From the flatboats of the Rhine and Danube Rivers to the breathtaking cruises through Norwegian fjords, cruise culture is alive and well in the world. Four million spectators a year once sailed up through the Hudson River Valley. Once the automobile began to dominate the transit landscape in the early 1950s, river traffic all but ceased. Today, the “day cruise” is on the verge of an upswing and “city weekenders” are about to rediscover the river villages of the great Hudson Valley.
An article posted in Ginsburg Development Companies News was about Captain Richard Hayman, a steamboat captain, world traveller, and entrepreneur, who is working on bringing large passenger vessels back to the Hudson River. Steamboats made their debut on the Hudson, so why shouldn’t they help bolster regional tourism? The article, released on August 3, 2006, can be found online; it states the following:
Capt. Richard Hayman dreams of seeing stately paddleboats cruising up the Hudson River, carrying hundreds of passengers on trips from New York City to Sleepy Hollow, Troy and beyond.
“The Hudson River is one of the most beautiful waterways in the world and it is probably the only major river without cruise liners,” said Hayman, who has 25 years of experience in the cruise industry and helped found the largest cruise line along China’s scenic Yangtze River. “The Hudson Valley’s beauty, history and proximity to New York City all mean cruises should be very popular.”
Up to 4 million people a year used to take cruises on the Hudson River before the rise of the automobile 50 years ago, Hayman noted, and cruises along European Rivers such as Rhine and Danube have long been popular European sightseeing and vacation trips. “The Hudson River literally is where the steamboat industry was born. Our ships would be paddleboats designed to reflect that history while helping people rediscover the beauty of a river that is right in their back yard,” said Hayman. “More than 20 liners used to cruise daily up the Hudson, it’s time to bring that back.”
Martin Ginsburg, founder and principal of Ginsburg Development Companies, a Valhalla, N.Y.-based company which is one of the Hudson Valley region’s largest luxury home builders, shares Hayman’s dream of a Hudson River alive with tourists and has incorporated docks for cruise ships and ferries into new waterfront communities in Sleepy Hollow and Haverstraw. “People are rediscovering the beauty of the Hudson Valley and the charming old cities along the waterfront,” said Ginsburg, who is also building waterfront developments in Peekskill, Ossining and Poughkeepsie. “Some tourists are using commuter ferries to go sightseeing, and I believe cruises along the Hudson River would be very popular if more options were available. Thousands of people have come out for ‘Ferry-Go-Round’ events that let people ride boats between river towns holding special events in Westchester County and Haverstraw in Rockland County. This proves there is interest in sightseeing along the Hudson River.”
Ginsburg Development is building The Harbors at Haverstraw, a master-planned community that includes a waterfront promenade and ferry/cruise ship dock that will soon have direct commuter ferry service to Yonkers and New York City. GDC also built Ichabod’s Landing in Sleepy Hollow, which also has a promenade and dock suitable for use by visiting cruise ships or ferries. “Haverstraw, Peekskill and Sleepy Hollow all are wonderful jumping-off points for tourists, and I’d love to have river cruisers stop there,” said Ginsburg. “It will be a great way for sightseers to discover the ‘string of pearls’ of beautiful riverfront towns.”
A number of companies already offer short sightseeing and dinner cruises along the Hudson River on small boats, but Hayman has a much more grand vision, one calling for river liners up to 300 feet long capable of carrying nearly 1,000 passengers and taking overnight journeys. The ships would be sidewheel paddleboats similar to the Hudson River liners of the past, a design chosen for its old-fashioned appearance, maneuverability and fuel efficiency. The Hudson Valley Line, as Hayman’s steamboat company would be known, could offer a mix of short cruises and overnight stays near New York City as well as trips up the Hudson Valley as far north as Troy. These trips could range from one-day sightseeing journeys to multi-day voyages with themes such as visits to historic mansions or tours of West Point and American Revolution battlefields. The ships would be floating resorts, offering restaurants and bars, observation decks, shops and a play area for children. Plans call for a minimum of 40 full-feature guest cabins (including eight suites) with outside verandas, making it possible for guests to take relaxing trips lasting many days. “The Hudson River and Appalachian Mountains were the birthplace of the environmental movement and the river is cleaner and more beautiful than it has been in generations,” said Hayman. “I want to help people rediscover the beauty of the Hudson River.” Ginsburg Development is seeking other Hudson River waterfront opportunities and is currently working on plans for a mixed-use project adjacent to Ossining’s railroad station and existing ferry terminal, which will be incorporated into the new development and riverfront promenade. GDC is also working on plans to redevelop Peekskill’s waterfront with a mix of residences, marina, parks, promenades and businesses such as a café and gallery.
“Public access to the waterfront – and I think that includes things like docks and kayak launches – has been a key part of the revitalization of the Hudson riverfront, and I expect that to continue,” said Ginsburg. “The Harbors at Haverstraw, for instance, will have a mile-and-a-half long public promenade and sculpture trail. Also planned are a museum, inn and spa, several restaurants and even a cable car up to the top of the mountain. And Westchester County plans to build a public trail stretching the entire length of the Hudson River. Cruises and tourist excursions along the river could be a part of this effort to help people enjoy the Hudson River.”
The potential demand for Hudson Valley cruises is tremendous, Hayman said, noting the New York metropolitan area has a population of 20 million people and attracts 40 million tourists a year. Roughly 10 million people a year go to Manhattan’s West Side piers to visit New York Waterway; Circle Line; World Yacht; the Passenger Ship Terminal and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and Hayman said he believes many of these people would also be interested in Hudson River cruises.
Many cruises probably would depart from the Passenger Ship Terminal in New York City with possible ports of call or sightseeing stops in places such as Sleepy Hollow, Catskill, Troy, Haverstraw, Poughkeepsie, Peekskill and Ossining. From these cities it is possible to visit museums, mansions, vineyards, casinos and other points of interest. Trips to Lake George, the Erie Canal and even Montreal could also be offered in conjunction with Hudson River cruises.
Hayman first entered the cruise business in 1981, starting with Lindblad Travel as a charter liaison, lecturer and cruise director to the Arctic, Antarctic and Asian destinations. Hayman later was director of operations for Victoria Cruises, where he was responsible for helping plan the creation of a six-ship company specializing in cruises along China’s beautiful Yangtze River.
“The Hudson River is the perfect place for a cruise ship line serving residents and tourists,” said Hayman. “I hope we’ll see daily river line service return to the Hudson soon.”