Update: Cruisers' Cars Damaged -- Again -- in Cape Liberty Parking Lot

November 25, 2009
Update, 3 p.m. EST: We heard back from Anthony Caputo at the cruise port, who said the port is now working closely with the dry dock to prevent further damage to parked cars. Caputo says the dry dock, which typically does more mechanical rather than exterior work, will pay closer attention to weather conditions when it embarks on painting projects, and will try to use more rollers and less spray paint.

Also, when a big painting job comes up, the dry dock will alert the cruise port, which will take the initiative to cover cars and otherwise protect them -- so cruise travelers won't have to worry about taking preventive measures themselves.

(11:15 a.m. EST) -- Cruise Critic members and other travelers who left their cars in the Cape Liberty Cruise Port's parking lot during September and October came back to find an unpleasant surprise -- damage to the exterior glass and finish of their cars. The culprit? The overspray of paint and chemicals from the dry dock located next to the cruise port.

Cruise travelers like Cruise Critic members muknaw and Spender Nui returned from a Celebrity Constellation cruise on October 3 to find their cars "dirty, grimy and gritty." In the case of muknaw, "the substance had penetrated the paint and windows and trim … the car, 2007 GMC Yukon XL, is being repainted, ALL the glass replaced, the entire exterior of the car is repainted or replaced." Members on October sailings of Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity Constellation also report coming home to car damage.

Sound familiar? This is not actually the first case of such damage to cars in the Cape Liberty parking lot. Cruise Critic first reported on the situation in 2005. Reports at that time indicated that when Cape Liberty's next-door neighbor, Bayonne Dry Dock & Repair Corp., sprays paint on the ships at its facility, the wind carries the chemicals into the adjacent parking lot. Indeed, Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told us last week that "the dry dock company had taken measures to stop the wind from blowing over spray on to the cars. However, the wind barrier they had put in place was torn by high winds and caused the most recent damage."

Martinez tells us the wind barrier has now been repaired.

What's troublesome to us is that over a month-long period -- mid-September through late October -- Cruise Critic members who parked their cars in this lot noticed problems, yet the dry dock didn't. Though alerts on the cruise port's Web site warn visitors of turnpike lane closures, cruise travelers were not warned about potential damage to their parked cars or instructed to use a car cover. Also, Martinez said Royal Caribbean's Guest Services department was "unaware of any problem at Cape Liberty" prior to our phone call, despite the fact that Cruise Critic members said they contacted the cruise line to complain.

At press time, our calls to spokespersons at both the port and the dry dock have gone unanswered, despite multiple attempts to make contact. If your car was damaged during a recent cruise, Royal Caribbean is instructing people to contact Kevin Sullivan of Bayonne Dry Dock at 201-823-9296. Cruise Critic members have reported that the dry dock company will pay for your car to be repaired. Bayonne-bound cruisers worried that a subsequent barrier snafu may lead to more damage to parked cars may want to consider finding alternate ways of reaching the port or covering vehicles while they're parked.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor