NYC river cruises offer unique views

Couples Dennis and Jeni Espantman, foreground, and Anna

Couples Dennis and Jeni Espantman, foreground, and Anna and Dennis Lucas enjoy the view along the Hudson River just north of the Bear Mountain Bridge during a New York Water Taxi Fall Foliage cruise. (Oct. 20, 2013) (Credit: Linda Rosier)

Seeing New York's coastline and skyline from the surrounding waterways allows you to experience the city in a completely different way. While most people don't own a sailboat and can't afford a private charter, a number of local cruises offer some history or entertainment along with the great views. Here are four with upcoming departures.

1. AROUND MANHATTAN ARCHITECTURE TOUR On this 2-hour, 45-minute cruise, run by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, you'll pass under 18 bridges and hear about more than 150 buildings and landmarks. Held on Classic Harbor Line's 1920s-style Yacht Manhattan, the cruise hosts about 50 people. Snacks and a complimentary beverage are served.

WHEN | WHERE Most Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at various times. Departs from and returns to Pier 62 (Chelsea Piers). There's a special Brooklyn-specific tour Nov. 2.

INFO $76; 212-627-1825 (info), 212-913-9991 (tickets); sail-nyc.com or aiany.org

2. FALL FOLIAGE CRUISE View the lower Hudson Valley's fall foliage in its splendor on a four-hour tour aboard an iconic black-and-yellow-checkered New York Water Taxi. Including light refreshments, cider and a wine tasting by Red Hook Winery, the cruise passes Grant's Tomb, the George Washington Bridge, Sleepy Hollow and other sites. Tours capped at about 90 people.

WHEN | WHERE Saturday and Sunday, and Nov. 2-3 at 12:30 p.m. Departs from and returns to Pier 17 (South Street Seaport).

INFO $85; 212-742-1969; nywatertaxi.com

3. MUSIC CRUISES If you're more interested in dining, dancing and singing, too, Entertainment Cruises offers a couple of options aboard the Spirit of New York, which can hold up to 500 people. The Latin Moonlight Cruise features a DJ spinning salsa and merengue and dance lessons by Piel Canela. Held from 12:30 to 3 p.m., this cruise is for passengers 21 and older; bar packages and a Latin buffet available as add-ons.

Or take a Karaoke Cruise, with or without a full dinner package. Popular with tour groups and bachelorette parties, these three-hour trips depart at 7 p.m. and are open to all ages.

WHEN | WHERE The final Latin Moonlight Cruise of the season is Saturday. Karaoke cruises are scheduled for Nov. 15 and Nov. 29. All tours depart from and return to Pier 61 (Chelsea Piers).

INFO $21.90 (Latin Moonlight) or $45.90-$91.90 (Karaoke); 866-483-3866; spiritofnewyork.com

4. SUNSET SAIL Peace, quiet and the simple beauty of lower Manhattan at night is the draw of this sail, which has benches for sitting on the deck of the 80-foot schooner Adirondack. While this isn't a sightseeing trip, the route provides stunning views and photo opportunities of the Statue of Liberty. Complimentary soda, water, beer, wine and Champagne are served throughout, and passengers are invited to bring a picnic on board for the two-hour ride.

WHEN | WHERE Nightly through Nov. 3; times vary with the sunset. Depart from and return to Pier 62 (Chelsea Piers).

INFO $64; 212-627-1825 (info), 212-913-9991 (tickets); sail-nyc.com

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