(Story by Bryce Sanders) …
New York City. The Big Apple. If your voyage starts, ends (or both) from what’s arguably the greatest city in the world, you must add on a few days and enjoy everything the city has to offer. How do you do that for a reasonable amount of money?
The Easy Way
Folks like www.cruisecompete.com, affiliated with allthingscruise.com offer shore excursions though their website. Your cruise line likely has pre and post cruise hotel packages. Between you and your travel agent, you can get this done pretty easily.
YOYO or You’re On Your Own
Many people prefer to make their own arrangements, especially when traveling to one of the most expensive cities in the world. New York, Tokyo, Moscow and London usually jockey from that dubious honor. Here are some practical tips:
1. Getting into town from the ship. Your ship might dock in Brooklyn. The west side of Manhattan. Maybe Bayonne, NJ. If the ship has a transfer service that will bus you into the center of town, take it. Hauling luggage over uneven sidewalks gets old pretty quickly. If 1,000 couples leave your ship and 10% want to hail a taxi, that’s 100 couples in front of you. Uber is an option, but that might be what the next 200 people are doing on their Smartphones.
2. Booking a hotel. Traditionally, the tourist district has been 34th street to 72nd Street, river to river. Yes, you could stay near the World Financial Center or in Brooklyn, but most of the action is in midtown. New York is a business city. Hotel room rates usually drop for Fridays and Saturdays. I would stick with whatever hotel chain you favor for business travel. The rooms should be clean. NYC is expensive, but the lower end of your hotel chains brand range should be fine.
3. Breakfast. Avoid hotel breakfasts unless it’s included in the room rate. Yes, you can pay $29 for a breakfast buffet! NYC has dozens of office buildings full of hungry people. You will find almost every fast food chain imaginable a short walk away. There are plenty of French themed patisserie and other upscale choices too.
4. Getting around. Assuming you are able bodied, you want to use the subway or busses. NYC traffic can be gridlock, especially weekdays during the work week. You buy a MetroCard at the subway stop from the ticket machines. Each ride costs $2.75, regardless of distance.
5. Tall buildings. NYC has plenty. You want to go to the top of at least one. One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) is the highest building in the Western Hemisphere. Tickets are about $35.00. The Empire State Building has cachet. Tickets start about $38.00. Another option is to go for a drink at Bar 65, the bar connected to the Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center. Drinks should run about $20.00 each before tax and tip.
6. Theater and culture. “Taking in a show” has been part of the New York lifestyle almost forever. That’s what Broadway is all about. Top shows are likely sold out months in advance, but the TKTS booth at Times Square sells seats for same day performances at a discount. NYC is home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the NYC Ballet and Carnegie Hall. Doing one of these things is part of the New York experience.
7. Touring. Manhattan is what most people think of when they hear New York City. You want to see as much as you can to get an overview. If you are British, walking seventy blocks up and back is considered everyday behavior. You might want to consider other options. There are hop on, hop off busses with narration in several languages. The Circle Line is a boat trip around the city, seeing it from the water. There’s so much to see.
8. Lunch and dinner. NYC has long been known as the land of expense account restaurants. On the other hand, lots of people stream out of their offices at lunchtime. Restaurants need to cater for this audience. You will likely find fine French or Italian restaurants that have two and three course business lunches at affordable prices. As a point of reference, my favorite does two courses at $32 and three at $38.00. You will find Michelin starred restaurants, famous steakhouses and cuisines from every culture imaginable. Like many cities, NYC has its own Chinatown and Little Italy too.
9. Must do food experiences. Nathan’s hot dogs and French fries. Pizza in NYC. Have a bagel with cream cheese. A pastrami or corned beef sandwich on rye bread from an authentic deli. Buy a hot dog from a street vendor. Visit a food truck. Get a pretzel.
10. Museums. NYC has dozens. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim are a few examples. They have admission fees, but they also have world class collections.
11. Outdoor activities. Visit Central Park. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. See the NYC skyline from the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights.
12. Shopping. Iconic stores like Tiffany and Cartier are located along Fifth Avenue. Most major brands have flagship stores in Midtown Manhattan. Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman are nearby. The fashion district includes designer shops, some holding the occasional sample sales.
What do you want from your experience? Ideally a centrally located hotel, reasonably priced meals, a few standout meals at famous restaurants, an overview of the city and a sense of what makes NYC to some people, “The Center of the Universe.” You’ve got it all here. How much time do you have?