I read recently that most people are not interested in hearing about other people’s vacations! Therefore, the intent of Meet You in the Morning is to show how two normal middle class, empty-nester Americans travel, and how you can do it too! I also share our expenses so you have an idea of the cost of travel.
Today, I give up valuable recreational reading time to write. Writing does not come easily to me and each post takes a ridiculous amount of time and I often wonder why I do it. I always appreciate your comments because it helps knowing someone is reading! Thanks!
On Christmas Day we flew from Portland, Oregon (PDX) to New York City (JFK) on a non-stop flight. It was a mostly full flight, but I chose a window seat and my husband chose an aisle seat and we appreciated that the middle seat was vacant!
Our Delta Airlines flight arrived on time, offered free gate check for baggage, comfortable leg room, beverage service and a complimentary snack of either a fruit and cheese plate, vegetable wrap, or pastrami sandwich.
Airline Mileage Points: According to travel hackers, Delta Miles are not favorable unless one lives in a Delta hub and frequently flies with them. I do not have a Delta Airlines mileage account, therefore I chose to have whatever miles earned be deposited to our newly opened Virgin Atlantic mileage accounts because Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Hopefully the miles won’t be wasted and I will have the opportunity to use these points in the future. Then I would be able to transfer points I earn from my Chase Ultimate Rewards Visa card. (Update: Just this week I received an email from “Virgin Atlantic Flying Club” showing a balance of 1216 miles in the account.)
Arriving at JFK and getting to Manhattan: The walk from the gate to baggage claim and public transportation took nearly as long as the entire journey into Manhattan Financial District (which at 10:00 pm on a holiday took less than an hour.) The least expensive option to Manhattan is the JFK SkyTrain to Howard Beach and transferring to a subway line. The SkyTrain cost $5. We used a credit card at a ticket machine to purchase a Metro card for $1 and $7.50 to cover the Sky Train and a subway ticket for one passenger. The Metro card can be shared by up to 4 passengers so we used the same ticket machine to load the Metro card with additional funds for the second passenger as well as some funds to use on the Subway around Manhattan.
Returning to JFK the same way, we loaded only the necessary funds on the Metro card to end up with a zero balance.
Accommodations: At one point I had 5 different refundable hotel reservations on Booking.com and TravelZoo.com. I finally decided on the Club Quarters Hotel – World Trade Center. I was happy with the choice. It was a convenient location and we saved money by taking advantage of the complimentary coffee, drinks, sodas, snacks, and fresh fruit. We also took advantage of the free self service laundry!
Food: We really spent very little on food. Arriving late our first night we were happy with a slice of pizza each. Departing at noon for the cruise we didn’t eat knowing the Welcome Buffet was awaiting!
Attractions: The best thing I did was pre-book timed entry tickets for the 9/11 Memorial Museum! We were able to bypass very long lines. I also pre-booked a 90 minute walking tour from the 9/11 Tribute Museum with volunteer tour guides who were personally impacted by the events of 9/11.
I’m so glad we did both! 9/11 is one of those days that is seared into our memories. We scheduled the walking tour for 11:00am and the memorial museum for 4:00pm in order to give our feet a rest. We spent nearly 3 hours in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
We had two wonderfully dry, sunny, albeit, cold and sometimes windy days. We did a lot of walking. I was surprised by the huge crowds and it was often difficult to find a place to sit and rest one’s feet. For example, one Times Square Starbucks didn’t even have any seating!
Day One: Walking Lower Manhattan, 9/11 museums, the Oculus, St. Paul’s and Trinity Churches, Wall Street, Federal Building, NYSE, Fraunces Tavern, Battery Park, and the Bull.
Day Two: We rode the Subway Uptown to Columbus Circle, and walked through Central Park and down 5th Avenue, seeing Trump Tower, several churches, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square.
We returned to the hotel neighborhood for a late lunch and a rest before going out to explore some more. We meandered from Liberty Park through pedestrian bridges to shopping malls and hotel lobbies along the Hudson River and then over to City Hall. We joined the throngs of tourists walking the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River. We walked out to the first pier and back.
Day Three: Post Cruise we had some free time before we needed to return to JFK. We visited the newly opened Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the Meatpacking District at 61 9th Avenue.
The Cost of Travel in New York
Hotel for 3 nights: $550.12 ($183.37 per night)
9/11 Memorial Museum Admission: $48 ($24 each)
9/11 Tribute Museum Guided Walking Tour and Gallery Admission: $74.20 ($37.10 each)
Total: $754.95 (corrected total)
The Cost of Travel – The 9-night Cruise
Lyft to/from the Port: $28.18 and $11.60 = $39.78
Cruise and insurance: $2866.63
Onboard Cruise Account: $224.41 (gratuities, $19.95 for laundry, $5.46 for Starbucks coffee, and a surprise – a $62 credit. I don’t know why or how and I didn’t ask for fear of losing it!)
The Everglades Gator Land Excursion: $155
I booked the cruise through the United Airlines portal – United Cruises. They gave us a few perks, including a meal at a specialty restaurant and we chose the French Restaurant, Le Bistro, chocolate covered strawberries, 9 1-liter bottles of water, and a bottle of wine (which we wish we could’ve swapped for something else since we’re not wine drinkers. We gave it to our room steward, who also doesn’t drink, but said she could swap with a colleague for Coco-Cola! They may have been responsible for the above-mentioned $62 shipboard credit.
Studies have proven that travel makes you happier, and healthier – both physically and mentally. After overeating on the cruise I have my doubts about the healthier bit. But it is amazing how a bit of sun and some tan lines can lift my spirits and make me feel better!
The next few posts will have lots of photos for those of you who are interested.