Passengers aboard the vessel, the Seastreak Wall Street, said scores of people who had been standing waiting to disembark were hurled to the deck by the impact.
Passenger Richard Correra described a chaotic scene to CBS New York station WCBS-TV.
"All of the sudden, the boat felt like it smashed into a wall," he told WCBS-TV. "Dozens of passengers got thrown out of their seats, got thrown forward. Some were heading downstairs and just flew down the stairs and hit their heads on various polls and walls."