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

The Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks display is ready to light up the city skyline, and some of the most spectacular views can be seen from the water. The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from a boat. Plus, you don't have to battle the 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 go quickly.

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
$169 per person; $219 for a premium ticket
The Circle Line offers its usual competitive Manhattan price. (Yes, when it comes to Fourth of July Cruises in NYC, $169 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 food and drinks available for purchase. If you opt for the more expensive ticket, you'll enjoy beer, wine, and soda plus All-American eats.

The Hornblower Cruises – Lower Manhattan
Departs from Pier 15 near South Street Seaport
$165 for kids ages 4-12; $275 per adult and up
Splurge on this five-hour cruise for views of the fireworks, onboard DJ, American-style buffet, passed appetizers, and a 21+ bar. It's a two-deck boat with a covered roof and climate-controlled decks.

The American Princess – Lower Manhattan
Departs from Pier 16 near the South Street Seaport
$165 per person (kids and adults)
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.

CitySightseeing NY Cruises – Midtown West
Departs from Pier 78 at 38th Street and the Hudson River
$175 per person
Enjoy a live DJ and perfect views of the main event on this five-hour harbor cruise. Each guest receives a hot dog, potato chips, and a soda; a casual dinner menu and cocktails are available for purchase.

Water Taxi – West Village
Departs from Pier 45 at Christopher Street
$199 per person; family four pack (two adults and two children) available for $736
Watch the sparklers from the deck of the yellow Water Taxi. The trip includes appetizers, light buffet, dessert, and cash bar. Tickets should be available soon!

RELATED: Best Boat Rides in NYC for Families

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
$125 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 4pm and the boat returns about 11:30pm). It takes you from southern Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Price include a complimentary buffet and a live DJ. A cash bar is also available.

Freedom Cruises – Sheepshead Bay
Departs from Sheepshead Bay, exact location provided when you book your ticket
$159 for adults, $129 for children ages 3-12
Hop on the Pink Lady and enjoy the fireworks, a large buffet, nonalcoholic beverages, and a live DJ playing family-friendly hits. There is a cash bar.

Sailing from the Bronx

Island Current Fleet – City Island
551 City Island Avenue
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.

Sailing from New Jersey

Seastreak – Highlands
Highlands Terminal, 326 Shore Drive
These double-hulled catamarans feature indoor decks with panoramic windows along with outdoor decks so your views are totally unobstructed.

This article first in July 2010 but is updated annually.

Photo by Randy Lemoine via Flickr.