This was our fist day in New York. Sky Princess had made an unscheduled port call at Saint John and sailed South down the Eastern seaboard.
Day 11: Monday 4th October 2022: New York City (and Brooklyn)
This was the morning that I had been looking forward to on this cruise. The ship had to sail under the Verranzzo-Narrows Bridge before passing by both Liberty and Ellis Islands. Plus Sky Princess was going to dock in Brooklyn and I wasn’t sure how the ship would be manoeuvred to get there and I wanted to watch!
I set my alarm for 4 am and switched on the TV map to ‘see where’ the ship was. My plan was to go out on deck as we approached the bridge. The ship started to rock or more like wallow as her speed dropped to below 7 knots. This was when the pilot was boarding. The ship then sped up to 15 knots and moved towards the Narrows.
On the TV map, the progress seemed very slow, so I switched to the live video feed from the the bridge camera. There was the Verranzzo-Narrows Bridge dead ahead! This was a lesson learnt that the TV map was only updated well behind the ship’s actual position.
I dashed up to Deck 16 and arrived just before Sky Princess passed under the bridge. There were about 30 other passengers and crew out on the deck. All of us were sheltering from the pouring rain. I grabbed pool towels to provide some extra protection for my camera. Other passengers were using the pool towels as ponchos or even as head coverings.
The ship was then going very slowly past Staten Island on our port side.
Views of New York before docking in Brooklyn
The New York Transit ferries were already running and past Sky Princess on both sides. And we had fabulous of Manhattan.
Liberty Island was next on the port side.
Then Sky Princess passed Ellis Island. We did not approach very close to Manhattan, but slowed down and began to spin very slowly. Governor’s Island was now very close as the ship began to reverse towards the Brooklyn cruise terminal.
By now I was pretty wet and I went back to our cabin for a cup of tea and to dry out.
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
We had breakfast again upstairs in the quiet part of the buffet. Then we waited for our timeslot to go down to the piazza and leave the ship for US immigration. At the appointed time we joined about 100 of fellow passengers who were allowed off at the same time.
The Brooklyn Cruise terminal was not the most inviting of places. After following a series of corridors, we walked down one side of a large warehouse. At the end through there was yet another door, we entered the large Immigration Hall.
Disney style queues were the order of the day in this part of the terminal. Around us the signs all stated that mask wearing was mandatory, but very few ‘staff’ or passengers were wearing them.
We wound our way back and forth until it we came to our turn to go to a booth. Our photographs were taken and thankfully we didn’t have to to do fingerprinting this time. Our prints were clearly on file from three years ago! After more utilitarian corridors we were finally outside.
The New York Transit River Taxi Pier
And the rain started…
Once outside we kept to our left and we followed the crowds past all the bus shelters until we reached the river taxi pier. The queue here stretched from the pier, up the ramp and spilled out onto the walkway in the car park.
After standing in the queue for 10 minutes or more we joined a small group of more adventurous passengers, one of whom had his phone connected to 4G, and we set off to find the nearest subway station.
Finding Smith – 9 Streets Station
After over 30 minutes of walking, passing through parks, dodgy looking streets, and under a flyover; we eventually came to a subway station. I started taking pictures on my iPhone to help us find our way back to the cruise terminal – here they are.
Buying a ticket was not as easy as it should’ve been. We all had to have help from the New York Transit guy who came out from his booth to help us.
Our destination was to get to mid-town. To keep things simple we all planned to leave the subway at Grand Central.
None of the group were comfortable about the subway as none of us knew if we were even on the correct train! After a few stops, we relaxed as we watched the strange mechanical map above pop through the stations. As we went up through Brooklyn the carriage filled up more and more at each stop. None of us enjoyed the packed carriage as it bumped and ground its way into the city.
Once outside, we agreed that we were not returning to Brooklyn on the subway, even if this meant taking a yellow cab.
Around Times Square
After we left Grand Central we headed for Times Square. We had to periodically duck into doorways to avoid the heavy rain, and even at one point the hailstones.
On the south end of Times Square, we went into the Brooklyn Diner to have a sit down and enjoy a coffee and muffins.
A moment’s peace after all the hassles of getting into the city. Our server wasn’t too pleased that we didn’t order a breakfast (or a lunch?). It was raining outside and we sat as long as we dared despite the glares!
5th Avenue and then the subway again…
After walking around Times Square, we walked up towards Central Park along 5th Avenue.
The Apple Store on 5th Avenue was my next stop. In the store we charged our phones as we sat and dried out from all the rain. While we were there I bought a US plugged USB-C charger.
From the New York street map we had bought in Times Square, we guessed that we were only a couple of blocks away from the nearest subway station. Our plan was to ride down to Wall Street and then catch a water taxi back over to Brooklyn and Sky Princess.
The rain was now so bad that we went into a bar and had a drink as we sheltered. The place was packed as everyone else had the same idea. Then the fire alarm in the bar went off and we were all herded outside into the rain, along with our drinks. After about 10 minutes of sheltering away from a hail storm, nearly 50 yards up the street, we were finally allowed back into the bar.
Once at the subway station we couldn’t find the platform we needed. Even asking a guard, only confused as more as we were directed backwards and forwards between lines and platforms. Eventually a very kind New Yorker took pity on us and helped us catch a train halfway down Manhattan and then directed us to the to the train we needed for Wall Street.
The Wall Street Pier
The pier at the end of Wall Street was easy to find. Once inside the building at the end of the pier, we joined yet another queue as no one seemed to be able to work the ticket machines. The New Yorkers in the queue were getting pretty annoyed at all the delays. The machine we were at failed and spewed out our change. Then we were back in the queue for the other machine.
Then outside the queue for the Red Hook ferry stretched almost the whole length of the pier. The ferries only seem to run every 40 minutes, and were nowhere near big enough for the influx of passengers off the ship.
It was with lots of relief when we boarded the ferry and set off across the Hudson to Brooklyn.
We ‘guided’ to sit inside and Once at the cruise terminal not an issue as the rain was pouring down again. At the terminal we had passenger checks and for these had to show photo ID and our Medallion to the not too happy folks at the entrance. At least the Disney queues were inside for this . Then we entered the grey walls of the maze of corridors and to get to the even grumpier security checks at the scanning machines.
Back on Sky Princess
Back on the ship, our late lunch, after 3:30, was another pizza and a beer or two …
It had been a long day, and after an early dinner, we were back in our cabin for a well-deserved rest.
Our planned day of sight seeing was cut short mainly because the rain and after all the hassles of crossing the Hudson to get to the city.
Tomorrow we planned another full day over in New York and hoped to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands.