About the Full Island Cruise – Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Even though the island of Manhattan is only 12 miles long and about two miles wide, it can be overwhelming to first-time visitors. But seeing it from the water makes it not only less intimidating but even more welcoming.
Guests are welcomed onto the ship by having their photo taken – the perfect opportunity to ham it up by posing like Charlie’s Angels or jump in the air like lottery winners. There are several seating areas: indoor and outdoor, shaded and not. A few minutes after the cruise begins, the bow (the front of the ship) opens up for standing passengers.
The Circle Line Sightseeing Full Island Cruise is narrated by knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides, and while the ship follows the same path every time, no two guides are alike, so you may get vastly different tidbits of information if you take it more than once. Whereas one guide might know Yankees stats by heart and quote Yogi Berra, another will point out where Ben Stiller grew up or talk about painter Julian Schnabel’s hot-pink building in the West Village.
The boat slips out of the pier, in the shadow of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and navigates the island in a counterclockwise rotation, with a brief detour at the Statue of Liberty. All five New York City boroughs are visible from the boat, though Staten Island is only seen in the distance.
Cruising south down the Hudson, the various Midtown skyscrapers are visible on the left; the markedly less-exciting New Jersey coast on the right, so guests should take this into account when choosing which side to sit on.
Most visitors are interested in viewing the World Trade Center site to learn more about 9/11, and while the official memorial is not visible from the river, the new towers under construction are. The downtown marina is also quite a sight, with its squadron of incredibly sleek,million-dollar yachts.
As the ship navigates around the Statue of Liberty and heads up the East River, the trip gets even more interesting. The recently reopened Governors Island, rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn and, of course, the gorgeous procession of bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn come into view. First the Brooklyn Bridge, the most iconic of them all, then the Manhattan and the Williamsburg in quick succession.
Queens, the borough that gave the world rapper 50 Cent and punk rock icons the Ramones, comes up on the right after Brooklyn. Back to the left, there’s Spanish Harlem – former home of Tito Puente and Marc Anthony. That little footbridge connecting Spanish Harlem to Wards Island might look familiar because that’s the “road” that Michael Jackson and Diana Ross “eased on down” in the 1978 film The Wiz.
What most visitors to the city will be surprised by are the acres of forested parkland at the northernmost tip of the Manhattan Island. The area around the Columbia University crew team’s building it is so bucolic, it looks like New England. As the boat turns left back into the majestic Hudson, the final 40 minutes or so of the tour begin. The Cloisters, Grant’s Tomband the Riverbank State Park – a 28-acre park built on top of a waste processing plant that rises 69 feet above the river – pass by.
Two and a half hours
Did you know?
The oldest bridge that the Circle Line Full Island Cruise passes under is called High Bridge and, despite its name, it was originally an aqueduct that carried water down from the Catskills and into New York City.
When US Airways Flight 1549 made its famous emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009, the Circle Line had one of the first boats on the scene and helped with the rescue.
About one-third of the cruise takes place on the East River, which is not actually a river at all, but an estuary, fed by Upper New York Bay and Long Island Sound.
Back in the 17th century, Liberty Island – which now houses the Statue of Liberty –Ellis Island and the lesser known Black Tom Island were known as the Oyster Islands for their incredible quantities of delicious bivalves (since wiped out, sadly).
The unique perspective offered by the CircleLine Full Island Cruise is fascinating, whether seeing New York City for the first time or the 500th. Tourists will love the “greatest hits” aspect of seeing all the famous sights at once, while residents will certainly learn something new about their city from the knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides.
Good for kids?
Depending on their disposition, children under five or six years of age are probably not going to be too happy about spending two and a half hours in a confined area. Older kids will probably get more out of the history lesson and enjoy the fresh air and engaging sights.
Full Island Cruise - Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises Location Information:
Pier 83, at West 42nd St. and 12th Ave
New York, NY 10019
Full Island Cruise – Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Begins and ends: Pier 83, at West 42nd St. and 12th Ave.
1, 2, 3, 7, S, N, Q, Rto 42nd St. – Times Square (7th Ave.); A, C, Eto 42nd St. – Times Square (8th Ave.). Then walk or take M42 bus west to 12th Avenue. The bus crosses the hectic West Side Highway and drops guests right at the door, so if possible, take the bus or a cab from 8th Ave.
Fulll Island Cruise – Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises Details
Snack foods, soda, water, beer and wine are available onboard. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food along.
January 1 - March 14, 2014
Daily at 2:30pm
March 15 – April 25, 2014
Daily at 11:30am and 3pm
April 26 - September 1, 2014
Daily at 10am, 12:30pm and 2pm
(Special schedule July 4th)
September 2 - October 26, 2014
Daily at 10am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm
October 27 - December 31, 2014
Daily at 12:30pm
(Special schedule Thanksgiving Day, Closed Christmas Day)
January 1 - March 13, 2015
Daily at 2:30pm
(Special schedule New Year's Day)