Setting Sail By Rail: Your Amtrak Train and Ship Await!

The beautiful Carnival Splendor awaits her departure from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on a bitter cold January afternoon.
The beautiful Carnival Splendor awaits her departure from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on a bitter cold January afternoon.

Have you ever driven or flown to your cruise vacation before?  The highways and airports are a mess.  Driving and flying are sometimes not ideal ways of traveling to your cruise departure port.  Cruises are supposed to be fun! From the many activities on board ship, to all the exciting shore excursions, it’s the perfect reason to get away from the stresses of home.  Do yourself a favor.  Don’t wait for the air fares to go down or to be asked to take your shoes off the security checkpoint.  It’s  not fair waiting for that slow poke in your lane to move over.  It’s train time! Let’s set sail!

Having been a cruise line agent in the New York area for five and a half years, a cruiser for over ten years, and an avid train traveler for more than twenty-five years, I have ample traveling advice to share with you.  When going to any Amtrak station, be sure to arrive approximately half hour before your train’s departure time.  For long distance trains, arrive at the station approximately one hour before your train’s departure.  It’s important to allow yourself time to check in your luggage and locate your departure track.  When the train finally arrives, it’s time for your railroad and cruise adventure to begin.

The first port on the list is New York City.  New York City has two cruise terminals; the Manhattan terminal, and the Brooklyn Red Hook Terminal.  If you’re traveling into New York City by train, getting to either terminal is very easy.  New York Penn Station is not far from the Manhattan terminal.  When you arrive at New York Penn Station, take the C or E subway north to 50th Street.  At 50th Street, walk four blocks west to the Manhattan cruise terminal.  Passengers can take the A subway south to Jay Street-Borough Hall, and take a short taxi ride to the Brooklyn cruise terminal.  It is a very modern looking building with a spacious interior.  If your cruise is departing from New York, make sure you give yourself enough time in between your arrival and boarding your ship.  New York City’s traffic can be unpredictable.

Across the way from New York lies the beautiful port city of Bayonne.  Bayonne is home to the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal.  Getting to the Cape Liberty terminal by train is simple.  The station closest to Bayonne is Newark Penn Station.  When you arrive at Newark, it’s a quick twenty minute cab ride to the port.  If you wish to use mass transit, take the PATH train east to Exchange Place, in the waterfront area of Jersey City.  New Jersey Transit Light Rail station is one hundred feet from the PATH station.  The light rail train will take you south to 34th Street in Bayonne.  It’s a three minute taxi ride to the cruise terminal.  The terminal is formerly a military ocean terminal.  Be sure to have your traveling documents in hand before entering the terminal building.

The next terminal on the list is Baltimore’s cruise terminal.  Amtrak’s Northeast Regional and Acela Express serve Baltimore on a daily basis.  Baltimore’s Penn Station is a fifteen minute cab ride to the cruise terminal.  The terminal is very modern looking.  Make sure that whichever train you take gets you to Baltimore with plenty of time to spare.  The earlier you arrive at the terminal, the more relaxing the check-in process will be.

Further south is Port Canaveral.  Port Canaveral is home to Disney Cruise Line.  It is also home to the Kennedy Space Center.  Amtrak’s Silver Star and Silver Meteor both serve the city of Orlando.  Be sure that you have transportation arrangements made to take you to the cruise terminal.  If you choose to rent a car, be sure to locate a rental car facility in the Orlando area.  All cruise terminals have parking facilities for passengers.  On disembarkation day, it’s best that you try to leave the ship early, to give yourself enough time for your ride back to the Orlando station.

The two busiest cruise ports on the east coast are Fort Lauderdale and Miami.  These two ports handle millions of cruise passengers on a yearly basis.  Traveling to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami by train is extremely easy.  The Silver Star and Silver Meteor arrive late in the day.  Amtrak’s Fort Lauderdale station is a short ten minute ride from the Port Everglades cruise terminal area.  The Miami station is on the north side of town and fifteen minutes from the Port of Miami.  Whichever of the two cities you’re sailing from, you want to stay overnight at a hotel nearest to the cruise terminal area.  Further, its best to rest up from your long journey.  The next morning, you’re all set to check in for your ship relaxed and refreshed.

Amtrak's Silver Star, train #91, arrives at Newark Penn Station on her journey south to Miami, Florida.
Amtrak’s Silver Star, train #91, arrives at Newark Penn Station on her journey south to Miami, Florida.

The third Florida port served by Amtrak is Tampa.  Tampa is also served by the Silver Meteor and Silver Star.  The Tampa cruise terminal is approximately ten minutes from the Tampa Union Station.  Whether in Tampa, Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale, it’s recommended that you stay overnight near the cruise terminal.  On the morning of disembarkation, be sure to be registered for the express walk-off in order to meet up with your train on time.

 

Taking the train to your cruise is the way to enjoy any cruise vacation from the east coast.  Got your bags packed? Swimsuit, check! Sun tan lotion, check! Shades, check! Passports, don’t forget them! Engineer hat?? Yes, I’m serious!  Your cruise awaits you track-side!  Get off thet highway and off that airport security line.  It’s time to start enjoying cruising the way it was meant to be…railroad style.  All aboard and Bon Voyage!

 

 

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