Skip to Content

Cruises from New York: What to see and do


This post is by Candice, a New Yorker who wants to tell the world why a cruise is the best way to see New York. I have added my ‘must see’ destination guide to the end. I’ve loved the opportunity to dig out all of my old photos!

8 Reasons why you should cruise to NYC

Taking a vacation is supposed to be a relaxing break from the frustration and monotony of the workweek, but for many travellers, it only compounds their usual stress. Long hours in the car and crowded airports can turn what’s supposed to be a pleasant experience into a harrowing one in no time. Fortunately, there’s an alternative that can take the pressure off a cruise. If you’re travelling to New York City this year, make your trip easier, more fun, and more relaxing by taking a cruise instead of your usual method of travel. Here’s why:

statue of liberty new york cruise

1 – Statue of liberty

You’ll get an up-close encounter with the Statue of Liberty: There’s no better way to see one of New York’s most famous icons that by water. This national monument, located off Manhattan’s southwestern tip, has been one of the most recognizable American sights since it was given to the U.S. by the French in 1886. Its motto, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” still serves as a welcome to all those who pass by her on their way into New York. Luckily, if you take a cruise into the city, you’ll likely pass right by Lady Liberty, giving you a peerless view of her majesty from your perch on the ocean.

statue of liberty cruise ship view from balcony

2 – No cabs!

You don’t have to drive: While cabs abound in New York, it’s otherwise not much of a driving town. Fortunately, taking a cruise means you can leave the car at home, avoid having to deal with the city’s confusing parking rules and explore the city like a local: on foot or by public transportation.

new york city cab taxi

3 – New York City Skyline

You can enjoy views of the city’s famous skyline: Seeing the best parts of New York can be quite the conundrum: in order to check out the famous Manhattan skyline, you can’t actually be in Manhattan, of course. The good news? Taking a cruise to the city provides you with the opportunity to see the iconic NYC skyline from a peerless vantage point. While you’re onto your way into the city by boat, you’ll get to check out icons of the NYC skyline, like the Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building before you even set foot on solid ground.

new york city skyline sail away sillouette

4 – No crowded hotels

You can avoid crowded hotels: New York’s tourist appeal often means that its hotels host a never-ending sea of people. Fortunately, if you’re staying aboard a cruise ship, you’ll get to see the same familiar faces throughout your vacation.

5 – Ocean views

You’ll get to see plenty of exciting sights along the way: Whether you’re sailing in from the West Coast or across the pond, taking a cruise means you’ll get to enjoy incredible sights along the way to New York, from the mountains just outside the city to the sunrise on the open ocean.

new york harbour harbor cruise view

6 – No flying

Cruises are an easy alternative to flying: Research suggests that up to 25% of the adult population has a serious fear of flying. Fortunately, if you count yourself among the members of this group, cruising is a great way to enjoy a vacation to New York without ever having to set foot on a plane. Transatlantic cruises are also a great way to visit New York from Europe.

new york city cruise emma le teace

7 – Central ship location

You have a place to return to after you explore the city: Having a home base on a ship docked at New York’s centrally-located cruise ship port means it’s easy to hop back on the boat after exploring Manhattan for the day. If you’re docked at Manhattan Terminal on the West Side, you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from exciting Broadway shows like Hamilton and Kinky Boots, as well as cultural institutions like MoMA, currently hosting exhibits from Tanis Bruguera and Stephen Shore, and famed performance venue Lincoln Center. You’ll also be close to iconic NYC sights, like the Empire State Building, where you can see the city spread before you on the Observation Deck. Fortunately, New York’s convenient cruise ship port is also no more than a few minutes by train or cab from East Side must-sees, like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and The Frick Collection, too.

new york city times square

Centre of the city

New York has so much to offer its visitors, and taking a cruise to the city puts you right in the center of it all. From having lunch at Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianch’s incredible food hall, Eataly, to shopping at boutiques like Helmut Lang, Rag & Bone, Diane von Furstenberg, and Rebecca Taylor in the Meatpacking District, there’s always a party favor (or a dozen) to bring back home after a trip to New York. Better yet, unlike a cramped overhead compartment in an airplane, your room aboard the ship will have plenty of store it all on your return trip. Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, but are eager to stretch your legs, there’s always ice skating at Bryant Park or a walk along the High Line to get you some exercise. And at the end of a long day on foot, you can take a load off with a Sex & the City tour, checking out Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha’s favorite hotspots throughout Manhattan.

Emmas favourite things to do in New York

I couldn’t leave this post without adding a quick ‘must see’ guide to NYC. I was lucky enough to cruise out of New York Harbour a few years ago. We cruised to Bermuda onboard the Norwegian Breakaway and it was incredible. I can not recommend it enough. Bermuda was lovely. Photo of me below in Bermuda!

ncl norwegian breakaway cruise to bermuda emma le teace

Grand central station

Even if you aren’t getting on a train it’s well worth visiting grand central station. It is the best place to people watch and has been in many films/tv shows. I always expect people to burst into dance when I’m here. I’m sure I’ve seen a video where they did a flash mob style dance…

grand central station NYC

Central Park

No trip to New York would be complete without a visit to central park! It is a little piece of calm in the middle of New York City. It’s actually a lot bigger than you imagine. When we visited we must have seen, at least, 8 couples getting married. They were dressed up in their wedding outfits and having photos taken in various spots around the park.

central park new york city cruise

Empire state building

I have mixed feelings on this one! I’ve been up the empire state building twice and I really don’t think I would do it again. We queued for hours and hours and when we got to the top it was so busy that you couldn’t see over the edge. It was one of those queues where you get to the edge of a room only to be greeted with a much longer line. It is an amazing building to see though, makes me think of the film Elf which is my favourite film. I would recommend a visit to the building even if you decide not to go up.

new york city empire state building

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

If you’re able to walk a fair distance I would suggest walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. The views that you get as you walk along are amazing. When you get to Brooklyn you can an incredible view of New Yorks skyline.

new york brooklyn bridge new york view from brooklyn bridge

The photo below I took when we wandered over the bridge one afternoon. It is a long bridge though, a lot longer than you think when you look at it from one end!
new york city sky line brooklyn bridge water taxi

Climb the statue of Liberty!

We’ve already mentioned the statue of Liberty but I think she’s worth mentioning again. We climbed into her crown and it was really cool. You don’t have much of a view from up there as there’s only a few little windows but it was still really fun. You don’t quite realise how tall she is until you are stood under her looking up. It’s definitely worth pre-booking tickets if you are planning on walking up the statue of liberty though. It is a very popular attraction and rightly so.

new york statue of liberty view from crown new york statue of liberty view from below

Visit ground zero

My photos may be a little out of date because ground zero seems to be continually changing. Nevertheless, it is a must see if in New York. Truly moving.

new york ground zero

About Candice: Candice Schaffer is a young professional who resides in Manhattan.  She absolutely loves to travel, favourite places include family vacations to Mexico and London.




emma cruises cruising isnt just for old people
Emma says:

Thanks for this Candice! New York is amazing and I would always encourage anybody to take a cruise there. 
Cruising to New York makes a lot of sense. New York is busy and a little bit crazy. If you can have a central floating hotel then why not?! The cruise we did to Bermuda was incredible. I will never forget sailing into New York harbour onboard the Norwegian Breakaway.


Have you ever been to New York? Please let me know in the comments!

Where next?

Ever considered a cruise to Asia? I was lucky enough to cruise from Singapore – Tokyo onboard the Golden Princess. Asia was amazing BUT there are a few things that I wish I knew before I went. Check those out here: 7 Asia cruise tips. 

Or maybe Hawaii is more your scene? Here are 10 reasons you should visit Hawaii by ship instead of on land. Cruise to Hawaii: 10 reasons why!