|Locale||Manhattan, New York|
|Waterway||East River, Harlem River, Harlem River Ship Canal, Hudson River, New York Harbor, Spuyten Duyvil Creek, Upper New York Bay|
|Transit type||Water Tours|
|Operator||Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises|
|No. of lines||5|
|No. of vessels||8|
|No. of terminals||1|
|Daily ridership||Approximately 2,740|
Circumnavigation of Manhattan became possible in 1905 with the construction of the Harlem Ship Canal, the first regularly scheduled trip being the Tourist captained by John Roberts in 1908.
On June 15, 1945 Frank Barry, Joe Moran and other partners merged several sightseeing boats to form the Circle Line operating out of Battery Park.
In 1955 it began operating at its current Pier 83 location. In 1962 it bought the famous and venerable Hudson River Day Line, keeping it as a separate brand until 1985.
In 1981, the Circle Line split into two companies—Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and Circle Line Downtown.
In 1988 the 42nd Street company bought World Yacht's operating upscale dining cruises from Chelsea Piers - currently World Yacht Dining Cruises. In 1998 the 42nd Street company also launched The Beast, a speedboat ride which takes tourists around the Statue of Liberty and goes 45 mph.
In 2007, the United States National Park Service said it was going to terminate Circle Line Liberty franchise and give a 10-year contract to Hornblower Cruises which provides service to Alcatraz. It was noted in the announcement that since 1953 Circle Line has transported 70 million people to Liberty Island. Among the items cited in the transfer was a newer fleet (although Hornblower will have to buy the Circle Line boats) and the possibility of new service to Gateway National Recreation Area. The New York Times reported on December 8, 2007 that the price of the Circle Line boats to be sold to Hornblower was in arbitration, forcing Hornblower to bring in new boats.
In January 2017, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises purchased New York Water Taxi—among the assets acquired was the latter company's Circle Line Downtown brand, reuniting both Circle Lines under one owner.
Circle Line was awarded with proclamations by two New York City mayors. In 1985, then Mayor Ed Koch proclaimed April 23 "Circle Line Day." Approximately 20 years later current Mayor Mike Bloomberg proclaimed September 17 "Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises Day" in 2008.
In 2001, Circle Line vessels helped transport victims of the September 11 attacks back to New Jersey.
After US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to land in the Hudson River in 2009, Circle Line Sightseeing vessels were among the first to respond.
Currently, Circle Line Sightseeing operates 8 vessels with an additional two under construction, including:
The Bronx, Staten Island, and Liberty constitute Circle Line's new Empire-class boats, which claim to be state-of-the-art, and include modern amenities like digital screens and improved sound systems.
Additionally, while she has been retired from service, the Circle Line X is retained by Circle Line, who claim to have "big plans" for the vessel.Circle Line X was originally built for the US Navy in 1944 as a Landing Craft Infantry (Large), designated USS LCI(L)-758. 758 participated in several landings during the Pacific Theater of World War II, including those during the battles of Leyte, Ormoc Bay, Mindoro, and Lingayen Gulf.758 was decommissioned in 1946 and sold to Circle Line, who converted her into a tourist vessel and renamed her Circle Line X. She served in this role until her retirement in 2007, and as of 2015 Circle Line plans to turn her into a floating museum and terminal alongside Pier 83.
Circle Line Sightseeing continues to operate on the Hudson River and is dedicated exclusively to sightseeing.