Tuning out: Hornblower mutes music at Pier 15 after locals complain, city demands

Hornblower Cruises & Events The Hornblower Hybrid already reduces air pollution, but from now on it will also reduce noise pollution when it docks at Pier 15, along with the other boats in the Hornblower fleet now that the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which holds the lease for Pier 15, told the company to cut the music when its boats return to the Seaport, after locals complained about the noise.

Hornblower Cruises & Events
The Hornblower Hybrid already reduces air pollution, but from now on it will also reduce noise pollution when it docks at Pier 15, along with the other boats in the Hornblower fleet now that the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which holds the lease for Pier 15, told the company to cut the music when its boats return to the Seaport, after locals complained about the noise.

BY COLIN MIXSON

Hornblower’s fleet of ritzy cruise boats will cease blasting pop songs while docked at Pier 15, effective this week.

The change comes amid pressure from the city and local community members who were sick and tired of having to scream just to be heard over the ear-splitting tunes at the otherwise peaceful seaside recreation area.

“This is very good news,” said Pier 15 patron and Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz. “The music was so loud that you could not have a conversation without raising your voice. I’d get calls on my cellphone, and people would ask me if I was in a nightclub.”

Until this week, Hornblower’s small armada of classy cruise ships pumped up the volume while loading and unloading passengers at Pier 15, a process that takes between 20 minutes to half an hour.

And after one ship leaves, it usually isn’t long before another comes to take its place, a process that guaranteed a near-constant drum of amplified music on the public pier, according to Hovitz.

“When one pulls out, the next pulls in, so there is veritably no time when we’re not barraged by this music,” Hovitz said.

To curb the noise, CB1 reached out to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which manages Hornblower’s lease to use Pier 15, but the agency failed to respond to local concerns until the board’s Seaport Committee meeting on June 21, when EDC’s director of operations, Richard Cote, assured the board that the agency would clamp down on the cruise operator’s dock-side jamfests.

But Hornblower continued to blast tunes for another week until Downtown Express called up EDC to check the status of issue on Tuesday. An EDC spokesman called back later to say that the agency had actually reached out to Hornblower that very day to tell the company to turn down the tunes.

“EDC met with Hornblower today,” said spokesman Anthony Hogrebe on Tuesday. “They will be directing their employees to turn off external music when docked or idling.”

Hornblower acknowledged the change of policy on Wednesday, with a spokesman saying that music will be maintained at the level of background noise while docked, and that the protocol is currently being implemented, with captains and crew being notified of the change.

The Hornblower spokesman did not characterize the change as a result of pressure from the city, instead saying that the company was responding to the community’s wishes.

Hornblower made news in March after Mayor de Blasio announced that the cruise business would be awarded the city’s coveted contract to operate the Citywide Ferry Service, a heavily subsidized transit alternative offering commuters trips across the East River for the cost of a subway ride. The Citywide Ferry Service is expected to launch in 2018.

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4 Responses to Tuning out: Hornblower mutes music at Pier 15 after locals complain, city demands

  1. FiDi Resident

    Is there nothing people won’t complain about? I am at Pier 15 frequently and have NO issues with the music from the boats and NEVER have to raise my voice when speaking to others or on the phone. I applaud Hornblower for seeking to work with “the community” but I bet “the community” is nothing more than a couple of “LOUD” whiners. LOL!

    • It isn’t “whiners,” and LOL is passé. Same problem with cruise ships in Portland, Maine, that are as loud as they are insanely huge and like city blocks, but unfortunately, nothing is being done there as yet to stop it. There are also all types of music that could be played – probably the most reasonable is old jazz.

      • FiDi Resident

        It is about Whiners. This particular one happens to be on the community board so that is the reason this was acted on so quickly.

  2. I just wish my neighbor would keep his bloody dog inside instead of letting it run around outdoors at all hours of the day and night barking on a continual basis. The 3-1-1 reports have not quieted it down.
    As for the music on the ships, well, I don’t know, but I do know that not all jazz is calming. I think the best is to just keep music off until they are out to sea (or river, as the case may be).

    p.s. I like the math tests. Makes me glad I was a math major in college.

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