Bateaux New York - My Family Travels

Bateaux New York brings a touch of France to skyline sightseers along the Hudson River.

Bateaux New York (866/817-3463;, based at Pier 62 on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea Piers sports complex, is an altogether different voyage for those of you raised on the Circle Line’s plodding, hot-dog-catered circumnavigation of Manhattan island.

Year round, this elegant teak and polished brass sightseeing barge, modeled after Paris’ romantic Seine cruisers, departs evenings and midday Sunday (Saturday brunch cruises are added May to September) for a gentle two-hour cruise around lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, up to the Brooklyn Bridge, then back, with plenty of interesting sights along the way.

Remarkably, the finely crafted ship’s domed glass ceiling creates an effective shield from the vagaries of weather, because the very helpful staff is careful to adjust the electric sunscreens to optimize light and heat levels. Even in New York’s hot and humid summer, the interior air-conditioning feels just right and you can step out on deck for some refreshing (sort of) river breezes.

Throughout the cruise, a delicious, three-course, acceptably gourmet meal is served by tuxedoed waiters, whose sailors’ gait matches the rhythm of Big Band piano tunes wafting by. Children on their best behavior will love roaming the large, open-air stern deck, so each course (your kids will find something to eat) arrives about 20 minutes apart. A good idea; on our cruise, no one straggles behind when the mousse au chocolat was served.

Rates run $100-$115 per person for dinner cruises, $60 per person for brunch, no children’s discounts. There’s also a $5 reservation processing fee. That’s New York prices, but not a bad deal for the gourmet French fare and sky-high views of the coastline’s towering scrapers. Don’t forget to bring an extra sweater, sun block and binoculars for the curious, and keep in mind that the dress code (no t-shirts, jeans or sneakers!) is strictly enforced.

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