Looking for a Unique Way to Spend an Evening? Sail NYC’s Harbor on Classic Harbor Line’s America 2.0 Morimoto Sushi & Sake Cruise
By Alison Blackman
If there’s anything more romantic than being on the water as the lights of NYC start to sparkle in the sky and are reflected in the water, it has to be dining on world class sushi and drinking quality cold sake from a master chef such as Master chef Morimoto. You can make it happen any week through September on the Classic Harbor Line’s Sushi & Sake cruise aboard the beautiful America 2.0.
I spent my childhood sailing with my parents in the waters around New York. My earliest memory is actually as a toddler watching my mother pull up the centerboard and energetically pump out the bilge in our leaky Sewanhaka Seabird (it eventually sank at it’s mooring in a storm). We switched from wooden hulls to fiberglass hulls after that. But even if you’re not a sailor, or you’ve actually never been on the water before, the experience of a short sail around New York City harbor with a group of sushi and sake lovers, or just lovers of fun, is an unbeatable experience/
On our Morimoto sushi and sake cruise we got a real bonus. The Iron Chef Morimoto was actually on the schooner America 2.0 sailing with us! Chef Morimoto was sitting directly opposite me. He not only prepared the sushi so it was super-fresh, and it was so much fun to sail with him (he’s actually very animated and funny). While his appearance on our cruise was a special thing, he does prepare the sushi and trust me, it’s fabulous!
America 2.0 looks like a classic America’s cup racing yacht, but it’s actually a new boat with a fiberglass hull and all the modern conveniences (e.g. there is a “head” downstairs if you need to use one). Once we left the dock at the Chelsea Piers and were well underway, with full sails helping us along, the first plate of sushi and sake were served. If you sit on the deck, be prepared to dine with the sushi on your lap. Tip: there is also a seating area down near the hatches where you can use the hatch as a “table” and that area is a bit more sheltered, but the views might be slightly more obstructed. The menu includes a sushi sampling of nine sushi pieces and one roll served in two platings and paired with 4 cold sakes including a very lovely organic Junmai Ginjo and a sparkling sake. Champagne, wine, beer, water and soft drinks were also available. The cruise line doesn’t tout this as unlimited booze (as a sailor, I can’t tell you it’s really not recommended when you’re sailing, anyway) but we were offered “seconds” of just about anything we wanted.
In case you’re worried about eating raw fish that’s not stored in a restaurant freezer, know that Classic Harbor Line and Morimoto ensure the sushi is served super-fresh, prepared just minutes before boarding, stored in special coolers and served within the first hour of the sail. We received a full printed menu so we knew what we were eating and drinking, and each piece of sushi was was explained to us along with the sake tastings as they were being presented.
While the food might be the main attraction for many guests, we sailors like me, the delight of being on the large and comfortable schooner itself was super exciting. We passed the Statue of Liberty just as “Lady Liberty’s” torch was lit. On the way back to the dock, virtually all the lights of the City were blazing. Even if you’re used to the sight, it’s pretty awesome. Our female captain (Kate) made sure that even though the winds were a bit gusty, our sushi and sake remained undisturbed throughout. The one thing you really need to be aware of is the weather. It might be hot on land, but it gets chilly on the water, especially when the sun goes down. On our cruise, the winds were strong and those who didn’t bring heavy sweaters or better yet, jackets, were offereed blankets to stay warm. My tip is to bring layers, because you really don’t know how chilly it will get. Of course you can snuggle with your sweetie under a blanket, but we did that still wearing jackets, although we didn’t even need a sweater on land.
Whether you’re a visitor to the Big Apple or someone who has lived there an entire lifetime (as I have) it’s a thrill to see New York and New Jersey from the water and to glide past the iconic Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. As the cruise continues, the lights of the city begin to illuminate and twinkle and the perfect backdrop for memory-making selfies and group photos.
Another thing to note is that tickets, once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event. Also, if the weather looks a bit “iffy” the sail will still continue in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. No one wants to “enjoy” sailing in super-high winds or pouring rain, or in unsafe conditions. If it starts to pour heavily during the sail, the captain can opt to go back to the dock. If the sail is actually cancelled, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability), receive credit for a future event, or receive a refund.
The America 2.0 sails from the Chelsea Piers (Pier 62) – W. 22nd and Hudson River (Manhattan, NY). Read about Schooner America 2.0 in Professional Mariner .