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may 23 2007

The duck truck takes Manhattan

It's baffling why New York City waited so long to get a "duck truck" sightseeing tour. Even a comparatively tiny city like Dublin has been ferrying around tourists on half-boat, half-bus vehicles for years now. But the mysterious wait will end on June 5, when New York Splash Tours launches its fleet of AquaBuses.

As I discovered during a recent sneak preview, the AquaBus charts a course through Times Square, Hell's Kitchen, and a portion of the Hudson River. The tour takes about an hour and its main highlight is when the vehicle slips into a small tunnel that looks like a car wash. Inside, you are surrounded by screens that project images of a storm-tossed sea. The vehicle is then tossed from side to side while you and your fellow passengers are spritzed with water. Stuffed rats race up the side of masts along the tunnel walls, for comic effect. Then, another door opens up, and the vehicle dives into the river. Kids throw their hands up in the air like they're on a log flume ride. They also blow whistles, which they were handed when they clambered aboard.

Overall, the trip is a bargain if you're a parent who wants to keep your kids entertained while giving your feet a rest. Grown-ups with (or without) children may also like the tour because it offers a relatively rare view of the New York City skyline, as seen from the river. On a bright day, the shiny grill of the Chrysler Building causes the pulse to quicken, like the best picture in a children's book.

Tickets cost $29 per adult and $20 for children between 3 and 11 years old. Learn more here.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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