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Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise in NYC

Disclosure: We were provided complimentary tickets to the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise for purposes of review. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us. 

A few weeks ago, when my husband had a work event in Manhattan, my kids and I tagged along to do some sightseeing in the city. The kids hadn’t actually been to NYC before, and when I asked them what they wanted to do, they both responded the same way. They wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. After asking some friends for advice on their favorite things to do in NYC, my friend Desiree recommended the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise. Since the weather forecast called for hot temperatures, I thought a river cruise sounded perfect.

A review of the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, a great family-friendly way to see New York City.


Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise Review

The Circle Line offers several different options, including a full island 2.5/3-hour sightseeing cruise, a semi-circle cruise, and a cruise to the Statue of Liberty. We chose the full island tour, since my kids hadn’t been to the city before. We grabbed a cab from our hotel to the dock, and boarded the partially full vessel. My kids wanted to sit on the top back deck, and we got seats right by the side of the boat.

Our guide, Malachy Murray, was easily one of the best tour guides I’ve ever had (on any tour, ever). He was knowledgeable and entertaining, but also took breaks in between so it wasn’t monotonous listening to him. His narration was great for both adults and kids – my kids came off the boat spouting out all sorts of tidbits about NYC. During his breaks, he walked around answering guests’ questions, and even offered local NYC restaurant recommendations.

The boat offers rest rooms and two small snack bars, with more than enough options for a 3 hour trip. Highlights of the trip included the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Ellis Island. We were supposed to go by the new Yankee Stadium, but a bridge we needed to pass by was closed, so we had to turn around instead of going all the way around. They made up for it though, by going past the Circle Line dock and continuing for a bit.

I’d highly recommend arriving well in advance of your tour. Our boat wasn’t too full, but there are limited seats in the area we were in, and it’s first-come first-served.

Other Circle Line Tours

If you don’t want to do the two and a half hour Best of NYC tour, there are other options available. These include the following:

Statue of Liberty Express: a one-hour guided tour that takes you to see the Statue of Liberty by ship from downtown. This includes a photo stop at the statue.

Liberty Cruise: a one-hour tour that goes to the Statue of Liberty from the midtown pier.

Landmark Tour: See the NYC landmark highlights on this 1 1/2 hour tour.

Harbor Lights: This tour is two hours and takes you to see the landmark highlights as well as the Statue of Liberty at night.

Statue by Night: Leave from downtown and see the NYC landmarks including the statue at night.

Circle Line Tour Tips

If you are planning on taking a Circle Line NYC tour, you’ll want to purchase a timed ticket in advance if possible. That will ensure that you’ll be able to take a tour at your desired time, especially during the busier times. 

When purchasing a ticket, you’ll also see an option for premier tickets. These are available at a premium, but do offer additional perks, including advanced boarding and a dedicated seating area. If you purchase the standard tickets, you’ll want to arrive early. People line up, and you’ll get the better seating options by being at the beginning of the line. 

Circle Line NYC cruises run year round.

Circle Line Tour Discounts

NYC is an expensive city to visit, and most families can benefit from getting a discount on attractions. There are lots of options for getting Circle Line tour discounts. These include purchasing the CityPASS, which gets you access to several NYC attractions for one low price. There are also combo tickets available right from Circle Line. These include attractions like The Ride NYC, the Empire State Building, and the One World Observatory

To learn more about the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, visit their website.

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Alejandra Mielke

Wednesday 4th of November 2015


I have one question: would this tour be too cold to do at the beginning of December?