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Guide to cruises from New York

In:
08 Dec 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean offers cruises from the northeast corridor via Cape Liberty, New Jersey that is a convenient option for anyone that wants to cruise from New York and the surrounding area.

Royal Caribbean celebrates largest cruise ship to sail from New York area for the first time | Royal Caribbean Blog

While other cruise lines sail from Manhattan or Brooklyn, New York, Royal Caribbean opted to sail from across New York harbor at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Royal Caribbean sails year round from Cape Liberty, offering residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania a convenient port that most people can easily drive to and board a ship.

Whether you live in the area, or are looking to fly in for a cruise from the Big Apple, here is what you need to know about cruises from New York.

New Jersey, not New York

Friday Photos - September 27, 2019 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Traditionally, cruise lines would sail from Manhattan, but costs and port restrictions made that option unappealing to Royal Caribbean.

Instead, Royal Caribbean has its own cruise terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey at Cape Liberty.

Located just minutes from Newark International Airport, Cape Liberty is an easy to get to cruise port without the need to deal with New York City traffic or bridges.

At 125,000 square feet, the cruise terminal can handle even the largest Royal Caribbean cruise ships, including the Oasis Class ships.

The terminal is adjacent to a September 11th memorial, known as the Tear Drop Memorial.  Passengers can walk to the memorial from outside the cruise terminal. It is also a great spot to get a photo of your ship.

Despite not departing from New York City, passengers still enjoy a great view of New York harbor, including views of the New York City skyline, the Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island, and an opportunity to sail under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

How to get to Cape Liberty

Depending on if you fly into the area or drive, there are a few ways to get to the cruise terminal.

The address of the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal is 4 Port Terminal Boulevard Bayonne, N.J. 07002-5038

Flying to New York/New Jersey

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There are three major airports serving the New York/New Jersey area: Newark (EWR), La Guardia (LGA), and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airports.

The easiest option is Newark, because it is located just 10 miles to the west of the port. Without traffic, it is a short 20 minute car ride to the cruise port. 

Oasis in Bayonne this morning! - Royal Caribbean News and Rumors - Royal Caribbean Blog

The other New York airports will require a longer commute to the port, as well as additional tolls to cross bridges over to New Jersey. Depending on traffic conditions, the trip can take an hour or longer.

The simplest way to get to the port is by car service. Lyft, Uber, or taxis are all available to take you from any of the airports to the cruise terminal.

Public transportation will only get you part of the way there, and the final segment of the trip will rely on private car. For that reason, I recommend simply booking a ride sharing service or taxi, and going directly to the port.

Driving directions

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By car, there are a few different ways to get to Cape Liberty, depending on the direction you are coming from.

From Newark International Airport (9 miles):

  • Exit the airport, following signs to the NJ Turnpike.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike to exit 14A.
  • Pay toll at exit and continue straight (after traffic light onto bridge) onto Route 440.
  • Follow signs for Route 440 South.
  • Continue on Route 440 South to Port Terminal Blvd.
  • Turn left at Port Terminal Blvd. (there is a traffic light at the intersection).
  • This is the entrance for the "Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor" or the old "Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne."
  • Continue straight and approach the guard gate.
  • Continue past the guard gate and follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

From NJ Turnpike north or south:

  • Take the NJ Turnpike to exit 14A.
  • Pay toll at exit and continue straight (after traffic light onto bridge) onto Route 440.
  • Follow signs for Route 440 South.
  • Continue on Route 440 South to Port Terminal Blvd.
  • Turn left at Port Terminal Blvd. (there is a traffic light at the intersection).
  • This is the entrance for the "Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor" or the old "Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne."
  • Continue straight and approach the guard gate.
  • Continue past the guard gate and follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

From NYC, via the Lincoln Tunnel:

  • Take the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey.
  • Follow I-495 West to the NJ Turnpike/I-95.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From NYC, via the Holland Tunnel:

  • Take the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike west to exit 14A. Follow directions above from Exit 14 A.

From the West, via I-80:

  • Take I-80 East to I-95 South
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A- Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From the west, via I-78:

  • Take I-78 East directly to the NJ Turnpike.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike east to Exit 14A- Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From the east/Staten Island/Long Island:

  • Take the Verrazano Narrows Bridge into Staten Island.
  • Take I-278 West.
  • Take Route 440 North to and over the Bayonne Bridge.
  • Continue on Route 440 North approximately 3 miles.
  • Make a right into the Bayonne Ocean Terminal.
  • Continue straight and approach the guard gate.
  • Continue past the guard gate and follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

From the Bronx/Connecticut/New England:

  • Proceed to and across the George Washington Bridge.
  • Follow signs for the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 South.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From Westchester County:

  • Take I-684 South to I-287 West
  • Take I-287 West to I-87 South.
  • Follow signs to and over the George Washington Bridge.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

From Rockland County:

  • Take the Palisades Parkway South to I-80 West.
  • Follow signs for the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 South.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike south to Exit 14A - Bayonne. Follow directions above from Exit 14A.

Parking

Cape Liberty | Royal Caribbean Blog

There is a parking garage adjacent to the cruise terminal at Cape Liberty to park your vehicle for the duration of the cruise.

Parking fees are $25 per day including all taxes.

Cash and major credit cards are accepted. No reservations are necessary and parking is guaranteed.

The height restriction of the garage is 7’ 4”. There is an open lot adjacent to the parking garage to accommodate vehicles with height restrictions.

Be sure to bring your parking stub with you when boarding the ship, because you’re going to need it when walking to your car after your cruise. You must pay your parking fee at the machine that is outside the garage. There is a walk up kiosk.

Where to stay the night before

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One of the most common questions about taking a cruise from Cape Liberty is where to stay the night before the cruise begins.

It is always a good idea to fly in at least one day before your cruise to avoid travel delays impacting your ability to get on the cruise ship.

If you are going to fly in the night before the cruise and have no interest in doing any tourist attractions before the cruise, consider staying at a hotel near Newark Airport. Be sure the hotel is near Newark Airport, and not the city of Newark, because the quality of hotel and surroundings is substantially different.

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Jersey City is another option to stay the night before the cruise because it is closer to the cruise port than Manhattan (New York City), but I'm not especially fond of this area for two reasons: A hotel in Jersey City is not going to be much cheaper (if at all) than Manhattan hotels, and if you want to be closer to the port, Newark Airport hotels are much closer.  Moreover, if you plan to do any sightseeing in New York, staying in New Jersey is a real hassle in terms of transportation.

Many cruisers who want to do sightseeing will spend the night in a Manhattan hotel. There are many hotels in New York City. Be sure to book one in Manhattan, and not one of the other boroughs.  Moreover, pick a hotel below 125th street to ensure you are close enough to the landmarks and hot spots tourists like to visit.

Regardless of where you stay, my advice is book refundable hotel fare because New York and New Jersey hotel prices are quite volatile.  Watch the prices and cancel and rebook when a new sale appears.

Hotel recommendations

Over the years, RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have stayed at various hotels in the area and offered their recommendations.

Keep in mind one person's experience can be vastly different from your own, so take these recommendations as a suggestion, and not a guarantee of anything.

  • Newark
    • Embassy Suites by Hilton Newark Airport
    • Country Inn & Suites Newark Airport
  • Jersey City
    • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Jersey City
    • Sonesta Simply Suites Jersey City
  • Manhattan

You can get other recommendations from our readers on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards.

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail from New York/New Jersey?

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Royal Caribbean offers cruises from Cape Liberty throughout the year, although there tend to be more ships sailing in the summer months.

Depending on the year, there can be different ships offering cruises to destinations in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, or Canada/New England.

Most recently, Anthem of the Seas has been the cruise ship spending most of her time in Cape Liberty.

In 2022-2023, Royal Caribbean will offer cruises across two ships: Adventure, Anthem and Oasis of the Seas.

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Adventure of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey to sail a combination of itineraries to Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada. 

Adventure will sail 9-night Eastern Caribbean sailings that visit ports such as St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Royal Caribbean’s private destination, Labadee. In addition, there is the option of 4- and 9-night cruises heading up the east coast to visit Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Boston; Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine.

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas will sail from UK in Summer 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Anthem of the Seas will sail from Cape Liberty in Winter 2022 before she departs to Europe in the summer. She then returns in October 2022 to offer 7-night cruises to The Bahamas that include full days in Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay

Guests looking for extended time in the tropics can opt for one of Anthem’s 11-night southern Caribbean sailings to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. John’s, Antigua; Castries, St. Lucia; and Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis.

Photos: Oasis of the Seas departs New York Harbor for first time | Royal Caribbean Blog

Oasis of the Seas will take over for Anthem of the Seas in summer 2022 when she sails from Cape Liberty and offers cruises to Canada, The Bahamas, and Eastern Caribbean.

Oasis of the Seas will kick off her Northeast cruises beginning on May 1, 2022 and then offer a variety of itineraries:

  • 7-Night Perfect Day, Bahamas
  • 5-Night Canada 
  • 9-Night Eastern Caribbean

What time should I schedule my flight home after my cruise from Cape Liberty?

Picking the right time for your flight home is a balancing act of how much time you want to waste waiting in the airport versus rushing off the ship in a frenzy to make your flight in the first place.

There are a couple factors when choosing your flight time home:

  • Which airport you are departing from and its proximity to Cape Liberty
  • What time you think you will disembark the ship
  • What time the ship will be cleared by local authorities to allow disembarkation to begin
  • Traffic

How long it will take you to get off the ship and through customs is an inexact science, and depends on how fast/slow authorities clear the ship, if you have luggage to pick up, and how many other passengers want to get off the ship at the same time you do.

Then you have to figure out how much time it will take to get to the airport, and how busy those airports are with their own check-in lines. 

Newark is absolutely the best option, as you should be able to get there with a short commute (20 minutes by car).  Getting to La Guardia or Kennedy can take as long as 90 minutes (or more).

A good rule of thumb is to not schedule any flights before noon if flying home from La Guardia or Kennedy, and no earlier than 11am from Newark.

It's better to be at the airport and bored than stressing out about potentially missing your flight because of delays along the way.