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Cruise out of New York Harbor!

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My husband and I have just returned from a nine night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Yes, it was nice to leave the winter behind. But it was even more enjoyable because this was a "low impact" vacation for us. No airports, no driving on icy roads.

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We dropped the pooches off at the kennel on a Saturday morning in March and headed for the local Amtrak station in Rome, NY to pick up the 7:40 a.m. train to NY Penn Station in mid-town Manhattan.

We had our breakfast and a thermos of coffee with us, the Kindle for checking email as we traveled (Amtrak has WIFI on most trains now), some books and a deck of cards for Canasta. Look Ma, no hands! Someone else was doing the driving!

The trip along the Hudson River is always fun for us as we snooze, read, check email, send texts to the kids, without a care in the world.

When we arrive at Penn Station located on 7th Ave and 34th St, we have two choices: we can use shoe-leather express to get to the cruise pier, which is located at 12th Ave and 46th St, or take a taxi. We decide to splurge and drop a twenty dollar bill on the cab ride, tips and the porter at the cruise pier who relieves us of our luggage.

Then, along with our fellow passengers (some 2800 souls, one Sponge Bob Squarepants and 1100 employees), we grab some lunch and wait for the 4 pm embarkation out of New York Harbor. Everyone gathers on the top decks to watch the Manhattan skyline glide by. There's the Empire State Building, the new buildings at Ground Zero, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty. And finally, the moment I always wait for, steaming under the Verrazano Bridge. Will we make it this time?? Well, we always do, of course. The ship blows a whistle and we're off into the Atlantic, on our way south to San Juan and ports beyond.

In nine days we will return to New York: sun burned, "de-compressed" and ready with a cup of early morning coffee to watch the sights in reverse: the Statue, the Skyline...and finally back to home port.

Disembarking on our own, taking our luggage with us, we go through customs and decide to hoof it back to Penn Station to get some fresh air and a little exercise. We have swam, snorkled, and walked the promenade deck on board ship this week, but we know we've also eaten just a little too much along the way.

It's St. Patrick's Day, so we check our bags at Penn Station and walk up to 5th Avenue to catch a bit of the parade. Then it's a corned beef sandwich, chips and drinks from a local deli and we're back at Penn Station to catch the train back to Rome.

The car is snowed in, but we can manage to get it out. The dogs are waiting at the kennel. We collect them and head home: we are greeted by the works of some Leprechauns of our own: our neighbor has snow-blowed the driveway, and some of our adult children have put in some extra firewood for us, left us some yummy ham salad and rye bread for a bite to each, and turned up the heat in the house.

It's a great way to relax. I highly recommend it. In fact, we have our cruise rewards gift certificate in hand for our next cruise. And yes, we will be cruising out of New York again!

Several cruise lines use New York Harbor. The three most prevalent are NCL, Carnival and Cunard. I can recommend them all, but I favor NCL's "free style approach" to crusing. And I like their environmental record. For the past four years, most cruise lines have cleaned up their act, so to speak, to reduce the carbon footprint of a cruise. Individuals can do their part, too, by not being wasteful while on board.

If you'd like to explore the ease from western, central or upstate New York, of a cruise vacation out of New York Harbor, contact me at info@geristravelclub.net, or see my web site for deals, or to book your hotel if you're not ready for a cruise: http://geristravelclub.net.

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