Circle Line in New York is the oldest and largest provider of boat tours, giving tourists a grand view of the city since 1945. With their distinctive green and white paintwork and red accents, the boats can be seen from afar and are an integral part of the harbor of New York City. There are several boat tours from Circle Line that you can choose from while visiting New York City.
In this post, I will show you all the Circle Line tours, tell you about my personal favorites, and share budget tips, with which you may be able to go on a Circle Line cruise completely free of charge.
I have taken all the boat tours several times during my many visits to New York City, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
A Comparison of the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
I love experiencing New York City from a boat; there’s hardly a better way to enjoy New York City and its iconic skyline. Except for one tour, Circle Line cruises depart from Pier 83 on the Hudson River and take you at least as far as the Statue of Liberty. Along the way, you’ll see the Hudson Yards with The Edge, the Empire State Building, the new SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, the Chrysler Building, and the incredible One World Trade Center.
Be sure to plan a boat tour in New York City – it’s worth it!
If you want to get a quick overview of the different boat tours offered by Circle Line New York, just check out my chart. Here I have linked not only the duration of the trip, but also the tickets. You can find the schedule for each Circle Line tour below (important for your travel planning!).
My budget tip: many of the Circle Line boat tours are included in the New York Sightseeing Passes! With this article, you will be able to compare the different New York City passes.
Which is The Best Circle Line Cruise of NYC?
First, all routes have their charm and each one offers you a unique view of the New York City skyline. If I were to recommend two, it would be the Harbor Lights Cruise and the Best of New York tour. Why? On the first tour, you will experience New York at night with all its illuminated buildings and reflections on the water – I never get enough of that!
On the Best of New York tour, which takes you all the way around Manhattan, you will see many familiar sights and even more unexpected sides of New York – it’s totally worth it!
The best thing about these tours? They are both included in the popular New York Sightseeing Passes. With them, you can easily save up to 60% on tours & attractions!
Another tip: check out Classic Harbor Line’s boat tours – they’re also some of my favorites!
Sightseeing with Circle Line Cruises
The different boat tours take you along these attractions; as you can see, the routes of the Landmarks Cruise and the Harbor Lights Cruise are identical. One of them is operated during the day and the other one during the evening.
Routes of the Landmarks Cruise, Harbor Lights Cruise and the Statue-Cruises
Route of Best of NYC Full Island Cruise
These are the Best Circle Line Cruises in New York
I have compiled all the boat tours, including the 2023 schedules here:
01 Harbor Lights Tour
The Harbor Lights Tour by Circle Line is one of the most popular tours on a boat. You will experience New York from its most beautiful side: when you leave at dusk, the city changes bit by bit and shines. The harbor cruise gives you a great view of the New York skyline at night.
Duration: 2 hours
Departure: 7:00 pm
02 Circle Line Best of NYC Cruise (2,5h)
Following three rivers, passing seven major bridges and all five boroughs of New York, this tour will take you completely around the island of Manhattan so you can see more than 25 of the city’s world-famous landmarks. Because this Circle Line boat tour is one of the most popular tours, you should book the tickets online in advance.
Be sure to sit on the left – that way you’ll be on the Manhattan-facing side!
Duration: 2.5 hours
- Until 12.03.2023: 12:00 pm
- 03/13 – 05/21/2023: 10:00 am & 1:30 pm
- 05/22 – 09/04/2023: 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm
- 09/05 – 12/31/2023: 10:00 am & 1:30 pm
03 Circle Line Landmarks Cruise (2,5h)
This 1.5-hour boat tour is one of the most booked tours and is simply called “The Best of Manhattan” tour by the operator “Circle Line”. Here you can enjoy the skyline of the city with its striking skyscrapers and get very close to landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty or the Brooklyn Bridge. By the way, this boat tour of Circle Line NYC used to be called “Semi-Circle”, because it only goes around half of Manhattan Island.
Duration: 1.5 hours
- Until 03/12/2023: 3:30 pm
- 03/13 – 04/30/2023: 12:30 pm & 3:00 pm
- 05/01/2023 – 10/30/2023: 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm
- 11/01/2023 – 31/12/2023: 12:30 pm & 3:00 pm
04 Statue of Liberty Cruise (Liberty Midtown)
If you can’t spend much time in New York, this tour is perfect for you. It starts in Midtown Manhattan and takes you to the most famous landmark of the city – the Statue of Liberty. On the way to the statue you will learn many interesting stories about the city’s landmarks and get a lot of information about its history.
Duration: 1 hour
- Until 03/12/2023: 10:00 am
- 03/13/2023 – 04/30/2023: 10:30 am
- 05/01/2023 – 10/30/2023: 10:30 am & 4:30 pm
- 11/01/2023 – 12/31/2023: 10:30 am
05 Circle Line: Liberty Super Express Downtown
The New York City Statue of Liberty Super Express Cruise is the fastest way to see Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, and the only Circle Line tour that doesn’t depart from Pier 83 on the Hudson River. If you’re short on time or you’re just cruising downtown Manhattan with the Financial District and want to decide on a boat tour on the spur of the moment, this boat tour is perfect!
It starts at Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport on the East River not far from the Brooklyn Bridge. From here, the Liberty Super Express Downtown will take you to the southern tip of Manhattan and then to the Statue of Liberty. There you stop just before Liberty Island, so you can take the perfect photo of the Statue of Liberty.
Duration: 50 minutes
Schedule: 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm
06 BEAST Speedboat Ride
In summer, it’s “Hold on tight!” time again. Because the fastest racing boat with turbine drive accelerates to over 70 kilometers per hour in just a few seconds and is guaranteed to make your stomach tingle. This fast-paced experience takes place in front of the New York skyline and is great fun. ATTENTION: Children must be at least 1 m in height to ride. “The Beast” does not ride in the rain!
Duration: 30 minutes
- 5/5/2023 – 9/24/2023: 8x a day
Circle Line boat tours for special events
In addition to the classic sightseeing tours, there are boat tours for many special events. I have compiled the most important and most beautiful of them in individual articles, in which you will find boat tours for the 4th of July in New York, Christmas Cruises, and New Year’s Eve boat tours.
What is Circle Line in New York?
Circle Line is the best known and largest provider of boat tours in New York. Most of the boat tours start at Pier 83 on the Hudson River. On board, you will see sights like the Empire State Building, the One World Observatory, or the new SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.
What can you do near Circle Line NYC 42nd St?
After your boat tour, walk south along the Hudson River. After 15 to 20 minutes you will reach the Hudson Yards. Either walk along the High Line or visit the observation deck named The Edge.
How long do Circle Line NYC boat tours last?
Circle Line boat tours last between 50 minutes and 2.5 hours:
Where can I buy the tickets for the Circle Line boat tours?
You can buy tickets for the Circle Line boat tours here.
Where do the Circle Line boat tours depart from?
The boat tours depart from Pier 83 on the Hudson River. You can’t miss the building with its distinctive green and white coloring. The best way to get there is to take the subway A C E N Q R W to “42 St – Port Authority Bus Terminal” or 7 to “34 Street-Hudson Yards Subway Station.” You can also walk from Times Square, which takes about 20 minutes.