This week's commentary by TravelPage.com's European Cruise Editor, Malcolm Oliver examines Cunard's decision to move their New York departures from the New York Passenger Terminal in downtown Manhattan to a new facility located in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn.
Having recently written about the joys of a Transatlantic crossing on the QM2, and the arrival in New York City at the end of a crossing, I couldn't help but notice the following story: "On Saturday, April 15, the Queen Mary 2 made her first call at New York City's brand-new $56 million state-of-the-art Brooklyn Cruise Terminal at Pier 12 in Red Hook".
According to Cunard, this will now be her berth-of-choice, rather than the 'New York Passenger Terminal' (NYPT) from which Cunard's fleet and many of great Ocean Liners of the past have used for decades.
Cunard have described this event as an exciting new chapter in the company's illustrious history. However not everyone agrees. Ever since the change was first rumored, lively debate about the decision has been a regular staple on the CruiseTalk discussion forum. Most of the time, the focus of this debate has been on 'tradition' versus 'practicality'.
Here are some of the arguments against using Brooklyn:
- "NY has so much heritage from the old liners and Carnival have ended it".
- "Nothing beats arriving at or departing from mid-town Manhattan for the classic transatlantic crossing".
- "It is completely unacceptable for a crossings - the whole journey is somehow aiming at the culmination of arriving in Manhattan".
- "Isn't that what this ship has been built for?"
- "I personally would still rather travel 6 blocks from the NYPT to my pre- or post cruise hotel than 6 miles from/thru Brooklyn".
Based on these comments I would have to score round one for the NYPT.
ON the other hand, here are some arguments in favour of Brooklyn:
- "The NYPT is no palace. Parts of it remind me of a disused warehouse".
- "You have to understand that the NYPT piers could barely handle embark/debark of three 1500 passenger ships; and it would result in chaos".
- "Even when the QM2 was the only ship berthed at the terminal, it was bedlam".
- "I recall arriving at NYPT by QM2 in August 2005. I was given a taxi cab ticket number '94' and they were currently on number '6'. My Hotel may have been just six blocks away but the wait made the journey take almost 2 hours".
- "You walk down a state of the art hydraulic jetway into a proper terminal, a new, $52 million USD, state of the art terminal at that. Not some dismal pier on the west side of Manhattan".
So round two goes to Brooklyn.
Then we had some balanced views:
- "Brooklyn is definitely more convenient, but is that enough to offset loosing sailing past the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson?"
- "Nothing will replace a Manhattan sailing, but I think that a lot of people will be willing to forego the chaos and inconvenience of the PST".
- "To me, there's no better way to put a damper on the euphoria of voyage than to have a screwed up, chaotic embark or debark".
So where do I stand on this issue?
Well I have been fortunately enough to cruise into and out of the NYPT several times, and I loved the views. However, the NYPT is in a state of disrepair and does not handle the crowds that disembark from today's mega-ships all that well. The taxi pick-up facilities are particularly poor.
I've not cruised from Red Hook so I will have to reserve judgement. However, I hear that it may win in terms of 'disembarkation convenience', but of course the location is not so atmospheric.
The solution of course is for the Port Authority to renovate the Manhattan piers ASAP and win Cunard back. However, I understand that their lack of drive to achieve this was ultimately responsible for Cunard's switch. So in conclusion, love it or hate it I think it's Brooklyn for the foreseeable future.