Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

Operating out of Pier 83 on Midtown Manhattan’s West Side, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises offers several award-winning tours that let visitors experience the many wonders of New York City from the water. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available on all tours, and every Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise features a café and bar, too.

History of the Circle Line

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises launched their first boat tours way back in 1945. Since then, they’ve proudly served as guides for over 80 million visitors to New York. For the first 10 years of their existence, they were based at Battery Park, but they’ve operated out of historic Pier 83 since 1955. It’s been renovated over the decades, but it’s still home to all of Circle Line’s many vessels today. Circle Sightseeing Cruises is such an institution in the New York market that it was even honored once by Mayor Ed Koch, who issued an official proclamation declaring April 23rd Circle Line Day.

One of the most popular Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises is the New York City Landmarks Cruise. The Landmarks Cruise is a 90-minute guided tour that highlights New York’s most famous attractions from both the Hudson River and the East River. Along the way you’ll encounter such icons of the city like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Typically, Standard Seating costs $28, while the Premium Seating upgrade goes for $43—but prices can vary.

The flagship cruise available from Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises would have to be the Best of NYC Cruise, which bills itself as the only sightseeing excursion in the business that takes you on a ride all the way around the island of Manhattan. Over the course of this 2.5-hour tour, you’ll see everything included on the Landmarks Cruise, as well as other famous attractions like the United Nations Headquarters, Yankee Stadium, Gracie Mansion, and the George Washington Bridge. Usually, Standard Seating runs approximately $40, and the Premium Seating upgrade goes for about $65. However, prices are subject to change.

Another popular Circle Line offering is the Harbor Lights Cruise. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a beautiful New York evening from the water, this is the tour for you. During this 2-hour cruise you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the city skyline’s unrivaled bright lights—all while, if the mood strikes, savoring a cocktail from your ship’s full bar. Tickets are priced according to day of the week and time of the year, but you can expect Premier Seating to be close to $65 and Standard Seating around $40.

Though currently unavailable, the Liberty Midtown Cruise is an efficient way to see the Statue of Liberty. It only takes an hour, and you’ll have terrific photo opportunities the entire time. While Liberty Island is the headliner here, you’ll of course also be able to partake in amazing views of many other New York landmarks, too.

Tips for taking a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise

  • The Circle Line Cruises is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass, NY Explorer Pass, NYC Sightseeing Pass, NYC Turbo Pass and New York CityPASS.
  • You’ll find that seating on most Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises—including all the cruises highlighted above—is handled on a first-come, first-served basis. To make sure you snag that perfect seat, it’s recommended you arrive about 45 minutes before your tour’s scheduled departure time.
  • Wear layers when you go on your Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise. Though your tour won’t take you too far out on the water, it’s still possible that conditions will vary when you’re not on land. It’s a good idea to have extra layers you can take on or off as need be. And, of course, there’s inside seating available on each Circle Line vessel if the weather proves too problematic.
  • All Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises depart from Pier 83 in Midtown Manhattan at West 42nd Street and 12thAvenue. This is only a couple blocks from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. If you’re interested in going on a cruise and touring this museum during your time in New York, you could consider making a day of it and experiencing them both back-to-back.
  • No outside food or drink is permitted on any of Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise ships, but they do have their very own Café. It sells an assortment of snacks, salads, and sandwiches.