Around the World: December 2017 Cruising From New York
Many tourists who want to view New York City’s magnificent skyline from the water take a two hour harbor tour aboard the Circle Line or hop aboard the Staten Island Ferry for the 30 minute commuter crossing between lower Manhattan’s Whitehall Terminal and Staten Island’s St. George Terminal -- and, to be quite honest, both of those local cruises do yield thrilling views of the Big Apple.
But neither trip can provide the thrill of departing from New York on a large ship and setting off for an adventure at sea.
Ships depart from New York ports on glamorous December itineraries to the colorful Caribbean Islands to the south and on grandly relaxing transatlantic crossings to Southampton and other European ports of call.
Those, basically, are your choices for your December departures from any one of New York’s three passenger ports -- in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bayonne, NJ.
On days when large passenger ships arrive and depart, the ports bustle with activity and excitement. Passengers who are returning from their adventures are disembarking, collecting their luggage and heading for home or a post-cruise New York sojourn. And, a new boatload of passengers is, with a great sense of anticipation, boarding the vessel and getting settled in their cabins.
At the same time, the ships are being restocked with tons of fresh supplies, maintenance is underway and crew members are taking turns coming ashore for a few hours of time off, taking advantage of the shops and eateries located near the piers.
As departure time approaches, visitors onboard are asked to disembark, the ship’s gangway is removed and all passengers gather on deck or on their individual balconies to watch as the ship leaves the mooring. When the ship’s horn blasts its announcement of the departure, people on the dock and on the decks cheer and wave farewell.
There’s always a celebration to welcome new passengers and turn the departure into a gala. Drinks are served and music is played on deck, and there’s hoopla and dancing everywhere.
And then there’s that incredible view of the New York City skyline. It’s the perfect photo op, so out come all of the cameras and the clicking begins.
The beginning of a cruise is always gala, the experience takes on a larger than life dimension when the departure is from New York City.
There are other benefits, too. For one thing, if you’re local -- and that means from anywhere in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- you can skip the plane- to-ship leg of the trip altogether. That eliminates the anxiety of December weather-related flight cancellations or delays.
But, if you’re coming from afar, you can arrange for a pre- or post-cruise stay in the Big Apple, one that’s designed to satisfy your special interests whether you like to visit museums and galleries, go to the theater, eat at gourmet restaurants or unique neighborhood diners, shop for luxury or bargain goods, audition for a television game show, stroll through Central Park or along Riverside Drive. New York is perfect for a pre- or post-cruise dalliance.
New York-based cruise itineraries are sufficiently varied to please anyone. Most of the major cruise lines have ships leaving New York for three or four days, one or two weeks or longer voyages – and some of them are so inexpensive you can hardly afford to stay home
If you choose to cruise to southbound destinations, ships sailing out of New York offer various Caribbean itineraries. You can sail aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines; Norwegian Gem to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, calling at Fort-de-France (Martinique), Castries (St. Lucia), Basseterre (St Kitts), and St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), with five days of shipboard relaxation and entertainment at sea, departing December 8 for a total of ten nights at prices as low as $389 per person.
If you can’t be away for ten nights, opt for seven nights aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, cruising the Bahamas with calls at Port Canaveral (Florida), Nassau, and Great Sttirrup Cay, and three days at sea for dining, dancing and other shipboard fun. The cruise departs on December 15 and costs from $429 per person. That’s a bit more per night, but still an exceptional travel value.
Other cruise lines offering affordable Caribbean cruises with December departures from New York include Royal Caribbean International and Cunard.
Cunard also offers a seven day transatlantic voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, departing New York on December 8 and disembarking in Southampton on December 15. For passengers, this repositioning cruise is all about elegance and entertainment aboard, and, it’s priced from $639 per person.
Or, if you want a real year end splurge, book aboard the Queen Mary 2 for a combination Caribbean and transatlantic crossing holiday gala cruise for 19 nights, departing New York on December 22, with calls at English Harbour (Antigua), St. Kitts, Barbados, Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), New York (yes, for one day) and on to Southampton, with a total of 13 days at sea. Prices start at $3994 per person, so this is a splurge. But still, that’s about $210 per night – and you can hardly book a hotel room for the holidays for that price, which doesn’t include meals and entertainment and a variety of destinations.
And, as with all cruises, if you book your New York-based cruise at the last minute – for December, for instance -- you’re likely to get better rates. Of course, with last minute bookings, you won’t get as many choices about cabin location. But on most cruises, you don’t spend much time in your cabin, anyway. For best prices, compare offers from online cruise discounters.