Sunday September 20, 2009 / 7:00pm (Dinner Cruise)Spirit Cruises' Buffet Cruises
Maitre D' Seating
How was your experience?
We arrived to Chelsea Pier 61 early in hopes of finding free Sunday evening parking curbside, but just missed snagging the last spot across from the pier on 21st Street. We did not want to pay the excessive $10 per hour Chelsea Pier parking fee, so we located a secure adjacent paid lot with a fixed $14 cost for the evening. Check-in was seamless and we boarded early. While our original reservation did not provide a "window seat," we were seated in the center of a 6-seat configuration with plenty of visual access just a few feet away. We also were given an opportunity to "upgrade" to a window seat if one became available - and one did open up a short time later. The boat departed a few minutes late - around 7:09 and headed down the Hudson just after sunset. The multiple decks offered both sunset views over Jersey, and lights coming on over the city. While shrimp cocktails were offered at $15 extra, along with drinks (no prices on the menu, so ask before ordering), we opted for the coffee, tea and iced tea that were part of our dinner cruise package. Our waitstaff was friendly. accomodating and talented, as we heard later during the "singing waitstaff" portion of the evening. In between, our Aussie accented DJ kept a predictable mix of Carribean, top 40 and classic ballads spinning. Folks marking milestones like birthdays, military retirements and anniversaries were recognized, and a lingering visit offshore from the Statue of Liberty was accompanied by several patriotic numbers - very inspiring especially on this mild and clear night. The food and presentation was nothing more than you might expect from an average catering hall, but the variety was acceptable with a warm pasta veggie medley being among our favorite choices. The ham, sliced to order, looked like it was prepared hours earlier, and the roast beef was either bloodly or leathery overdone. The salad was warm and not crisp, and the green beans in both confiurations, were rubbery and probably canned or frozen. Dessert was a sliver of cheesecake and a chocolate mousse pastery - also unremarkable. If there was any disappointment, it was the short length of the jaunt up the East River. Given the amount of time available, we never even got close to the United Nations before heading back under the "three bridges." Then, the boat sailed back up the Hudson only to linger just off our port for more than 20 minutes. I would have liked to have ventured further up towards the George Washington Bridge in that time, but it was not meant to be. Overall, we decided to come back with friends and make this trip again at least once if weather permits both inside and outside access. I can't imagine just being cooped up inside for three hours, although the window walls of the dining level afford unfettered access to the views year round.