I have been lucky enough to spend my Thanksgiving aboard the best Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC offers – a truly unique and actually fun way to spend this holiday. Drawn-out, messy, and potentially disastrous to your mental health traditional dinners are out; yachts are in!
You may not think of New York City as the most symbolic Thanksgiving destination—this isn’t Thanksgiving in Plymouth after all—but I personally think it’s the best way to spend Turkey Day!
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is always the best way to start the day and, for dinner, you can’t go wrong with a Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC-style.
This post was originally published in 2017 but has been updated for 2021.
Thanksgiving dinner cruise – NYC Hornblower
My awesome Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC experience was all thanks to Hornblower—the fabulous yacht company the provides all kinds of cruises for all kinds of events. Like:
- Brunch cruises (bottom less mimosas absolutely constitutes an event)
- Holiday parties
- Album drops
- New years eve celebrations
- And more
Note: Hornblower now goes by City Experiences (by Hornblower).
Hornblower operates cruises in New York City, up and down the California coast, and even some Niagara Falls tours. They also operate Statue Cruises—the company ferrying you to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
This Thanksgiving dinner cruise in New York City was actually my second Hornblower cruise—my first being their Jazz Brunch Cruise. My friend and I had so much fun on that one that I couldn’t wait to take another.
Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC options
Hornblower offers three NYC Thanksgiving cruises. More information to come closer to the holiday season—stay tuned!
New York Thanksgiving Day afternoon lunch cruise
This 2-hour cruise takes place aboard the yacht Bateaux and includes a plated 3-course Thanksgiving lunch prepared by their onboard Executive Chef. More afternoon lunch cruise info here.
New York Thanksgiving Day sunset dinner cruise
This 2.5-hour cruise takes place aboard their yacht Spirit and features a delicious Thanksgiving dinner buffet, DJ entertainment, dance floor, rooftop lounge, and interactive games. (It’s so much fun!)
I personally took their Thanksgiving dinner cruise which also offered coat check, a cash/credit bar, as much free water and soft drinks as your insulin levels can handle, and, for whatever reason, free Baileys. And free Baileys just happens to be what I am most thankful for this year. More dinner cruise information here.
All Thanksgiving cruises come with a 2-hour (or more) sightseeing tour, a live DJ, amazing food and service, and some of the best views in New York City.
New York Thanksgiving Day Premier Dinner Cruise
This 3-hour premier dinner cruise includes all of the above, but includes a live band instead of a DJ.
Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC route
The tour for each NYC Thanksgiving dinner cruise begins at Pier 40 on the Hudson River. You’ll head down around lower Manhattan, up the East River passing under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges, then down past the Statue of Liberty, and back.
The views from the Hornblower cruises are some of my favorite. You can see all of Lower Manhattan and around into Midtown as you head towards the Williamsburg Bridge.
During the day it’s gorgeous. At night, even more impressive. One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and all those other buildings in between. (But which one has the best observation deck in NYC? Find out in that link!)
You sail under the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge which, to me, is such a fun and unique experience itself, especially at night when you can see into the trains crossing over.
The boat then heads over to the Statue of Liberty where it gets closer than you’d ever expect. It pauses there for a few minutes for a much-appreciated champagne toast, some Sinatra, and for all the photo ops your fingertips can handle before they freeze right off. If your fingers can make it here, they can make it anywhere!
Honestly, you just got a free sightseeing cruise. Or, think of it as a sightseeing cruise with a free incredible dinner spread and booze. Whichever way you wanna slice it, give thanks.
Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC food
Though the experience may not be ultra-traditional, these NYC Thanksgiving dinner cruises so serve traditional Thanksgiving food. Only, way better than anything I could make and without the hassle of trying.
The food on Hornblower cruises always wows me. It’s not “good for a boat” good, but actually really, really good. Their Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC meals are nothing short of impressive, so, after my first cruise experience, I did not hesitate booking another to celebrate a holiday that 100% revolves around food.
The food was served buffet style—the best style, in my opinion—and the menu included:
- Assorted bread, corn bread, and biscuits
- Mixed greens salad with cranberries, candied pecans, goat cheese, roasted shallots, and Dijon vinaigrette
- Penne Bolognese
- Maple glazed turkey breast
- Some kind of amazing yams whose description I didn’t catch but nom nom nom
- Mashed potatoes + gravy
- Candy crusted pecan sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts with pancetta
- Seared salmon for those, like myself, who don’t actually like turkey on Thanksgiving
- A pork loin carving station
…And for desert: pumpkin cheesecake and apple caramel bread pudding for everyone else; Baileys on the rocks for me.
What it’s like aboard an NYC Thanksgiving cruise
The Hornblower yacht I took for my NYC Thanksgiving cruise was the Sensation, a beautiful tri-level watercraft which I will henceforth refer to as “my yacht” because this is my blog and I can do what I want.
The first and second levels were the indoor dining levels with the top level being completely outside with a variety of seating options. (And mood lighting that makes it impossible to get a picture of yourself where you don’t look like Grimsby from Disney’s the Little Mermaid, but I digress.)
There’s music and dancing on every floor and the whole boat turns into one big party. A party crazy enough that you don’t regret ditching your family for the holidays, but not so crazy that Miss Judy can’t celebrate her 93rd birthday.
There were, my guess would be, somewhere between 150-200 people on my yacht. (That’s a rough estimate I made in between the forkfuls of goat cheese I was shoveling into my mouth.) On board were cuddling couple of varying ages, whole families including those with young children, people celebrating birthdays, singular guests, and one blogger taking close-up pictures of the buffet while people looked on, confused.
Thanksgiving cruise NYC staff
Hornblower’s Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC staff are consistently some of the nicest people in Manhattan. Our server Anthon was so great, as were those in the check-in office, the guys who help you get on the boat without falling over, the greeters and seaters, the bartenders, the pork loin carver, and even the girl in the restroom who helped me use that weird fancy sink.
Everyone is so nice and friendly and helpful and an absolute pleasure to spend your holiday with.
Should you take a New York City Thanksgiving cruise?
If you’re wondering whether or not a Thanksgiving cruise in NYC is for you, the answer is yes. As I mentioned before, I saw couples in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. I saw families with young(ish) children. I saw Judy celebrate her 93rd birthday. And I saw single guests—well, singular guests. Their relationship statuses were not as much of a concern to me as were the yams.
A Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC-style is perfect for anyone, like me, who hates the kitchen with an unrelenting passion. It’s for families looking for a new Thanksgiving tradition or anyone else looking for a fun, unique way to spend the holiday.
Who says you have to spend Thanksgiving with family members you’d otherwise never hang out with, discuss politics, and count down until you bolt? Who says you have to pretend to care about football while your cousin complains about his job? And who says you can’t have salmon for dinner and Irish cream for dessert?
It’s for anyone who wants to break from the cooking and cleaning for a change; for birthday-havers and anniversary-celebraters; for those of you who maybe can’t travel to visit family in the first place.
And it’s for all y’all who spend your morning with the three million other people at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade who are just too exhausted to leave the city.
Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC tips
In addition to wearing your stretchy pants and not eating too much for lunch, here are some Thanksgiving dinner cruise NYC tips:
Wear a coat
The boat is plenty warm but the best views are from the top level where it’s colder than my attitude towards cooking casseroles.
Seriously, wear a hat, gloves, scarf, thermal leggings under your leather pants, all of it. Because it’s November and it’s windy on a boat.
Book your NYC Thanksgiving dinner cruise as early as possible as they tend to sell out. There was still room when I booked my spots on October 1st but availability was already limited.
How much you can eat on this NYC dinner cruise is limited only by what your belly and your waitband can handle.
Don’t forget to check in
Boarding for the cruises starts 30 minutes before the official start of the cruise. But first, you need to check in at the Hornblower office to the left of the yachts.
Bring your email confirmation or printed tickets to exchange for actual boat tickets.
These cruises offer family-style seating at large tables. Chat with your table-mates and make some new friends. Everyone is on a Thanksgiving dinner cruise for a different reason and it’s fun to hear the stories.
Start a new tradition
It’s time to convince everyone else you know that traditional Thanksgiving is boringggg. Make this the year you start a new holiday tradition!
Know where to go
Pier 40 confused the heck out of me on my first visit, so familiarize yourself beforehand so you literally don’t miss the boat.
When looking at the front of Pier 40, you’ll find Hornblower around the corner on the right of the building. You’ll see the boats. Follow the signs towards check-in or see my fancy map below.
As I’ve said tons of times before, Hornblower Cruises continue to wow me. It’s always so great (and rare) to come across a company that does everything right. I sincerely can’t wait for my next cruise. Another big thanks to Hornblower New York for hosting me!
More info for your Thanksgiving dinner cruise
- Heading to New York City? Find great places to stay here.
- But I personally recommend either of the Pod Hotels or the Hilton Midtown.
- Pick up a New York CityPASS – It saves you 40% on the city’s top attractions.
- Be sure to pick up a New York City guidebook.
- Check out all my New York City posts.
- Have questions? Reach out on Facebook or Instagram
Have you ever spent Thanksgiving in New York City?
Let me know below!
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