Parking at the NYC pier is quick and painless. You enter, drop off your bags and any passangers, then you move on up to the parking deck. Leaving is just the reverse. It's nearly impossible to get lost there because it's not that big (although there's tons of parking) and you have those big ships to use as reference points.
I must say that my one experience with parking in NY (out of 4 cruises taken out of NY)
was not quick and painless. Depending on the day and how many ships are in port, traffic at the NY piers can get to be awful. Disembarking passengers can overlap with early arrivals and things get bad quickly as they try to utilize the same roadway (only one) in and out. We sat for two and a half hours last May to go the last third of a mile to the piers . While everyone else was jumping out of car service, limos and cabs and walking the last few hundred yards, I was stuck with my car. Very stressful.
I can see that with only one ship in port, the process can be quite smooth.
Do keep in mind parking is now $27 or $28 dollars per day and is payable only IN CASH (in advance).
I advise car service , or cab and approaching from either northbound West Street (west side highway) or one of the side streets . Get out and walk the lasy few blocks even.
If that is not an alternative, do not approach the piers in your own car from the side streets in the mid 50's , these are the nightmare places to get stuck as you will have no alternatives. Approach from northbound West Street or Southbound West Side highway.
Just my thoughts and one experience.
Wow... the two times I used it for my 2 cruises was quick and painless. I hope that your experience was not the norm. Either way, go to http://www.nypst.com/ and click on the cruise schedule to see how busy the peirs will be that day. If they are busy, sounds like you would be better off getting there early and relaxing rather then going later and getting stressed out in heavy traffic. I would have went nuts. I'm no good in bumper to bumper traffic!