People keep asking me if we don’t get bored visiting New York over and over again. Since we’ve seen it all already. And you know what? No, we don’t (obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t go back). New York City, same as any other major city really, has the beauty of constantly changing. New things to do and places to see are popping up. One thing on my To Do List for our last trip to New York City was visiting the Vessel in Hudson Yards. After all, last time we walked the High Line, this part wasn’t finished and not yet open to the public. Having seen loads of pictures of the Vessel all over the net and Instagram, I was eager to see it for myself. But is the Vessel worth a visit? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.
I’ll do my best to cover all the frequently asked questions about the Vessel in this post:
- What is the Vessel?
- Where is the Vessel located?
- Do I need to buy a ticket for the Vessel?
- How much does a ticket for the Vessel cost?
- Is the Vessel accessible for disabled?
- How much time should I allow for a visit to the Vessel?
- When is the best time to visit the Vessel?
Update 2022: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. At this moment in time, it isn’t really relevant whether or not I consider the Vessel worth a visit. Since it unfortunately is closed to the public for the time being. After several suicides, the Vessel has been shut for good and it is yet to be determined what will happen to it. Chances are it will remain shut or it might even be demolished and replaced with something else.
But since there is a slim chance things might change and it might eventually re-open, I’ve decided to keep my post up. Even if only to remind myself of the trip I had back in 2020.
What is the Vessel?
Before you can decide whether the Vessel is worth a visit or not, it would probably help, if you knew what the Vessel actually is?
Looking like something out of an Escher painting, the Vessel is a copper clad structure, designed by Thomas Heatherwick; the British Designer also responsible for the 2012 Olympic Cauldron and London’s new Routemaster Bus. It does not really serve any purpose, other than being a visitor attraction and an art installation that can not only be looked at but experienced.
The Vessel consists of more than 150 flights of stairs, allowing visitors to go round and round the structure and all the way to the top of the 46 metre (150 feet) high structure.
The Vessel officially opened in March 2019.
Where is the Vessel located?
The Vessel sits in the heart of Hudson Yards, at the top end of the High Line Park.
Therefore, if you were walking the entire length of the High Line Park, the Vessel would either be your starting or end point. So why not plan it accordingly and combine the two, to get the most out of your visit to New York.
The easiest way to reach Hudson Yards is by Subway. Take Line 7 to its terminus 34 Street / Hudson Yards.
Do I need to buy a ticket for the Vessel? How much does a Vessel ticket cost?
Yes, anyone over the age of six needs a ticket to enter the Vessel. But don’t despair. Unlike many other tourist attractions in New York, the Vessel does not necessarily come with a hefty price tag. Actually, you can visit the Vessel for free. Is that enough to make the Vessel worth a visit and include it in your next New York itinerary?
Free tickets to the Vessel are released 14 days in advance and you can book them online. The free ‘General Admission’ tickets are valid for a timed 1-hour slot, meaning you can enter the Vessel within that time. But there is no time limit on how long you can stay inside. Take all the time you need. And no, showing up early isn’t an option. They won’t let you in. At least no more than 5 minutes before your actual time slot (we tried, as we somehow arrived way too early).
If you’d like more flexibility, you can book a ‘Flex Pass Admission’ ticket. This will cost you $10/person. But it lets you choose your own admission time on the day. And you can buy the ticket up to 6 months in advance. Which might work better for you, if your free time in New York is fairly limited.
One other way to get hold of tickets for the Vessel is by showing up first thing in the morning (from 9.30am onwards). Tickets for available time slots for the day are given away on a first come first serve basis.
Is the Vessel accessible for disabled?
With the Vessel effectively being an endless row of steps and stairs, access for disabled is a little challenging. But yes, the Vessel offers limited access for those in wheelchairs or otherwise unable to climb stairs. There is a lift on one side of the Vessel, allowing access to floor level 5, 7 and 8. When booking your tickets, you can select Priority Elevator Access tickets, which are also completely for free.
However, although you can access 3 of the levels via lift, you won’t be able to go full circle around the Vessel, as there is no level walk. Doing the loop always includes steps up and down. Whether the Vessel is still worth a visit for you or not, is for you to decide.
How much time should I allow for a visit to the Vessel?
This probably depends what you’d like to do. Are you a photographer looking for the perfect shot of the Vessel at sunset? Or are you merely interested in climbing all the way to the top, snapping a quick photo and head down again?
You can probably spend hours walking up and down those stairs (a nice bit of exercise). And if this is what you’d like to do, then there is no stopping you. You can spend as much time as you want, there is no time limit.
We spend around 20 to 25 minutes on the Vessel, which was sufficient for us. That allowed us to walk all the way to the top, walk the circle a few times and take loads of photos from all angles. Including Mr T taking photos of me from the other side of the Vessel. Which was actually not as easy as it sounds. As I left him standing on one side, I had a very clear idea of where I wanted to be for the shot. However, as I was walking over to the other side (obviously always having to decide whether to take stairs up or down), I got rather confused and ended up much higher than I wanted to be. So, I walked down again, only to then lose track of where he was standing. Whilst he was laughing his head off for me being so silly.
When is the best time to visit the Vessel?
This depends on a number of factors. Firstly, which time slots are available when you book your tickets. To get the most interesting light for photos, I really wanted to visit either very early in the morning or just as the sun sets. Really early mornings weren’t an option, as the earliest time slot available was 9.30am. So, way after sunrise. Obviously, this depends on the time of year you visit the Vessel. We went early March.
Instead, I settled for sun set. Which in early March was around 5.30pm.
Given that the Vessel is located on the West Side next to Hudson River, I hoped for some beautiful light beaming into the Vessel. Spoiler alert, it didn’t quite work, the surrounding buildings unfortunately blocked the light.
To ensure we had sufficient time to explore and get to the top before the sun was too far down, we opted for a time slot from 5pm to 6pm.
I’ll be honest with you. As I was really eager to visit the Vessel, I planned for the worst-case scenario by getting several tickets. For different days of the week and different times of day. Just in case it rained, the sky was very overcast and wouldn’t allow for pretty photos, or we really wanted to visit a second time. Although in the end we only used the first sets of tickets. Good thing the tickets were free.
Finally, is the Vessel worth a visit?
I guess there is no right or wrong answer here. Yes, for us the Vessel was worth a visit and I am glad we went. And I would probably go again, next time we head to New York. The area around Hudson Yards has changed dramatically over the years and new buildings, gardens and squares are gradually being completed. Being elevated on top of the Vessel gives you a great view of the surroundings (and the Hudson River). So yes, if you are planning a trip to New York, I would recommend you get yourself a ticket and include the Vessel on your trip.
Tell me, have you visited yet? Do you agree the Vessel is worth a visit?