Biting into the Big Apple

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New York City, often called The Greatest City in the World, was once the greatest passenger shipping port in the world. Sadly, New York slowly lost the bulk of its passenger ships in the 1960s and 70s; only a few ships were still sailing from New York on a regular basis during the 80s, 90s and the first few years of the 21st Century. But since 2003, New York has seen a burst of new cruising activity.

Not only is the port of New York busier than ever, we now also have the New Jersey Bayonne port servicing Royal caribbean and the Brooklyn Red Hook Terminal servicing Princess and Cunard ships on a regular basis

For the last few years, New York has seen a resurgence in year round cruises to the Caribbean, including seven-day options from NCL, and 9 and 10-day options from Princess and Holland America.

Of course, I'm somewhat biased since New York is my home. Even though I grew up with the city virtually in my backyard and now reside in Manhattan, I never cease to marvel at everything the city has to offer. It's one of the greatest pre- or post-cruise destinations, full of theater, music, dining, and nightlife, with fascinating streetscapes and people-watching opportunities.

Staying in New York City

If you decide to spend a day or two in the city, it can be more affordable than you might think. Not every meal will cost you $50 and not every hotel room will cost you $350-$500 per night. There are plenty of nice hotels in the $180-$250 per night range, such as the Algonquin, Beekman Tower, Crowne Plaza UN, Holiday Inn Downtown, Holiday Inn Wall Street, The Hudson, The Mayflower on Central Park West, Morgans, The Paramount, The Royalton and Shelbourne Murray Hill. Each of these properties is clean, comfortable and located in convenient and desirable locations. You may have to do some searching to find bargain rates, but it's well worth it!

As for things to see and do, the possibilities are huge! Almost everyone loves Broadway shows, and you can get half-price tickets on the day of performance from the TKTS booth in Times Square or the theater box office. You can also explore the major sights like Times Square, the Empire State Building, 42nd Street, the United Nations, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Wall Street and more. But if you're not a first-time visitor, you might want to explore some offbeat and less crowded attractions. Spend an afternoon wandering around Central Park, which is so green and tranquil that you'll forget you're in a giant city. Central Park offers a great Zoo & Wildlife Center that is home to a local celebrity, Gus the Polar Bear!

The Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street is one of the world's great repositories for painting, sculpture, antiquities, antiques, and more. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA for short) has one of the most extensive and varied collections of modern art in the world; its Manhattan location is undergoing reconstruction, but its collection is still available at an annex in Queens that is not to be missed. And it's only a short hop by subway from Manhattan. If you head off to the outer boroughs, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden offers a mind-boggling and beautiful array of flowers and trees.

Heading downtown, Eighth Avenue in Chelsea is home to an endless string of chic, trendy and offbeat boutiques and galleries. Even farther south is historic Greenwich Village. Chelsea and "The Village" offer some great people-watching and stunning architecture; the West Village brims with historic buildings and winding cobblestone streets. In the extreme West Village, at the edge of the Hudson River, you'll find the beautiful Hudson River Park (to be completed in 2003) and a promenade that you can stroll along all the way down to the Financial District. That's where you'll find Battery Park, Wall Street, Federal Hall, the New York Stock Exchange, World Financial Center & The Winter Garden - and, of course, Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center's twin towers used to stand.

Dining, New York Style

After all this sightseeing, you'll be hungry! Some of my favorites restaurants are:

  • Churrascaria Platforma (49th Street between Eighth & Ninth avenues) for authentic Brazilian cuisine. (Bring your appetite!)
  • Virgil's on 44th Street east of Times Square for authentic southern barbecue.
  • Frutti de Mare at 4th Street and Second Avenue for great Italian food.
  • NoHo Star on Lafayette Street just north of Houston for a great Asian fusion menu.
  • Ithaka on Barrow Street in the West Village for phenomenal Greek food.
  • Balthazar (Spring Street between Broadway & Crosby) or the Bull & Bear (Lexington & 49th Street) for great steaks!

None of these restaurants will break your wallet; they'll serve up an excellent meal for an average of $30-$50 per person.

Sailing from New York City

New York Harbor is one of the most majestic places to sail into or out of! Make sure you're on deck to witness your sail-away from NYC. If you're a hearty soul, nothing beats getting up around 5 a.m. to witness your arrival into the Lower Bay as you approach Manhattan.

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