KIDDIE CRUISE Review and Giveaway by Amy Wall Lerman

I have a lot on my plate between managing my work and home lives and have virtually no organizational skills.  I store information in imaginary folders that get tucked away inside layers of brain tissue – in other words – I forget – a lot.  My whole life exists in the belly of my Gmail Inbox so I’m required to carry around a mobile device to remember pretty much anything. This is one of the reasons I rolled my husband out of bed a little too early on a Saturday morning, dressed my son in his best pirate garb, and set off for a 38 minute drive to Manhattan’s Pier 40 for a Sunday afternoon Hudson Riverboat pirate and princess themed “Kiddie Cruise.” 

Pulling out of the driveway I reached for the email (which I someone managed to remember) that indicated the time, date and directions and felt my heart skip a few beats when I noticed the day of the week.  The word “Sunday” screamed out at me from the page as my son shouted “Arrrr” and jabbed me in the arm with the plastic pirate hook we bought for him at Disney World last June. In the midst of my panic, I wondered what would be worse, my husband’s annoyance at my flakiness (although, he’s quite used to that) or my son’s disappointment when I told him my mistake?

I prepared myself to walk the proverbial plank when I leaned over to my husband and said in a very low voice that I’d made “bad mistake.”  When Evan declared he had to go potty, we took the opportunity to drive back home and break the news to him. He took it surprisingly well – especially when we told him that we’d go visit his cousin after digging through the local library for pirate books and movies. 

Sunday morning was déjà vu, minus the flakiness. I let Evan’s daddy sleep a little later; I dressed up my pirate again; packed a bag of necessities; and we headed off to “the big city” where our boat was docked. 

As we waited on a long line and were processed through a rather confusing boarding process, I took the time to survey the exterior of the boat.  It was like any Manhattan ferry boat – kind of dingy and rundown with Hudson River grime coating the hull.  For a moment I wondered if the boat would have that dank mildew smell and if the princesses hosting the activities would look more like Cinderella after the ball, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Although the interior needed some touch-ups and the bathrooms could have been a little cleaner, the boat itself was quite comfortable.  Nothing was stinky, and the princesses looked all pink and glittery in their gowns and tiaras as they rocked the house as both DJ’s and dance instructors.

We were supposed to set sail at 12 p.m. but it didn’t actually pull out until about 12:20 – and I gather much of that had to do with the dysfunctional line-up procedure still underway on the dock. 

We didn’t really mind that the boat was late on departure.  My husband and I surveyed the scene while Evan, although impatient, took in the view of Chelsea Piers out the window. Many of the kids were dressed up for the adventure and almost all of them immediately lined-up to get their faces painted – an activity Evan is happy to live without.  The woman doing face painting must have been stiff and sore by the end of her work day because I never once saw her take a break – there was always a child’s upturned face at the tip of her brush.

Once the boat set sail, the party really started.  Our tickets included limitless beverages and a packed lunch. The choice of sandwiches was limited but perfect for kids – either turkey and cheese, or a jelly sandwich (without the peanut butter I take it due to the danger of kids and allergies).  While my husband went to get the lunches on the upper deck, my son collected the little plastic pirate coins from our table and ate a bag of free baked chips – which seemed to be available in limitless quantities. 

The lower level was full of kids of all ages – from newborn babies to 8 and 9 year olds.  A handful of seasick parents lingered in chairs close to the walls while trying to eyeball their kids from afar.  My husband and I are lucky – we have good sea-legs but a mom turned to me and asked if she looked “green.” I couldn’t help but be impressed at the sacrifices parents are willing to make so their kids can have a good time.

The upper level, while fully protected from the elements, had a consistently cool breeze blowing across the deck as the boat sped across the river.  While views on the river were spectacular from all the decks, the upper level seemed to bring us even more up close and personal to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and downtown Manhattan.  Over the past year, I’ve noticed from afar, the progress being made on the construction of “the Freedom Tower,” the new building going up where the old World Trade Center buildings once stood,  but viewing it from the river was like seeing it for the first time. 

While grownups gathered family together for photos, many of the kids crowded around a craft table, painting, drawing, coloring, and sticking stickers.  There was even a tattoo station on the other side of the room.  Evan didn’t participate in any of the upper deck activities, he was too busy dancing and singing with the princesses on the lower deck. But perhaps the highlight for my son, and the other kids, was the puppet show. 

Barry Keating, owner of “Starmites,” and no stranger to musical theatre for adults and children alike, performed joyfully and effortlessly for the kids. With an array of puppets ranging from a naughty monkey who tricks the puppet master by hiding on his head to a Las Vegas-style grand dame reminiscent of Wayland Flowers’ “Madame.” With his one-toothed dragons and his disobedient, flipping, dime store doggie, Keating had the kids giggling from start to finish. I watched Evan belly-laugh so hard that he could barely sit upright.

By the end of the 90-minute cruise, Evan, despite his obvious exhaustion, managed to sword fight for a good 20 minutes with his new (albeit short-term) friend, “James from Brooklyn” while other families lined up to disembark.

As Evan was falling asleep that night he was still giggling about the puppets and asking when we’d go on another “Kiddie Cruise”.  I told him, “Soon.”  And I meant it.


  1. 2 Responses to “KIDDIE CRUISE Review and Giveaway by Amy Wall Lerman”

  2. I was extremely fortunate to have given birth to my daughter at the age of 44.
    There were many nights where I cried myself to sleep afraid that I would never look into the eyes of my child.
    She was only born through “The Grace of God”.
    Every morning when she wakes up, I feel so grateful to have been blessed with her.
    She is not just part of my life, she is my life.
    There is nothing more wonderful than seeing her face light up when she experiences joy.
    This would be a marvelous family event for us to share together.
    Gracie’s Mom

    By Judy Gebhard on Aug 18, 2012

  3. My son is two years old and full of boundless energy and we are always looking for new, exciting and fun things to do with him.
    As long as we can keep him from jumping overboard, he would most likely really enjoy this event! ( as would Mommy and Daddy)

    By Allison on Aug 20, 2012