New Jersey probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of going on a cruise. Even if you live in the area, you might assume that to board a cruise ship you’d need to drive into Brooklyn. The truth is that cruise ports, like airports, have been built in just about any large city that can host one.
The main reason why so many people don’t realize that New Jersey has a cruise port is that it’s relatively new. The Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal began operations in 2004, and prior to that it was a Naval base. Meanwhile, cruise terminals in New York City, Los Angeles, and several other places along both coasts have been operating for decades.
Anytime you’re looking into booking a cruise, you have to make a decision about which port you want to sail from. Every cruise port has its pros and cons, and Cape Liberty is no different. We’ll cover the essential things you need to know about the Cape Liberty and the cruises that leave from it. Read on to learn all the pros and cons of cruises out of New Jersey.
The Pros of Cruises out of New Jersey
There’s a lot to like about cruising out of New Jersey. You might be surprised by just how much there is to like about it. Here are all the pros about cruises out of New Jersey.
Views of New York City
No, you won’t be in New York City. But you will get incredible views of the skyline. And, if you’re so inclined, Manhattan and Hoboken are both a quick cab ride away. You could easily spend some time being a tourist before your cruise if you don’t live in the area. Or you could just enjoy the view.
A lot of people have no desire to visit NYC. Whether they dislike crowds or just aren’t that into big cities, there are plenty of reasons why being in the city might be unpleasant for some people. That would make taking a cruise out of Brooklyn a bit of a nightmare.
To do that you’d have to get a hotel in the city, which can be a nightmare itself. Cruising out of New Jersey gives you lots of places you can stay that aren’t in New York, but you’ll still get to see it from a distance. For some of us, that’s the best way to see. Plus, as your ship departs, you’ll be cruising past NYC.
Sailing Past the Statue of Liberty
The New York City skyline isn’t the only cool view you’ll be passing as your cruise departs. You’ll get to sail right past the Statue of Liberty. For some of us that’s even better than visiting in person. It’s huge, and the best way to appreciate the beauty of it is to view it from a distance.
If your cruise is returning to New Jersey, you’ll get to see the Statue Liberty in the same way that so many of our ancestors did: sailing past it as you enter the country, with the Statue serving as a welcome. Very few people these days will ever get to experience that. It’s truly a unique opportunity.
As a bonus, you don’t have to deal with the crowds on the statue and you really get the best parts of the experience, which is the view of the statue, not the view from the statue. You’ll get a better view of it than anyone who pays to visit the statue, too.
Cape Liberty is in Bayonne, New Jersey, which is close to Hoboken and New York City. This whole area is famous for its public transit system, which is among the best in the country. That makes getting to the cruise port dead simple.
Other cruise ports almost require you to drive yourself and find parking or hire a rideshare service. Los Angeles is famously driving-centric and its public transit options aren’t great. The same is true of major cruise ports in Florida, or the one in Galveston, TX.
Cape Liberty, fortunately, is different. If you live in the area or you’re flying in from elsewhere, you don’t need to worry about getting a car, finding parking, or hiring an Uber. The Light Rail System can take you straight to Bayonne from either Jersey City or Hoboken. Get off at 34th street and take a cab to the cruise terminal. PATH Rapid Transit trains can get you from Manhattan to Jersey City or Hoboken.
You can also take the 119 Bus from the Port Authority Terminal in NYC to Bayonne. Multiple shuttle services can pick you up at the airport and take you straight to the cruise terminal, too. For large groups (think 5 or more people) these will cost less per person than a cab, bus, or train.
Bayonne isn’t a tourist town. It isn’t a major foodie destination, either. This is a good thing for you. The restaurants near the cruise terminal are very affordable, and some of the best Italian and Japanese food you’ll ever eat can be found here, all at reasonable prices.
The Little Food Cafe has excellent breakfast and lunch options. They serve dinner, as well, but their breakfast is what’s made them famous. Don’t forget to order dessert, too.
Buon Apetito offers fine dining Italian cuisine, if you want something more refined before you board your cruise. In addition to the restaurant, they have a deli and convenience store, so you should absolutely pick up a few things to take with you on the cruise. You can never have too many snacks.
Cape Liberty offers a handful of destinations and two different cruise lines you can choose from. There’s something for everyone, and the choice of destinations means that you also have a lot of choice when it comes to the duration of your cruise.
Two Royal Caribbean ships, Anthem of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas, sail out of Cape Liberty. Royal Caribbean built the cruise port here and were the first company to use it. They run cruises south down to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, or you can sail in the opposite direction and cruise to New England and Canada. Royal Caribbean ships are famous for their onboard entertainment, such as skydiving simulators, bumper cars, and water slides.
Celebrity Cruises offers a more high-end experience, which is better suited to adults traveling without children. All Celebrity cruises leaving from Cape Liberty sail south to either the Caribbean or Bermuda. Celebrity cruises feature world-class ballet performances, fine dining, luxury rooms, and gambling.
The Cons of Cruises Out of New Jersey
Just as every cruise port has its pros, they also all have some drawbacks. Cape Liberty is no exception to that, so here are the biggest drawbacks of taking a cruise out of New Jersey.
You get three choices: the Bahamas, the Caribbean or New England and Canada. While those are certainly popular cruise destinations, they’re also far from the only places you might want to visit. What about the southern parts of the Eastern Seaboard? Why not head to the Canary Islands?
Most major cruise ports offer more destinations than that. Its great if you want to go to one of those places, but if you had your heart set on anything or anywhere else, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to go and choose a different cruise port.
Part of the reason for the scarcity of destinations is that the port is relatively new compared to others, so it is still building up its operations. There are other things that contribute to the lack of destinations, though, and we’ll cover those separately as they really are separate drawbacks.
Distance from the Caribbean
Considering that the majority of the cruises leaving from New Jersey sail to the Caribbean, it’s very far away from your most likely cruise destination. That means that you’ll either have to take a very long cruise, which costs a lot more, or you’ll have to be satisfied with spending very little time in your destination, and the majority of the cruise spent on the ship, at sea.
Cruise ships are full of entertainment and dining options, so that’s not such a terrible thing. But when you pay for a Caribbean cruise, you might want to spend more than one day there. Especially if you live in the northeast and you’re cruising to the Caribbean to get away from the dreary winter weather.
In contrast, the cruise ports in Florida and along the Gulf Coast are very close to their Caribbean or Bahamian destinations, and you’ll get to spend a lot more time actually enjoying the tropical beaches. Yes, you’ll have to fly down there to board the cruise, but it just might be worth it.
There are busy cruise ports in Florida, the Gulf Coast, and Southern California. All of those places have something that New Jersey doesn’t: mild weather all year long. New Jersey is great in the summer, but for much of the year it’s cold and often rainy.
Now, it’s true that that’s exactly why you’d want to take a cruise to the Caribbean if you live in New Jersey. But how awful is it to sail into sad New Jersey weather after spending a day in the Caribbean? Especially when you only got one day down there?
A cruise that spends more time in the tropical weather and then drops you off in a warm port might be an easier transition back to real life. And, if you don’t live in New Jersey or New York, the weather is a very compelling reason to cruise from elsewhere. If you’re going to have to fly to your cruise port anyway, why not fly to Florida?
Lack of Cruise Lines
This is one of the biggest reasons for the limited choice of destinations. There are two cruise lines that leave from Cape Liberty. Other cruise terminals might have five or six different cruise lines operating from them, which is why they have so many destination choices.
It might not be as much of a problem if weren’t for the fact that New Jersey is so far from most of its destinations. You’ll be spending more time aboard the ship than you would if you were sailing from a more southern port. That means that the onboard facilities and entertainment are more important to the overall experience, and the lack of choice might be frustrating.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are both excellent cruise lines with great ships, so it’s not like they’re bad choices. But, if you have kids, you might be more interested in a Disney Cruise, or something along those lines. If that’s the case, Cape Liberty is not the cruise port for you.
If you would prefer to drive yourself to the cruise terminal, Cape Liberty isn’t the best choice. Parking runs about $22 per day, or $44 for an oversize vehicle. That adds up fast. There are other parking lots nearby, but none of them are free.
Being in a city that has a well-developed public transit system has a lot of benefits, but also some major drawbacks. A lack of good parking options plagues the whole area in and around New York City, and Bayonne is included in that. You’ll be able to find a parking space at the cruise terminal if you want, but it will cost you.
Cape Liberty used to be a major Naval base, which means it was not built with easy access in mind. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and far away from all major tourist spots. Once you’re at the terminal, there is nothing within walking distance.
If you arrive early, the only touristy things you can do are a cab ride away in Hoboken or Manhattan. If you want to see Manhattan or the rest of New York City, there are cruise terminals in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, so there’s really not much reason to choose Cape Liberty over those. Both of those terminals also have more cruise lines and destinations to choose from.
Cape Liberty itself is also not that interesting. There’s relatively little to do or to look at because it’s so remote. The town of Bayonne exists only because the cruise port is there, which means that while there are good restaurants, there’s nothing else going on in the town. No tourist spots, and very little to do.
That also means that there are relatively few hotels nearby, even though the cruise port sees a lot of traffic. Most of the passengers are locals who don’t need a hotel room before their cruise, which means that options for those who do are somewhat limited.
The Cape Liberty Cruise Port is a relatively new and growing cruise terminal that can be a great option for some. In fact, many people in New York City and New Jersey prefer Cape Liberty to either the Manhattan or Brooklyn cruise ports because it’s easier for them to get to.
It also has the benefit of giving you views of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty without having to deal with the crowds that are ever-present in the city, and public transportation can easily get you to the cruise terminal.
The cruise lines that operate out of Cape Liberty have a reputations for being among the best cruise lines in the world, with quality entertainment about ship and comfortable rooms. Unfortunately, there are only two cruise lines that sail from New Jersey, and that limits your options a lot.
Not only are your options for the cruise lines themselves limited, but the choice of destinations is limited, too. Bermuda, the Caribbean, or the coast of New England and Canada. That’s about it. And while the Fall Foliage cruises to the coast of New England are stunning, the Caribbean cruises might be a bit disappointing.
Sailing to the Caribbean from New Jersey will take a lot longer than a similar cruise leaving from Florida, and that means that you won’t have much time to spend in the tropics. A five-night cruise from New Jersey to Bermuda gives you one day in Bermuda. That’s just not much time at the destination, and a five-night cruise is a long time to be on the ship.
If you live in New York City or New Jersey, Cape Liberty might just be the best cruise port for you to use. It’s easy to access, it’s not as busy as the Manhattan or Brooklyn ports, and the cruises will take you somewhere warm in the middle of a cold, wet winter.
If you don’t live there, though, you might want to consider another port. If you’re already going to have to fly to your cruise port, flying somewhere like Florida will give you more cruise options and all of them will give you more time at your destination. Cape Liberty has no tourist destinations, and if you want part of the trip to be exploring Manhattan and NYC, you’re much better off booking a cruise that leaves from Brooklyn or Manhattan.
Parking is expensive and hotel options are limited. In short, Cape Liberty is not the best option for those who don’t live in the area. If you must sail out of this area but don’t live here, then Manhattan or Brooklyn are probably better choices. Cape Liberty is ideal for those who live in NYC and New Jersey. For everyone else, it might not be.
Ultimately, that’s for you to decide. Weigh the pros and cons that we’ve listed here and you can decide for yourself if Cape Liberty is the right cruise port for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Right now, only two cruise lines sail from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ: Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines. It is possible that, in the future, we will see them adding more cruise lines as the port grows. For now, it’s just those two.
Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ is Royal Caribbean’s home port in the New York Area. Royal Caribbean cruises that list New York as the departure point most likely are leaving from Cape Liberty, not Manhattan or Brooklyn.
New Jersey is home to Cape Liberty Cruise terminal in Bayonne, NJ. This cruise terminal proudly hosts both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise ships, and offers cruises to Bermuda, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Canada and New England.
Cape Liberty Cruise Port is in Bayonne, NJ. This is located about 16 miles from Manhattan by the shortest route. It’s about a 45-minute drive, longer on the train or bus. The driver could be longer than that, depending on the traffic.
The Newark Airport is just 10 miles from Cape Liberty, which is roughly an 18 minute drive in good traffic conditions. JFK is about 30 miles away and will require an hour’s drive. La Guardia is roughly the same distance as JFK.
Cape Liberty is in Bayonne, NJ, which does not have any tourist attractions. If you are looking for things to do before your cruise, you’ll probably want to take a cab into Manhattan or Hoboken. Bayonne is not a tourist destination, and Cape Liberty is an old military base that was built far from major tourist spots.
There is parking available at Cape Liberty cruise terminal. It costs about $22 per day, or $44 for an oversized vehicle like an RV or Camper. Other parking lots are available nearby to cater to cruise passengers, but none are free and they aren’t much cheaper than the terminal parking.