Sunday, October 7, 2007
Philadelphia Cruise Terminal, Navy Yard at Pier 1, 5100 S. Broad St., Building 3
DISTANCE FROM D.C.: 136 miles.
DRIVE TIME: 2 1/2 hours. From the Beltway, take Interstate 95 north to Broad Street (Exit 17). Turn left at the first traffic light onto Zinkoff Boulevard. Make a left on Broad Street South and continue straight to the Navy Yard entrance.
PARKING: $10 a day in a lot one block from the terminal. The Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium (see below) offers free parking for cruisers who combine their voyage with a stay at the hotel.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Amtrak prices from Washington to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station begin at $86 round trip. Greyhound costs $76. A taxi from the train and bus terminals to the cruise terminal takes about 15 minutes and costs about $18 each way.
THE TERMINAL: The terminal was built on the grounds of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (there are gates and a guard at the entrance), which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the decommissioned buildings -- the Navy is still there, though in a smaller capacity -- are such entities as the headquarters of Urban Outfitters. The terminal is housed in a former iron-plating factory. The 1874 exterior gives no hint of the activities inside, where large, high-ceilinged spaces have been meticulously renovated and retrofitted to accommodate crowds of cruisers. Wide white ramps slope elegantly upward to the ships, contributing to an overall feeling of orderliness. On cruise days, the Philadelphia Mummers serenade passengers as they embark.
The check-in process is simple: Drive up to the terminal, drop off your bags, park your car, take a shuttle back to the terminal and check in.
THE CRUISES: Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas this month offers seven-night Bermuda cruises starting at $749. Next year, Norwegian Cruise Line's Majesty has seven-day Bermuda cruises in August and September starting at $549. Next October, the same ship has seven-day cruises to New England and Canada starting at $549, and in November 2008, a 14-day Southern Caribbean cruise starting at $999.
HOTELS: The Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium (900 Packer Ave., 215-755-9500, http://www.holidayinn.com) lets passengers leave their cars for free while cruising when they combine the voyage with a stay at the hotel (valid only for 2007 cruises but may be extended). Double rooms start at $162. Royal Caribbean passengers also can get special rates at certain downtown hotels, including the Hampton Inn Center City (1301 Race St., 215-665-9100, http://www.hamptoninn.com), where doubles start at $124, and the Crowne Plaza Center City (1800 Market St., 215-561-7500, http://www.crowneplaza.com), where doubles start at $129. Norwegian Cruise Line passengers can stay at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing (201 S. Columbus Blvd., 215-928-1234, http://www.hyatt.com), which offers a package that includes ship transfers. Rates are $139 per person double.
WHAT'S NEARBY: The Navy Yard itself is a 1,200-acre development that includes two restaurants in Building 543. Next to the yard is Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a 300-acre green space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted; it includes a historic boathouse and picnic areas. Also in the park is the American Swedish Historical Museum (1900 Pattison Ave., 215-389-1776, http://www.americanswedish.org), with 12 permanent galleries housed in a building inspired in part by Mount Vernon. And Philadelphia's historic center city is a 10-minute taxi ride away, with museums, shopping, restaurants and other attractions.
INFORMATION: 856-968-2052, http://www.cruisephilly.org.