Manhattan Cruise Terminal, 711 12th Ave. at West 55th Street
DISTANCE FROM D.C.: 225 miles.
DRIVE TIME: Four hours. From the Beltway, take Interstate 95 and the New Jersey Turnpike north to Exit 16E and the Lincoln Tunnel. After coming out of the tunnel, turn left on West 42nd Street onto 12th Avenue, and then go north to West 55th Street and U-turn into the terminal.
PARKING: A limited amount of rooftop parking is available at $24 a day, or $180 for cruises of eight to 12 nights. Most passengers arrive by limos, taxis and other forms of transportation.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Amtrak's Penn Station (Eighth Avenue and West 33rd Street) is 1 3/4 miles from the cruise terminal; round-trip fares from Washington start at $134. The Greyhound Bus station at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street) is about a mile away; round-trip fares from Washington begin at $35. A taxi from the train or bus station takes about 15 minutes (when traffic is light) and costs about $20.
THE TERMINAL: Built in 1935 and renovated in 1972, the terminal has three berths (Piers 88, 90 and 92) all jutting off a large building that appears exhausted by overuse. Some escalators, stairwells and floors are badly in need of replacement. Then again, $150 million is being spent on renovations to Pier 88, which, among other things, will widen the pier, allowing for larger ships to dock at the terminal.
There is a small snack bar in the terminal. The neighborhood is not dangerous, but the terminal abuts the West Side Highway, and passengers seeking a meal before boarding would need to walk several blocks, crossing the highway, to reach delis on 10th and 11th avenues.
THE CRUISES: Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Crystal Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line sail from Manhattan. Holland America offers 10- to 14-day Caribbean trips from October through April, with prices beginning at $1,280 per person double. In September, the line has 10-day trips to New England and Canada, starting at $1,806.
Carnival operates numerous four- to eight-day cruises to New England and Canada, with the shortest starting at $329, from June through September. The line also sails to the Caribbean much of the year, with prices starting at $779 for an eight-day cruise.
Crystal offers themed cruises-- for instance, golf or wine and food -- to New England and Canada. The seven- to 11-day cruises begin at $3,435. A 14-day transatlantic cruise that begins in London and ends in New York starts at $4,990. On Oct. 29, 2008, a 12-day voyage will begin in New York, tour the Caribbean and end in Miami. Prices begin at $3,900.
Norwegian has an extensive operation with one-day dinner and dance cruises, starting at $129; two-day fun cruises starting at $349; and numerous cruises to the Bahamas, with six-day cruises starting at $479. Cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean are offered most of the year, with prices beginning at $479. August through October, the line has cruises of various duration to Canada and New England, with five-day cruises starting at $539. The line also has 15-day transatlantic cruises to Barcelona starting at $1,120.
HOTELS: Probably the most convenient hotel is the Holiday Inn Midtown (440 W. 57th St, 212-581-8100, http:/
WHAT'S NEARBY: For information on theater, shopping, museums, restaurants and pre- and post-cruise tours in Manhattan, see the New York City tourism office, NYC & Company, http:/
INFORMATION: 212-246-5450, http:/