July 4th Fireworks Cruises in NYC: See Macy's Show on a Boat

Macy's Fireworks from a Boat with Kids in the East River on July 4 in New York City
Seeing the NYC July 4th fireworks from a boat should be on your bucket list! Photo courtesy of Seastreak

The promise of NYC summer fun is right around the corner. One of our favorite annual events, the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, is ready to light up the city skyline. The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from the water. Plus, you don't have to battle the insane crowds with the kids.

Of course, these special cruises don't come cheaply and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost July 4th fireworks cruises in NYC that also welcome children. If you're interested, book quickly. Some already have sold out and the remaining tickets will be gone before you know it.

A few tips before we start: Some Fourth of July fireworks cruises run $300-plus per person. Many rides priced at less than $200 are no-frills, with cash bars and buffets. Eat beforehand if you can. Also, every charter boat within a 50-mile radius seems to host cruises on the holiday and some are more professional than others. If you're interested in a cruise, it's best to call and go over the details. There's nothing worse than boarding a boat for a multi-hour tour and realizing you're not happy with what you're getting. (And what you're getting, for the most part, is just a front-row seat for the fireworks.) When setting sail with kids, shorter rides are probably best. That way you don't risk them getting bored, tired, or cranky.

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Sailing from Manhattan

Circle Line – Midtown West
Departs from Pier 83 at 42nd Street and the Hudson River
$179 per person; $259 for a premium ticket
The Circle Line offers its usual competitive Manhattan price. (Yes, when it comes to Fourth of July cruises in NYC, this price is practically a bargain). Although the exact schedule is determined on the Fourth, expect five hours on the water with a DJ and dancing, plus a buffet, soda, beer, and wine. If you opt for the more expensive ticket, you'll enjoy a buffet, hors d'oeuvres, soda, beer, wine, and liquor.

RELATED: Best Boat Rides in NYC for Families

Watch the dramatic fireworks aboard the luxurious American Princess. Photo courtesy of the cruise line

The American Princess – Lower Manhattan
Departs from Pier 16 near the South Street Seaport
$165 per person
Passengers board the boat near the South Street Seaport and are greeted with a boxed meal, which includes a sandwich, pasta salad, fruit, cookies, and a soda. Adults also have access to a cash bar.

RELATED: Free Summer Sports and Outdoor Programs for NYC Kids

Looking for something more affordable? Take the NY Water Taxi Fourth of July cruise. Photo courtesy of NY Water Taxi

New York Water Taxi – West Village
Departs from Pier 81 at West 41st Street and 12th Avenue
$199 per person
Watch the sparklers from the deck of the yellow New York Water Taxi. The trip includes appetizers, a BBQ buffet, dessert, unlimited beer, wine, juice, and soda.

Capital Princess – Stuyvesant Town
Departs from Skyport Marina at 23rd Street and FDR Drive
$190 per person
Enjoy the views from the Capital Princess yacht. The cruise includes a live DJ, an open bar, and dinner buffet.

Sailing from Brooklyn

Brooklyn VI – Sheepshead Bay
Departs from Sheepshead Bay; exact location provided when you book your ticket
$85 per person
The no-nonsense sail takes place on the Brooklyn VI fishing boat. Lasting just 4 hours, this is a good bet for kids who might not make it through a longer cruise. Bring your own snacks or purchase them on board.

Sheryll Princess – Sheepshead Bay
Departs from Pier 8, Emmons Avenue and East 21st Street
$100 per person, ages 3 and older
Leave the babies at home, guests must be 3 years old to board, and there are no guaranteed seating assignments. This is the longest of the cruises (departure is 5:30pm and the boat returns about 11:30pm). It takes you from southern Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Price includes a complimentary buffet and a live DJ. A cash bar is also available. NOTE: Very few tickets remained for this boat at publish time!

Freedom Cruises – Sheepshead Bay
Departs from Sheepshead Bay; exact location provided when you book your ticket
$175 for adults, $129 for children ages 3-12
Hop on the Pink Lady and enjoy the fireworks, a large buffet, non-alcoholic beverages, and a live DJ playing family-friendly hits. There is a cash bar.

Nautical Empress– Sunset Park
Departs from Brooklyn Army Terminal at 140 58th Street
$125 per person, ages 3 and older
Cruise on the Nautical Express from the Brooklyn Army Terminal to the East River. Enjoy a live DJ and face painting for kids. Tickets include a buffet and there is a cash bar.

Sailing from the Bronx

Island Current Fleet – City Island
Departs from 551 City Island Avenue
$95 per person
This is kind of a DIY cruise: The fleet provides the boat and a DJ, you bring your own food and snacks but hey, it saves you money.

Set sail from New Jersey and enjoy the stunning display with unobstructed views. Photo courtesy of Seastreak

Sailing from New Jersey

Seastreak – Highlands
Departs from Highlands Terminal, 326 Shore Drive
$90 per person
These double-hulled catamarans feature indoor decks with panoramic windows along with outdoor decks so your views are totally unobstructed. You can bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages.

This article first appeared in July 2010 but is updated annually.