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Port Review: New York, USA

 

It’s an imposing city and a major cruise hub on the eastern seaboard, where you can cruise to and from Bermuda, Canada and New England, Europe, the Caribbean, and more. And if you are in the city for just a day, there are big decisions to be made.

Overview

What can you say about New York that hasn't already been said? New York is a vast and historic city packed with culture, energy and vitality, and it's a city which is always on the move. For visitors who arrive by ship, even if they are only in town for a day, there will also be something new to see. Think of an activity and the best of it will be in New York, from museums and shopping, to dining and live music. The only problem cruise passengers encounter, especially first timers, is deciding how to fill their day, and what won't make the cut. 

The Facts 

Location: North eastern United States.

Language: English.

Currency: US Dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: Ships dock at one of four locations. The main passenger terminal is on Manhattan's west side between West 48th and West 52nd streets, but depending on which ship you are cruising on, you could also dock at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal south of Brooklyn Heights, the Cape Liberty Cruise Port on the New Jersey side of New York Harbor, and some small ships dock at the Chelsea Recreational Piers on the Hudson River.

Transport: From the main passenger terminal it's a 20-minute walk to Midtown, but taxis are also generally available or can be hailed in the streets or outside hotels. Beyond that the subway system is comprehensive and a cheap way to go (avoiding the rush hour), and if you don't mind walking, exploring on foot is easy.

Don’t Miss

Times Square is a landmark spot without much to do, except to see the lights, soak up the energy and take a must-have photo. Fun by day, it’s an area which really comes alive at night, awash with neon and lights. There is also a major visitor centre there, however, so if you are planning to explore independently you can get all the maps and brochures you need.

The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic structures in New York, dating back to 1931, and it can take ages to get to the top these days thanks to a combination of popularity and security. On a good weather day, however, the views from the 86th floor Observation Deck are well worth the wait in line. If you don't fancy going up, you must at least get a photo from down below.

Central Park if the place to go if you feel walking off some of that cruise food. It is a huge space encompassing rolling meadows and lakes, stretching between Fifth and Eighth Avenues and from 59th to 110th Streets. It is home to two zoos, a small castle and the famous John Lennon memorial among other attractions, and if you are in a particularly romantic mood on a nice weather day, you can take a ride in a horse and carriage.

The American Museum of Natural History is famous for being home to the largest collection of dinosaurs and fossils in the world, and it’s not just for kids. Don't miss the life size blue whale replica which has to be seen to be believed.

Ellis Island, which sits out in the harbour, will attract history buffs, but like many major landmarks in New York these days it is usually busy. You get there by ferry from Battery Park, and you'll learn all about the 12 million immigrants which were processed there between 1892 and 1954. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to an impressive collection of more than two million works of art spanning some 5,000 years. It's so big you could spend an entire day here alone.

Best Photo Op

New York is a city that presents photo ops at almost every turn, and for first timers the top of the Empire State Building is where you’ll capture the vast expanse of the city. Locals also say photographing the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn is worth the effort of getting there, especially at night.

Shopping

Each district has its own shopping appeal, and scores of books and websites devoted to New York shopping alone. Fifth Avenue is the epicentre of shopping in New York with everything from massive discount malls to many of the designer labels, while  Madison Avenue has 15 blocks of celebrity designer shops including Calvin, Jean-Paul and Giorgio and flagship fashion house boutiques Prada, Hermes and Chanel. Macy’s is a massive department store on West 34th Street near Broadway that has bargain prices on clothes made by the likes of Guess, Esprit and Ralph Lauren etc. 

Food and Drink

New York truly is a city which has it all. Pick any ethnic variety of cuisine, from Ethiopian and traditional Italian, and you will find top quality restaurants dotted all over town. If you are short of time, Chinatown is good for a meander as well as a spot of lunch, a sprawl of winding, cobblestone streets packed with family-owned eateries. Try the Peking duck or stuffed dumplings, and finish off with a spot of souvenir shopping for kitschy Chinese goodies. Another classic experience is munching on a hot dog from a street vendor, or kicking back in a 50’s style diner.

Pick of the Excursions

New York is such a vast city with so many things to see and do that not many shore excursions are offered beyond the city limits. If you fancy seeing something different, and your cruise line offers one, a day tour to Washington DC is worth the effort, as is a flying visit to the famous Niagara Falls.

 

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