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New York – Day One

by Patrick O'Halloran
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Eclipse hardly seems to be moving. At this rate we will not reach New York until next week. I later learn the reason for the slow progress is that we are crossing the migratory route for Southern Humpback Whales and the slow speed is mandatory. The Captain announces that we will pick up our pilot at Sandy Hook and then pass under the Verrazano Narrows bridge at about 12.15pm and pass the Statue of Liberty at 12.30pm. We breakfast in the Moonlight Sonata where I enjoy the excellent Eggs Benedict again. We timed our arrival perfectly as when we leave there is an extremely long line waiting to be seated.

Our cabin is on the port side of the ship which is perfect for seeing the Statue of Liberty but we decide to go up to the top deck for when we pass under the bridge. It always looks more dramatic when the ship sails beneath and the funnels (we have two) almost seem to scrape the underside of the bridge. In reality there is lots of space. The top deck is full of people waiting to see Lady Liberty and our first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline. The weather however is not being very co-operative. It’s grey and drizzly and the low cloud is obscuring the tops of the really tall skyscrapers in the distance. We pass by the Statue of Liberty at the same time a Staten Island Ferry is heading by so it makes for an iconic photo. The southern tip of Manhattan is wreathed in clouds as we pass by, there is a light drizzle so its not the most perfect sail-ins to New York.

We dock at Pier 90 of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal alongside Norwegian Breakaway and Seven Seas Mariner. Alongside that ship lies the USS Intrepid. An aircraft carrier that is permanently moored here and serves as an Air and Space Museum. We had chance to visit her on our last visit to New York in 2016.

At around 3pm we are given the all clear to go ashore. We head out. Stopping for the obligatory photos on the way. We unsuccessfully try to book an Uber. But he passes us several times unable to find a way into Pier 90 and so we cancel it. Instead we cross 12th avenue and walk up to 11th where we hail a yellow cab. We head to Macy’s and its a wild ride through a sodden midtown. With the grey clouds and slicked sidewalks Times Square is a neon wonderland as we zip through. Macy’s is packed. I am looking to buy a new Schott coat for the winter but they don’t seem to stock any and so we wander the busy aisles looking for other things. There are a lot of offers available and Peter manages to nab a bargain on a Nautica Polo shirt. I don’t see anything and so we head back out. We bob into a Walgreens for some more mouthwash and other items and then hail another cab back to the ship.

At around 5pm we head back out again and take a short walk down to Pier 84 where we are booked on a Twilight River Cruise. After checking in we join a long line of people waiting to board. Most are from the Eclipse. Peter posted our intention to do this trip and lots of others seemed to book up as well. Luckily the drizzle has stopped and its quite a mild evening as we set off down toward the southern tip of the island.

The tour guide is excellent. We learn stuff about New York I never knew. Did you know a plane crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945? I didn’t. Manhattan looks dazzling all lit up as we sail on by. We pass around Battery Park where the Freedom Tower stands. The upper levels are still obscured by low level cloud but the brightly lit spire appears above. We pass under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and sail up the east side with Brooklyn and then Queens to our right. All the time we are taking multiple photos. Just as with the Freedom Tower the Empire State and Chrysler Building are invisible to us. It still all looks magnificent though.

We head back down and under the Brooklyn Bridge again and then out towards the Statue of Liberty. We manoeuvre in quite close so are able to take some good shots. We then head back to the pier where we disembark. A very good little tour.

Once back on dry land we walk up 42nd Street. Peter made a booking at a Mexican restaurant called Hells Kitchen which unsurprisingly is located in Hells Kitchen itself. We walk down 10th avenue which is filled with restaurants from every corner of the world it would seem. We stop for drinks at a bar called Mr Biggs. We drank here the last time in New York so its somewhere we know. The restaurant is only a short walk further and we are quickly shown to our table. We order a couple of Margaritas on the rocks. They are huge but delicious.

We order some Nachos to start followed by Chicken Fajitas. We are careful to enquire about portion size as we often get overfaced by the volume of food served here in the US. The waiter recommends we share which we do. The nachos are really good as are the Fajitas. We do need to order more flour tortilla as they only gave us 3 to start. Once done we head back to the ship. We can see lots of ships crew heading into Manhattan, all with excited faces. They couldn’t get off in Boston so this is their first chance to go ashore since leaving Southampton.

As you would expect the ship is much quieter this evening. Also because of the liquor licensing laws in New York only beer and wine can be served onboard this evening. We go up to the Sky Lounge and enjoy some Chardonnay whilst lying on the chaise lounges at the front of the ship. Normally all you can see from here at night is pitch blackness. Tonight the vista is the magnificent Manhattan skyline.

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