Introducing New York
New York was first settled by Europeans at the start of the 17th century, when a Dutch colony named New Amsterdam was set up to process beaver furs. In 1664 the English conquered the colony and renamed it New York. Under the control of the British New York expanded rapidly as a key trading center.
Friction between the colonies and the British government led to the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783. For much of the war New York was held by the British, who used the city as a military base. In 1783 George Washington victoriously marched into the city when the British left.
The city expanded in population and as an economic hub all throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A highlight of the twentieth century was the construction program which heralded the materialization of Manhattan Island’s amazing skyscraper skyline.
Right through the history of New York its shipping docks located on the Upper Hudson Bay have been key in the city’s rise. A big part of the docks’ significance has been due to the large numbers of immigrants that have come to New York by boat. The first immigration center was Castle Garden, followed in 1892 by Ellis Island. In the early 1900s, many immigrants would arrive at Chelsea Piers, on Manhattan Island’s west bank, and were then transported to Ellis Island for processing.
However Chelsea Piers was unable to handle big cruiseliners, and longer piers were built between West 44th and 52nd streets in the 1930s, to make the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal, nicknamed ‘Luxury Liner Row’. Passenger volumes dropped rapidly after the start of transatlantic air flights.
But the cruise lines came back to life when the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal reinvented itself in the 1970s as the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Demand for cruising continued to grow and two further cruise ports opened for business in the Hudson Bay area, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal.
New York Cruise Terminals
Manhattan Cruise Terminal
The Manhattan Cruise Terminal is situated by West 44th through West 52nd on the west Hudson River side of Manhattan. The cruise terminal has three docks, piers 88, 90 and 92. A terminal building sits atop each pier. The services at the terminal include customs and immigration, check-in areas, cafes, VIP areas, rest rooms, newsstands and seating areas. A parking lot is located above each of the cruise terminal buildings. Piers 88, 90 and 92 offer a total of 5 cruise ship berths. Manhattan Cruise Terminal is almost exclusively used by Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival cruise ships.
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
Located facing Governors Island in Red Hook, the Brooklyn cruise terminal is a modern building adjacent to pier 12. On account of its long history as a commercial port, the area the terminal sits in has a very industrial docks feel. The terminal has food vending machines, immigration, customs, check-in desks and restrooms. Adjacent to the terminal is parking area with a capacity of 500 cars. There is one cruise ship berth at pier 12. Princess and Cunard Cruise Line ships dock at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
Bayonne Cruise Terminal
Cape Liberty cruise terminal is located on the southern pier in Bayonne Harbor. Inaugurated in 2004, the cruise port was originally part of the Bayonne Navy base facility. The terminal contains customs, immigration, restrooms, a snackbar and check-in desks. The cruise terminal is about half-a-mile from the quay, so passengers are transported by buses from the terminal to their ship. Adjacent to the cruise quay lies the 9/11 Tear Drop Memorial Park. Convenient parking is located next to the cruise terminal. The terminal has just one cruise ship berth. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises ships dock at Bayonne Cruise Terminal.
New York Sightseeing
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building Observatory with its panoramic views across Manhattan is a must-see attraction in New York. Take the escalator to the Observatory and wander around the airy promenade, 1050ft above the city’s bustling streets. The Empire State Building is a half-hour walk from Manhattan cruise ship terminal.
Make a visit to Central Park, a huge green area in the middle of skyscraper filled Manhattan. Worth seeing are the Botanical Gardens, the Obelisk, Strawberry Fields, Sheep Meadow and the Zoo.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
This famous museum, opened in 1870, displays a huge number of works of art from around the world. Don’t miss works include Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses, Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, the medieval tapestry The Unicorn in Captivity and Rembrandt’s Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. The museum is sited on the edge of Central Park between East 81st and 82nd streets.
Arching nearly 1600ft across the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, when finished in 1883, was greeted as an amazing triumph of construction. There is a pedestrian pathway the length of the bridge, which you can reach at the junction of Tillary and Adams streets or by a staircase on Prospect St. As you walk across the bridge you are treated to great views across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Upper NY Harbor.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden was opened in 1910, on the site of a rubbish tip. Wander around the Tropical Pavilion, the Aquatic House, the Desert Pavilion and the Bonsai Museum. Also in the garden are a garden shop, a souvenir shop and café.
This pathway cantilevered over the Brooklyn-Queens expressway is a popular venue for locals, giving magnificent vistas of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. Nearby you’ll find art galleries, chic shops, historic homes, bars and restaurants.
Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park is a large green space in the center of urban northern New Jersey. The old Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, important in New Jersey’s history, sits prominently towards the northern end of the park. A two-mile path, Liberty Walk gives visitors a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River. A year-round ferry service is operational from the Park to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Statue of Liberty
For the numerous immigrants that travelled from Europe to the US, the Statue of Liberty was the first view they had of the United States. A gift from the French people, the statue, originally called Liberty Enlightening the World, was fabricated in Paris, and completed in 1894. It was then dismantled and transported to the USA where it was rebuilt on Bedloe’s Island in Upper Bay to be finally inaugurated in 1886. Tickets to the pedestal area may be booked or obtained at the site. Tickets to the inner stairway and crown have to be reserved, as access is restricted to 240 people each day.
Ellis Island was the first stop for more than 20 million settlers to the United States of America as the official immigration office in the years 1892 to 1954. The museum details Ellis Island’s role in immigration history and include interactive presentations, voice recordings, passenger records, photographs, personal items and archive films.
Picking A Cruise From New York
Favorite all year long cruises include the Bahamas (Freeport and Nassau), and the Eastern Caribbean (St Maarten, Dominican Republic, St Kitts and Antigua). These destinations offer warmer weather even in winter, with sunny days and balmy evenings.
In summer, sailings to Bermuda typically include a one-night stopover, so you can savor the nightlife. Also on offer in summer are cruises following the north-eastern states and Canada, visiting historic and charming ports.
An alternative possibility during summer and fall is the classic transatlantic crossing to Europe.
Traveling to the Cruise Terminals
Newark International, John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports are the nearest airports to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Cabs are available from each airport. Some cruise lines organize a shuttle bus.
Entrance to the terminal is from the north at the intersection of 55th Street and 12th Avenue. Parking is available on top of each of the three cruise terminals.
Grand Central Station and Penn Station are the closest train stations from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Taxis are easy to catch at either. Another option is to catch the subway to Columbus Circle, and walk onwards to the cruise terminal.
LaGuardia is just 11 miles from Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, John F K and Newark Liberty are slightly a greater distance away. Cabs are readily available from each airport. Often cruise lines organize a shuttle bus transfer.
Cars access the cruise ship terminal at the junction of Imlay Street and Bowne Street.
Grand Central Station and Penn Station are the closest stations to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Cabs are available at either.
Newark Liberty Airport is the most convenient airport for Bayonne at a distance of about 5 miles. Both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy are around 25 miles away, on very busy roads. Taxicabs are available at each airport. On cruise days cruise lines often organize a shuttle coach.
The cruise terminal is accessed from Highway 440, via Cape Liberty Terminal Blvd.
The best-situated train station is the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station at 34th street. Take a taxi from there. Be aware that no public transport goes directly to the terminal, and pedestrians are banned from the terminal.