New York City has some wonderful distractions, not the least of which are its world-class museums, a thriving theater scene, restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs, and sprawling Central Park. But the Big Apple is also a hub for cruises that will transport you to the beaches of the Caribbean and Bermuda, the fall colors and history in New England and Canada, and across the Atlantic to Europe.
Set sail from Manhattan, Brooklyn, or nearby Bayonne, New Jersey, and your views will include the spectacular city skyline and Statue of Liberty, with the added thrill of going under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as you sail out to the Atlantic. Cruises depart from the region year-round, with the height of the season being May to October. New York is also a great departure point if you’re hoping to book a last-minute cruise. Here are our top picks for every type of cruiser.
Best active cruises
Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,100-passenger Norwegian Escape provides year-round thrills on its multi-story waterslides and huge outdoor ropes course. Itineraries from New York include the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida, Bermuda, New England, and Canada. When the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss takes over for the Escape in November 2019, it will add a top deck go-kart racetrack to the list of shipboard attractions.
Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, sailing year-round from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, offers plenty of opportunities to get an adrenaline rush onboard. This 4,200-passenger ship has a crazy array of distractions from simulated surfing, to skydiving in an air tunnel, to bumper cars. Instagram-worthy experiences will abound as you sail to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Florida, or Bermuda.
Best transatlantic cruise
For a jaunt across the pond, nothing beats the experience of being on the Queen Mary 2, a classic ocean liner carrying on the Cunard tradition of weekly transatlantic sailings. For a truly elevated experience, book a Queens Grill duplex suite and you’ll get butler service and have exclusive access to the vessel’s best restaurant, the Queens Grill. On the route between New York and Southampton in the United Kingdom, the vibe is properly British but with some modern twists—for instance, the 2,690 guests can opt for either traditional ballroom dancing or disco beats for their evening entertainment. Bring Fido if you like, because this is the only ship in the world with a kennel onboard. (The dogs can’t wander the ship but passengers can visit their pets and walk them in a designated area.) The sailings take place from late April to early January. Best Bermuda cruise
Head to Bermuda on the Celebrity Summit, which sets sail from Bayonne, and you’ll have three days to explore the island and its famous pink sands. Longer itineraries on the 2,158-passenger Celebrity Cruises ship add Boston and other New England hot spots, such as Portland, Maine, and Newport, Rhode Island. The round-trip sailings take place from May to September, with early- and late-season fares from under $1,000 per person, a bargain on this premium ship. Added bonus: Celebrity Summit is slated for a major modernization in February.
Best unusual cruise itinerary
For cruisers seeking views of untouched wilderness, fjords, glaciers, icebergs, and snow-capped peaks, Greenland is the place to go. Princess Cruises gets you there from New York on a 16-day round-trip sailing in mid-August, on the 3,140-passenger Caribbean Princess. Along the way you will stop in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but this is also a down-time itinerary, with nine full days to stare at the sea.
Best luxury leaf-peeping cruise
A prime time to visit Canada and New England is late September, when you have a great shot at seeing both picture-perfect fall colors and whales, before they migrate to warmer waters. Cruise with all-inclusive luxury line Regent Seven Sea Cruises, and you can sip complimentary champagne as you scan the horizon. The 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator sails one-way, 10- and 12-day itineraries between New York and Montreal.
Best pre-Halloween cruise
From late September to late October, small-ship line American Cruise Lines takes guests up the Hudson River, all the way to Albany. Stops along the way include Hyde Park, West Point, and Catskill. The must-do stop is Sleepy Hollow (of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow fame), with an included tour of author Washington Irving’s Sunnyside estate. The town goes all out with Halloween-themed tours and events. The three ships that sail the route (the American Constitution, American Star, and Independence) carry 100 to 175 passengers each.
Best cruise for families
For the fourth year in a row, Disney Cruise Line is back in New York next fall, when the 1,750-passenger Disney Magic will begin a season of family-focused sailings. Choose between itineraries to New England and Canada or to Bermuda. In addition to the usual appearances by Mickey, Minnie, and various Marvel superheroes on the ship, as well as the opportunity to zip down Donald Duck’s AquaDunk thrill waterslide, most of the sailings will be either Halloween- or Christmas-themed, which means families can expect extra special parties and other over-the-top holiday celebrations on these cruises.