Discover New York: How To Cruise For Free In NYC

lobster boat

Checking out the menu before boarding the boat. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

Recently, I made one of my most memorable New York City discoveries: a 3-deck lobster boat restaurant called the North River Lobster Co offering a free sail, beautiful skyline views, uber fresh lobster and Mason jar cocktails — for free! Well, okay, not totally for free. You have to pay for what you eat, although there are plenty of food options for under $15 as well as $6 drink specials like a Spiked Lemonade and a Cream Soda Cocktail (Mason Jar cocktails are $12, or $14 if you want to keep the jar).


A delicious lobster from the North River Lobster Co. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

My favorite drink was the “Fog on the Hudson” made with Figenza Fig Vodka, gin cranberry juice, muddled lime and a splash of 7-Up. Probably not something you’d find at Death & Co or Huckleberry Bar — two of my favorite craft cocktail bars in NYC; however, it was perfectly refreshing for a sunny day on the water with notes of sweet stone fruits and some bubbles.


Sampling the drink selection aboard the North River Lobster Co boat. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

What amazed me was that the cruise itself was 100% free, with no obligation to buy food or drink if you didn’t want to. Seriously. You can sit back and get a tan while sailing the Hudson River all day long (there’s no limit on time aboard, the boat will keep circling) without anyone hassling you to buy anything.

North River Lobster Co opened in May 2014, and I’ve actually had a few local readers in NYC send me emails asking if I’d tried it after hearing the buzz. Well, now I have, and I have some tips:

shrimp po boy

My shrimp po’ boy. Good, but the lobster was wayyyy better. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

1. The Spiked Lemonade Cocktail is strong! It’s $6, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly buzz this will be your best bet.

2. Order the lobster, lobster roll or lobster cobb salad. North River Lobster Co is known for their lobster, which is uber fresh and so packed with flavor you won’t even need butter. I made the mistake of ordering the shrimp po’boy, which wasn’t bad, but was nothing compared to the lobster dishes my companions ordered.

north river lobster co

The upper deck of the North River Lobster Co boat. This is only a section of it — it’s actually much bigger. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

3. Sit on the top deck if the weather is warm. It’s open and you’ll be able to feel the breeze and work on your tan (although I recommend you wear sunscreen, as I got a bit burned). Plus, the atmosphere on this level is very lively and social. The second level is also nice, with window-side tables and a raw bar, with more of a romantic feel.

manhattan skyline

The Manhattan skyline as seen from the North River Lobster Co boat. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

4. Bring your happiest friends. Just feeling the sun shining on you while sipping a vodka-laced lemonade on a boat will instantly make you overjoyed. Bring fun and happy people with you to enhance the experience.

5. Bring your camera. Even if you’re a local you’ll have many opportunities for great skyline and food shots.

What’s your favorite budget-friendly experience in NYC? Please share in the comments below.


  1. OHMYGOSH! My friend mentioned something to me about a lobster boat earlier this summer, but then we could never figure out the name of it or any details about it. Thank you so much for pointing it out! So psyched to finally try it out before the weather gets too cool 😀

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