Layovers/stop offs during a trip can sometimes be lengthy. Lengthy enough to actually go out and explore? Probably not. But on a rare occasion it can happen. That rarity meaning caught in a hurricane on a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean off of the Carolina coast, and having to turn back around to where you started – New York City. A story for the grandkids, but for now, here’s a shorter story of two half-day stop offs in NYC either side of a cruise from hell.
I don’t want to go in to too much detail on the cruise nightmare (you can read about it on various news outlets), but I’d firstly like to point out how well Royal Caribbean handled the situation that could have ended up far worse than we can all dare to imagine. The ship is built to perfection to handle such monstrous weather, and the crew handled it all with skill, class and professionalism. Hats off to Royal Caribbean. I’m just not sure I’ll be on a ship any time soon…
Leaving from Newark, New Jersey, we had an evening to explore NYC before we set off in the morning to what we hoped would have been an incredible cruise to Florida and the Bahamas. After returning from sea 5 days later, we stayed overnight and had until 4pm the next day to see some sights in NYC and grab a spot of lunch before our flight back to London. To clarify, this was not a full 24 hours in one go. Two small stop overs – one night and one day.
Heading from Newark Airport in to Manhattan at about 8pm, we had just enough time to explore the Times Square area, a short walk down 5th Avenue and to take in some sights and lights of the city that never sleeps. Roads that seem to go straight forever until they fade in to the lights of the cars and buildings. Zero degrees, busy streets and an explosion of organised chaos like you’ve never experienced. This was all a little too overwhelming for two guys up since 6am. After a couple of hours of wandering we caught a Penn Station train back to our hotel to get some rest.
In our second half day before we headed back to London we had a bit more time to explore, plan our day and get some photos. With about 6 hours in total here, getting a full NYC experience wasn’t an option. We decided to go for a lengthy Manhattan walk to take in the sights and get a feel for the Big Apple. Minus 4 degrees, with a wind chill making it feel like minus 10, we were feeling the cold. Really feeling it. The day continues in Manhattan though, as we stopped for a quick bagel and headed to our nearest tourist spot – Columbus Circle and Central Park.
In a similar fashion to London, the Manhattan streets are jam packed no matter what day or time it is. Mornings are a cooking pot of overly excited tourists looking up everywhere they go, models on their way to a casting, and workers rushing in to have a meeting about a meeting. We felt at home, and that was just fine. We wandered down 5th, and kept wandering, until we hit the new(ish) One World Trade Center. A spectacular building.
This was my 3rd trip to New York City. First two being school trips, and now this. The feeling it gave me was still there, but I’m yet to really experience what this city has to offer. This time, I just had to make a visit to Brooklyn, even if it was just the other side of the bridge. So, with our hands and face feeling like we’ve just climbed Everest, we set across the bridge and turned around to find our jaws on the floor.
A beautiful view of the city skyline in front of us made us want to just keep walking back to take it all in. We hurried across the bridge in to DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights to see the true spectacle of a city that grows higher and higher as the years go by and never fails to take your breath away. It’s a view like no other, and weather you’re a fan of big cities or not, it’s a view you’ll appreciate for what it represents once you see it in all its glory.
After a quick stop off in the infamous Katz Deli, a 120-year old Jewish deli in Lower East Side, we rushed back to the hotel to catch our lift to the airport and flight home. It was a rushed visit to NYC, but one I’ll remember forever. It’s the story that counts here, I just hope that one day I get to tell a story of a true New York experience. Someone invite me out yo! Once again, this place has left me wanting more…