Manhattan is a very big city and home to the longest running cruise port in the United States. Over the years it has seen millions and millions of passengers come through Pier 88 and Pier 90, each pier being updated now and then to accommodate larger ships and more passengers.
Whether you’re traveling to the cruise terminal for the first time, or you’re a frequent “flyer”, it is important to learn everything you can about the terminal and the surrounding area.
In this article, we’ll give you a brief history of the Manhattan cruise terminal and how it became a port for cruise passengers. Then we’ll go over other details and information you’ll need to help make your trip planning go much smoother.
History of Manhattan Cruise Terminal
Originally called the New York Passenger Ship Terminal (or the Port Authority Passenger Ship Terminal), this cruise port was built and finished in 1935. At the time there were four piers serving ships, piers 88, 90, 92, and 94.
These piers were built to replace the Chelsea Piers (which had once been the destination for the RMS Titanic. The Chelsea Piers now serve as a sports and entertainment complex, which includes TV production facilities, spas, batting cages, and more.
In the early 2000s, in order to accommodate the amount of cruise ships, additional home ports were built around the city: Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ (2004) and Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Brooklyn, NY (2006).
At that time, piers 92 and 94 were sold. Now the Manhattan Cruise Terminal has only two piers (88 and 90) and can comfortably accommodate three ships at once at each.
Norwegian Cruise Line is the only cruise liner to use the Manhattan Cruise Terminal year round, while seasonal travel is used by Carnival, Crystal, Cunard, Holland, Princess, and Disney.
Manhattan is also a popular port of call for various other cruise liners, including Aida Cruises, Costa Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Location and Directions
If you’re driving to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, the address you’ll want to use in your GPS or maps program is 711 12th Ave, New York, NY.
Entrance to the Terminal comes from the north at the intersection of 55th Street and 12th Ave (State Route 9A). All routes, no matter where you’re coming from, will eventually take you to 12th Ave and 55th street where the entrance is.
The official terminal website offers a printout of directions to the port from various locations around New York and New Jersey.
Embarking and Disembarking
If you’re driving in, dropping off passengers and luggage before parking is not advised as you have to exit the terminal in order to park. Instead, park first, and then drop off your luggage at the second level for check-in.
Once checked in, the porters will deliver your luggage to the ship, while you follow the posted signs for where you are to board your vessel.
When you return, you’ll first be directed to the baggage hall to get your luggage, then to the parking garage, or any awaiting coaches, taxis, or limos.
Transportation to the Terminal (Best Ways to Get Around)
There are other numerous ways to get to the terminal if driving is not your chosen mode of transportation. Depending on how you plan to travel, where you’re traveling from, and what airport you may be flying into, there is no shortage of options.
The trick is finding the option that will get you there with little fuss that also doesn’t cost a lot of money.
It’s important to note that many folks who live in and around the city strongly advise not to drive in the city. Traffic quickly gets backed up due to the large amount of people also trying to get around, and it may take you twice as long to get to your destination if you’re trying to navigate city roads.
You can still choose to drive yourself, even if you are flying into the city. There are many rental companies available to get a car from in Manhattan. You can easily pick up a car at the airport from Enterprise, Avis, or Hertz, or any other company, and drop off the car just a few blocks away from the cruise terminal.
However, even for one-way rentals, this option could get pricey (average of $50-$100 for a car), depending on where you’re picking up. And traffic in Manhattan is always a concern.
NYCruise.com offers a discount for Avis (location code W42 and AWD# A427700) and Budget (location code NY5 and BDC# R643700) through the locations closest to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. The discounts only work if you pickup and drop off at those locations but can save you roughly 10% on a rental car.
Taking a yellow taxicab around the city is the most used method of transportation and depending on where you’re being picked up at dropped off it can be much cheaper than renting a car.
Standard metered fare starts at $2.50, adding 50 cents per half mile (or 60 seconds in slow or stopped traffic). For more information regarding other possible fees involved visit the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission Rates of Fare.
Estimated rates for transportation to the cruise terminal via yellow taxicab are included below. There are no extra fees for additional passengers or luggage:
- From JFK International Airport: $52 flat rate
- From La Guardia Airport: $25-$35
- From Newark International Airport: $80-$100
- From Port Authority Bus Terminal: $8-$10
- From Pennsylvania Train Station: approximately $16-$17 (busy and slow traffic could raise this rate)
- From Grand Central Terminal: approximately $18-$19 (busy and slow traffic could raise this rate)
Uber or Lyft
Rideshare services are becoming extremely popular for travelers around the United States and is especially common around Manhattan.
Using services like Uber and Lyft may cost significantly less than taking a taxi. But just like taxis, the cost is determined based on where you’ll be picked up. It’s a good idea to compare approximate Uber/Lyft rates with taxi rates to figure out which would be best for you.
Uber (rates are for UberX)
- From JFK: $92
- From LaGuardia: $66
- From Newark Intl: $53
- From Port Authority Bus Terminal: $16
- From Pennsylvania Train Station: $18
- From Grand Central Terminal: $24
Lyft (Personal ride)
- From JFK: $120-$130
- From LaGuardia: $65-$70
- From Newark Intl: $50-$55
- From Port Authority Bus Terminal: $21-$24
- From Pennsylvania Train Station: $24-$28
- From Grand Central Terminal: $20-$25
Bus or Subway
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is the closest to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, but you can also ride the New York City Buses – Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Information regarding buses, their schedules, and rates can be found at their prospective websites.
With either option, once you arrive you should be able to take quick cab to the cruise terminal.
The subway can be taken from anywhere in New York and the closest stop to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal is at Columbus Circle, which is a short walk from the terminal. For more information about subway trains, times, and cost visit the MTA Subway website.
New York Parking Information
If you drove your own car to Manhattan, you’ll want to find a place to park for the duration of your cruise. Luckily, there are various options around the city to choose from.
A few of the best parking options are:
- Official Manhattan Cruise Terminal Parking: $40 per night
- MTP Manhattan Cruise Parking: $21.99 per night
- ParkRight Manhattan Cruise Parking: $29 per night
- ParkJockey: $25 per night
For a much more extensive list of parking options and New York driving tips, read our article about Manhattan Cruise Parking. (link to the parking article)
Many people plan to arrive two or three days before their cruise ships out. This is a great way to visit the city and do some sightseeing, while also allowing for travel delays.
If you’ll be staying in the city an extra day or so, you’ll need a place to sleep before you ship off. The type of hotel you look for will not only depend on preferences and budget, but also whether or not you’ll need parking.
Hotels Within Walking Distance
If you left the car at home and flew in, your best bet is to find a hotel within walking distance from the cruise terminal. Because public transportation is so readily available in the city, many hotels near the terminal don’t provide shuttle transfers. Here is a brief list of hotels that are a mile or less from the terminal.
- Skyline Hotel – 0.7 miles from the cruise terminal
- The Watson Hotel – 0.8 miles from the cruise terminal
- Kimpton Ink48 – 0.7 miles from the cruise terminal
- Yotel New York – 0.6 miles from the cruise terminal
- 414 Hotel – 0.6 miles from the cruise terminal
- Amsterdam Court Hotel – 0.7 miles from the cruise terminal
Hotels with Free Parking/Shuttle
If you’re looking for a hotel that has free parking during your cruise, and maybe a shuttle ride to and from the cruise port, you’ll be better off staying in New Jersey. The hotels listed below offer cruise packages that provide these features to cruise passengers.
- Hampton Inn Ridgefield Park
- Hilton Garden Inn Ridgefield Park
- Fairfield Inn & Suites North Bergen
- Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Newark International Airport
New York Weather
Checking the weather forecast before coming to New York for your cruise will make planning your trip easier, especially if you’ll be travelling during an especially rainy or snowy period. You want to have the opportunity to adjust your schedule for possible travel delays, just in case.
New York tends to have mild spring and fall seasons, while summer can get very warm, and winter can be frigid with lots of snow. Pay attention to the time of year you’ll be shipping out and plan accordingly.
For instance, if you’re cruising to the Caribbean, but your ship leaves from Manhattan in December or January, you’ll want to pack both winter and summer clothes to accommodate both sides of the ocean.
What to Bring on Your Cruise from Manhattan
You don’t want to pack willy-nilly. It’s important to know what to bring with you that will help you enjoy your trip and make it as stress-free as possible. There’s nothing like being on the middle of the ocean and realizing you forgot your toothbrush, or a special medication you need.
Make a list of everything you’ll need to have with you. Here are a few suggestions of what to bring, including ones you may not have thought of.
- Proper clothing – This should really go without saying. As we mentioned above, look at the forecast for both your homeport and your cruise itinerary, and pack your clothing accordingly. If you check far enough in advance, you may have time to do some last minute shopping for what you need.
- Toiletries and medicines – Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, and any other toiletries you need. Make sure you also bring plenty of ibuprofen, Tylenol, stuff for seasickness, and any prescriptions with you.
- Waterproof dry bag and a phone/passport dry pouch – When you’re out on the ship, anything can happen. Keep your valuables in dry pouches or bags as much as possible while on the ship, or if you go out to the beach during a port stop. The last thing you need is soggy money, IDs, or passports.
- Slip-resistant flip flops – Boat decks get wet a lot, especially if there are on-deck pools and hot tubs. Having some slip-resistant flip flops will make it much easier to walk around the ship.
- Outlet adapter – Outlet space can be very minimal in your cruise cabin, so it’s recommended that you bring an adapter to give you more options to plug things in to. Just be sure to get one that doesn’t have a surge protector.
- Refillable water bottle – If you don’t already have one of these, get one. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, whether your cruising to the Caribbean or Alaska, and having a water that you can easily refill with water wherever you go is essential.
Also Read: 100 Things You Can Pack For A Cruise
Things to Do in Manhattan
One of the biggest draws of Manhattan is that you can do just about anything, even if you’ve visited a hundred times. There’s something for everyone here to enjoy, so we highly recommend arriving two or three days in advance to take advantage of everything the Big Apple has to offer.
Manhattan is also known as the city that never sleeps. If you have never experienced city nightlife, or just haven’t done so in New York, now’s the time to do it.
There are plenty of bars and clubs available for any tastes or preferences (jazz, dance, comedy, late night dining, etc.). There are even a few spots that let minors in for some fun (minus the alcohol, of course).
For lovers of art, history, or science, New York is famous for its wide variety of museums and exhibitions. Visit multiple spots to really experience the wide array of cultures represented in NYC.
There’s the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which is just down the road from the cruise terminal. Learn the history of popular aircraft, seacraft, and space craft, some of which date back to World War II.
You can also visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), National Museum of the American Indian, Cloisters Museum (which is a branch of the MET), and so many more.
You don’t have to stay up late in order to enjoy some of the music found in Manhattan. There are plenty of musical opportunities in daytime or evening hours. Visit the Radio City Music Hall for a tour where you’ll get to meet a real Rockette, then come back in the evening for a show that will blow you away.
New York hosts a litany of concerts for all tastes year-round, so check ahead of time to see who will be playing during your visit so you can book your show tickets.
Live Plays at the Big Apple!
If seeing a play performed live on Broadway has been a lifelong dream, now is the time to fulfill your wish. Visit Broadway’s website for their extensive list of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. If you see something you like that will be playing during your visit, book your tickets right there!
You’ll easily be able to enjoy Broadway’s newest plays, as well as revivals of well-loved classics. Whatever your preference, you’ll regret not going.
New York Shopping
New York City is a shopper’s paradise. Anything you could ever want to buy and more. There are thousands of stores, boutiques, and shops scattered all over the city. You could live in NYC for years and never visit them all.
The most popular spot for shopping is down Fifth Avenue, filled with everything from designer purses, shoes, dresses, and jewelry. Be sure to budget accordingly as prices are not going to be cheap.
Closer to the cruise terminal are Columbus Circle and Times Square, which are also amazing places that will delight shoppers of all shapes, sizes, and tastes. If remaining close to the terminal is your preference, these areas certainly will not disappoint.
Kid-Friendly NYC and Family-Friendly Attractions
Many families who travel worry about the unsafe areas of NYC, especially in regards to their children. Though we highly recommend staying with your kids at all times, there are several kid-friendly attractions and places to visit around the city so that even the littlest travelers can enjoy their stay.
Many of the museums around the city are excellent places to provide not just fun for your kids, but educational opportunities as well. They’ll learn about geography, history, dinosaurs, astronomy, biology, and so much more while visiting NYC museums.
You can also take them to the Central Park Zoo, and visit all of the animals found within. For the tinier family members, there’s also Tisch’s Children’s Zoo, where you and your kids can feed pygmy goats, pigs, and many other animals.
If you and your kids enjoy medieval history and fun, The Cloisters is a great art museum to visit. There’s also the Medieval Times dinner and show in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, where you get to eat amazing food, while also watching a live jousting show. Cheer for your favorite knights as they fight for the honor of the princess! It’s a bit far from the cruise port, but trust us, it is worth the trip.
If you have a full day to really enjoy some of New York’s history, take your family to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. There’s even a brand new Statue of Liberty Museum that just opened on May 16th, 2019. Now every visitor, not just those able to climb the many stairs to the crown, are able to experience Lady Liberty and learn about her history.
There is a lot of planning that is involved when going on a cruise. You can’t just book your cruise and wing it. If you try, you will not enjoy your trip as much as you would like. Instead, you’ll find yourself stressed and struggling to do the things that you should’ve planned on ahead of time.
From weather delays, to missing luggage, to possibly forgetting to pack an essential item, it’s always good to be prepared should the worst happen. And even if nothing happens, having a plan can help everyone enjoy the trip.
Just knowing the history of your chosen homeport, where it’s located, the best ways to get there, and what to watch out for as far as traffic and weather is concerned, is enough to ease your travel worries. We also recommend allowing extra time just in case of delays and using that time to explore the city.
We hope this extensive guide to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal and surrounding area helps you as you plan your trip. Have a safe and fun vacation to the Big Apple and beyond!