July 4th Cruises in NYC: How to See Macy's Fireworks From a Boat
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 and what better way to see the show than aboard one of the many family-friendly July 4th cruises that set sail that evening? The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from the water on a July 4th cruise in NYC.
Of course, these special July 4th fireworks cruises don't come cheap, and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost July 4th 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.
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Kid-Friendly July 4th Cruises in Manhattan
Circle Line – Midtown West
Departs from Pier 83 at 42nd Street and the Hudson River
$229 per person; $179 for children under 12
The Circle Line offers its usual competitive Manhattan price this year. (Yes, when it comes to July 4th cruises in NYC, this price is practically a bargain). Expect 4-5 hours on the water with a DJ and dancing, plus a buffet, soda, beer, and wine. A cash bar is available.
Event Cruises NYC – South Street Seaport
Departs from Pier 36
7:15pm departure time
$209 for adults; $149 for children under 12
Nosh on light bites and enjoy sips from the open bar (adults only!) as you cruise to the July 4th fireworks. A DJ spins live tunes and you'll sail past plenty of NYC landmarks.
4th of July IndepenDANCE Day Family Fireworks Cruise – Lower East Side
Departs from Skyport Marina
6:30pm departure time
$185 per person
All aboard the Avalon for a multi-level dance party and family-friendly buffet during this July 4th fireworks cruise. Enjoy breathtaking views, a three-hour open bar, live DJs, party favors, and a buffet dinner.
iBoatNYC 4th of July Fireworks Cruise – West Village
Departs Pier 40
5:30pm departure time
$245 per person
Enjoy four floors of fun, music, and dancing on this July 4th fireworks cruise. Dinner buffet selections include roasted chicken, pasta, roasted broccoli, and salad. Adults can enjoy an open bar, while kids are treated to unlimited soda.
Celebrate the July 4th with a stunning view of Macy’s 46th annual fireworks display aboard the American Princess.
The American Princess – Chelsea
Departs from Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers
6pm departure time
$165 per person
Enjoy a cash bar and galley snacks for purchase aboard The American Princess on this July 4th fireworks cruise. Guests are welcome to bring their own snacks in a soft-sided bag, though no beverages are allowed.
Where to Catch July 4th Cruises in Brooklyn
Nautical Princess – Sheepshead Bay
Departs from Brooklyn Army Terminal, 140 58th Street
$175 per person, ages 3 and older
Leave the babies at home: Guests of this fireworks cruise must be 3 years old to board, and there are no guaranteed seating assignments. The route takes you from the Brooklyn Army Terminal to the Brooklyn Bridge and back. The price includes a hot buffet, live DJ, and face painting for kids. There is a cash bar on board.
Freedom Cruises – Sheepshead Bay
Departs from Sheepshead Bay; exact location provided when you book your ticket
$100 for adults, $90 for children ages 3-12
Hop on the Marilyn Jean IV to enjoy the fireworks on this no-frills 4th of July cruise. Guests can bring a small cooler with food and drinks—hard alcohol is not allowed—or purchase something from the onboard snack bar. There will be benches and some chairs, but you can BYO folding seat, too.
July 4th Cruises Sailing From the Bronx
Island Current Fleet – City Island
Departs from 551 City Island Avenue
$125 per person
This is kind of a DIY cruise: The fleet provides the boat and music. You can bring your own food and snacks or purchase them from the onboard snack bar.
Family-Friendly July 4th Cruises in New Jersey
Seastreak – Highlands
Departs from Highlands Terminal, 326 Shore Drive
$99 per person
These double-hulled catamarans feature indoor decks with panoramic windows along with outdoor decks so your views are unobstructed. You can bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Know Before You Go on a July 4th Fireworks Cruise With Kids
- 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.
- Every charter boat within a 50-mile radius seems to host July 4th cruises, and some are more professional than others. If you're interested in a cruise, it's important to call ahead 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.
- Many July 4th cruises in NYC have age limits, so make sure you check that when booking.
- Finally, arrive early! If you're driving, keep in mind that there will be lots of holiday traffic. The times listed below are for actual departure, so aim to arrive at least a half-hour ahead of time.
This article first published in July 2010 is updated annually.