The evening was Nice ‘n Easy and that was the song that was playing as we were seated at our table onboard the Hornblower Infinity, ready for our dinner cruise in the New York harbor.
“Is that Frank Sinatra?” I asked John sitting across from me. He was ready to dine, drink and dance. “No, it’s Michael Bublé,” he said.
And look at that huge dance floor, I thought. Usually I like being at a table close to the dance floor at any supper club experience we can find around the world for Dance Travel News. And indeed we were shown to table 119 at the edge of the dance floor, so close that our bread crumbs would hit the beautiful wooden floor. But the expectation of cruising right by the Statue of Liberty won out and I asked if we could switch to a table by the window. It was a tough choice but on this warm August evening I went with the table best for a view of the New York City landmarks we would be passing.
And that was a good call because once the ship got underway we didn’t leave the air conditioning to venture outside once.
As it turned out, our new table, right behind the hostess station near the back of the room, later allowed us, once the doors were opened after dinner, to also hear the DJ music from the atrium lounge giving us, at once, two different song choices and dance floor choices for dancing.
John liked our new table too because it was the closest to the appetizer buffet already underway, in place for the 6 pm first arrivals (for the 7 pm sailing), a bountiful spread that included empanadas, artisanal breads and cheeses, charcuterie and roasted and fresh vegetables.
We were on the Starlight Dinner Cruise onboard the 210-foot luxury boat, the Hornblower Infinity, a cruise inaugurated in New York City this past July and now operating year round for public cruises Thursdays through Sundays. (Private charters are available on other days.)
“What are you celebrating,” we were asked several times by the friendly and attentive staff. “Anniversary? Birthday?” It was none of those for us, but clearly a special occasion outing. “Living in New York City,” finally became our standard answer. And also the fact that, as it happens, we live in walking distance to Pier 40, embarkation point for the Hornblower fleet on the Hudson River near Houston St.
Before we settled into our table for the evening, we toured the beautifully appointed ship and explored the tri-level dance atrium where non-dining cruise-goers, the 200 or so “Sights & Sips” and “Cocktail Cruise” passengers, would drink and dance. DJ Gene Lattanzi spins house music/ Top 40, though not the songs that were in the top 40 when I was in college.
All three options are available for passengers on each Infinity sailing, offering a range of price points and food on the different decks with cash bars throughout the ship.
All are entitled to go to the atrium dance floor and it indeed filled up but not the dance floor in the dining area which remained mostly empty. Our waiter told us it had been filled with dancers the night before when a private charter brought a thousand people on board. He said, go ahead and dance when you feel like it. There were maybe 40 people having dinner and we enjoyed the spacious (partially filled) room, not surprising since this NYC offering was barely more than a month old. Yet again, John and I would be the first ones on the dance floor and later on another couple got up to dance, grateful to us for kicking things off.
Though normally slightly reserved in real life, when it comes to dancing, we consider it our pleasure and responsibility to start the dancing, and also enjoy the space we have to move around the dance floor doing an expansive foxtrot. This usually happens after a drink or two and luckily we had “POB” added on to our dinner cruise tickets. Veterans of one other dinner cruise, we had learned the lingo and knew to go with the Premium Open Bar option. (A green wrist band identifies the POB passengers and John noted that most people were wearing one.)
Our waiter, walking by with cocktails for another table, had a drink on his tray that looked eye-catchingly refreshing. What was that drink, we inquired. And that is how we came to order the bartender’s special invention, a freshly made Merlot Sangria. And that is how, by the end of the evening, we came to be spotted doing the merengue.
After our appetizers and the chef’s amuse bouche, we were served our dinner selections. We both had the mixed baby greens salad with toasted pine nuts and vinaigrette dressing (the other starter option was lobster bisque) and John went with the petite filet mignon while I had the honey-soy broiled wild salmon. Also on the menu as entrée choices: seafood ravioli, free-range rosemary garlic chicken and vegetarian harvest paella. Our dessert, a seasonal sampler assortment, included a mini carrot cake square, cannoli and chocolate éclair for each.
Now I was hearing “Mac the Knife.”
“Apparently they have the Michael Bublé cd and they are not afraid to use it,” said John.
Then, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” “Now that is Frank Sinatra,” he informed me.
Dinner music also included more Frank with “Come Fly with Me”
and “Beyond the Sea,” “On Broadway” and “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”
Behind us we could hear the DJ playing a song I couldn’t name but John said it was the (aforementioned) merengue and off we went to the atrium to dance to it.
“You guys are awesome,” said a guy who, like everyone else, was doing regular free style dancing, once again making me feel like the winner of Dancing with the Stars, when there are no other competitors. (When we are the only ones doing partner dancing, it’s easy to impress. Later we did see some other partner dancing.)
As we danced, I looked out the window. Where were we? There’s the Watchtower Sign, now there’s the South Street Seaport; is that Governor’s Island? The boat was turning, my partner was twirling me, my head was spinning.
“John,” I cried out. “I’m all turned around.” John, never the alarmist, responded, “Now you’re ready to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
Back at our table, we could hear the line dance Cupid Shuffle (…to the right, to the right….now walk it by yourself) playing, but we usually skip line dances.
Towards the end of our meal the cruise photographer came around to show us the photo we had posed for on the dock. We had seen the green screen version and this final one looked pretty good with the ship added behind us (and I suspect some retouching that took away some wrinkles and pounds) so we purchased it. We opted for the $15 print, versus the $18 email version that was offered.
All of a sudden it was 10 pm and the tug boat was guiding us back to the dock. The evening had gone by fast. But the music was still playing in both rooms while the first people were getting off the boat, but not the dancers. John had heard a song with a cha cha beat so he grabbed my hand for one last dance on the dance floor in the main dining room.
In the far background I could hear the DJ’s selection, “Tonite’s Gonna Be a Good Good Night.” And it was.
The Hornblower Infinity “Starlight Dinner Cruise,” with a four course seated meal is $85 with a premium open bar option for $120, a “Sights & Sips” Cruise with light appetizers is $65 and the “Cocktail Cruise” with a complimentary signature drink is $45.Taxes, fees and gratuity not included. For information and reservations visit hornblower.com, call 888 467 6256 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at HornblowerNew York on facebook and on twitter @HornblowerNY