The interior of the Manhatttan II during the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

An Evening on the Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise in New York City

Once the holiday season officially kicks off, calendars fill up pretty quickly. It’s not just the holiday shopping and decorating, or all the cooking and baking. It’s the holiday parties, too. From office functions to dinner gatherings, it can sometimes feel like we’re caught in an endless loop of Nat King Cole, hors d’oeuvres and eggnog. But what if you moved the location of that soirée to a yacht, added a live band and some caroling, threw in some cocktails and brews, spiked that cocoa and served it with cookies, and for good measure, offered stunning nighttime views of the greatest city in the world?

The answer to that question lies with Classic Harbor Line’s Cocoa and Carols cruise.

But it’s cold!

The Manhattan II docked at Chelsea Piers during the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

If you’re thinking that taking a cruise in the cold weather sounds absolutely nutty, not to worry. The yacht’s toasty solarium staves off the cold night air. As you glide along the water, the clear windows allow the lights of the city to surround you. The cruise takes you by major landmarks like the World Trade Center, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, offering unique views that can only be enjoyed from the waterways.

A crowd pleaser

Interior cabin with views during the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC BlogView of the New York City skyline from the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The Classic Harbor Line Cocoa and Carols cruise is romantic enough for a special date night but still thoroughly enjoyable with a group of friends. (And if you happen to get seated at a larger table with some strangers, you get to make new ones.) You can enjoy the views from your cozy seat, or you can pop out onto the deck and enjoy unencumbered views along with the brisk night air. And if you think visitors are the only ones fawning over the sights, I can assure you there are few locals jaded enough to register zero excitement. 1.5 hours is the perfect amount of time to sail around the city.

There’s Cocoa (and then some)

People singing carols during the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC BlogA plate of holiday cookies from the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The cost of the ticket includes a complimentary drink which includes hot cocoa (spiked or regular), wine, beer, or soda. If you’d prefer a cocktail instead, you can get it at half price. Any additional drinks can be purchased at the bar, but note that it only accepts credit or debit cards. (Make sure you still have cash so you can tip your servers as you depart the ship.) Halfway through the ride, complimentary cookies are served.

And Carols

Live jazz band from the Cocoa and Carols Cruise via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A live jazz band entertains you throughout the duration of the cruise, which certainly beats having obligatory holiday music on repeat in the background. On the evening of our outing, we enjoyed the musical talents of the SoundWaves, who were also on hand to lead us through the caroling portion of the cruise. There’s no pressure to participate, though an enthusiastic group can certainly make the experience much more enjoyable. We had a particularly lively rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which had us feeling like we were part of a musical ensemble. (Quite a feat considering neither one of us can carry a tune!)

If you have your own yacht, call us. We’d love to be friends. But until then, we’ll be living our best “I’m on a boat” fantasies while slaying the holiday game on the Cocoa and Carols cruise. And you can too!

To purchase tickets, visit Classic Harbor Line’s Holiday Cruises.

Thank you to Classic Harbor Line for partnering on this post.

-L. & J.

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1 year ago

Sounds like so much fun and a relaxing time. The views are spectacular and to top it with food,drinks and music there’s nothing more one can ask for !

1 year ago

Another gem beautifully chronicled. There is nothing more full of wonder than the New York City skyline at night from the harbor. Hot cocoa, soft jazz, the lights, JAM leaning her head on my shoulder…..I would expect to get home and find Santa Claus setting out presents under the tree. Thank you for another cupful of what we are missing. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Dippy Dotty Girl
1 year ago

How festive the cookies and the carolling are! We are skint with all the travels coming up for us but will keep this in mind for future plans. Are you guys living up this holly jolly season? 🙂

Dippy Dotty Girl
1 year ago


Adi is bent on booking one of those holiday cruises and all I see is a modern-day Titanic playing out before the eyes. He has threatened to go on his own and warned me that such treasure as him cannot be passed up by the single ladies. I think I am ready to take the chance.

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman

Sounds like a blast! I think I recognize some of those carousers at your table. You really can’t go wrong with skyline views of NYC lit up at night, hot cocoa, cookies, jazz, and caroling. Unless there was cake, too, but I digress. Yet another fun thing to do during the holidays in New York!

1 year ago

Sounds like a great time all around, between the lights, the music and the treats. There’s a lovely tradition in Seattle, the Christmas Ship, where a ship is festooned with lights and has carolers on board (plus can’t-carry-a-tune-passengers). The ship cruises slowly around the sound (and another route circles Lake Washington), pausing in various places. To see it from someone’s house, perched high above in the darkness, is magical. And other, smaller boats join in…really a sweet sight. This year we’re a few hours from all that but we understand there are several lighted boat parades of a more informal… Read more »

1 year ago

What fun!

1 year ago

I had to wait to read your post before writing my own – I didn’t want to accidentally plagiarize! Anyway, I am SOOOO so glad you invited me to this, for so many reasons! It truly helped my holiday spirit set sail (see what I did there?). And oddly enough, ever since we went on this cruise I must’ve seen about a dozen or so ads for it on both social media and in the subway stations! New Yorkers must be catching on how cool it is to see their city from this unique vantage point 🙂

1 year ago

When Ashwin and I have our boat ( yatch may be a little too far fetched) you’ll have a private tour. We’ll sing our own carols and eat home made cake.
Hopefully, I finally get my boating license in the next few summer. It’s been too long on the ‘Things To DO List.”
Until then cruises around NYC will do. They are always so much fun. Views, drinks and food on the water. Joy!