Cruise in New York City: sailing at Hudson’s at Pier 81
I have seen a lot of recommendations about Hudson’s at Pier 81 on blogs and videos. The restaurant was on my wishlist for a while and I’ve decided that it was time to check the place on my list before the end of the summer. And that’s what we did this weekend! Hudson’s at Pier 81 is a restaurant/bar in a boat – a boat that sails through Hudson River. If the combo restaurant/bar/sailboat was not enough, there is a plus: the cost to sail is free! You pay for what you eat and drink.
UPDATE: Hudson’s is not free anymore.
The boat is huge and it has three environments. The first, downstairs, is a bar/lounge, indoors, with large windows and comfortable seating. Very cozy. Perfect for some drinks and a chat with friends. In the second floor, there is the restaurant area, also indoors, exquisite, with tables near the windows. It is open for dinner and brunch (Sundays only). On the top floor is the deck, an open area with seating space and a bar serving drinks. The boat has restrooms and there is also a DJ playing music.
We didn’t have dinner, so I can not talk about the food in the restaurant – but I’ve read several reviews and everyone mentioned good things about the food. However, I have researched some information to include here if anyone is interested. Brunch (served only on Sundays) is priced at $100 per person – including gratuities and taxes – plus unlimited Mimosas. It’s a buffet, with several choices like salads, bagels, muffins, potatoes, french toast, bread, plus desserts. You can click here to check the brunch menu. Dinner is also priced from $133 per person (plus taxes and tips, a la carte). You can click here to check the dinner menu. If your idea is to enjoy brunch or dinner, do not forget to make a reservation.
If you are planning to stay at the bar/lounge/deck, you can buy a package:
- Package 1: $100 (open bar, appetizer, and boarding pass package)
- Package 2: $39 boarding pass (boarding pass only, drinks/food not included)
In the lounge/bar and on the deck, you can drink cocktails, wines or beers. There are beer choices starting at $7. Wines cost, on average, $12 a glass. Drinks, on average, cost $16. There are also some appetizer options. The small portion of French fries, for example, costs $5. There are other appetizers, whose price is around $15 on average. No reservation is required if you plan to stay in these environments.
Hours and operation
For brunch on Sundays, Hudson’s opens at 11:30 am. An hour later, at 12.30pm, the boat departs for the cruise, returning to the pier at 2:30 p.m. At night, Hudson’s opens at 5:30 p.m., and at 7:00 p.m., the boat departs for the cruise, returning to the pier at 9:00 p.m. You do not have to get there exactly at the time the boat opens, but it is important that you are there at least 15 minutes before departure. I recommend to also click here and check the schedules when planning your trip since they can change according to the time of year.
Now, let’s talk about the cruise itself. We went at the end of the day to enjoy the evening cruise. The boat left punctually at 7 pm. I have to say: I was very worried about the stability of Hudson’s since Thiago tends to get very sick on this kind of ride. I’ve been researching reviews on this, but I have not found anything. Judging by the size of the boat – and serving dinner – I figured it would be a stable boat. To our relief, I was right. It does not shake and he didn’t het water sick. The cruise lasts two hours and the ride gave breathtaking views. On the left side, we were contemplating the Midtown and Downtown areas, seeing buildings like the Empire State Building and the Hudson Yards complex. Then we passed the One Wolrd Trade Center. To the right, the colors of the sunset beautifying the New Jersey skyline. And, of course, the highlight of the tour: the Statue of Liberty. It’s amazing. The captain announces on the speaker when the boat is approaching and I venture to say that Hudson’s come as close to the Statue as other paid tours (Water Taxi and Circle Line). It’s beautiful! The Captain slows the engines for a great look at Lady Liberty for 10 minutes – while you can listen to songs like New York, New York, Frank Sinatra, and Empire State of Mind, Alicia Keys. It’s cliché, yes, but it’s beautiful!
We simply LOVED the experience. We were in a group of 8 people and everyone was delighted with the cruise. Certainly, it was worth it! Highly recommended! Having some drinks, having some time with your friends and still enjoy a cruise with beautiful views – there was no way not to be good, right?
Let’s check some extra and important information!
- Hudson’s at Pier 81 is open year-round from Tuesday to Sunday, according to the schedules quoted above. Just remember to click here and check the schedules when planning your trip, as there may be some change on the colder days.
- There is no age restriction, though it is considered an ambiance geared towards adults.
- The dress code is informal. Ladies, think casual chic – guys, think summer swag.
- The outdoor decks on the boat are open during the winter, most people use them briefly for photo opportunities.
- The boat is both open and sailing rain or shine.
- Very important: Hudson’s at Pier 81 is, primarily, a restaurant/bar inside a boat and not the opposite. What does it mean? Yes, the cruise is free, but you should, at least, buy a drink.
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Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.