Bayonne (Cape Liberty) and Manhattan cruise ports share more than just their proximity to the Atlantic; they both lay claim to a little someone named Lady Liberty. Sailing out of New York Harbor, you will typically be able to spot the Statue of Liberty as you cruise into the sunset. Bayonne, New Jersey, claims such close ties to the statue that it named its cruise port Cape Liberty.
Either port is an equally patriotic choice -- and convenient for many East Coast residents. So what separates the two cruise ports, apart from a bay and roughly 20 miles? Find out what the differences -- and similarities -- are between Bayonne and Manhattan cruise ports.
Both Manhattan and Cape Liberty cruise ports have two piers each and can accommodate two ships at one time.
Due to their proximate locations, Manhattan and Bayonne offer many of the same itineraries: year-round cruises to the Caribbean and seasonal sailings to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Canada and New England.
Bayonne and Manhattan are served by three major airports (Newark Liberty International, JFK International and LaGuardia); interstate highways such as the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95); NJ Transit and PATH trains; and, of course, yellow cabs and other ride services.
Cape Liberty Cruise Port opened in 2004, and is owned and operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. That means that only cruise lines operated under its umbrella sail from Bayonne: Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and German cruise line TUI Cruises.
The New York cruise port is the oldest cruise terminal in the United States, operating since 1935. Five major cruise lines currently homeport in Manhattan: Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Crystal Cruises; a dozen or more additional cruise lines will call on New York throughout the year.
Although it's centrally located near many bustling cities (Jersey City, Hoboken, New York), Bayonne isn't really a destination unto itself. With the Big Apple just 7 miles away, NYC provides a much bigger draw than hanging around a primarily residential area of New Jersey. Cape Liberty cruise terminal is isolated, meaning once you arrive, there isn't a whole lot to do in the surrounding area. If you forget anything for your cruise, you'll have to venture through the surrounding industrial areas to find a drugstore or supermarket.
Sailing from Manhattan, you couldn't be more in the heart of the city. Although prices can be a bit staggering in parts of New York, it's an ideal destination for a pre- or post-cruise vacation. Famous museums, shops, eateries and sites (don't forget Central Park!) are never far by taxi, subway or your own two feet. While the City That Never Sleeps might be a bit intimidating to some visitors, it's possible to navigate with your favorite map app (or even a good ol' paper map); it helps that the city is a grid. For those last-minutes items, a Rite Aid or corner convenience store -- also called a bodega -- are never far away. Closer to the port, a CVS (42nd Street and 10th Avenue) is about a 10-minute walk; a Food Emporium supermarket is a block over on West 43rd Street.
New York City is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, so there is an overwhelming number of places to stay; just be aware of the three-figure price range. Ink48, just about a five-minute walk from the Manhattan cruise terminal, is the closest hotel to the port.
The closest hotels to Cape Liberty are actually in Elizabeth, NJ, clustered near the Newark airport, about 11 miles away. Expect chains like Country Inn & Suites, Extended Stay America and Residence Inn by Marriott.
Parking is available at both ports, but you'll pay just $20 per day for the lot adjacent to the Bayonne cruise port. Only campers, RVs and other oversized vehicles cost $40 per day at Bayonne.
Parking rates run $40 per day (double that of Bayonne) at the Manhattan cruise terminal for the length of your cruise. Occasionally, you can find parking coupons for certain departures on the NYCruise.com website (like 25 percent off for Norwegian Gem passengers).
Renting a car in Manhattan can be done less than a mile from the cruise terminal, at Avis on 515 West 43rd Street. There's nothing in the immediate area of Cape Liberty, but those looking for a car rental can use the Enterprise in Bayonne, about 5 miles from the port.
Both port facilities have ample seating and bathrooms, but oddly enough, Cape Liberty is the only terminal offering free Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is still not readily available at the Manhattan cruise terminal.
Although the cruise terminals are close, you'll probably pick your homeport based on cruise line. If you're loyal to Royal, sailing from Bayonne is a no-brainer. A stay in New York before or after your cruise is possible from either port, but if you want to be in the center of the action, sailing from Manhattan is as close as it gets. If you're working with a tight budget, hotel stays and parking will be significantly cheaper near Bayonne.
Updated August 21, 2018