Want to really get to know the Hudson Valley? Get out on the wide and wondrous Hudson River herself. Feel the flow. Squint a little and imagine what the crew of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon would have seen, forested and mysterious. Gaze at the glittering necklace of bridge lights. Being on the water anywhere is cool; being out on the mighty Hudson is superb.
You don’t have a boat, you say? Or you have a boat, but it’s too small to host the whole gang in comfort? Happily, the good folk of Hudson River Cruises and Events have just the thing: the good ship Rip Van Winkle awaits. Step aboard and watch the shore and all your worries slip away. On an afternoon or evening sightseeing tour, you’ll enjoy a perfect view of the lighthouses, mansions, and shorelines between Kingston and Hyde Park, including classic sights like the Vanderbilt and Payne mansions (to name but two along the storied Millionaires’ Row), the rolling Esopus Meadows, and the fanciful castle-like seminary at Mount St. Alphonsus.
And you’ll be enjoying it all in style. The Rip Van Winkle can comfortably accommodate 360 people, so grab the gang; you’ll find chairs you can arrange into your own little lounge area, a full bar featuring local craft options and snacks, and light narration in the form of a recording, designed to unobtrusively clue you in to exactly what you’re looking at.
Hudson River Cruises partners with local Kingston restaurants to offer lunch-and-a-cruise and dinner-and-a-cruise packages. “So you can do a 2:30pm cruise and then a three-course feast at Mariner’s, say,” says Kevin. “It makes a really special afternoon.”
Tourists, says manager Kevin Buckel, tend to want to start with the sightseeing tour to get their bearings. But what keeps the locals and repeat visitors coming back again and again are the evening cruises with live music or a DJ for dancing. “We have the complete lineup on the website,” says Kevin. “From June 28 through the end of August, we offer music cruises every other Friday. It’s just one of the best ways to spend a summer evening in the Hudson Valley. Couple that with Dinner at one of the great waterfront restaurants in Rondout Landing and you have a perfect night!
If you’ve got an occasion on the horizon, or want to plan something special for your company, why not charter the Rip Van Winkle and make her yours for the night? “It makes a really memorable venue,” says Kevin.
“We take care of setting up the tables and chairs, and the lower deck is a very flexible space. Bring in your caterer and decorator; you’ll find we’re a very friendly and flexible company to work with. We’re all about you having a perfect time, and you really can’t beat the photo opportunities.” Hudson River Cruises has been showing off the river’s beauty since the 1980s; in 2016, the operation was purchased by Charleston Harbor Tours, but there’s still a strong focus on partnering with the community. “We do fundraisers for the Boys and Girls Clubs, and People’s Place” says Kevin. “This community is just so full of great people, and we love being their favorite way to get out on the water. Every trip is a good time.”
Hudson River Cruises
Dock: 1 East Strand Street, Kingston