Ship annoy! Party boat riles commuters at Sunset Park ferry pier

Ship annoy! Party boat riles commuters at Sunset Park ferry pier
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

The city must find another place to dock a weekend party boat that unleashes a wave of rowdy revelers onto the same pier used by citywide ferries in Sunset Park, demand flustered commuters.

The Nautical Empress stops at the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier, disgorging hundreds of plastered partiers who trash the landings, clog the pier, and cause chaos as commuters try to board transit ferries on weekends. And the periodic storm surge of seafaring shenanigans could easily be avoided if the boozy boat were simply to dock at another part of the landing, said one commuter waiting for a boat to Manhattan.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Sunset Parker Hector Salazar. “It’s just a lot of people trying to cram in out of this one place. There’s so much pier here, why not use another part of it?”

Empire Cruises operates the Nautical Empress, which can carry up to 550 voyagers — dwarfing the max of 150 passengers on the city ferries — and is stocked with a bar and dance floor, making it an ideal candidate for private shindigs, according to the manager at Empire Cruises.

Now that the mercury is rising, the bookings are more frequent, and on weekends the pier can be completely overrun with post-booze-cruise revelers — some whom also host their own afterparties in the parking lot, forcing ferry passengers to navigate a maze of makeshift dance floors strewn with empty liquor and beer bottles.

The Nautical Empress has been stopping at the Brooklyn Army Terminal for more than two years, but now that the citywide ferry dashes in and out of port as well, commuters and partiers are clashing.

The city launched the Rockaway ferry route, that shuttles Queens residents to Sunset Park then to Manhattan, on May 1. But the pier will be getting another boost in traffic with the launch of the Southern Brooklyn route this week, with a ferry shoving off from Bay Ridge, then stopping at the terminal, and then heading on to Red Hook.

The swell of traffic could make waves for commuters, said one seafarer.

“It’s confusing now, so when there are more boats around, I think it’s going to get hectic,” said Sunset Parker Lisa Noriega. “I’m all for people having a good time — looks like fun — just maybe they should dock on the other side of the pier where there’s less room for confusion.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation runs the pier where vessels can technically tie up anywhere along it, but at the moment there is only the one gangway for people to stream on and off of boats, according to a spokesman with the city agency.

A new gangway would require Dock NYC — which oversees the Nautical Empress at port and is run by the Economic Development Corporation — to invest in building a new platform at another part of the pier.

But that’s a last resort for the city, which plans on adjusting ferry schedules to accommodate crowds at the pier if need be, said a spokesman with the Economic Development Corporation.

In the meantime, at least freewheeling ferry-goers have chance to get down while they wait for weekend ferries.

“It feels like I’ll be here for a while, so at least I can dance while I wait.” said Bay Ridgite Kevin Chen, who was turned away from a Manhattan-bound ferry because it was full. “I feel like I’m at a seaside rave — definitely wasn’t expecting this when I decided to take the ferry.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspiv[email protected]nglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Trashed: Empty liquor and beer bottles were strewn across the pier along with promotional fliers for parties on the Nautical Empress.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack