I didn’t want to miss our approach into NYC on our final day even though it would be an early morning. We would be passing under the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge around 5:30 am and should be alongside the Red Hook Cruise Terminal in Brooklyn around 6:30 am.
I woke up around 5:15 and hurried up to deck 7 in time to see us pass under the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge. The Statue of Liberty was just coming into view, and while well lit, was still pretty small. There were about 100 people or so scattered around various vantage points on deck 7 with the most being concentrated in and around the forward observation deck. Everyone was maneuvering to try and get a photograph of the Statue of Liberty as she grew larger as we closed on Liberty Island, but we were still so far away that any photograph without a telephoto lens wouldn’t be very satisfying.
It was thrilling to watch our approach to NYC and think about what it must have been like for the thousands of immigrants who had a similar view of the Statue of Liberty as they made their way from Europe to the USA over the years.
Once the sun rose and erased the last of the dawns early light the full splendor of Manhattan’s skyline was on full display. After taking in the magnificent views, I stopped by the Kings Court to get a few plates of breakfast to take back to our cabin. One feature we enjoy with Holland America is that they offer full room service every day, including disembarkation day.
We were asked to vacate our cabin by 8:30 am and wait in our designated waiting area until our disembarkation time, estimated to be 10:20 am. On Holland America you are permitted to stay in your cabin until your scheduled disembarkation time. We prefer this approach to requiring everyone to vacate their cabins and wait in designated common areas. Waiting in your cabin requires that all disembarkation announcements be made throughout the ship and Cunard as well as Princess advertise their approach as a silent disembarkation as announcements are only made in the specified lounge and not throughout the ship. I prefer to wait in my cabin and listen to announcements rather than move to a lounge and listen to announcements there.
Another argument I hear about the benefits of vacating your cabin early is that it allows your cabin to be available sooner. I have found that my cabin on HAL has been available as early as 11 am so I am not sure that it really matters, as there are enough people who have left the ship early by their own preference to keep the cabin stewards busy until all the other cabins are available.
A little before 8:30 am we left our cabin but left our carry-on bags in our closet after we checked with our cabin steward who said that was OK.
We wandered down to the Grand Lobby and were a little surprised to see them strictly enforcing the disembarkation order. There were a couple of people checking to make sure you were in the correct group and turning away people when it wasn’t their turn. Our designated waiting area was the Illuminations Theater and we stopped by to see how crowded it may be and were surprised to find the room almost empty. We cycled by the other waiting areas and found them all to be not very crowded with plenty of seats available.
During a break in the action I learned that only 9 immigration officials were present rather than 16 so they were running about 45 minutes behind schedule in vacating the ship. From time to time they would close the gangway completely when the crowds in the terminal grew too long. We learned later than once you were off the ship you were looking at another 45 to 60 minute wait to get thru immigration after you retrieved your baggage. Good thing we were in no hurry to get off and catch a flight. However, if you did have an earlier flight, you would have probably been accommodated sooner and we don’t know what the lines were like earlier.
Since we had a couple of hours till we would disembark we took the opportunity to revisit some of the common areas around the ship. We didn’t spend much time in the Commodore Club and zero time in Churchill’s which is the designated area for cigar and pipe smokers. We wandered thru Churchill’s, which still had the faint smell of cigar smoke and we discovered these giant ashtrays used to hold cigars. Smoking cigarettes is forbidden in Churchill’s.
We finally settled down in the Grand Lobby to wait for our group to be called for disembarkation. On the QM2 you use the same luggage tags for embarkation as well as disembarkation. Your disembarkation group is by deck after all the priority passengers: suites, elite status, early flights, etc. have been accommodated.
Disembarkation was going very slow and our 10:20 am estimated time came and went and the ship was now 1 hour behind schedule. This was going to be a long day for the crew and I am sure the terminal was full of people ready to come aboard.
At 11:20 they called for Deck 6 to disembark and we were on our way off the ship and into the terminal. Once in the terminal we quickly found our bags and asked a waiting porter to help us move our bags out to the curb. As we moved toward the immigration area, we discovered a massive, snaking, line that was probably an hour long, maybe longer. We sighed but then our porter said that we would be able to use the special porter lane and get right to the front. It only took us 4 minutes to get thru immigration by using the porter line. Even if you can manage your own bags, it may be worth your while getting a porter simply to save time in the immigration line. There wasn’t a separate line for USA citizens or for Global Entry. Once you got to the front of the line, there were certain lanes that were dedicated for USA citizens.
There were plenty of taxis waiting and we were soon on our way to our hotel near Times Square. The taxi fare was $35 before the tip.
We plan to spend a few days in NYC before heading back to San Diego. I will post some of our NYC highlights with some tips for seeing a few of the sights. I will also post more detail on the Kings Court and an overview of my entire QM2 and Cunard experience.Uncategorized