Has the embarkation/disembarkation process improved any at the new port?
What time did you get on and what time did you get off the ship?
Was there sufficient ground transportation available to get you to the airport? We're scheduled to go out of LGA at 2:30 when we get back but are thinking of switching our flight to Newark and pay the air penalty rather than put up with any potential hassle.
I was on the June 12 sailing of Empress of the Seas (8 day to Bermuda). I drove to Bayonne from Long Island, arriving at the pier around 2:00 PM. Baggage drop off and parking were very easy. Check-in was a breeze as there were no lines at all. You do need to take a shuttle bus to the ship as it is docked about a half mile from the terminal. All in all, I was aboard ship before 2:30.
Debarkation of course always seems to take forever, but this is the case anywhere. The ship docked around 8:30 AM (you need to vacate your cabins by 8:00) and cleared customs by 10:30. By that time they had just about finished unloading the baggage and trucking it to the terminal. The first passengers were able to debark around 10:45. The last passengers got off around 12:15 (I know, because I was one of them). They have 5 shuttle buses to take the passengers to the terminal and they generally kept up with the flow, although I think having one or two more would be optimal.
Having parked at the pier, I cannot comment on the availability of tranportation, but from what I have heard, it would be best to use either RCCL's or pre-booked private transportation. I simply walked to my car with my luggage (I was travelling alone) and drove home (little traffic until I hit the BQE, oh well, that's New York).
The cruise, by the way, was wonderful. it was especially nice to dock at St. George for a day, something that RCCL ships haven't done in years. Also, almost all the public areas on the ship had been refurbished and looked very nice.
Yes, I took the Bayonne Bridge. From Long Island I took the LIE to the BQE to the Verazano Br. ( Rte. 287) to Rte. 440 to Bayonne Bridge. I stayed on 440 - only a few lights - all the way to Port Terminal Blvd. There are signs on 440 directing you to the cruise terminal. It was really very easy.
This was the third time I've sailed the Empress of the Seas, formerly Nordic Empress. All of the public areas have been refurbished and in some cases, deck plans rearranged. The ship is in great shape, although as always, you will see crew members performing maintenance daily for after all, the sea is a harsh mistress.
This being my fourth time to Bermuda (I sailed the old Song of America in '94) i mainly went to play golf and drink at the Frog and Onion pub (located at King's Wharf).
Parking is $12 per day so for an 8 day cruise it was $96. This is definately cheaper than the New York pier where the price two years ago was over $100 for a 7 day cruise. They also accept credit cards, something the NYC pier did not.
I didn't specifically check out the security of the lot, to tell you the truth, I wasn't very concerned. The lot is at the very end of a long (couple of miles?) man-made peninsula that used to be a military shipping terminal - other than the view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, it's not the most scenic area. The lot's surface ranges from pavement to gravel and if I remember correctly, it was fenced. Other than the facilities that RCCL has taken over, there really isn't much out there except unused buildings.