Breaking Away In New York City

Central Park, Bow Bridge
A stroll through Central Park in January. Photo was taken Saturday from Bow Bridge. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

The Big Apple is the homeport for the new Norwegian Breakaway, which debuts in May. I spent some time exploring the city this weekend with my 16-year-old son to discover what avid cruisers might enjoy before or after their New York City cruises.

Our weekend here has been exhilarating, and thanks to a teacher’s workday on Monday, we have one more day to enjoy before flying back to Asheville, North Carolina.

As anyone who has ever been to the Big Apple knows, there’s so much going on here that a weekend is hardly enough. We tried to see as much as we could, and I was happy that Alex appreciated all that we were able to do. He posted on Facebook that he had “so much fun” at Times Square on Saturday. I did too.

And Times Square was only a small part of what we experienced yesterday. We also visited Rockefeller Center, the FAO Schwarz toy store, the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, Columbus Circle, the Metropolitan Museum, Central Park, and the USS Intrepid (thanks to our friends at Intercruises and NYCEDC).

Being in New York also makes me proud to be an American. I don’t mean that I am proud of our politics but rather I am proud to be part of the larger collective of good folks who make up this nation. Perhaps more than any other city in the United States, New York demonstrates our ability to bring together diverse cultures and not just get along but also enjoy, respect and appreciate one another. Race and culture seem to be celebrated here, instead of forming barriers.

We heard more than a dozen languages, saw many shades of skin, walked past those who appeared wealthy and those who were definitely in despair. We witnessed a lot of generosity, coins and dollar bills being handed to the homeless and and tips deposited in appreciation of the street entertainers.

New York is big, bustling and busy. Despite the rush, the Big Apple is also a convivial city. It’s common for clerks and shopkeepers to initiate conversation. And while New Yorkers have a reputation for being brusque, they’ll engage if you take the time to talk to them.

In May, I’ll return for the inaugural ceremonies of Norwegian Breakaway, which may just be the most highly anticipated ship of the year. She certainly has some great features, including expansive fitness facilities and classes. See Breaking Away: Easy To Stay Fit On Norwegian Breakaway.

Of course, one of Norwegian Breakaway’s best features may just be the city that she calls home: To avid cruisers sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest vessel beginning this spring, Welcome to New York.

Hotel Tip: We paid $165 per night at Residence Inn Manhattan/Times Square. Our room had two beds and a kitchen, a large room by Manhattan standards. We were a five-minute walk from the center of Times Square. Breakfast was included and was quite good, with plenty of space to sit. Internet, included at no charge, worked well, and the hotel features a fitness room and self-service laundry. I recommend the hotel as a good base for exploring New York City.

Traveling With Teens?  Check out NYC & Company’s New York City For Teens.

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