We were fortunate enough to receive an invitation (Kevin representing APL and I, by default, since I'm his wife :P) from the Sandy Hook Pilots to their Annual Harbor Inspection Dinner Cruise on board Pilot Boat New York. The Harbor Inspection Dinner Cruise is an annual event organized by the Sandy Hook Pilots and it's a much looked forward to event among the people in the maritime industry. Since it's our first time attending this cruise, we really didn't know what to expect. We soon found out that most of the guest were pretty influential people in the maritime industry and have been in this business since forever (we were probably the youngest people on board :P). So, it was quite an honor to be invited for such an event.We arrived at the Bayonne Passenger Terminal at around 4:30pm. Boarding starts at 4pm and they plan to set sail at 5pm. The security was rather tight. We had to show the security people our IDs and they had to copy down all our information and stuff before letting us into the terminal. This is because officially, you would need a TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Credential) card before you are allowed inside the port. Since it was a special event, they made an exception (well, Kevin has a TWIC card, so no problems there) and allowed non TWIC card holders (other wives and myself! :P) to enter with just their regular IDs.
While waiting for all the guest to arrive, we helped ourselves to some pre dinner drinks and appetizers on the top deck. There was a rather wide selection of appetizers, from a buffet spread of cold cuts, cheese and breads to a seafood booth with extra large shrimp, clams and other seafood. There were also waiters walking around with trays of hor dourves (crab cakes, rice balls, canapes, meatballs...etc). Yummy stuff! The open bars were also stocked with top shelf liquors. Looks like they are not holding out on anything, nothing but the best :P
We were also told that we have an all access pass to anywhere on the boat. In fact, they encouraged us to explore and walk around. So, we did just that! Kevin took this picture of me from the pilot house. As you can see, we were still docked at that time.
We walked all over the boat, from the pilot house to the lowest deck, from the bow, all the way back to the stern. Here's Kevin checking out one of the rescue boats :P
The first time we went up to the pilot house, it was totally empty. When we realized that they have already pulled away from the dock, we headed up to the pilot house again. This time, we got to see all the radar and other equipment all fired up and also got to watch the crew doing their thing.
Unlike most other commercial harbor cruises, this particular cruise was a little bit different. Most of the tourist/commercial harbor dinner cruises would take you up and down the Hudson and East River, focusing mainly on the NYC skyline, Statue of Liberty and the bridges. This cruise took us around the various container terminals around the New York Harbor first and then it ended with the usual skyline/statue route. It was pretty interesting to see the terminals from a different angle, from the water. We managed to sail by Global, APM, PNCT and Maher Terminals. We also saw NYCT from a distance. Here is a picture of us sailing down Newark Bay, with PNCT Terminal on the right and Maher Terminal on the left.
By then, dinner was being served. So, we headed down below deck with the rest of the guest to the buffet line. Look at all the food! Fillet Mignon, Lamb Chops, Veal, Chicken, Fried Calamari...just to name a few. Yummy! :D
It was such a lovely evening to have dinner out in the open deck. With the beautiful sunset and cool breeze blowing, life couldn't get any better =) Check out the sun setting behind the Bayonne Bridge, with the NYCT Terminal in the background. The sunset was indeed amazing that day.
It started to get more and more chilly as the sun was setting. We decided to head down to the lounge in the lower deck to get some dessert and coffee. There were all kinds of desserts, from cannolis, cookies, cream puffs, danish pastries to brownies and tartlets. However, this cake was the main centerpiece. Check out the highlight of the night. This beautiful cake was made by Carlos, the Cake Boss himself! I was so excited when I found out about the cake. I am a super huge fan of the TV show "Cake Boss" and I have always wanted to try one of his cakes. At last, I had the opportunity to do so. It was a layer of yellow cake and a layer of chocolate cake, with chocolate frosting in the middle. What did it taste like? Well, truthfully...I was pretty disappointed. It was way too sweet and it really wasn't all that good. Oh well, at least it looked nice!
After our dessert, we headed back up to the top deck. I was glad that we did cause we could see that we were already on our way towards Manhattan. We could see the Manhattan skyline in the distance. If you look closely, you can see Lady Liberty on the far left, Jersey City, Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge on the far right.
There were also dancing and live music on the top deck. Since dancing is not really our thing, so we chose to just sit back, relax and just take in the beautiful lights and sights of Lower Manhattan. We took this picture while going up the East River. Part of the Financial District, Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building in the background. I can never get tired of the beautiful NYC skyline, no matter how many times I look at it. It's just so beautiful.
It was almost 9:30pm when we arrived back at the Bayonne Passenger Terminal. We had an awesome time on the cruise. The beautiful views, yummy food and most of all, getting the opportunity to meet some very interesting people. What a way to spend such a lovely evening. Now, let's keep our fingers crossed that they invite us again next year!!! :D