What is The Best 4th July Fireworks Cruise in New York? Are 4th July Fireworks Cruises worth it?

The 4th of July Fireworks Display in New York is an absolute icon of pyrotechnics. It is one of the biggest and best Fireworks displays anywhere on the planet and puts most New Year’s Displays to shame. A barrage of shells launch skyward from several barges moored in the east river, illuminating the iconic skyline and causing a pretty strong stir of emotions. It is an event everyone in the world should witness and something only seeing in person can justify.

However, it’s not exactly a low-key event and around 3 million people make the pilgrimage to the City Streets to see this mind-blowing spectacle. This makes viewing the Fireworks deeply problematic. Arriving two hours early will bag you a terrible spot and a long wait, to get to the front row, think more like 9-10 hours early! It is an absolute nightmare…but does it need to be? With the fireworks being launched from the water, a river cruise makes an awful lot of sense and several companies head out onto the water and let you take the Display in from the deck of a ferry. We take a look at the various offerings so you can find the best 4th July Fireworks Cruise in New York

Macy’s 4th July Fireworks

Macys 4th July Fireworks

The 4th July Fireworks really is a spectacle like no other. The amount of ordinance launched from each barge would rival just about any display in the world, but Macy’s 4th July display launches from 5 Barges, in unison, and in front of one of the most iconic skylines in the world. It is a genuinely staggering display, that lasts for over 30 minutes! The only downside is the fact that over 3 million people decent on the backs of the east river to watch the displays.

This would not be too bad, but the city only allows viewing from certain points and large parts of the riverside are off-limits, and this is all strictly enforced by the NYPD. So do not expect to be able to just turn up 30mins before the show and expect a view. Especially important if you have a camera and want to get anything like decent photos.

Instead, you need to find the best spot and arrive hours before the show. We camped out on a rock-hard wooden pier for over 5 hours and were still 5-6 rows back from the front. The front row had arrived at 9 am and had been in situ for over 12 hours just to get a good view. And remember this is in July, and in New York in July, it’s either stifling hot or tipping it down, often both. Expect extremely hot and humid weather with a good chance of afternoon storms! And that’s before we even consider the Gridlock that occurs on all forms of public transport. This is not a fun way to spend your day in NYC. It is SO worth it, but it’s a tough old day…

Macys 4th July Fireworks

Read more about this here

Fortunately, there is a great alternative, that largely avoids all of the above issues. Cruise Ships.

New York 4th July Fireworks Cruise

With a 4th July Cruise, you really can take the hassle out of viewing the Fireworks. You do not need to waste a whole day down by the waterfront reserving your spot. You don’t need to research the best locations and then hope the NYPD don’t change things last minute (they will). You won’t be restricted from the best viewing spots by high-paying media camera teams, and you will not be exposed to New York’s scorching summer weather.

Instead, you can spend the day doing what you want, then saunter over to your dock and hop aboard the cruise while they worry about getting you in position. You can enjoy a relaxed time on the water, enjoying whatever food and drink options are provided on your cruise, then take in the fireworks from an enviable location, drink in hand, street free. Then once docked you will have free reign of the Transport network sagely on the opposite side of the island from the hordes.

It’s all very civilized and hassle-free… infact why would you NOT do it this way?.. Well, these cruises are not exactly free…For most, seeing the 4th July Fireworks Display is a completely free activity, but the cruises add quite a hefty price tag to their cruises, making this excellent way of avoiding the crush quite a costly escapade. Are they worth it?

Yes and No, the manic crush and mayhem, on the streets are all part of the experience, and we kind of like it, but it does get old quickly and for some, it’s all just too much. In that respect, the cruise option is a real lifesaver. Also, these cruises are pretty awesome. They are usually catered with dinner and often drinks included, and you spend some really excellent time enjoying the views from the River of the sun setting and the fireworks erupting over the skyline. It’s a great experience regardless of the advantages of avoiding the hassle of public viewing.

You will also have indoor and outdoor spaces on the boat so you can escape the heat and rainstorms, while still getting outdoors for a stunning view of the fireworks. Yes, they are a costly extravagance, but it’s one you are likely to remember for a good while.

Contents – Let’s take a look at the options…

Best New York 4th July Fireworks Cruise

City Experiences – Pier 61

4th July Fireworks Cruise
  • Location: Pier 61 – Pier 61, Chelsea Piers – Hudson River
  • Duration: 4.5 Hours +
  • Cost:
    • Silver: $300
    • Gold: $350
    • Platinum: $390
  • Inclusions: Buffet Dinner, Dj Entertainment, Plus:
    • Silver: Open Bar
    • Gold: Open Bar + Bottle of Sparkling Wine+ Souvineer Champagne Flute
    • Platinum: Open Bar + Bottle of Sparkling Wine+ Souvineer Champagne Flute + Window Seating

Hornblower Cruises, rebranded recently as City Experiences, offer top-quality cruises all over the states. For the 4th of July, they put on a really great cruise that gets you right in the thick of the action.

The Vessels used are large and stable triple-decker ferries. The advertised (but not guaranteed) vessel is the Spirit of New York and this is a very nice boat, with three really plush indoor spaces where dinner will be served. Along with a large and spacious outdoor deck up top, and viewing space on the bow as well. There is more than enough space outside for all guests to watch the display once dinner has concluded.

The Menu is a little confusing in that it offers a Buffet Dinner but then most courses are pre-selected and served tableside: Full Menu Here



Tomatoes | Cucumbers |  Carrots | Ranch Dressing | Balsamic Dressing


Quinoa | Roasted Red Pepper | Spinach | Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette


Sweet Peas | White Beans | Scallions



Scallions | Fresno Chilies


Spicy Tomato | White Bean Ragu


Baby Carrots | Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce


Aged Reggiano Parmesan Cheese | Mozzarella Cheese | Spinach Cream Sauce



Idaho Potatoes | Broccoli | Grape Tomatoes | Gremolata | Cauliflower Coconut Cream Sauce



Toasted Garlic | Chili Flakes


Idaho Potatoes | Roasted Garlic



Cakes | Brownies | Seasonal Fruit *May Contain Nuts

There is a DJ for entertainment but this is not too loud or intrusive. There are 3 packages available, all three offering an Open Bar all night. The Gold Package includes a bottle of Fizz and a Comemativey Champagne Flute to take home and is not really that good value as you do not really need a bottle of Fiz when there is an open bar. However, the Platinum Package is more tempting as you also get guaranteed Window Seats. This is not advisable for the Fireworks as the boat moves around and you really want to be stood outside for the show, but for the rest of the trip, it is very nice to have a view directly beside your table all evening. You will be spending a fair bit of time on the boat so it pays to have good seats.

On the downside, there are no guaranteed Table sizes and couples may well be seated with others and mixed groups. We don’t mind this and like making new friends but if you are looking for a private table this is not a great option.

But overall we love the City Experiences Cruise. It ticks all the boxes and sails out of a nice and convenient port that is well away from the masses so easy to get to and from. The Food is good and very filling, and the open bar ensures you will have a great time.

Note – We find the wording on the booking site a little confusing. The inclusion of an Open bar versus a Cash Bar seems a little confusing. To be clear all 3 packages on the 4th July Cruise include an Open bar, the wording about a Cash Bar comes from re-using the standard cruise form (lazy web development) and does not relate to the Special Cruise. All three packages include an Open Bar all night, no need for additional purchases.

  • Vessel Sails: 6:00 pm (Boarding 5.30 pm)
  • Vessels Returns: 10:30 pm (Possibly later with Harbor Traffic Delays)

< Book This Cruise Directly >

City Experiences – Pier 15

City Experiences Pier15 Fireworks
  • Location: Pier 15 – Downtown/Finacial District – East River
  • Duration: 4.5 Hours +
  • Cost:
    • Silver: $300
    • Gold: $350
    • Platinum: $390
  • Inclusions: Buffet Dinner, Dj Entertainment, Plus:
    • Silver: Open Bar
    • Gold: Open Bar + Bottle of Sparkling Wine+ Souvineer Champagne Flute
    • Platinum: Open Bar + Bottle of Sparkling Wine+ Souvineer Champagne Flute + Window Seating

This is essentially the exact same cruise as above, the only difference is the location the cruise sails from. Pier 15 is located Downtown, near the Financial district just below Brooklyn Bridge. Overall we prefer the Pier 61 location. This is really because the Vessel has to sail down the Hudson past to get to the area where the ships can mill around waiting for the fireworks. We also find this area more accessible from where we usually stay. The Pier 61 Cruise also uses a better vessel on its cruise, the Spirit of New York (although this is not guaranteed)

But there really is not a lot in it. These are both excellent cruises and offer a really fun, convenient way to enjoy the Fireworks Display and celebrate the Country’s Birthday. We would go with whichever is most convenient for your trip, but if Pier 61 sells out you will still have a great time sailing from Pier 15.

  • Vessel Sails: 6:00 pm (Boarding 5.30 pm)
  • Vessels Returns: 10:30 pm (Possibly later with Harbor Traffic Delays)

< Book This Cruise Directly >

Bateaux – Pier 61

The Bateaux New York
  • Location: Pier 61 – Pier 61, Chelsea Piers – Hudson River
  • Duration: 4.5 Hours +
  • Cost:
    • Silver: $429
    • Gold: $499
    • Platinum: $549
  • Inclusions: Buffet Dinner, Dj Entertainment, Guaranteed Table Size Plus:
    • Silver: Open Bar
    • Gold: Open Bar + Bottle of Sparkling Wine+ Souvineer Champagne Flute
    • Platinum: Open Bar + Bottle of Sparkling Wine+ Souvineer Champagne Flute + Window Seating

The Bateaux is a really classy European Style River Cruiser. The boat has an All-glass Ceiling and brings the outdoors in. Offering unparalleled Viewing directly from your seat. While this makes for a very nice cruise we would still want to head outdoors for the fireworks, but that is ok as there are two outdoor decks too. The capacity of the vessel is much smaller so it is far less crowded and while the other cruises have a “booze cruise” feel about them the Bateaux is much more refined.

The menu is high quality and served tableside rather than Buffet, and while there is an Open bar as well, drinks will be served tableside so you won’t have to queue. Other than these differences the Cruise still runs very similar to the City Experiences Cruises, mainly as they are operated by the same people, and run from the same Chealse piers, Pier 61.

For anyone looking for a really refined and classy evening, with fantastic fireworks viewing the Bateux is hard to beat and the fact that you will get a table to yourselves is a real boost for some, especially those looking for a little romance.

Obviously, the payoff for the much-enhanced experience is a significant bump in price!

  • Vessel Sails: 6:00 pm (Boarding 5.30 pm)
  • Vessels Returns: 10:30 pm (Possibly later with Harbor Traffic Delays)

< Book The Bateaux 4th July Cruise Now >

Circle Line Cruises – Pier 83

Circle Line Cruise

Circle Line is a very solid cruise company and offers daily sightseeing cruises up and down both rivers multiple times a day. We love their tours and often sail with them, partly as they are included on the Go City New York Pass that we are big fans of. Their vessels are pretty basic but they offer a really good service and on July 4th it’s a great budget option for seeing the fireworks… yes, $269pp is budget, welcome to New York.

The Buffet is basic as well, but it fits so well with the theme. Expect classic July $th BBQ favorites, Burgers, Hotdogs, Fired Chicken, and Mac And Cheese, a real celebration of all things American. The Open bar is limited to Beer and Wine (with spirits and cocktails for purchase) but again this fits nicely with the Summer BBQ theme.

These trips are not the classiest but they are great fun and have a real party atmosphere. There are several decks with loads of outdoor viewing to get the best of the fireworks display, and expect a really nice cruise beforehand as you will have a lot of time to enjoy the stunning New York Skyline and Landmarks before the show…and plenty of time to get stuck into the bar!

  • Vessel Sails: 6:00 pm (Boarding 5.30 pm)
  • Vessels Returns: 10:30 pm (Possibly later with Harbor Traffic Delays)

< Book Circle Line 4th July Cruise Now >

4th of July Fireworks on Clipper City Tall Ship – Pier 17

City Clipper Cruise

We really have saved the best till last with this luxury cruise aboard a historic sailing ship the Clipper City. This large, 158ft long 120ft high Tall Ship was first built before the Civil War and used to haul Lumber. It’s now been rebuilt to haul tourists up and down the East and Hudson Rivers and give them a taste of nautical history. The Masts are so tall they only just squeeze under the Brooklyn Bridge and it uses over 5000 feet of sails to power the vessel.

The Crew prides themselves on spending as much time as possible under wind power and for most of this cruise the wind will push you along and you can even help out in raising the sails and keeping the ship moving forward. Reality dictates though that the vessel is under a little more control once the main event draws near and the modern City Clipper is fitted with a motor to help navigate the very busy traffic lanes that will occur around the time of the display.

The cruise offers an Open Bar, featuring Red, White, and Blue cocktails and a selection of beers and wines. And there is a fantastic dinner menu featuring everyone’s BBQ favorites. For us, this is the best menu out of all the cruises and mixes some culinary class with the celebratory theme.


Vegetable Crudité Platter
Gourmet Cheese and Cracker Platter
Homemade Tortilla Chips with Guacamole, Black Bean Dip & Salsa
Homemade Pita Chips with Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Tzatziki Sauce


Tequila Lime Poached Shrimp Skewer with Cocktail Sauce Dip
Teriyaki Steak Skewer with Teriyaki Dipping Sauce
Chicken Skewer with Sweet Chili Glaze
Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto with Balsamic Glaze
Cheeseburger and Burger Sliders with Pickles and Pink Sauce
Mini Lobster Rolls


Country Fried Chicken
BBQ Ribs
Sweet Italian Sausage and Peppers & Onions
Tomato, Basil, Fresh Mozzarella Caprese Pasta Salad
Buttermilk Cole Slaw
Macaroni Salad Primavera
Corn Bread and Zucchini Bread
Grilled Root Vegetables
Red Potato Salad with Chives and Crispy Bacon


Dessert Platter
Red, White and Blue Mini Cupcakes
Fruit Salad with Watermelon

Overall the Clipper cruise is easily our favorite option, however, unsurprisingly it’s the most expensive, and with only 135 places available it also sells out pretty quickly. So while this is our preferred option the high cost makes us seriously consider attending one of the cheaper options, but coming back for a Sail on the Clipper another time when the cost is significantly reduced? It’s even included on the Go City Pass and the New York Pass!

But for those really wanting to push the boat out the Clipper Cruise is unbeatable. With over 4 hours aboard the Clipper, you will really get to know the crew and learn heaps about the old ways of sailing, and get plenty of use out of the top-quality open bar and Dinner Options.

  • Vessel Sails: 5:30 pm
  • Vessels Returns: 10:00 pm (Possibly later with Harbor Traffic Delays)

< Book the City Clipper 4th July Cruise here >


There are some new events being run this year by July4th.com. This is a new set-up but it’s by a very established Promotional Company and using Very Established Cruise lines for the Cruises themselves.

July4th.com is run by the Same People that Operate Balldrop.com one of the top-rated New Year’s Eve Party Promoters. They operate some of the best New Year’s Eve Parties so it’s great to see them branching out into this space.

The Cruises offered by the company are very competitively priced and defiantly worth checking out as they offer the same level of experience as the more established competition.

Cornucopia Cruise Line

Cornucopia usually operates out of New Jersey so are not as well known in Manhattan, but offer excellent Dinner Cruises year-round on their luxury Yachts. For 4th July they are operating out of Manhattan so no worries about trekking over to Jersey. There are 3 yachts on offer and they all have their own Style.

Cornucopia Majesty

Cornucopia Majesty 4th July
  • Deck 1 – Prime Deck
  • Deck 2 – Mezzanine Deck
  • Deck 3 – Admiral’s Deck

There are 5 Decks aboard the Majesty, along with the stunning Sky Deck offering amazing views of the City and the Fireworks. The Ship is a huge beast of a vessel with up to 1200 people aboard (limited to 1000 for the party). The Main Deck is really stunning with a series of Mezzanine floors, high ceilings, and chandeliers.

< Book the Majesty Cruise Now >

Cornucopia Princess Yacht

Cornucopia Princess

The Princess Yacht is quite a bit smaller than the Hulking Majesty which leads to a more intermate experience. The yacht is primarily used for weddings and has a really classy and refined interior. There are 3 decks and a stunning sun deck that will allow fantastic views of the fireworks.

< Book The Princess Cruise Now >

Horizon’s Edge 

horizons edge yacht July 4th nyc
  • Location: Pier 81
  • Duration: 5 Hours
  • Cost: $229-259
  • Inclusions: Open Bar, American BBQ Buffet, DJ Entertainment

Sitting in the middle of the pack size-wize the 600 people  Horizon’s Edge has a really nice outdoor space modeled more like an outdoor terrace than your usual cruise deck. This boat sails from Pier 81 so will offer really nice views of the City Skyline as you sail doe the Hudson to the bay.

< Book The Horizons Edge Cruise Now >

All three options offer a very similar service and atmosphere. These are Prty boats but they are still Family Friendly and not pure Booze Cruises. They offer a full American Style Buffet which includes BBQ Brisket. Chicken and Parmesan Crusted Swai Fish Fillet.

Dinner Buffet

  • BBQ Brisket
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Parmesan Crusted Swai Fish Fillet
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • String Beans
  • Cornbread
  • Mixed Salad
  • Cesar Salad
  • Assorted Desserts

There is a Premium Open Bar which is provided for 4 hours of the cruise along with DJ Entertainment, a dance floor, and great views of the City and the Fireworks. Each Ticket gets an assigned Table meaning you can get up go for a walk to the outdoor decks, take in the view, watch the fireworks, even have a little dance, and you will still have a seat to come back to.

Serenity Yacht – CityExperiences

Serenity Yacht 4th July

Finally, July4th.com is offering a party aboard the Serenity Yacht operated by City Experiences. We have already covered City Cruises above as they are running extensive Party events themselves.

The Serenity is one of City Cruises’ finest vessels and offers 2 indoor decks and an outdoor viewing deck. Like the Cornucopia the Cruise offers a BBQ Buffet (To Be Confirmed), Dj Entertainment, and a 4-hour Open bar. This is also the cheapest Cruise offered by July4th.com

< Book You Cruise at July4th.com >

Things to Consider

We have so far been pretty positive about these cruises and we definitely do really love them and see them as a really great way to celebrate the day, avoiding all the madness that ensures while heading to the Viewing areas on foot. Not everything is rosy though, and there are some considerations before you commit $3-600 per person!


Let’s deal with the biggest elephant. These Cruises do not Guarantee you will see the Fireworks. They are in no way officially associated with the Display and are basically leeching off the popularity of the Display to make some money. The NYPD takes over the Ground Transport and the Coast Guard takes over the Rivers. If the Coast Guard decides a Vessel needs to move along, it will have to. The Cruise Captains have very little real say in where they can stop to see the show.

In reality, they almost always give you a great place to watch the fireworks, and we never hear of total disaster in viewing the display, but it could happen and you are unlikely to have any redress. The Location of the Display can also change, although it’s been the same for a number of years now, and this could impact where the vessels can stop to show you the display.

Sometimes the Boats are not allowed past the Williamsburg bridge which means the display is on the wrong side of the bridge, which might be a little disappointing, and sometimes clouds and smoke move in to obscure things a little.

Overall, you are taking a risk that the final experience will not be as perfect as you imagine.


City Clipper Cruise Party

Open Bars, long cruise times, and excitable crowds can often lead to some pretty drunken guests. The crew will cut people off before getting too drunk, but the overall atmosphere can certainly be very jovial. This is no issue for many, and getting into the party spirit is all part of the fun. But if being trapped on board a boat full of drunken idiots for 4+ Hours is not your idea of a fun time, look to book a higher-end cruise or just skip this idea altogether.


For the most part, the weather plays ball on the 4th of July. It will be without doubt hot and sticky, but usually clear and sunny. Out on the water, later in the day, the heat is usually not too bad and you can expect a really nice time on the water. But the weather does not always play ball.

The issues arise when a bit too much humidity rolls up from the south and then afternoon storms can really put a damper on things. If this happens then the rains can be biblical. Most vessels have an indoor area, but it is still likely to make the cruise a bit of a Damp Squib. Large storm fronts can also pass over and bring low clouds and rain for more prolonged times.

Essentially good weather is likely but far from certain so take precautions such as extra clothing if there is any cloud around or the forecast gives possible showers.

Return Times

These are pretty long trips, over four and a half hours with most boats aiming to be back a the dock by 10:30. But this is not guaranteed. Boat traffic and harbor restrictions could mean you are aboard the vessel even longer. It’s quite possible you will not be back at your hotel till gone midnight!

Boarding Times – Small Print

Make sure you check the small print for what time you need to arrive. We have heard people missing trips because they arrived when the vessel sailed not when it boarded. Ensure you know 100% what time you need to be at the dock. Once boarding is complete the vessel will sail without you. We aim to be there at least an hour before sailing, but again make sure you check the reservation details carefully

Misleading Photos

Most of these Cruises use some pretty misleading Photos in their marketing. Often showing really old displays in front of locations and landmarks that you just won’t be able to see. The reality is you will be situated quite a way from the display, possibly with an indirect view.

As we said the captains do not have the final say on where to view the fireworks, they will do their best, but the river will e very congested and the Coast Guard has ultimate authority, and they are not letting a boatload of tourists get too close to several tonnes of explosives!

Photography Issues

This one is a little Niche, but getting good photos of the Fireworks is also tricky from a boat. All the best photos you will see (like the shot above) are taken from the shore. Why? Because you can utilize long exposures. That’s what gives that buttery smooth look to the fire worked.

If you do not have a clue what we are talking about here or only plan on using your phone for photos then do not worry, you will be fine. But for people with a hobbyist or higher interest in photography, these trips are terrible for photos…why? Boats move.

Even the gentle swaying of the boat will destroy anything but the fastest shutter speed photos. If the captain gets you in the right position you can get good shots, but they are not going to be the fantastic smooth motion-filled shots that you can bag from the shore. It is, for this reason, we tend to stay on the shore, but for 99% of people, this is largely irrelevant.

4th July Macy's Fireworks

Have your Say

Have you done a 4th July Fireworks Cruise? How did you find the overall experience? Which company did you choose and how did you find the fireworks viewing? Let us know in the comments below. If you have any questions at all just fire away in the comments as well.

You May Also Like

Leave a Comment