The sea has a way of washing away cares, releasing us from the daily grind and landlubbing worries. Doubling down on that relaxation with a cold beverage is our ideal way to spend a few hours, so we’re big fans of the booze cruise. The waterfronts of a number of cities are chock-full of permanently docked boats that offer the chance to drink on the sea, but we believe true booze cruises leave the harbor and actually set sail. And while any cruise can be a booze cruise if you try hard enough, we’re also busy drinkers with lots of ground to cover, so we can’t cruise for more than a day. With that in mind, here are the greatest booze cruises across the United States that will let you set sail, cocktail in hand, and drift away from real life a few glorious hours.
The Best Booze Cruises for Sipping on the High Seas
New York, NY
With two rivers, plentiful docks and countless overworked city dwellers ready to escape the concrete jungle, booze cruises are plentiful in New York. Perhaps the most popular way to see the city by sea is aboard one of Manhattan by Sail’s two huge boats, which offer special cruises like the Craft Beer Tasting Sail ($65) and the Champagne Brunch Sail ($70). Or you could salsa the night away on the Hot Latin Moonlight Cruise ($22) or dance to your own beat on a Quiet Clubbing Party Cruise ($10-50). If you prefer to get classy, opt for yachting on the Revel Yacht Experience ($40-130).
Los Angeles, CA
Most of the tipsy sailing around L.A. is actually done in nearby Marina del Rey and Newport Beach. Hornblower Cruises offers 90-minute tours from Newport on weekends all summer long ($37), as well as Champagne-soaked New Year’s Eve celebrations ($120), proving that the west is the best coast for year round sailing. For a truly tropical excursion, board the Tiki Mermaid ($57-69) for a floating luau full of rum-spiked beverages.
Risk the choppy waters of the Windy City with more than enough provisions for a three-hour tour in case you get stranded somewhere in Lake Michigan. The Island Party Boat ($30) seems especially fit for such an occasion considering one of the fleet’s smaller boats features Polynesian drinks and a waterslide, should you need to abandon ship in the funnest way possible. If you can’t possibly wait for the weekend to set sail, After Work Cruises ($25) will vastly improve your Monday or Tuesday with adult beverages and a scenic nautical tour. Better yet, pilot your own BYOB vessel up river with Corporate Tailgate and Boat Rental ($100-300).
New Orleans, LA
Because you can drink pretty much anywhere in New Orleans, Big Easy booze cruises aren’t as popular as they are in other cities. Regardless, there are still great ways to drink on the Mississippi. The two best options, in true New Orleans fashion, are paddleboats—the Steamboat Natchez ($48-81) and the Creole Queen ($79), which both offer dinner, drinks and Dixieland jazz as you paddle up river.
San Francisco, CA
We’ve always wanted to be a part of Captain Kirk’s crew, and our dreams have finally come true. The space pilot—or someone simply using his name—will sail you and 24 of your closest friends around the Bay without charging any corkage fee for BYOB bottles ($190-400 per hour). If you want to get a closer look at Alcatraz, hop on the Adventure Cat and take in a piece of history as you circle the island fortress ($85, open bar $22-40).
Go from land to sea and back again aboard one of Duck Tours’ ($32) amphibious vehicles. The comedic 90-minute tours are BYOB, so you can happily suffer the horrible jokes and stares of passersby as you cruise around the streets of South Beach before fleeing into Biscayne Bay. Or test your skills hunting deadly prey with Mark the Shark ($500-1,000 per day), a fishing trip that takes you on a quest for carnivorous prizes that’s inadvisably BYOB.
Our nation’s capital is no barren waterfront for party boaters. Boomerang Boat Tours sets several boats asail, but the clear winner is the Pirate Ship ($30), which cruises the Potomac for two and a half hours as you drink all the rum punch you desire. After the sun sets on the other sea dogs, DC Cruises takes over the river with its Monuments by Moonlight tour ($25) to give you a new perspective on the city’s famous architecture.
Get your sea legs ready for dancing on the Boatonian ($25-30), which sails around Southie with themed parties like Throwback Thursday, Hip-Hop Fridays and Country Saturdays. Or embrace deeper waters on the Bay State Cruise Company’s 90-minute voyage from Boston to Provincetown ($60), which isn’t technically a booze cruise but more of an opportunity to party en route to a weekend getaway.