Monday, May 14, 2012

Rolling On The River In Style: The Newly Renovated Spirit Of New Jersey Sets Sail On The Hudson!

By: Anne M. Raso

The Spirit Of New Jersey is over 20 years old now, and still provides a great time on their pre-scheduled nightly cruises that include brunch, lunch and dinner--as well during private events. I was lucky enough to attend their recent renovation showcase and was wowed by the $1.5 million upgrades I saw including LED lighted dance floors and bars (there are three additional bars now, by the way), anti-fog windows (which also provide clearer views at night), plasma TVs, new dining chairs and more.
There is also a greater variety of cuisines served and plenty of entertainment ranging from singing waiters to interactive deejays to specialty entertainers like card readers and fancy balloon artists. The boat has a modern yet comfortable feel and people of all ages have really been flocking to the ships as of late, especially for specialty cruises that include Hot Latin Moonlight Cruises, Friday Karaoke Dinner Cruises and Gospel Lunch Cruises. As the old saying goes, Spirit Of New Jersey truly has "something for everyone." It also goes without saying that the stunning up-close views of not only the legendary Manhattan Skyline but of Ellis and Liberty Islands make for some of the best photo taking in all of the New York tri-state area.
The boat can hold up to 400 guests so it's a great option for weddings, bar mitzvahs and company events. There are party planning staff will book everything from the food to the photographers to the entertainment to the florist for your event. You could literally have them plan your entire event in one phone call or email--all you need to do is show up (that means that brides and grooms only need to plan their wedding gown and tux, respectively, since the helpful staff event planners even have limo companies they can recommend). The Spirit's sister boats of are also available for private events although they have a different "glass topped" look to them.
At the recent renovation cruise, we personally sampled the amazing Chocolate Fountain and many fine small pastries on the second level--known as the "dessert deck" to veteran Spirit cruisers as to that is what is mainly served there. We counted close to 20 types of sweets served! (People renting the ships out have the choice of throwing in a Viennese table if the usual is not enough to ease their crazy sweet tooth, though.)
We also enjoyed the roast beef and pasta stations, where people can select from several sauces and toppings. We fell in love with the passed hors d'oeuvres, which ranged all the way from classic Pigs In Blankets to Tuna Tartare With Wasabi Aioli. The cocktail hour included a huge assortment of Crudites and Antipasto--it's almost hard to eat the other food after gorging oneself on artisanal cheese and fabulous imported salamis and prosciutto.
Aside from the fabulous food, diversity of entertainment and views, we fell in love with the newly renovated Spirit Of New Jersey because of the comfortable couches and ottomans on the upper deck (third level) which one can easily sink themselves into and never get up out of for an entire three-hour cruise. Since food and drinks are served non-stop not just at the banquet tables but via roaming staff, there really is no need to leave your seat on the  upper deck. It's the prime spot to be on the Hudson in the summer when it's hot out and the breeze in your hair feels like a million bucks.
I plan to go back again this summer to partake of a Spirit Of New Jersey Cruise in warmer weather. I will not easily forget how comfortable those outside sofas were or what an optimum spot the top deck was for photographing the Statue Of Liberty as we rode by. For more info, go to The boat leaves from Weehawken, NJ, just one mile from where the Weehawken Ferry leaves off passengers from Manhattan. A typical buffet dinner cruise is prices at about $80 and a lunch cruise is priced at about $45 and they're worth every penny.

Photos: Anne M. Raso and Spirit of NJ

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