Sunday, October 7, 2007
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Pier 12, at the end of Imlay and Bowne streets
DISTANCE FROM D.C.: 228 miles.
DRIVE TIME: Four hours. From the Beltway, take Interstate 95 and the New Jersey Turnpike north and merge on I-278 east (Exit 13) toward the Goethals Bridge. Take the Hamilton Avenue exit (Exit 26). After exit, go down to the end of the ramp to Van Brunt Street, then turn left. Travel two blocks and turn right onto Bowne Street to enter the terminal.
PARKING: $18 a day when parking for multiple days (one-day rate: $20).
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Cruise operators will arrange coach pickups from any of the three New York area airports for $40 per person, and from Amtrak's Penn Station or the bus station at Port Authority for $25 a person. Round-trip fares for flights from Washington to New York generally start at about $175. Amtrak fares begin at about $135 round trip. Fares on Greyhound and other bus lines generally begin at about $20 each way.
THE TERMINAL: A sort of diamond in the rough, this old salt plant in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn was converted to a cruise terminal in 2006 at a cost of $60 million. NYCruise, which manages the Manhattan and Brooklyn port facilities, built the terminal so that more and larger ships could dock in the New York area. There has been some grumbling by residents that it has done little to boost the local economy, but if all goes as planned, the terminal will eventually be just one part of a waterfront overhaul, one that may well resemble Manhattan's South Street Seaport.
Right now there's just the terminal, which sports a sleek design and has all the warmth and sense of moment that the Manhattan terminal lacks. Exposed steel beam work and air ducts are important design elements, as are the prominent windows, which offer incredible views of Manhattan and New York harbor. There are a few Brooklynesque touches (a sign in the departure area says "Leaving Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit!").
There are no snack bars or food on the premises, although cruise lines often set up tables of drinks and snacks on cruise days.
THE CRUISES: Cunard's Queen Mary 2 operates transatlantic voyages between the terminal and Southampton, England, from April to October; there are still openings on this month's sailings. Prices for the six-night crossings begin at $1,445 each way. The Queen Elizabeth 2 leaves for South America and the Far East on Jan. 13. Countries visited include Brazil, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. Prices begin at $15,976.
Princess Cruises operates a number of ships from Brooklyn to New England and Canada in September and October. The seven- to 10-day cruises start at between $899 and $1,595. The line also operates nine-day cruises to the Caribbean from May through August. Prices begin at $1,199.
HOTELS: The Brooklyn Motor Inn wins the prize for being closest to the cruise terminal (140 Hamilton Ave., 718-875-2500, http://www.brooklynmotorinn.com), a five-minute drive. Doubles start at $120 on weekdays, $140 on weekends. Ten to 20 minutes away is the large New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (333 Adams St., 718-246-7000, http://www.marriott.com), where doubles start at $299 on weekdays and $169 on weekends. Another option, less than two miles away, is the relatively new Holiday Inn Express (625 Union St., 718-797-1133, http://www.hiexpress.com) in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood. Doubles start at $252 during the week, $180 on weekends.
WHAT'S NEARBY: Red Hook is a neighborhood in transition. The area is home to lots of eateries, including the French bistro 360 (360 Van Brunt St.) and Sunny's, an ancient bar that remains a neighborhood rallying spot in the midst of all the changes (253 Conover St.). Pier Glass (499 Van Brunt St., No. 2A, 718-237-2073, http://www.pierglass.net), a glassmaking studio and artists' workshop, also merits a visit.
Other noteworthy attractions in the borough include the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy., 718-638-5000, http://www.brooklynmuseum.org) and Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1000 Washington Ave., 718-623-7200, http://www.bbg.org). And then there's Manhattan. You can take a bus (the No. B-61) and then the subway (A or C lines) to Midtown. A taxi will take you about 45 minutes and cost about $26. Shore excursions to Manhattan also are provided by the cruise lines.