I've heard countless horror stories about embarkation at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal. My family and I are booked on QM2's Mariner's Caribbean in March and are wondering if anyone has advice about the best time to arrive there, where to park, and any other insider tips. Usually we depart from Fort Lauderdale and embarkation runs extremely smoothly so we'd like to avoid any potential problems in New York. Thanks for the help.
I've embarked from both NYC (in May) and Ft. Lauderdale (last week), and I found the exact opposite of what you would think. NY worked like a clock. No long waits and lots of Cunard employees to shuttle you to the proper areas. The terminal is huge, so it may be difficult for the elderly or handicapped.
Fort Lauderdale on January 3 was a complete nightmare. We were told to arrive at 12:00, but the doors to the terminal didn't even open until 1:00. Needless to say, there were hundreds of people waiting in lines for 2-3 hours, and not one Cunard employee was available to explain what was going on and when we might begin to enter the terminal. Luggage was strewn about everywhere, and many of us started our vacations in a testy frame as a result. Cunard never did explain the problem...one of their real shortcomings. (Also found out on line that San Juan was not going to be a destination on this trip. Another lapse on Cunard's part--they should have let us know earlier than the day of embarkation...)
Wife and I left NYC terminal in May 2003 on QE2 to Bermuda. We took a bus from PA and then a cab to the terminal (bless those NYC cab drivers--very efficient, know just where to go). The only complaint I had was that the "room" we waited in was more like a hanger and was quite cold. The metal folding chairs were hard and cold as well. Very damp and dingy surroundings. On the other hand, this made entering the ship even more spectacular and welcoming!