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Bayonne

Cape Liberty: spacious and modern.
Cape Liberty: spacious and modern. (Cape Liberty Cruise Port)

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bayonne

Cape Liberty Cruise Port, 14 Port Terminal Blvd.

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DISTANCE FROM D.C.: 223 miles.

DRIVE TIME: Four hours. The terminal's location, not far off Exit 14A of the New Jersey Turnpike, makes this port ideal for those who want to leave from the New York area but don't want to deal with New York traffic. From the Beltway, take Interstate 95 and the New Jersey Turnpike north to I-78 east toward Bayonne (Exit 14A). Take the East 53rd Street ramp toward Route 440 south, a slight right onto Pulaski Street, a left on Route 440 and a left into the port terminal.

PARKING: $15 a day, in a lot convenient to the cruise terminal. You drop off your bags at the terminal, park nearby and take a shuttle back to the terminal.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Amtrak's Newark station, where Greyhound also stops, is about 20 minutes from the cruise terminal; cab fares are about $40 each way. Amtrak fares begin at about $134 round trip; Greyhound fares begin at $74 round trip, with special deals available for advance-purchase, non-weekend, seniors, etc.

Both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean arrange bus transportation to the terminal from Washington; ask the cruise lines for details.

THE TERMINAL: A U.S. Navy facility during World War II and beyond, the terminal became an Army property in 1967, spacious enough for wet dock repairs (such as extending the length of a cruise ship). During World War II, damaged ships were sent here to be repaired. The terminal itself, on a peninsula where housing, shops and a golf course are all in the planning stages, shows little evidence of its past. Billowing white ceilings rise over exposed air ducts as part of its contemporary design. The terminal's size makes for an efficient embark-disembark experience.

There are beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty and a handsome 100-foot memorial to the victims of 9/11 on the grounds (a gift from the people of Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, attended the unveiling in 2006). There's no food on the premises, and it's a few miles to the restaurants of Bayonne. Bottom line: Don't arrive too early.

THE CRUISES: Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas has nine-night cruises this month and in November and December to the Caribbean, with prices beginning at $799.

Next year, five-night cruises to Bermuda begin at $599 in September and October, at $749 in April, and at $659 May-August. Five-night cruises to the Caribbean start at $649 in May. Nine-night cruises to the Caribbean, from November through August, start at $799. Nine-night cruises to Canada in August and September start at $799.

Celebrity Cruises' Constellation this month offers a seven-night Bermuda cruise starting at $1,049, a 13-night Canadian and New England cruise starting at $1,449, and for the same price, 14-night Bermuda and Caribbean cruises.

Next year the Constellation offers 12- and 13-night cruises to New England and Canada in September and October, with starting prices from $1,599 to $1,749. An 11-night cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean in October 2008 starts at $899.

HOTELS: Several hotels near Newark Airport (a 15-minute drive) allow guests to park their cars for free during cruises, including the Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark Liberty International Airport (618 Routes 1 and 9 South, Newark; 973-242-2600, http://www.marriott.com), where doubles start at $219 a night; and the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott (Newark Airport grounds, 973-623-0006, http://www.marriott.com), where doubles start at $199 a night. More hotel/parking packages can be found at http://www.parksleepfly.com.

WHAT'S NEARBY: Cape Liberty is on a peninsula, part of a Bayonne Harbor redevelopment plan that will eventually include residential and commercial elements. The Bayonne Town Center is a few miles away (201-339-9409, http://www.bayonnetowncenter.com), a commercial area along Broadway between 17th and 30th streets packed with chain retail stores and restaurants. There's also the Chief John T. Brennan Fire Museum (10 W. 47th St., 201-858-6199), whose collection includes the state's oldest hand-drawn hose carriage.

INFORMATION: 201-823-3737, http://www.cruiseliberty.com.


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