Amphibious tours make waves on Big Apple pavements

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With the launch this summer of New York Splash Tours, the Big Apple joined the ranks of several popular U.S. urban vacation destinations cruised by fleets of amphibious sightseeing "buses" that can travel on both land and water.

The new by-land-or-by-sea sightseeing line, created in a partnership between Gray Line New York Sightseeing and New York Waterway, hits both Broadway and the Hudson River with a fleet of purpose-built amphibious vehicles called AquaBuses, accommodating 44 passengers each.

The vehicles are designed to evoke the famed sailing ship Half Moon, the Dutch East India Co. vessel that explored New York Harbor and the Hudson River in 1609 under the command of Englishman Henry Hudson, namesake of the river. Fittingly, the "captain" and "first mate" on each New York Splash Tours outing are dressed in maritime costumes to suit the theme.

The hourlong New York Splash Tours begin in Times Square and take passengers through the streets of midtown Manhattan to the Hudson shore. At river's edge, the passengers enter the AquaBus Theater for a multimedia experience simulating the sights and sounds of Hudson's journey to the New World, complete with the rushing wind of an Atlantic crossing.

The AquaBus then splashes into the river for a view of the city skyline, spiced up by an on-board treasure hunt conducted by the crew. Once back on land, the AquaBus returns its passengers to the din of Times Square.

The New York Splash Tours program will operate from April through December. It started operations with three AquaBuses but expects to have a full complement of eight by next April.

Fares are $29 for adults and $20 for children ages 3 to 11; reservations are required. For a more comprehensive alternative, tourists can buy a Splash Tour + All Loops Tour Combo, which combines the Splash experience with a two-day hop-on, hop-off pass on the Gray Line double-decker sightseeing buses. Fares for the combo are $65 for adults and $55 for children.

For more information or to reserve, call (877) 527-4691 or visit www.newyorksplashtours.com.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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