|Its all about ships
A traditional way of welcoming ships to New York harbor
is a fireboat display.
Cruise destination guide - - photo tour - - New York, New York, USA - - page 2
* This photo tour and the accompanying commentary should only be viewed as a general guide that is based upon one writer's research
and experiences. Accordingly, readers should do their own research prior to their journey. Beyondships is not affiliated with any of the
entities depicted or mentioned herein and assumes no responsibility for their actions and for the products and/or services they provide.
Nor is inclusion in this photo tour a recommendation of the entity shown, its products, services or facilities.
THE MANHATTAN CRUISE TERMINAL (Passenger Ship
Terminal) The classic way to sail in or out of New York
involves docking on the Westside of Manhattan. As one sails
along, the spectacular Manhattan skyline unfolds from the
Battery to Midtown. It is an awesome experience.
The only Westside piers still serving passenger ships are the
three finger piers that jut out into the Hudson at a 90 degree
angle between 46th and 56th Streets. The three piers are
now officially the Manhattan Cruise Terminal although many
still call them by their old name - - the Passenger Ship
In the 1930s, the French Line needed a pier that could
accommodate the 1,000 foot long ocean liner Normandie.
Cunard was also planning to build two 1,000 foot liners. As
a result, three new piers numbered 88, 90 and 92 were
constructed, each 1,100 feet long. For the next three decades,
these piers would be popularly known as "Luxury Liner
By 1970, the piers were becoming obsolete and so the city
engaged in a major renovation project which included,
amongst other things, linking the piers together with a
During the 2000s, the city again embarked on a revitalization
project. Pier 88 received the most attention and was fitted
out with an apron to allow forklift loading of baggage and
supplies. Pier 90 received less extensive renovation.
Uncertain whether to decommission Pier 92, that pier
received the least work.
Approaching and leaving the three piers can be difficult. A
ship coming up the Hudson must make a 90 degree turn
across the river's strong current. A ship leaving the piers
must back out into the current and then execute a 90 degree
turn. Even modern ships call for tug boat assistance.
There is a limited amount of long term parking on the roof of
each pier. Taxis can drop off and pick up passengers on the
second level roadway. Buses use the ground level roadway.
There is no subway near the terminal.
Despite its shortcomings, most passenger ships use the
Passenger Ship Terminal. NCL, Carnival Cruise Lines and
Holland America use it for their ships that embark from New
York. It is also used by ships on cruises where New York is
a port of call, primarily because it is so near to the
attractions of Manhattan.
Above: The three finger piers of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.
Below: P&O's Arcadia at the Passenger Ship Terminal during a
THE GATEWAY In order for a ship to get to
or from any of the cruise ship terminals it must
pass beneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge
that links Brooklyn on the east with Staten
Island on the west. Named for the first known
European explorer to enter New York harbor,
it is the longest bridge span in America.
When the bridge opened in 1969, cruise ships
were much smaller than they are today. Since
then they have grown taller. As a result, the
Queen Mary 2, for example, passes under the
bridge with only about 13 feet of clearance
(left); (see also Caribbean Princess right and
Explorer of the Seas, below) .
CAPE LIBERTY CRUISE TERMINAL Although
Cape Liberty serves New York Harbor, it is actually in
Bayonne, New Jersey. The cruise terminal occupies a
portion of a long man-made peninsula that juts out into
the harbor not far from the Statue of Liberty.
The peninsula was created by private industry in the
1930s. However, as World War II approached, the
Navy became interested in the site and built an
extensive base there including a large dry dock that is
still in use. The base was used for ship repair and as a
logistical trans-shipment facility. In 1965, Army
facilities were added and the name changed from the
Bayonne Navy Base to the Military Ocean Terminal - -
Bayonne. The base continued to fulfill the role as a
primary military logistical shipment center through the
First Gulf War.
Following a recommendation of the Base Realignment
and Closure Commission, the base was closed in 1999
at a cost of some 2,500 civilian jobs. However, in
December 2003, Royal Caribbean announced an
agreement with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment
Authority to create a cruise port in the old base. The
new cruise terminal opened in October 2005 with a
sailing by Voyager of the Seas.
The cruise terminal is located in a converted warehouse
at the far end of the peninsula. Guests arrive and unload
their baggage in a sheltered area outside of the terminal
building. Once passengers have checked-in, they are
taken on shuttle buses to the ship. Although there is
room for several ships, there is normally only one ship
using the terminal at a time.
A large area close to the terminal building is devoted to
parking. Cape Liberty is close to and accessible from
the New Jersey Turnpike.
There are also taxis and shuttle vans that wait for
arriving ships outside of the terminal building.
Cape Liberty is close to Newark Liberty Airport so if
you are flying in or out, Newark will be the most
convenient of the area airports.
Getting to Cape Liberty from Manhattan is somewhat
complicated. You have to take the Port Authority
PATH subway or one of the New York Waterways
ferries to New Jersey. Once there you have to take the
Hudson-Bergan Light Rail to the Bayonne 34th Street
station. Next, you have to call one of the local taxi
companies and request a cab to take you to the terminal.
Although you will be able to see the ship from the
station, it is still a considerable distance and it is not
feasible to walk.
Royal Caribbean sails from Bayonne year-round and its
sister company Celebrity Cruises sails from there
seasonally. On very rare occasions, ships from other
lines use the terminal.
THE BROOKLYN CRUISE TERMINAL The latest cruise terminal in New York Harbor
is the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It is located in Red Hook section of Brooklyn at Pier 12
and sits on Buttermilk Channel, which divides Brooklyn from Governor's Island.
Pier 12 was first developed before the American Civil War and has been used as a cargo
pier for most of its existence. Indeed, the current terminal was converted from a 1954
vintage freight terminal.
The cruise terminal, which opened in 2005, is modern and spacious. It is surrounded by a
vast parking lot, which also has waiting areas for buses and limousines. There is a traffic
circle in front of the terminal building for cars and taxis to off load passengers and their
baggage. Following check in, passengers walk to the gangways.
Ship captains tend to like the Brooklyn Terminal because it is relatively simple to
approach and because of the modern facilities for loading baggage and supplies.
There are good views of lower Manhattan and of the Statue of Liberty from a ship docked
at the Brooklyn Terminal.
Getting to the ship can be challenging. Passengers arriving by car usually take the
Brooklyn Queens Expressway and then have to navigate a confusing maze of local streets.
Taxi drivers often do not know where the terminal is located. Public transportation
involves taking a subway, then transferring to a bus and finally a substantial walk.
Arriving is easier as there are always taxis and car services at the terminal to meet the
The Brooklyn Terminal is used by Princess Cruises and by Cunard's Queen Mary 2. Only
one ship can use the terminal at a time.
Above right: The Brooklyn Terminal from Queen
Mary 2. Middle Right: Crown Princess from the
Brooklyn Terminal. Lower right: The Manhattan
Skyline from QM2 while berthed in Brooklyn. Below:
Grand Princess in Brooklyn.
Above: A memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks
at Cape Liberty. Above right: Celebrity Constellation at Cape
Liberty. Below: Explorer of the Seas leaving Cape Liberty.
Above: Liberty of the Seas made a call at Port Liberty prior to
going into service in 2007.
Below: Lower Manhattan from Cape Liberty. The ship is
Below: Norwegian Epic at the Passenger Ship Terminal during
her maiden call at an American port.
Below right: Carnival Miracle, a regular at the Passenger Ship
Terminal, and Queen Mary 2, during a rare berthing at the
Passenger Ship Terminal. (QM2 normally berths in Brooklyn).