An Opportunity Seized in New Jersey

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One of the great things about being at Royal Caribbean International is you get to be part of something where you can say “no one has done that before.” Understandably, most readers would quickly think of our ships. After all, the delivery of Oasis of the Seas will mark the eighth time we have established a new standard of innovation on the water – if you’re counting, that would be Song of Norway, Song of America, Sovereign-class, Vision-class, Voyager-class, Radiance-class, Freedom-class and now Oasis-class.

But today I’m not thinking of the ships themselves, but rather one of the places we go – Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey. Proud home of Explorer of the Seas and next year also home to our sister brand’s ship Celebrity Summit. Just over two weeks ago, Cape Liberty celebrated five years since the first call of Voyager of the Seas.  Since then, 1.552 million guests have embarked on cruises at Cape Liberty on a total of 308 sailings. And we have consistently achieved some of our highest embarkation ratings in Bayonne.

When I think back on my 20+ years in the business, the creation of Cape Liberty strikes me as one of the most amazing developments of all.

Celebrating the opening of our H1 pier at Cape Liberty Cruise Port

Celebrating the opening of our H1 pier at Cape Liberty Cruise Port

I can summarize in one word what led to such an unforeseen development – panic. We had indicated to New York City in the normal course of business the sailing dates for Voyager’s 2004 season. Bringing Voyager to New York was a big deal to us and we thought it would be a reasonably big deal to New York as well. Wrong. Despite our long operating history at the West Side terminals and Voyager’s status in the industry, New York responded with an incomplete set of confirmations of the sailing dates we had requested. Over the course of six months it became clear New York was not going to make certain dates available to us because of trade shows scheduled to use terminal space we needed for our operation. So we were committed to offer a Voyager program with no homeport for the ship. Not good.

By a remarkable coincidence, just as we started to cast about for an alternative, Bayonne was beginning to come to grips with the large Military Operations Terminal parcel that jutted out into New York harbor from the edge of town. A victim of the base closures of the early 1990’s, MOTBY was only being used for filmmaking in abandoned warehouses. The nascent Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority (BLRA) under then-Executive Director Nancy Kist was looking for early stage tenants. I don’t remember how we found each other, because we weren’t thinking of them and they weren’t thinking of us. All I know is I flew to Newark on a gray, cold, rainy day in March, 2003 to check MOTBY out. I got out of the car at the end of the parcel, looked north (not very far) to the Statue of Liberty and southern Manhattan, and thought to myself “we have to make this work.” There wasn’t really time to create a modern, functioning cruise pier and terminal in 14 months, but that’s the type of challenge Royal Caribbean International people live for and we had great teammates at the BLRA. It has been a success from the start and was improved over the winter as the ships can finally berth out at the point where I got out of the car six years ago.

Congratulations to Anthony Caputo who has overseen our operations at Cape Liberty since the beginning, as well as to Anthony’s team, the BLRA, CBP, the stevedores and porters, Celeste Gladstone, Craig Milan, Juan Trescastro, John Fox, John Tercek, James Boink, Peter Brand and everyone at Royal Caribbean and our partner companies for creating a huge success out of cold, thin air.

As Cape Liberty’s Operations Administrator Danielle Gaskins says: Cruise from the Jersey Side…WHY NOT!

  • Ryan P

    New Jersey sounds like the strangest place to set sail from, but I certainly wish you success! It was interesting to know that NYC wasn’t as receptive as you’d have liked. If I sail from NJ, I’ll be sure to let you know how well it turned out.

  • Eva

    One of the reasons your Port Liberty sailings are so successful is your wonderful ship, Explorer of the Seas. We have been on 15 cruises, and the 2 we have taken on Explorer have been our favorite cruises. The staff is amazing, the ship is beautiful, the ports magnificent. The atmosphere aboard is so comfortable and inviting. Every public area is welcoming and the staff is so friendly and a joy to talk to. I just can’t say enough to convey our appreciation for the job they do on the Explorer. My sister and brother in law are booked for their 3rd Explorer cruise in Nov. and if all goes well, we are hoping to sail her again with them. Thanks for a job well done.

  • Jamie Snyder

    My wife and I have been out of Port Liberty on the Explorer of the Seas. I found the trip to Exit 14a to be a good one, even in driving rain, and even when we got lost we found a helpful port employee to set us off in the right direction. The terminal facilities, while not striking architecture were solid and efficient. It was nice to see the city and the statue of Liberty from that direction. We were also able to visit lady liberty when we returned. This was a good port and a good choice for RCI.

  • Ana B

    Hi I’m with the Sports Legends Challenge and I am looking at different cruise lines to possibly use. This event that I just mentioned takes place in the Bahamas and I am hoping to take some sort of cruise out there. If you want a better description of what I’m talking about go to this site.
    -Ana B


    LAST MONTH. We were assured at the time of booking that if the price of the cruise went down in the future we would get a refund of the difference. We asked several times if we would indeed get this adjustment and they assured us this was their policy. Unfortunatley, Royal Caribbean will not honor this promise to us. Now they are claiming that their sale is only a promotion for new reservations.
    This will be our 3rd cruise with Royal Caribbean and will strongly consider a competitor in the future.
    Valerie T.

  • Noreen n

    I have cruised out of Bayonne twice on Explorerer, once for 9 nights and the other for 12. The terminal is not glamorous, but it works, considering the goal is to get on board as quickly as possible. In light of your outstanting success in Bayonne I hope you will consider expanding service from there and/or varying the itineraries of the cruises. My family and I love RC and will be back again in February 2010. It can’t happen fast enough!

  • David Wolf

    We’re sailing on Explorer in January of 2010, It would be nice to see more photos of the port & terminal area available on the RC web site. I like the idea of the cruises from New JerseyNew York. It saves us airfare and that money can go towards a longer cruise to the caribbean with added travel distance.

  • nyccruiser

    14 months is certainly not enough time to build a fully functioning cruise facility but 5 YEARS IS MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME!!!

    I’m fed up with waiting for Royal Caribbean to build me a gangway so I don’t have to travel to the ship in cramped buses and board with crew on deck 1.

    Back to the Manhattan and Brooklyn piers I go!

  • sandy

    I sailed from Cape Liberty in March and it was truly a fabulous experience. Having said that and sailed previously on Jewel, I wondered how difficult it would be to enclose the solarium when Explorer goes into dry dock in Jan. I have already booked for March 2010 and I would certainly enjoy being able to sit poolside from day 1.

  • gary

    I would never EVER cruise from Manhattan ever again! what a mess that terminal was! I have been cruising out of Cape Liberty since 2004, on Voyager, no its not fancy, but i have seen a big improvement with their facility. We just returned from the 10 day cruise and embarkation could not be easier! Congrats to all the employees ! we arrived at 11:45 am, zipped through the paperwork, boarded the ship at noon, the bus is no problem, believe me, a 2 minute ride in ac comfort. They really have things down to a science. In New York port, they made us stand in a line for 2 hours , like cattle. Cape Liberty has seats in the terminal in case you want to sit if arriving extra early. Thanks RCCL from bringing a fantastic cruise ship like Explorer to New Jersey!

  • Aaron

    Just love RCCL and the Cape Liberty port, it is so convenient. I agree with the other post that RCCL needs to visit other ports, they need to visit Mexican , Grand Cayman, Jamaica ports like they once did. Puerto Rico seems to be a waste of a stop, do away with that port. ( ps, bring that little chocolate thats left on the bed in the evenings back!)

  • anna

    we have been on 2 trips out of bayonne. it could’nt be simpler. traveling with 3 kids and no airfare it was a no brainer. i do miss the chocolates..i noticed it right away. maybe they should be offered to those who want them. why do we all need to suffer ;). anyway, i agree with the other comment, do away with puerto rico, get the cayman island and labadee and some other ports. i am not sure if i want to cruise to the same ports 3 years in a row.. we need variety and itinerary should change yearly… what about getting one of the new ships here. variety is key to keeping the spice in rci

  • lynn

    i have just completed my 5th cruise in 5 years on rcc and went to ft lauderdale this time for a change of destinations. my 12 yr old daughter is a seasoned cruiser. i would really like to see other destinations for a change out of nj. if i am going on a cruise i want to go some place warm not CANADA. i will be traveling on celebrity out of nj in 2010 for the 7 day bermuda cruise because of a lack of different destinations on rcc. hope to cruise with you agin soon.

  • Mikey f

    I think RCLI made the right decision. I would think that New York would want this, but everything happens for a reason, I guess. I cruised before on RCLI and I absolutely loved it! This has got to be the best cruise line ever! The staff is friendly ship are amazing and food is good!

  • Gene Judge

    My wife and I loved the convenience of leaving from Bayonne. We were able to take a bus and avoid air travel hassles all together. We are diamond members and would not even consider another cruise line. RCCL has always treated us well and made our cruises memorable. Would you please consider other ships and other destinations out of Bayonne. Your notes indicate this is a successful venture for RCCL and we feel that as air travel becomes more expensive and more restricted, you would open up more opportunity for those of us located in the northeast to enjoy cruising out of Bayonne. Thank you for listening.

  • Linda D

    our family has sailed out of cape liberty the last three years and we absolutely love it – it’s awfully nice when you are the ONLY ship at the pier – not like NY – it is very accesible and has great parking – the port is extremely organized and now with the crown & anchor debarkation courtesies in a private lounge, you couldn’t ask for more – well, maybe some alternate itineraries and a longer bermuda trip – we just came home from our 5 day bermuda cruise and 5 days just isn’t long enough – we just love explorer and voyager – please work on the alternate itineraries – we are cruising NCL next year just for that reason – thanks for a great vacation RCCL, you are the best!!!

  • http://bettydiamond BETTY DIAMOND

    going out of new jersey is the best thing rc could of done its great not to have to fly and the ship is awesome wish more ships could go out of their maybe the oasis of the seas maybe can not wait to go on it we are already booked for oct of 2010 ROYAL CARIBBEAN IS THE BEST CRUISE LINE GOING I TELL EVERYONE THAT THANKS RC

  • Aaron

    to Betty Diamond, we also booked a cruise for OCT 2010!!! its a 11 day cruise, maybe i will see you on the ship!!! love RCCL and Bayonne port!

  • Gene

    Did RCCL consider making bus arrangements like they do with air travel for those located reasonably close to their cruise port? We are especially interested in Port Liberty in the north east and would like to travel to Port Liberty without having to go through all the difficulty of air travel. Please advise if RCCL is considering this type of travel arrangement. Thank you for listening.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your question, Gene. We currently do offer these types of programs in certain ports. For Cape Liberty Cruise Port we offer bus service from select cities. The cost is $100 per person and reservations and more information can be found at or by calling 1-800-310-9900.

  • Gene Judge


    Thank you for your response. After thoroughly researching the information provided, we learned that the bus service you described is very limited in scope. There is no service to western New York, which includes Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and the surrounding areas. Due to this limited access, we are forced to use travel agents that contract their own bus service. Because of that situation, we, as loyal diamond members of RCCL are being forced to cruise with your competition.

    We had 40 people travel to Port Liberty last year to cruise on Explorer. We believe there would be enough interest in western New York for RCCL to set up some sort of travel arrangement via bus that would service this wide area of potential customers. Comments please!

    Thank you,


  • Gene Judge

    Dear Adam,

    In light of all the trouble related to air travel and the large number of ports that RCCL is currently using as debarkation points, I would like to hear your comments about RCCL offering land/sea opportunities for more regions of the country. When almost all cruises cruised out of Miami, land travel was impractical for many regions of the nation. As your ports become more accessible by bus, wouldn’t it make sense for RCCL to offer this type of arrangements for people that wish to use your cruise line but don’t want the inconvenience of air travel? Comments please. Thank you in advance of your response.


  • Elizabeth

    How about an excursion at the port to the Statue of Liberty??? We will be arriving hours before the cruise and would pay for the direct shuttle ride to the New Jersey boat ride to Ellis Island.

    • Adam

      Elizabeth, thank you for your suggestion to have a Shore & Land Excursion to the Statue of Liberty. We will pass it on to the appropriate department.

  • cristina

    i love royal caribbean im been in these ships 14 times a lot of them with explorer of the seas i wish they will have another ship like freedom of the seas or liberty of the seas i like explorer but i will like to go with these other ship from bayone .