This was the second of our three days in New York. The plan for the day was to catch a boat out to Liberty and Ellis Islands rather than be a tourist in Manhattan again, that could come later! Our first day had taken us into Manhattan and up to to Central Park but the weather had been terrible.
Day 12: Monday 5th October 2022: New York City
Breakfast was in the quiet part of the buffet again. We had come to the conclusion that cereals and fruit were a much better combination than the food in the ship’s restaurant.
Leaving the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the morning was a breeze but our enthusiasm was stopped dead when we joined the long queue for the ferry. The single ticket machine was down on the floating pier, this meant that there had to be a second queue just to buy tickets.
The locals cheerfully ignored the queues and walked to the front by the boarding gate. It was very hard to see what was happening as before the ferry for Wall Street arrived, the ferry going the other way arrived.
By the time our ferry arrived unfortunately tempers were getting frayed and arguments were breaking out as folks from the ticket machine queue simply pushed their way to the boarding gate. The ferry was not filled as it seems the Transit Authority folks had left space for other later pick ups. This left even more people waiting …
Walk to Battery Park
Once off the Wall Street pier we turned left and headed off towards the Staten Island ferry buildings. First we passed the New York heliport pier. Stopping, I watched helicopters coming and going.
The next building we passed was for the Governor’s Island ferry. This was an imposing building with what looked like large open warehouses behind the exterior.
Then we came to the Staten Island ferry building. This was a far more impressive building than the others that we had passed.
Battery Park was next to the Staten Island ferry building. There we walked a path that run alongside the Hudson. Further around we passed a Liberty Island ferry tied up alongside.
The ferry was separated from the park by crowd barriers. The signs pointed a couple of hundred yards further along for the entrance. But, the tickets were on sale inside the nearby fort. We were amused that we qualified for a reduced fare as pensioners, the first good news of the day.
The ticket inspectors directed us to the security building.
Once inside it was chaotic and the folks doing the checks were extremely rude and pushy. One grabbed hold of our bags and threw them through the x-ray machines. Once passed that ‘Welcome’ we had to walk back down by the river to the waiting ferry. We were separated from the Park’s path by a simple barrier.
The ferry was full inside and we opted to go up to the top deck. Now we were opposite the US Navy’s memorial to all their sailors lost in past wars.
To Liberty Island
The ferry’s first stop was to be Liberty Island.
Staten Island ferry.
Leaving the quay we had more great views of Manhattan and across the Hudson.
The ferry passed Liberty Island before turning back to dock.
Liberty Island and Manhattan…
We could see Sky Princess across the river in Brooklyn behind Governors Island.
After docking we walked around the island until we reached the concession café. What a disappointment this was for such a prestigious location. We did buy coffees and cakes and went outside rather than stay in the gloomy and dingy place.
The tables and chairs were wet and scattered with rubbish and food waste – as an excuse it had been raining. We stood at the side of one of the tables that was away from the full waste bins.
There we had to dodge the mass of birds trying to steal our cakes!
At the side of the steps up to the cafe was a tent with rusty poles that had clearly seen better days. This was supposed to be the ice-cream vending place when it was open.
The Statue of Liberty
To get to Lady Liberty we walked around the island on the broad promenade.
We could clearly see the Narrows bridge and just some of the sea traffic.
We passed this old dock that looked straight at Lower Manhattan.
Looking up at the statue from the promenade. We were separated from the lawns around the base by a fence.
Statue of Liberty
Our tickets gave us access to the ledge around the Statue of Liberty. No bags were allowed in the statue. This meant that we had to leave my camera bag and our rucksacks in one of the lockers provided outside by the entrance. Then we had another security check before we could walk around the base and enter.
Once up the steps in the entrance hall we had a choice, either walk up hundreds of steps or join the queue for the lift. This lift only carried six people so we were told to expect a wait. However, the thought of walking up all those steps was motivation enough to join the queue.
Our tickets did not give us access to the very top of the statue, but once out of the lift, we climbed a couple of flights of stairs and went out on the ledge.
The ledge was not very wide and we had to squeeze past other tourists to make our way around. It was a little chaotic as some us went anti-clockwise and others clockwise but everyone having to squeeze past the tourists stopping to take in the views.
[ TBA images from the ledge]
While we waited to walk down to the lift, I took these pictures looking up inside the statue.
Our walk back to the pier took us past vendors selling photographs as well as souvenirs. We didn’t have long to wait for a ferry to take us to Ellis Island.
This was only a short trip. As we docked, the building in front of us, looked as impressive as it did in all the photographs of Ellis Island.
The first space in the building was the so-called baggage hall along with piles of old fashioned leather representative baggage.
As we explored, we came to a cabinet full of medical instruments. These looked more like mediaeval torture instruments. At the Titanic Experience in Belfast, we had seen similar displays of instruments. These were all used by doctors to check out the health of the immigrants as they arrived on the island
Searching the emigrants database
I paid $10 to explore the online record database, looking for my great grandfather who had passed through Ellis Island. He had emigrated from West Yorkshire and had had a job in a woollen mill to the North of Boston.
After not finding his details, the volunteers were kind enough to give me some insights on how to narrow my search in the future. More importantly, I learnt that immigrants having their name changed on Ellis island was a myth.
The real culprits were the authors of the ship’s manifests. They were the ones who ‘wrote’ down the names of the passengers. Little or no care was taken on this except to get the numbers correct. Even worse, some of the authors were illiterate!
Not great for eating
The restaurant was in parts of the original canteen, and the food served was again not what I did expected at such a prestigious location. We had to eat on long tables, crammed together with lots of other visitors on benches. At the end of each bench were large open trays for waste food and dirty crockery. Yuck!
My badly chosen lunch was for a panini. This turned out to be thinly sliced bread over ham. Probably looking a lot worse than it actually was. I just shut my eyes and ate it, another less than great experience.
The next part of the building to visit was the registration hall. Today it is a large open area space. When my grandfather went through it had divided into cubicles and waiting areas.
Around the hall there was a mezzanine that I explored. To get there I went up one of the stairs that were situated in the hall’s corners. On each of the landings were doors that led off to small exhibitions around the building. This building definitely was a lot bigger than it seemed at first and had lots of passages and levels.
Around the mezzanine, I came to a restored bunk room where immigrant family slept while they were being processed. Arriving families were not allowed to leave until husbands/fathers had been checked and confirmed to be related.
On the dock we had to check for ferries going back to New York rather than New Jersey.
The ferry back to the city was not too full and we were again outside on the top deck.
Back to the Wall Street Terminal
We walked back through the park till we reached the Staten Island ferry.
At the Governors Island ferry building we had to stop as cars streamed out of the building off a ferry. Then we walked back along the promenade with views across up the Hudson.
There were no helicopters at the heli-port.
Under the bridge these cars were ‘parked’.
Back to Brooklyn
At the Wall Street ferry terminal our queue was not too bad for the ferry back to Red Hook. After our wait everyone was able to board the water taxi.
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
After our id checks, the security search was by now the typical unfriendly hassle in the cruise terminal. Back on board Sky Princess, we went straight into the piazza for a drink and were grateful to back onboard to put our ‘feet up’.
After we had had dinner in the restaurant midships, we went out on our balcony and watched the night sky and saw the flashing lights as planes flew past overhead on the way to one of New York’s airports.