The 31st annual NYC Fleet Week is May 22-28, when nearly 3,000 active duty members of the US Navy, US Marines and US Coast Guard visit NYC.
There are FREE band concerts, ship tours and demonstrations of the latest high-tech weapons and rescue techniques, and the chance to talk with the men and women who operate them.
Fleet Week NYC is the real life version of that memorable Hollywood musical “On The Town” – one of my all-time favorites – by NYC native Leonard Bernstein, and Betty Comdon and Adolph Green, and Jerome Robbins choreography.
The film starred Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin and Ann Miller.
And you know the signature song.
New York, New York, a helluva town. The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down. The people ride in a hole in the ground.
Here’s everything you need to know to get the most out of the FREE ship tours of visiting ships, including one from the Canada Navy ships, with these tips from the US Navy, and some personal experience from NYCOTC editor Evelyn Kanter from past ship visits:
What should I wear to the ships?
Wear comfortable clothing. If you are bringing a bag or camera case, it will be searched prior to entering. Remember to bring sunscreen and sunglasses if it is going to be sunny.
A ship is an industrial environment, so women should avoid avoid high-heels; and everybody should avoid open-toed sandals, especially flip-flops, and jewelry, especially necklaces, that can get caught in equipment.
Also avoid bags too heavy to carry comfortably for long periods, since there is no place on board to check your coat or bag.
When is the best time to arrive for a tour?
Lines to visit these ships may be closed before scheduled visiting hours end, so that the last people in line have the opportunity to complete their tour in conjunction with the end of visiting hours.
Best advice is to arrive early in the day.
How do we get aboard the ships?
Look for clearly marked entrances.
Visitors over 21 will need to show a valid state or federal issued picture I.D. to board.
Everyone must go through a security check prior to accessing any ship. The security check is similar to what is present at most airports and consists of a walk-through metal detector and/or wand scan.
Is there an age requirement to visit the ships?
There is no age requirement to tour ships during Fleet Week NYC. However, tours may not be appropriate for small children or those with certain medical conditions.
There are steep ladders (stairways) to climb and uneven surfaces to traverse during a ship tour, so tours may be difficult for parents carrying young children.
Are strollers allowed on the ships?
Strollers or baby carriages are permitted on the pier, but are not allowed on the ships.
Are the ships handicapped accessible?
The ships are not handicapped accessible.
However, the pier facilities at both Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island – including the exhibit, observation, refreshment, and restroom areas – are handicapped accessible.
Are there any physical requirements to visit the ships?
There may be steep ladders (stairways) to climb and narrow passageways to walk through during a ship tour.
Ship tours may not be appropriate for individuals with heart conditions, breathing difficulties, or other medical conditions impacting their ability to navigate such challenges.
Small hand-carried items such as handbags, clear bottles of water, small cameras or diaper bags are permitted.
All personnel are screened and all bags are searched before entering the pier.
What items are not allowed on the ships?
The following are not permitted: electronic smoking devices, bottles, cans or containers of any type; banners, posters or signs of any type; mace, pepper spray, or other defensive sprays or chemicals; knives, firearms, fireworks or any explosive; illegal drugs or paraphernalia; flammable liquids or aerosol spray cans; club weapons; and animals.
All electronic devices are subject to examination for functionality.
The U.S. Navy, U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Coast Guard reserve the right to prohibit other items not listed above.
May I take photographs on the ships?
Photography is permitted aboard the ships during the tours. However, photos of the security personnel or procedures are prohibited.
Photo and story sharing is encouraged on all social media platforms. Whenever possible, please use #FleetWeekNYC on photos/videos posted to social media.
And if you take photos with visiting uniformed personnel, please use #SelfieWithaSailor.
Is smoking allowed on the ships?
No. There is no smoking, including electronic smoking devices, aboard any ship or anywhere on the piers.
Is food available during the ship visitation?
No food is available on the ships, but there are concession stands near the piers.
Can I purchase ship memorabilia during my tour?
Yes, many of the ships have various memorabilia available for sale during the tours – cash sales only, all sales final.
May I use a drone to film/photograph while in New York City?
Operating drones in New York City is strictly prohibited at all times. Anyone who violates the rule is subject to arrest.
Where can I find Fleet Week New York on social media?
Join the conversation on social media by using #FleetWeekNYC
Absolutely – New York, New York is a helluva town.
This was first published in 2017 and updated for 2018 and 2019