Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

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Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Circle Line X.jpg
Locale Manhattan, New York
Waterway East River, Harlem River, Harlem River Ship Canal, Hudson River, New York Harbor, Spuyten Duyvil Creek, Upper New York Bay
Transit type Water Tours
Owner Karl Andren
Operator Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Began operation 1945
No. of lines 5
No. of vessels 9
No. of terminals 1
Daily ridership Approximately 2,740

The Circle Line is the collective name given to two sightseeing ferry operations in Manhattan:

  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises at 42nd Street which circles Manhattan from its base at Pier 83 in Manhattan
  • Circle Line Downtown operates out of Pier 16, South Street Seaport. The company name is Circle Line Harbor Cruises, LLC. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Circle Line Statue of Liberty.


The two companies split in 1981 from the parent Circle Line company and now have different officers and directors.

Circumnavigation of Manhattan became possible in 1905 with the construction of the Harlem Ship Canal, the first regularly scheduled trip being the Tourist captained by John Roberts in 1908.

On June 15, 1945 Frank Barry, Joe Moran and other partners merged several sightseeing boats to form the Circle Line operating out of Battery Park.

In 1955 it began operating at its current Pier 83 location. In 1962 it bought the famous and venerable Hudson River Day Line.[1]

In 1981, the two companies split.

In 1988 the 42nd Street company bought World Yacht's operating upscale dining cruises from Chelsea Piers - currently World Yacht Dining Cruises. In 1998 the 42nd Street company also launched The Beast, a speedboat ride which takes tourists around the Statue of Liberty and goes 45 mph.

In 2007, the United States National Park Service said it was going to terminate Circle Line Liberty franchise and give a 10-year contract to Hornblower Cruises which provides service to Alcatraz.[2] It was noted in the announcement that since 1953 Circle Line has transported 70 million people to Liberty Island. Among the items cited in the transfer was a newer fleet (although Hornblower will have to buy the Circle Line boats) and the possibility of new service to Gateway National Recreation Area. The New York Times reported on December 8, 2007 that the price of the circle line boats to be sold to Hornblower was in arbitration, forcing Hornblower to bring in new boats.[3]

In 2009, Circle Line took delivery of the third of three new vessels constructed at Gladding-Hearn in Somerset, Massachusetts.


Circle Line was awarded with proclamations by two New York City mayors. In 1985, then Mayor Ed Koch proclaimed April 23 "Circle Line Day." Approximately 20 years later current Mayor Mike Bloomberg proclaimed September 17 "Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises Day" in 2008.


Video from 20 minutes after ditching, with numerous ferries and rescue boats surrounding the aircraft
The plane in the Hudson River surrounded by Coast Guard, FDNY, NYPD, and ferryboats

In 2001, Circle Line vessels helped transport victims of the September 11 attacks back to New Jersey.

After US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to land in the Hudson River in 2009, Circle Line Sightseeing vessels were among the first to respond.


Circle Line Sightseeing continues to operate on the Hudson River and is dedicated exclusively to sightseeing. Currently, Circle Line Sightseeing's operating vessels are the Circle Line XII, XVI, XVII, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Cruise Types

  • Full Island Cruise - navigates the entire island of Manhattan.
  • Semi Circle Cruise - goes through half of the island of Manhattan, circles sights twice.
  • Liberty Cruise - sails directly past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
  • Harbor Lights Cruise - same route as the Semi Circle cruise at sunset.
  • The BEAST Speedboat Ride - New York's first speedboat, cruises up to 45 mph on the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty and back.
  • Special Events Cruises - Santa Cruise, New Year's Eve, etc.
  • Kids Cruises - cruises themed specifically for kids, often with kids-specific entertainment.
  • Private Charters
  • Groups


  1. George, Horne (October 6, 1962). "Hudson Day Line Bought By Circle". The New York Times. p. 50. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  2. Ramirez, Anthony (June 29, 2007). "Circle Line Loses Pact for Ferries to Liberty Island". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2010. 
  3. McGeehan, Patrick (December 8, 2007). "Crossing a Continent by Water to Another City by the Bay". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2010. 

External links