the Bateaux Premier Dinner Cruise and got a really up-close view. Seeing her at night was magical, and when you do a dinner cruise you don’t need to worry about the long queues on Liberty Island. Instead, you can admire this world-famous statue from a luxury boat with a glass of bubbles in hand! 

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge has to be one of the most iconic bridges in the world, and on a New York City dinner cruise, you sail right underneath it! It’s another amazing part of the city skyline and a real highlight of the cruise. Plus, you get to see it lit up in the evening which is even better. 

NYC skyline

New York City undeniably has one of – if not THE – most famous skylines in the world. Just think about how many films and TV shows it has been used in! You’d probably be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t recognize New York’s unique skyline, and it really does look incredible when viewed from the river.

After all, it’s not every day that you get to cruise past some of the most iconic buildings in the world! 

Sunset on the Hudson

During the summer in New York City, dinner cruises depart in time to catch the sunset, which is a spectacular experience. NYC sunsets are pretty amazing in general and watching the sun sink over the city and river is pretty magical. 

Sadly, we had rain during our cruise so we didn’t get to see a mind-blowing sunset, but guests often do get to see a really amazing one. You just have to keep an eye on the weather (and keep your fingers crossed!). If you do happen to have rain (like us), it’s still a really fun rainy day activity in NYC as the rain gives a romantic vibe and you’re still cozy and dry inside the boat!

Live Music 

On both of the NYC dinner cruises that we recommend, you get live music. On the standard New York Dinner Cruise, which is the cheaper option, you get a DJ. On the Bateaux Premier Cruise, we got live jazz music and it was absolutely phenomenal! It was definitely one of the best shows we’ve seen on a cruise and it created a fantastic atmosphere.

Related Read: For another amazing view of the NYC skyline, head up to The Edge Observation Deck – this is the highest observation deck in the city!

4. How long do New York City Dinner Cruises last?

The dining hall on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
The glass windows ensure you get a great view!

The standard New York Dinner Cruise lasts for 2.5 hours, which is plenty of time to enjoy the food and music and see all of the sights along the river. Meanwhile, the Bateaux Premier Cruise is slightly longer at 3 hours. We recommend getting there early, though, so that you can enjoy some of the pre-cruise entertainment and drinks, so allow at least an extra 30 minutes for this!

5. What are the BEST New York City Dinner Cruises? 

While there are plenty of different dinner cruises available in New York, we’ve narrowed it down to the two absolute best. One of which we actually did, while the same company operates the other. Both cruises have the best reviews on both TripAdvisor and Viator…1000+ 5-star reviews have to mean something!

Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie onboard the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
Such a fantastic time!

This is the exact cruise that we did, and it was the best dinner cruise we have ever done! It was a fantastic experience, and our favorite thing that we did in New York City. 

It’s an all-glass boat, so you get amazing views of all of the iconic landmarks that you sail past. We were super impressed by this and it made us really glad that we had booked this boat.

There’s a really upscale, elegant atmosphere on board, and the music really adds to it. There’s a pianist who plays jazz and blues tunes, as well as a female vocalist who belts out some tunes. Couples even got up to slow dance! 

One of our favorite things about this cruise was the 3-course set menu. The menu does change but you can expect options like watermelon and feta salad or crab chowder to start; seabass, duck or gnocchi for the main course; and chocolate mousse or cheesecake for dessert. You get choose what you want when you arrive.

We loved our food and were so happy we went for a cruise with a plated dinner! There’s something special about having each course served to you as opposed to having to find your food at a buffet table. It was absolutely delicious, and made even better by the phenomenal views from the boat.

The cruise also included complimentary coffee, hot tea, and iced tea, and additional alcoholic drinks were available to purchase on the night. So if you want to drink cocktails, wine, or champagne, you can! 

There’s also extra food available to purchase but we were stuffed so it wasn’t necessary. 

The Bateaux cruise costs between $250 – $300 USD per person, depending on the date you choose. It’s not cheap, but we honestly felt like it was worth every penny. The food, service, views, and entertainment were phenomenal so we thought it was amazing value for money for the quality of the experience.

It really was unforgettable and a truly incredible way to spend an evening in New York City. 

You can book the exact same Bateaux Premier Dinner Cruise as us online here!

The Standard New York Dinner Cruise

Bailey looks out the window on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise and admires the view of the city skyline
So beautiful!

The standard New York Dinner Cruise is a more family-friendly option than the Bateaux Cruise, and it also offers a great experience but at a more affordable price. 

It’s not an all-glass boat like the Bateaux Cruise, but you still get great views from the big windows on board. Plus, you can head out onto the outdoor patio deck after dinner to get amazing open-air views of New York City’s skyline.

As for the dinner itself, this cruise serves a buffet, rather than a plated dinner, which is great if you’re someone who likes to try a little bit of everything. It;s also a good option for those with a huge appetite who can keep returning for more! You can expect yummy dishes like beef short ribs, roast chicken, salmon, and plenty of desserts, although the menu does change. 

After dinner, there’s a DJ playing popular music that all ages will love, so you can get up, let loose, and dance. There are also some interactive games on board that kids will love.

All in all, we think that this cruise is the better choice for families. The Bateaux Cruise is more sophisticated and better suited for couples who want a romantic evening, while the New York Dinner Cruise is livelier and more family-friendly.

The New York Dinner Cruise costs $151 – $265 USD per person, depending on the date you choose and how far in advance you book – this is quite a bit cheaper than the Bateaux, so this is also something to keep in mind if you are on a tighter budget. The price is the same for children and adults, although infants under 2 years old can go for free.

You can book the New York Dinner Cruise online here!

Related Read: For another incredible experience in NYC, consider booking a helicopter tour over Manhattan – we loved it!

6. What should you wear on a New York City Dinner Cruise? 

Bailey stands on the front deck and enjoys the view on a dinner cruise in New York City
I wore a simple black dress!
Daniel enjoys a drink while at his table on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
Daniel wore a collared shirt but had to wear black jeans and black runners (he was only traveling with one pair of shoes!)

A New York City dinner cruise is the perfect opportunity to get dolled up to the nines! 

Formal wear is encouraged on the dinner cruises and some guests do get very dressed up. We saw ladies in beautiful dresses and high-heels, and some men in suits. It’s a fancy occasion, after all!

Having said that, we didn’t have that many clothes with us because we were traveling with carry-on luggage only, so we weren’t able to go super formal. The cruise company was totally fine with it, so black tie isn’t mandatory per see (although they do say so), but people do dress up for these cruises, so you’ll want to dress as nicely as you can.

All in all, a dinner cruise in New York as the chance to get dressed up. But, also wear what you’re comfortable in. On our cruise, some people wore ties while others were in T-shirts!

7. Are NYC Dinner Cruises suitable for children? 

Bailey looks out the window on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise with a glass of wine
Just enjoying the views!

It’s certainly not an event for children, but they are welcome to join. There are high chairs available and kids under 3 go free. Overall, the Bateaux Cruise is more aimed at adults rather than kids – it’s a sophisticated and romantic experience.

The New York Dinner Cruise is more child-friendly because the dinner is a buffet, there are interactive games on board, and there’s a DJ rather than jazz music. 

So if your traveling with kids, you can choose either cruise, but the latter is more suited to kids.

8. NYC sunset cruise vs dinner cruise? 

The Brooklyne Bridge as seen from a dinner cruise in New York City
Our photos are not a good example because we had cloudy weather!
The city of New York as seen from the hudson river on a dinner cruise
This was right around sunset for us, but you’ll get better weather, I am sure!

Let’s cut to the chase, we would recommend a dinner cruise over just a sunset cruise in New York.

Why? Well, you get the best of both this way because you set sail at 7 pm, meaning that in the summer, you’ll get to watch the sunset as you cruise along. So you get beautiful views and a gourmet dinner – what’s not to love? 

However, if you’ve got a late night reservation at one of New York’s best restaurants or you just want to save some cash, sunset cruises can still be a great way to sightsee. 

This particular sunset cruise is an excellent choice because you get to sail along on a 1920s replica yacht with a glass of complimentary champagne in hand as some relaxing music plays. There are indoor and outdoor observation areas so you can watch the sunset however you like and see the skyline and the Statue of Liberty up close. The cruise costs $86 USD per person and the boat is really comfortable and classy.

Related Read: For another cruise in an iconic spot, check out a river cruise in Washinton, DC!

9. Are there vegetarian options available on a NYC Dinner Cruise? 

Pasta starter on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in New York City
The ravioli starter!
Bailey with her starter on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
The food was a highlight, for sure!

Yes, both cruises have at least one vegetarian menu item per course. On the Bateaux Cruise there’s usually 1-2 vegetarian choices for the starter and main courses. 

The New York Dinner Cruise has at least one veggie main course and then several vegetarian salads and side dishes as well, so those on a plant-based diet are well catered for. 

10. Tips for the best dinner cruise experience

The Statue of Liberty lit up at night as seen from a dinner cruise in New York City
Both come with amazing views!
Our main dish on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in NYC
Our main dish on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in NYC

Arrive early

We were so glad that we arrived early to our New York dinner cruise because we got to enjoy the show and some drinks before we set sail. It made our evening even better, and why not make the most of your experience? 

With the New York dinner cruise, you can board at 6:30 pm, which is 30 minutes prior to departure. Meanwhile, you can board the Bateaux cruise that we did at 6:15 pm, which is 45 minutes before it sets sail. 

It’s even more important to arrive early on the Bateaux cruise because it gives you plenty of time to pick your meals from the menu. It can be hard to choose when all of the options are so appealing! 

Dress up 

New York City is the ultimate place to get fancy and dress up, so donning your formal attire makes a dinner cruise even more fun. A dinner cruise is a sophisticated occasion, so why not make the most of it? You’ll feel like royalty as you cruise down the Hudson! 

Seating is already assigned

Although we do recommend arriving early to make the most of your evening, seating is already assigned so you won’t miss out if you arrive late. Even if you can’t make the earliest boarding time, you will still get to sit with your group. There’s no need to stress if you’ve got a jam-packed New York itinerary and can’t arrive early! 

Arrive hungry

There was lots of food on board our dinner cruise, and we left feeling stuffed. I know that New York is full of tempting food, but do try to arrive hungry because there’s so much delicious food on board. However, the meal doesn’t begin until 8 pm so do bear that in mind. 

Bring cash 

It’s a great idea to bring some cash so that you can leave a tip for your waiter. Even if you don’t purchase extra drinks or food, the service on these cruises really is exceptional and there’s a big tipping culture in the USA. We were very eager to tip to show our gratitude for the awesome service that we received. The band/DJ entertainment also accepts tips.

Money Saving Tip – Some of NYC’s best attractions unfortunately aren’t free. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget to see them! We purchased a New York City attraction pass during our visit and it helped us save 30-40% on admission fees to top attractions like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. There are a few different options, but the top three are the New York CityPASS®, the New York Pass, and the New York Explorer Pass by Go City.

11. Are the NYC dinner cruises wheelchair accessible?

The band play music on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
The band!
Daniel and Bailey poses for a photo on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
Don’t forget to step outside!

Yes, the NYC dinner cruises are wheelchair accessible. There are ramps to get on the boats and accessible facilities on board. When you book through Viator, it’s also easy to message the tour operator to inform them of any specific requirements you have and they will do their best to accommodate you.

Service animals are also allowed on board, although regular pets aren’t. 

12. Is a New York City dinner cruise worth it?

The band on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise with views of the city in the background
Yes!

Yes! It was an incredible experience. Not only was the Bateaux cruise the best thing that we did in New York City, it was also the best dinner cruise we’ve ever done. We can’t recommend it enough. We even recommend this for people with only a few days to spend in NYC – this tour is worth it!

You can book the exactly same cruise as us here (the Bateaux Premier Dinner Cruise), or book the standard (slightly cheaper) option that is operated by the same company online here!

13. How to book your New York Dinner Cruise?

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in NYC
Thanks for reading!

We booked our New York dinner cruise on the website called Viator, and it was a seamless experience. In fact, we almost always book tours on Viator when we travel.

Why?

Well, first of all, you get to choose the currency that you pay in. For me, my bank accounts are all in Canada, so I can easily change the price to Canadian Dollars on Viator (at a good exchange rate) and pay in CAD with my debit or credit cards. This means no international transaction fees from my bank – that’s always a win!

Viator also has a secure booking system where you can feel safe entering your payment details. No need to provide credit card details on some tour operator’s website, Viator is a huge company (TripAdvisor actually owns it) so you can be sure your details are secure.

Viator also offers a lowest price guarantee, so if you see the cruise advertised cheaper elsewhere, just contact Viator and they will price match!

Book your Bateaux New York Dinner Cruise online with Viator here!

Book your standard New York Dinner Cruise online with Viator here!

Other Things to do While You’re in New York City

Daniel with his pizza at the Chelsea Market on our food tour
This was one of the best slices we tried in NYC!
bailey walks along the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
A must-do!

As the biggest city in the USA, there is no shortage of things to do in New York! I mean you could spend weeks here and still not see a fraction of what the Big Apple has to offer. But if you only have a few days and want to see the highlights, these are other top attractions and activities we highly recommend checking out.  

  • Eat pizza! – New York was home to the first pizzeria in the US way back in the early 1900s and it’s still something this city is known for. I dare say the pizza here is legendary! Top pizza joints include John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, Prince Street Pizza in Nolita, and we also loved 2 Bros Pizza. You can even eat pizza (and lots of other treats!) on a food tour of Chelsea Market which is a foodie’s paradise!
  • Fly above NYC – Exploring on the ground is fun, but to truly appreciate the New York skyline, take to the air! Joining a helicopter flight in NYC gives you a front-row seat (or hopefully a window seat!) to all the iconic sights like the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. We chose this 15-minute helicopter flight that flew over Manhattan and it was a highlight, if not THE highlight of our whole trip!
  • Cross the Brooklyn Bridge – New York can be expensive, but strolling over the Brooklyn Bridge is a completely free thing to do in NYC! The views of the skyline are stellar and there are lots of vendors if you get hungry. We recommend walking all the way across to Brooklyn Bridge Park for the best views of Manhattan.

Where to Stay in New York City

the bed inside TBA Times square hotel in a modern room
The room we stayed in at Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square

New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.

Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!

Motto by Hilton – $$$

Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood only 600 meters from the Flatiron Building. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes”. In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views! Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax.

You can check prices and availability for Motto by Hilton online here!

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square – $$

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean, modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, k-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc). Plus, the location is ideal – it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square!

Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check prices and book online here!

Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $

For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $150 USD per night.

You can check prices and book Nap York online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in NYC
Thanks for reading!

We hope that this blog has helped you prepare for a dinner cruise in NYC! Or maybe, we have helped you choose the right New York dinner cruise for your trip. Regardless, we hope that you learned a thing or two and that you enjoy your dinner cruise in this iconic city as much as we did!

If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to read our other travel blogs about the USA! Also, check out a couple related reads below:

What is The New York Pass, and is it worth it?

10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Philadelphia Food Tour

Our Review of the Chelsea Market Food Tour