New Yorkers never get to do the fun stuff that tourists do. Unless your out of town visitors insist that you escort them around, chances are you are happy to send them on their way with a map, a Metrocard, and a smile. We decided to play tourist for an evening and discovered the Bateaux New York Dinner Cruise, a sleek glass enclosed boat that glides up and down the Hudson and East Rivers providing magnificent views of Manhattan. We were blessed with a warm, clear summer evening and calm waters. During the three-hour trip, we enjoyed a three-course meal (better food than we expected), listened to a singer backed up by a three-piece combo, and took way too many photos of the Statue of Liberty. (See more photos in Snapping Around).
The Bateaux Dinner Cruise leaves from Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers. After picking up our tickets at the nearby booth, we stood in line until boarding began at 6:15 p.m. While we didn’t take a poll, we seemed to be the only New Yorkers among the passengers. Mostly the other parties appeared to be large tour groups. We noticed one from Japan, another from Greece, still another from Italy. The website recommended jackets for men and cocktail attire for women. “A Bateaux cruise is an opportunity to dress up!” we were told, so we did.
One of the ship’s officers greeted us, even taking our hands to help us onto the boat. We had booked a table for eight and were shown to a cushioned banquet in the center of the large dining room. While we initially balked at not being seated next to a window, we soon realized that facing towards the windows allowed us better views, no matter which side of the table we chose. And the inside seats were less expensive, those at the windows paying extra for the privilege.
We ordered drinks and studied the menus while we waited for the boat to leave the dock. The wine list, while limited, included enough choices to provide variety and keep us within our price range. The appetizers included: lobster bisque, a large bowl that one of our party said was very good; an antipasto consisting of roasted peppers that were tender and sweet, creamy mozzarella, and a handful of olives; and seared rare tuna served with vegetable slaw and pickled ginger, a risky choice but one that proved worth taking.
After our appetizer plates were taken away, our server told us that there would be a half hour interval before our main courses arrived and encouraged us to go outside and take in the sights. We needed no further urging. Less than an hour into the cruise, the sun had not yet set so we were able to distinguish the many buildings we were passing and two, the World Trade Towers, no longer there. We were joined in the front of the boat by many other passengers, but we still had enough room to move around, take photos, and admire the scenery.
Returning inside, our main courses were waiting for us. The choices included: beef short ribs with “smashed” potatoes; wild salmon over toasted orzo; Tuscan chicken breast with creamy vegetable rice; and rosemary and mint braised lamb shank. Our server steered us away from the vegetarian option—a Mediterranean vegetable purse with Israeli couscous. The food was well seasoned and artfully presented. Again, our group pronounced the food better than expected.
By now the sun had set and the sight of Manhattan after dark was magnificent. We wandered once again to the front of the boat just as we neared the Statute of Liberty. Whether you are a native or a tourist, the sight of this grand lady with her crown and torch lit up, standing proud never fails to produce goose bumps. And what better time to pay her homage but right before the Fourth of July? Of course, seeing her on that night with the fireworks providing a breathtaking background would have been even better and we decided that next year, we would book for that evening.
While we enjoyed our desserts— chocolate torte, cheesecake, sorbets—we listened to the combo and singer. As we neared Chelsea Piers, they played—what else?— “New York, New York.” And we had to sing along.
As we left the boat, we all agreed we had spent a truly magical evening in the city that we love, doing something New Yorkers rarely do. And we wondered, what other adventures are tourists having that we are missing? We intend to find out. So stay tuned….
Bateaux New York