Clipper ships were first built in the nineteenth century to quickly transport seasonal goods. Today, their classical form makes them an ideal setting for a pleasant harbor cruise. With today's Groupon, $39 gets you an open-bar clipper ship cruise on the harbor with Manhattan by Sail (a $69 value). The 160-foot ship is a replica of the clipper ships that plied across America's waters more than a century ago (it was built from original plans borrowed from the National Archives).
Boozing aboard one of the largest sailing boats still in commercial operation is a thrill, but the real show is Manhattan's skyline. See the Brooklyn Bridge the way it was meant to be seen—from below. Then glide by the Statue of Liberty up close. You get a sweeping view of Ellis Island, the fortifications of Governors Island, and Battery Park at the mouth of the Hudson River while sipping wine, beer, soft drinks, or mixed drinks. Depending on the winds and tides, the captain may sail up the Buttermilk Channel or out to the Verrazano Bridge spanning the ocean entrance to NY Harbor. If he's feeling up to it, he may also drop off each passenger at home.
Clipper City Harbor Cruises sail daily from Pier 17, South Street Seaport (they depart at 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., or 7:00 p.m.). Up to 144 passengers can get on the boat. This Groupon is good for any cruise; e-mail or call ahead to book a time.
Here's what Time Out New York's reviewer had to say about seeing Manhattan by boat:
- You’re probably surrounded by water right now. Two of New York City’s boroughs are islands, another two form the western end of a really long one, and the fifth, the Bronx, is a peninsula. But unless you commute to work via ferry, you’re only slightly more likely to test the waves here than you are to take a long walk through the forest. Aiming to live like a true islander, I hopped on everything from booze cruises and schooners to an electric boat and a 32-foot Native American canoe. What I discovered is that boating in and around the city is not only easy, it’s eye-opening, wondrous and, in my case, completely addictive.
Citysearchers give some of Manhattan by Sail's excursions an average of 3.5 stars. Here's what they're saying:
- the best sailing experience ever and i have had quite a few. from the moment i called to booked it until the moment i left the boat everything was magic. NY is just amazing at the sunset cruise. i love it – cubanfree
- I went with a few friends on one of their sunset sail [sic], and we had a such time! The sunset was just perfect, we sailed to the Statue of Liberty, had some drinks, chilled out, it was fantastic. The crew was really friendly, the waitress was sweet and attentive, and their boat is beautiful! – kiwigirl04
- I was downtown walking along the esplanade in Battery Park City waiting for an outdoor concert to start when my girlfriend saw people getting checked in on what looked like a private yacht. We went closer and saw that people were paying for tickets... we paid and jumped on… and we were underway. I had no idea you could enjoy the city this way. – ewab
L.A. Clipper Reviews
Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Mike Dunleavy recently required his team to attend a relaxing afternoon clipper ship field trip, telling the media, "We've got to work Clipper fundamentals this offseason." Here's what his team had to say:
- I agree with Coach that we've got to work the fundamentals. And this is very relaxing. – Al Thornton, Forward
- To say I enjoyed myself would be an understatement. I did enjoy myself. – Blake Griffin, Power Forward
- Understanding the historical basis for our team makes me even more proud to be a Clipper. – Marcus Camby, Center
The very next season, the Clippers won their first NBA playoff game in 13 years. Coincidence?
Manhattan by Sail
For more than 30 years, the captains and crews behind Manhattan by Sail have been giving visitors and locals alike the chance to view the city from an entirely new perspective. Their 158-foot Clipper City vessel is a replica of a 19th-century cargo schooner that was constructed in the 1980s using plans purchased from the Smithsonian. Clipper City can hold more than 130 passengers between masts and rigging that tower as high as 120 feet above the deck. The vessel can set sail on daytime, sunset, and evening cruises, including specialty excursions that allow passengers to enjoy a champagne brunch, a wine tasting, or an impromptu sea-shanty sing-along. Somm in the City hails Manhattan by Sail as a prime destination for weekend fun and NewYork.com lists it as one of the 12 Great Things to Do with Your Dad in NYC.