After going with a friend herself last year, my mom wanted to gift Justin and I tickets aboard the Seastreak for their fall foliage cruise to Cold Spring, New York. The three of us took the journey this past weekend. It was my first time aboard the Seastreak, which departed from Highlands. I was impressed by much, and disappointed by some, but overall, it was an incredibly fun day with sights that are not to be missed. Below is a summary.
The Ride to Cold Spring
We departed in bitter cold wind and rough seas at 8 a.m sharp. Being early in line meant we had a chance to pick our seats. My mom suggested the right side because that would be the side facing Manhattan once the boat turned up the Hudson River after making a second stop to pick up additional passengers at Wall Street. Unfortunately, the cold air and roaring waters fogged the windows up so much that hardly anything was visible.
Since it was not raining, Justin and I braved the cold and went on the roof deck where the view was unobstructed and spectacular. We did this in bursts: 10 minutes upstairs, 20 below. It was just too windy to stay any longer. As we passed Manhattan, it was breathtaking. Further up the Hudson, the leaves indeed began to change for fall. Timing was perfect. For breakfast, we each grabbed a buttered bagel from the bar, and they were not bad—better than some I’ve had at bagel places around here, actually.
My only complaint at this point was of the passengers. Ignoring the captain’s announced orders of “no consumption of personal alcohol” (you can only drink what is purchased at the bar), this group of eight 60-something annoying, over-the-top, selfie-snapping, fannie-packed, mega-tourists started hammering back Mimosas (from their own bottles of champagne) just before 9 a.m. They were probably drunk by the time we reached Cold Spring. They will return later in the story.
The crew was pleasant but did not seem to care one way or the other about anything. One lady ordered a shot of vodka at 8:30 in the morning. She told the “bartender” she wanted more vodka in her cup. He shrugged his shoulders, said, “Okay”, and poured more. But as for the boat itself, it was clean, modern, the seats relatively comfortable, and access to both decks below and above was easy. The first deck offered tables to those lucky enough to grab them first. There were plenty of places to hangout and take in the views.
The cruise was also narrated. She provided some insightful tidbits, pointing out what we were looking at. Her voice was easy on the ears but she tended to ramble and get into too much information. She also stood by the exit door with a tip jar upon arrival in Cold Spring. I found this incredibly distasteful considering the tickets cost $85 each.
Cold Spring, New York
I was excited when we arrived. The town is historic, situated with fiery orange and red trees covering the mountains around it. The waters of the river splashed over the dock. The wind kept the American flag elongated nonstop. By this time, it was nearly noon. We figured to eat first and then work our way through the numerous antique and specialty shops. There will be a review of the restaurant, Whistling Willie’s, later this week.
The shops were nice but way too expensive. As someone who has antiqued across Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and even in certain spots in my home state of New Jersey, the prices at Cold Spring made even the most expensive of my experiences seem as if I was shopping at a Dollar Tree. One shop wanted $60 for a large candle, and $25 for two small tapers. At another, they were offering a glass decanter which I probably couldn’t get $5 for at a yard sale for $68.
As I neared the door to a different store, Justin stopped me and pointed to a small glass table. “They want $400 for that”, he said, “Is it worth going in?” I turned around and continued down the street. Most of the shops contained no items I wanted to buy, regardless of price. I was drawn to a cute place specializing in British import goods. Had I a $100 gift card, I would not have been able to spend it.
I left Cold Spring impressed by its look and eager to explore more (we had about three hours to wander), yet disappointed at the same time. As a true tourist this time around and constrained by what distance I could travel, I’d like to say another visit would be a true sample of what this town has to offer, but I’m not entirely sure. It seemed like as soon as we got off the boat, it was time to get back on.
The Ride Back
Had I ever wondered to myself, “How drunk can someone get in three hours?”, I found my answer on this day. One member of that group I referenced earlier managed to get herself so inebriated that I thought back to my childhood and wondered if we were all on Candid Camera. She was not one of those cute, amusing, fun-to-watch drunks. No. She was annoying, repulsive, and trashy. The kind of person you wouldn’t mind seeing fall overboard. I wonder why she was even let on to begin with. No joke, she was a threat to herself and probably anyone who might say something to her.
She entered the full seating area on the second deck by stumbling in screaming, “Hello, everyone!” When she realized there were no seats, she sat outside…downstairs…where we could still hear every shrill word out of her mouth. At this point, she was slugging back large sippy cups of some beverage not purchased on board. The crew had to know. You could hear her across the entire ship. One individual, so fucking accursed that no matter how hard the wind blew or how loud the engines chugged, you could still hear her voice as she screamed every word. It became a spectacle. At one point when the boat slowed down and engines cut, I temporarily became religious and prayed that the captain had called the Coast Guard to take her away. Before the boat landed back in Highlands, she even gave a staggering farewell speech on the first deck as everyone looked on in appalling disbelief. Why was she allowed to continue drinking? Why was she allowed to break the rules?
Justin and I had one drink each ourselves on the way home: rather large pours of Myers dark rum with pineapple juice, fairly priced at $7 each. As he poured the drinks, the bartender asked how we liked the trip. I said, “Well, there wasn’t much in Cold Spring.” He responded, “There is nothing in Cold Spring.” Way to sell the place. He then asked us where we ate and after a brief food talk informed us that the crew had spent their time at a place called Doug’s Pretty Good Pub “eating burgers”. I certainly hope he was not lying and that the crew, in whose hands our lives were resting, truly were only eating burgers.
I was actually surprised at the carefree mentality of the crew. They operated as if the ship were a family-run recreational boat with no accountability rather than a major ferry company. But at least they were nice to deal with.
I actually loved the boat ride, sans drunken asshole. The sunset views on the way home were enough to put her annoyingness on momentary hold. As for Cold Spring, I would sum it up with one word: “Meh”. Would I take the trip again? I would consider it. The ride was exciting, the drinks were cheap, and the views unmatched. If I could find a better restaurant and something else to do in town, I would do it again. I highly recommend everyone to make this journey once if you have the ability to do so.