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5 Best Manhattan Dinner Cruises

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This post will provide information about some of the best dinner cruises available in NYC, including which one excels in which class and their differences.  

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Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

OVERVIEW

The following cruises are chosen based on how well they fit the criteria specified in each section.

In other words, if you’re looking for a cruise that has excellent music, our Best Music Cruise section will highlight one of the best services in the entire city.

Manhattan Dinner Cruises

Many of the selections we have listed below are actually great for multiple purposes.

For example, our pick for the Best Dinner Cruise is also an excellent choice for the Most Romantic Cruise.

This post will cover five of the most important factors visitors consider when choosing a cruise: lowest price, best dinner, best music, most romantic, and best specialty cruise.

Our section on Specialty Cruises includes four different options for specific holidays such as Independence Day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Valentine’s Day – which means our list covers a total of 8 cruises!

In addition to making note of all the ways in which each cruise we feature fits the description for a particular section, we will also make note of the differences between that service and others found in this post.

There are a lot of great cruises you can take in New York City, but some are better than others when it comes to specific criteria. If you’re looking for even more services, make sure to read our post about NYC cruises.

 


CHEAPEST CRUISE

When we say cheap, we mean inexpensive. And just because the cruise is affordable doesn’t mean the quality of your experience will suffer.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced excursion, consider this option to save some money.


Hornblower Cruises | Alive After Five

This cruise company is well known and respected for providing excellent excursions in New York City, and this is one of their more popular services.

Although it’s not technically a dinner cruise, you can purchase a ticket that includes a buffet meal with dishes ranging from pasta to Tex-Mex.

If you don’t feel like paying for a meal, you can also purchase snacks and drinks at your leisure. 

There will also be plenty of great tunes provided by their onboard DJ, so feel free to do a little dancing as well.

The Alive After Five cruise is included with the New York Sightseeing Pass, making it even more affordable. Check our discounts section for more details.

Even after adding on a few snacks/drinks or a buffet, it’s still one of the lowest-priced cruises in the city!

  • Tickets w/out Buffet: $35 per person
  • Tickets w/ Buffet: $48 and up
  • Tickets w/ Buffet & Drinks: $67 and up
  • Tickets w/ Buffet & Open Bar: $83 and up
  • Apr - Dec Availability: Thu - Sun
  • Jan - Mar Availability: Fri - Sun
  • Hours: 6 pm - 8 pm (2-hour duration)
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Differences to Note

Being the cheapest option on our list, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this is also the shortest dinner cruise in New York City.

It should also be noted that this is essentially a happy hour service, typically described as a cocktail cruise, so it’s probably not the most family-friendly option and it might be better suited to singles.

In other words, this definitely isn’t the most romantic dinner cruise you’ll ever take, and it’s more about having some fun out on the water and seeing the sights while you enjoy a few drinks/snacks and great music.


Additional Options

If you’re looking for an official dinner cruise, you may want to consider Spirit Cruises instead.

Some of their excursions can be less than $150 per person, and they typically include a buffet-style dinner.

While this service is definitely more expensive than Hornblower’s Alive After Five cruise, it’s also a lot less casual and aimed more at customers who are looking for a romantic night out.

As if that weren’t enough, you can also save $10 off your ticket by using a New York tourist pass. Check our discounts section for more details on this opportunity.

You can also find more information about this company and their services on our post covering NYC cruises.

 


BEST DINNER CRUISE

If you’re looking for a truly memorable meal while cruising around New York City, there are several great options to consider. 

That said, this section will include our favorite service-based heavily upon the highest-rated dishes.


Bateaux Cruises | New York Dinner Cruise

When it comes to food quality, this is arguably one of the best-rated dinner cruises in NYC.

Additionally, they also provide excellent views of popular attractions like the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower.

Rather than a buffet option, this company offers a 3-course dinner with several delicious dishes to choose from including the following:

Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar, Lobster Bisque w/Shrimp, Togarashi Tuna Tartare, American Wagyu Striploin, Maine Lobster Tails, Pan Seared Atlantic Cod, and more!

 

Bateaux Cruises NYC

 

In addition to the meal, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a live acoustic quartet with a vocalist and grand piano.

If you have a New York Sightseeing Pass, you can use it to save an extra 10% off this cruise ($20 off). 


Differences to Note

Needless to say, since the meal is a lot better, this is also one of the most expensive dinner cruises available. 

That said, if the food quality is of importance, then according to online reviews, you won’t find a better option.

This is also a longer cruise than some of the other services in New York City, and it’s clearly intended for guests who are looking for either a romantic night out with less of a party atmosphere.


Additional Options

Whether you’re not interested in Bateaux’s service or you just want an alternative in case tickets sell out, we recommend considering Hornblower Cruises for an excellent meal during your excursion.

Much like their competitors, this company also provides 3-course meals for their cruises, and most guests are very impressed with their dinner.

While Hornblower isn’t as popular as Bateaux Cruises, their food is usually very highly rated, so it’s definitely a great alternative to other options.

For more information on this and other services, please read our post covering the best NYC cruises and boat tours.

 


BEST MUSIC CRUISE

Some dinner cruises provide a DJ who will play a variety of popular music, while others offer live performances from an acoustic quartet. 

If you’re interested in hearing some great tunes while cruising around New York City, this section will cover one of the best services available.

 

 

Keep in mind that our choice for Best Dinner Cruise and Most Romantic Cruise also receive high ratings for providing live music for guests to enjoy.


Classic Harbor Line | Evening Jazz Cruise

This is another example of a service that isn’t technically a dinner cruise, but you can enjoy some snacks and drinks while on this excursion.

The main reason to consider taking this cruise is the live jazz performance included during your trip around the harbor. 

The professional band on board will play classics from Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and even Motown songs!

 

Jazz Cruise NYC

 

Another great reason to consider this cruise is the fact that it takes place on a traditional 1920s style yacht, complete with authentic wood grain and plenty of windows for beautiful views.

If you’re really hungry, you can also order an artisanal cheese plate or a Mediterranean plate to enjoy while taking the cruise.

Each outing includes a complimentary beer, wine, or champagne from the bar.


Differences to Note

Aside from the fact that this cruise doesn’t include a traditional dinner or buffet, this is also a slightly shorter outing than some of the other options on our list.

That said, while other evening cruises are on more modern ships, this one takes place on a traditional yacht that is now almost a century old, ensuring a unique experience you won’t soon forget. 

While other boats or cruise ships are designed with modern architecture in mind, this yacht still uses the same beautiful wooden slats it had when it was first built.

The live jazz is also an excellent bonus that you won’t get on most traditional dinner cruises in New York City.


Additional Options

When it comes to music, most dinner cruises only have DJs who provide a selection of popular and often romantic tunes. If you want a live performance, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Thankfully, there are a few different services you might want to consider if you’re specifically looking for a cruise with live music.

One option is already listed below under our pick for the most romantic NYC dinner cruise!

Bateaux Cruises offers a romantic dinner cruise that includes live musicians performing relaxing music. Alternatively, you may also want to consider Hornblower Cruises as well.

Hornblower’s basic dinner cruise also includes an acoustic quartet playing beautiful and romantic music for all passengers.

Better yet, you may be able to save some money on these cruises by using a New York tourist pass, and we’ll cover this in greater detail under our discounts section.

 


MOST ROMANTIC CRUISE

Taking your loved one on an evening cruise can be quite a sentimental experience. 

If you’re looking for an outing that will set the mood properly, this section will provide what we believe to be a most romantic New York City dinner cruise.

 

 


Bateaux Cruises | Romance Dinner Cruise

In addition to offering one of the best menus of any dinner cruise in New York City, this service can also be upgraded to include additional romantic accouterments.

The Romance Dinner Cruise package ensures you’ll get a private window table for 2, half a dozen roses, a bottle of French sparkling wine, and two Champagne flutes as souvenirs.

When you factor in the wonderful 3-course meal and live music from an acoustic quartet, it’s easy to see why we chose Bateaux Cruises once again for this honor.

As with their other cruises, New York Sightseeing Pass holders can save an additional 10% off ticket prices ($35+ savings).


Differences to Note

Since this service is all about romance, it probably won’t be a great option for families or anyone looking for more of a party boat atmosphere.

This is also the most expensive option on our list, so you’ll definitely want to consider another cruise if you’re trying to save money.


Additional Options

When it comes to romance, there are a few different cruise services that offer a rather excellent alternative to Bateaux Cruises.

One of the best options is actually Hornblower, as they offer a very similar service which also includes an acoustic quartet playing romantic music for their passengers.

Spirit Cruises is another excellent option, as they provide window table reservations which allow you to ensure you’ll have one of the best views on the ship, setting the mood for a nice, romantic night on the water.

Both of these services are 10% off with the New York Sightseeing Pass, and you can learn more about that service in our discounts section.

 


BEST SPECIALTY CRUISE

If you’re visiting New York City during a holiday, there might be a cruise offered that allows you to celebrate the event out on the water. This section provides details about our favorite specialty cruises.

Most cruise companies offer specialty excursions for certain holidays, so it’s difficult to pick just a one-holiday service you may want to consider.

Rather than providing one specialty cruise you absolutely have to take, we’re going to include a list of dinner cruises available during each major holiday in New York City.


Differences to Note

Due to the fact that these cruises focus on specific holidays and certain times of the year, their availability is typically limited to either the night of the event or the weeks leading up to that date.

Ticket prices for specialty cruises are also typically a bit more expensive, so you might want to consider another alternative if the price is too high.

Many of the services we’ve listed on this post are also available either on these holidays or during the general time frame, so if you’re not dead set on a focused specialty cruise, chances are you’ll enjoy another option just as much.

 


DISCOUNTS, DEALS + COUPONS

Most dinner cruises won’t offer many deals of note, but some of the services we have listed in this post actually do provide a few discounts through various different methods.

In this section, we’ll cover the best ways to save money on dinner cruises in New York City, including tourist attraction discount passes and discount sites.


Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions or take multiple tours in addition to paying for a dinner cruise, you might want to consider purchasing a tourist pass to save some money.

Depending on which service you choose, you could save a few bucks on your dinner cruise in addition to all the extra activities you may have planned.

The following discounts are currently available:

  • New York Sightseeing Pass | 10% off Spirit & Bateaux Cruises.
    • Also includes Hornblower Alive After Five Cruise.
  • Big Apple Pass | 20% off Spirit Dinner Cruises.

 

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In addition to saving money on dinner cruises, you can also get free or discounted admission for the following attractions and activities:

  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tours
  • Radio City Music Hall Tour
  • Manhattan by Sail Cruise
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not
  • One World Observatory
  • Empire State Building
  • Food on Foot Tours
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Top of the Rock
  • NY Aquarium
  • And more!

If you use these passes for at least 4-5 services per day, you should be able to save anywhere from 20% - 50% off general admission prices.

For more details, please read our post covering New York tourist passes.


Discount Coupon Sites

If all else fails, you may want to check sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial for any deals they might be offering on New York City dinner cruises.

Every now and then, these websites will provide a decent discount on NYC cruises, and they also frequently offer extra coupon codes you can use to save an additional 10% - 20% off local activities.

Before you make any purchase, make sure to check the top and bottom of the page for banners that may contain coupons you can use to save more money on your cruise of choice!

New York Travel Tips and Hacks

 


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: October 3rd, 2021
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