August 20, 2013
Posted in: Interactive Transatlantic Crossing
I hope you are all well! Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for joining me on Facebook, Twitter and the We Are Cunard blog during my Transatlantic Crossing to New York, and during my stay in the city that never sleeps. The crossing was great fun and I hope you enjoyed my updates from behind the scenes!
Now that I’m back in Southampton, I wanted to update you on our sail in to New York, and of course about some of the things I did during my stay there.
The sail in was breathtaking. It was an early start – I was up on deck at 4am. As soon as I got up there I could see the twinkling lights of New York either side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge – after being at sea for six days without seeing land, it’s a great sight to walk up on deck to. Twenty minutes later we sailed beneath the bridge, clearing it by about four metres. I would say the photos I’ve seen in the past of the sail in, don’t really do it justice because you have to be there and see it for yourself to really appreciate how spectacular it is. You really do get incredibly close to the bottom of the bridge, and once past, everyone cheered.
After sailing past the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, we sailed past the Statue of Liberty. If I haven’t mentioned before, it’s worth mentioning now that I have never been to New York, or indeed the US before, so to see all of the sights for the first time was very special in itself, but to see it all from on board Queen Mary 2 was something I will never forget. It was still dark as we sailed past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty was lit up. To the right were the lights of the New Jersey skyline, and as we passed by, the towering Manhattan skyline came into view. By now the sun was starting to rise from behind the New York giants, making the city look even more beautiful.
After we docked I went to Kings Court for my final breakfast on board Queen Mary 2, before heading back up on deck for the last time to see Manhattan now that the sun had come up. By this time it was around 7:30am and it was already looking like it would be a hot day in New York City. I spent about half an hour up on deck – Windsor needed to be photographed with the Manhattan skyline behind him – and then I made my way down to the Grand Lobby to say goodbye to the officers who had made my stay on board unforgettable.
When I went to say goodbye to David Shepherd, the Hotel Manager, he offered me a coffee – Captain Oprey’s coffee, which he hadn’t had the chance to drink before I arrived. I said to David that I better not – the Captain would probably be back for it. I was told not to worry, he was unlikely to come back for it and rather than leave it untouched, I should drink it. A couple of minutes later the Captain walked into the office and when he saw me drinking his coffee, he told me off! Everybody, the Captain included, went out of their way to make me feel welcome on board, right down to my final few minutes with them. Incidentally, the Captain wasn’t bothered that I had drunk his coffee – David ordered him another one and the three of us sat and reminisced on our week at sea before I left the ship and made my way into Manhattan.
Once I’d checked into my hotel – the Hilton on the Avenue of the Americas, I headed off to take in the sights of New York. Being a girl I was keen to find Tiffany & Co. and Bloomingdale’s (I’ve always wanted one of those Little Brown Bags!), and I also wanted to visit Central Park. That evening I met two of my colleagues who were also in New York and we were invited to dinner at the Bull & Bear inside the Waldorf-Astoria. After an amazing steak, we returned to our hotel. In the morning I transferred to the Grand Hyatt on East 42nd Street – the hotel is situated between the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Station and from my hotel room, I had a great view!
After checking in for my final two nights in New York, I headed for 34th Street as I had been invited on a guided tour of the Empire State Building. I was really excited about visiting the observation deck. It was beautiful, sunny day and on both the 86th and 102nd floors, I had a great view of New York and its surroundings. I took Windsor with me as you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter – from the 102nd floor, he enjoyed looking out on the views of Manhattan, Queens and New Jersey, he wasn’t afraid of heights!
Later that evening, we were joined by a few more colleagues who had flown out from Heathrow that morning. Over the weekend we experienced some of our Land Tours packages. We started on Friday evening with tours of the Grand Hyatt and Langham place where we got the chance to sample their new Cunard Cocktail and enjoy some nibbles. The following morning we walked along 34th Street to Macy’s where we enjoyed Macy’s Fashion Breakfast and found out about the latest Fall trends. From there we made our way to Lower Manhattan where we were met by a guide who showed us the historic sights of the Financial District, including Wall Street, which features on 2014′s Historic Independence Day Walking Tour. Our guide also took us to the 9/11 Memorial – this isn’t part of the tour, but it was something I was glad we didn’t miss while we were in the city.
It’s hard to put into words what it was like to be at Ground Zero. The tribute to those who died when the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001 is both beautiful and sad at the same time. I found it so touching. The names of all those who died, including those in both towers, those on board the two planes, the rescuers and those who died at the Pentagon are all listed on the two memorial waterfalls which are in the foundations of the Twin Towers. I never knew until I went that the names of the victims have been engraved in a carefully chosen order. The victims’ families were all contacted during the building of the memorial and the names of their loved ones are engraved next to those people who they were close to – either someone they sat near or ate lunch with, who also died that day. The thought that clearly went into the memorial is so moving and what’s also lovely is that on each of the victims’ birthdays, a white rose is laid in the engraving of their name.
On Saturday night we headed for Times Square to visit the Marriott Marquis and to dine in their revolving restaurant (the only one in New York). There we had some breathtaking views of the city at night. After dinner – at roughly 11:30pm – we left the hotel and spent a bit of time shopping in Times Square until the stores closed at just before 1am.
On Sunday we made our way to Pier 83 for the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise around Southern Manhattan. Although it was an overcast day, we still had some great views as we sailed past Manhattan, New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn, before turning around and making our way back. I really enjoyed this cruise – it really showed off all that New York has to offer and we were told about the different sights as we made our way past. After the cruise we walked to the Rockefeller Center where we visited the Top of the Rock observation deck. Despite the grey day, the views here were incredible – on one side you can see the Empire State Building in front of Lower Manhattan and its new skyline including the One World Trade Center – on the other, Central Park. Both the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise and the Top of the Rock are part of our The Big Apple ‘As You Like It’ package, and I have to say it was great being able to do one after the other. Seeing everything from on board a boat, and seeing it all from the top of the Rockefeller Center was fantastic, it really is a beautiful city.
Later that evening we departed Manhattan and headed for JFK International Airport where we checked in for our flight back to the UK with British Airways and reflected on a great 10 days. When I arrived back in the office this morning, one of my colleagues asked me what my highlight was, and if I’m honest I don’t think I can really pick just one. If pushed though, I think nothing beats arriving in New York on board Queen Mary 2 – sailing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline truly is special. To think that so many people have done it, moving from the UK to the US – there is a special history and I’m pleased to say that I’ve had the opportunity to experience it.
For my final photo, and following a few requests on Facebook, I wanted to share with you a photo of Windsor and I on one of the observation decks at the Rockefeller Center. Thank you to everyone who has joined us for our interactive Transatlantic Crossing and for our time in New York – it’s been lovely reading all of your comments and it was great sharing my experience with you all. To see all of the photos from our interactive crossing, visit our Facebook photo album, and look out for some special blog posts coming very soon where I will be taking you behind the scenes of Queen Mary 2 and sharing with you Captain Kevin Oprey’s answers to your Facebook questions. I will also be giving you a bit more insight into what you can experience on one of our New York tours packages.
Thanks so much for reading!