Rollin’ on the River

Rollin’ on the River

North River Lobster Company cruise boat (courtesy North River Lobster Co.)

Usually I find river cruises a bore. Yes, circumventing Manhattan island and watching the NYC skyline is fun – for about 15 minutes or so. But then you’re trapped for hours more on this vessel moving at glacial speed, consuming dumb food and watery drinks, shivering in the breeze outside or boiling inside the cabin (where everyone else is huddled to escape the breeze outside). The decor is tacky, the music blaring.

But North River Lobster Company offers something different: a streamlined, crustacean-centric cruise that’s refreshingly unpretentious. Their sweet little yacht, a three-floor “floating lobster shack,” is decked out in woodsy, New England style; lantern-like light fixtures are on the walls and some tables are boat-shaped with laminated map tops.When it comes to the grub, prepare for serious seafood. There’s a copious raw bar, piled high with tiger shrimp, Long Island clams and crab claws. If some like it hot, they can opt for New England clam chowder or boiled shrimp. And, of course, there’s lobster – boiled, chilled and in two different lobster rolls. OK, this isn’t a real shack, and the North Atlantic critters weren’t pulled from the water five minutes ago, but they still taste incredibly fresh. No wimpy, landlubber portions, either: The brioche buns come brimming over with meat. And to drink? Beers, of course, and several white, red and rosé wines. And the obligatory cunningly named cocktails. My favorite, the Pop-Sea-Cle, actually comes with a popsicle on the side.

It’s fun. It’s tasty. It’s short. Each cruise lasts just an hour, a quick jaunt up the Hudson River and back down again, hitting the dock just as you’re wiping the last of the melted butter off your lips. In other words, North River has got a plan, and they carry it through, from décor to drinks. No, it’s not a trip to Maine. But for summer in the city, it may be the next best thing.

» North River Lobster Company cruises, daily thru September, Pier 81, 12th Ave., at W. 41st St, 212.630.8831, northriverlobsterco.com.

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