Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: The Statue of Liberty with Statue Cruises

...the one in which we have a date with a beautiful lady....

After spending three hours walking and eating our way through Greenwich Village, it was now time to hop on a subway and head down to Battery Park, where we had a date scheduled with a beautiful lady.

If you remember from a previous post, I had asked both Hubby and Daughter to make a list of up to three things that were MUST-DO's while visiting New York City. Hubby had listed the Empire State Building as #1 (and check that off, as we've done it), and the Statue of Liberty as #2.

Uh oh.

Houston, we have a problem.

The Statue of Liberty took a WALLOP last fall when Superstorm Sandy sent a record 14-foot storm surge over much of New York. Although the statue itself was unscathed, the grounds that she sits on were trashed. Ferry docks were splintered; electrical and sewage systems were destroyed; and the walkways and railings surrounding her pedestal were a total loss. Lady Liberty had been closed to visitors as of last October 29, and wasn't due to reopen until after our vacation was over.

There would be no visiting the Statue in person - no going up her stairs - or visiting Ellis Island, either, for that matter. So, I did the next best thing...I booked a harbor cruise that would take us in close to the grounds, giving us an up-close view. After much research, I chose Statue Cruises. A 60-minute Harbor cruise costs $24 for adults - but Hubby qualified as a senior, so that was only $17 for him. SCORE. Sometimes it pays to get old.

Our Greenwich tour had ended around 3:00 pm-ish. Our cruise was to disembark at 4:00 pm. We had less than an hour to catch the subway, and find our meeting point in Battery Park. Needless to say, we cut it very close. Fortunately, the South Ferry subway station - which suffered EXTENSIVE damage from Superstorm Sandy - had JUST reopened a month prior. South Ferry is the image that was shown on TV stations around the world, and we were amazed at how quickly they got this station up and repaired:

This was the station back in October...yikes. It took a beating....

The South Ferry station is right in front of the Staten Island Ferry terminal, so if you're ever going to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry - now you know which subway to catch. Oh, and by the way - the Staten Island Ferry is free. FREE.

See - there is no subway between Staten Island and Manhattan...unlike the other boroughs, Queens and Brooklyn. So, the powers-that-be have made this free for all of the commuters who have to cross over to Manhattan each day. It's about a 5-mile, 25-minute ferry ride, if you're ever inclined to go. And did I mention that it's FREE?!

However - we were going on the Miss New Jersey boat:

We got to the loading dock with about 2 minutes to spare before they began loading, and that wasn't any too soon. Capacity on the ship is 799 passengers - and I wouldn't be surprised if we were sailing near capacity. There was a mad crush of people when they opened the ship for boarding, and we sent Daughter on up ahead to grab us seats on the top deck, which she managed to just barely do. Every seat on the top deck was eventually taken - so, a tip is to arrive early so you can get a good seat. Or have a teenaged Daughter who can run fast and doesn't mind pushing and shoving in a crowd.

A selfie onboard - before disembarkation....

Soon, we were underway...under increasingly cloudy skies, and with the wind picking up, we first headed west...around the tip of lower Manhattan, and headed towards New Jersey - and the Statue of Liberty herself. Along the way, we got incredible views of the lower Manhattan skyline, including the new Freedom Tower (aka One World Trade Center):

As we were cruising, there was narrative being broadcast over the ship's loudspeaker/intercom...but with the sound of the engines, the wind, and the hum/laughter/chattering of our fellow passengers, we couldn't hear a word of what was being said. Initially frustrated at this, we finally just decided to "go with the flow", sit back and enjoy the ride - and not worry about what was being said. I hopped up and found a spot along the railing, so that I could see better - as well as take some photos. What with the wind, and the movement of the boat, I was flashing my fellow passengers right and left in my skirt. Sorry about that. So - another tip: don't wear a skirt if you're going on a harbor cruise. You're welcome.

Soon, we were approaching the old ferry docks at the historic transportation building located at Liberty State Park:

A little bit further, we were cruising past Ellis Island:

And then...the star attraction...the Statue of Liberty herself:


It was at this point that the crowd if everyone knew that our silence was needed to show Lady Liberty the respect and honor that she deserves. It was a very poignant moment, and I know that we were all putting ourselves in the immigrants' shoes...coming to America, full of wishes and dreams...and seeing this beautiful, awe-inspiring beacon of hope in the harbor....

After visiting the western side of the harbor, the boat turned eastward, and we cruised past Governor's Island on our way over to the East River, where we approached the iconic Brooklyn Bridge:

More skyline as we cruise eastward....

Trying to get that perfect shot....!

The boat cruised under the Bridge, giving us a rather unique perspective that you don't get to see everyday:

We cruised as far north to get this view of the Manhattan Bridge...with the Williamsburg Bridge in the far distance. There's a good way to remember the names of the three bridges over the East order...starting with the one to the far south....Just remember "BMW" - as in the car. B for Brooklyn, M for Manhattan, and W for Williamsburg. Easy peasy!

Our serious photographer....

Soon, we were back at the harbor...and it was time to disembark. We enjoyed our cruise - 60 minutes is probably the perfect length for a cruise. It gave us a nice cool down on what had been a super hot day, and although there were refreshments for sale onboard, we were still pretty stuffed from our previous tour, and didn't purchase anything. I wish the acoustics onboard had been better - it's a shame that we couldn't hear a word of what they were describing for us - but otherwise, it was a very relaxing hour....

We needed to make our way back to Greenwich Village, and so - back to the South Ferry subway station.


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