Bravo to New London

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#1
Somerville, Mass.
556 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
My parents are on the Explorer of the Seas, which made its Connecticut debut this morning in New London in place of the original planned Newport stop. I drove down from Boston to pick them up and drive to Newport for the day.

There were several volunteers at the gate and outside on the main roads helping guide traffic and giving directions to people. Very helpful and pleasant. I understand that lots of people were able to rent cars from Enterprise and get to their destinations; we ran into other people from their cruise at the Breakers that day. Lots of people from the town were lined up to view the ship, the largest to ever dock in Ct.

After we dropped my parents off in the afternoon, we stopped off at Mystic to get coffee. The craft fair right off the highway by Mystic Aquarium had a giant Welcome Royal Caribbean Passengers banner (doesn't cost them anything, but it's still nice, I guess) and the arrival of EOS was all over the local news.

I do have to say that Newport was absolutely jammed with tourists AND sailboats, this being a holiday weekend with perfect weather, and I shudder to think what it would have been like with the Explorer in the harbor pumping all 3,000 people into the streets. This is no consolation to people who booked the trip hoping to see Newport, an incomparable town in the area, but it may have made things slightly better for the people who made it there on their own initiative from the ship and for people not on the cruise.

Anyway, New London has a lovely natural setting, Mystic is quite close and worth visiting, Newport is an hour's drive away, and there are the casinos. I think it's fine for a destination and I hope people who are disappointed in the switch can take some solace in that.

One comment: I can't say I saw much of a draw in New London itself, near the harbor, and it's instructive that we went to Mystic for coffee instead of New London. The area around the dock is fairly desolate, although it didn't feel unsafe. Perhaps someone who knows the town itself can speak to its attractions.
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#2
CT
1,272 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
I live in the area, and we we were a few of hundreds who visted New London on Saturday to see the Explorer of the Seas. CT has been trying for several years to attract a large cruise ship to New London. They did a great job welcoming everyone to our state. It was a really big deal for Southeastern CT's tourism and economy.

We went to Fort Trumbull to watch the ship depart. Fort Trumbull is a wonderful place to visit. It's a Revoluntionary war fort (Site of the battle of New London and Groton). The grounds are right on the river with views of the downtown area and the marinas and lighthouse at the mouth of the river in Long Island Sound. There is also a fishing pier. (Actually there are 2, but the Coast Guard training tall ship the Bark Eagle is docked at one). Entrance to the park and grounds are free. There is a $5 fee if you want to go inside the fort building and look around. Several hundred people congregated there on Saturday morning, and Saturday evening to watch the ship arrive and depart.

Downtown New London has several restaurants (many are know for local seafood and lobster). There are some shops, but not as many as you would find in Mystic. Other attractions in the area that would require transportation are Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Village Shoppes, Mystic Seaport. Downtown Mystic also is home to many nice restaurants and shops.
The Indian Casinos (Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods) are close by they offer restuarants, clubs, shows, shopping, and and the Pequot Indian Museum in addition to gambling. The Eugene ONeill playhouse is near by. USS Nautilus (first US Nuclear powered submarine ever built). Deep sea fishing trips are available. The US Coast Guard is nearby. There is a lot to do in southeastern CT, and it's really beautiful in the fall.

CT is spectacular in October when the leaves start to change.
#3
CT, USA
5 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I'm happy to hear you liked New London. Almost all of the feedback from passengers is very positive! New London has far more to offer than what you saw at the pier. The pier, as in most ports, is a commerical facility in an industrial area, but this one has been renovated and is in very clean, excellent condition. Also, it is a pier, and far more convenient than being tendered into the pier like in Newport. The CT Cruise Ship Task Force has set up FREE shuttle buses than run continuously from the pier to the Welcoming Center downtown at the waterfornt train station. From here, you will find info on the area, shops, restaurants, and historical sites all within walking distance, and tranportion to the rest of the area including Mystic and the casinos
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#4
Somerville, Mass.
556 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Thank you for the follow-up... I would edit out my paragraph about New London if I could, now that knowledgable people have replied! I will reiterate that all I saw was the road from the highway and the parking lot at the pier, and everything was well-organized.
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Noordam, Jan. 1998Zaandam, Dec. 2002Millennium, Nov. 2003Constellation, Nov. 2005
Serenade of the Seas, Nov. 2008
Liberty of the Seas, Nov. 2009Eurodam, Jun. 2010
Solstice, Nov. 2010
Summit, Aug. 2012 Oasis of the Seas, Feb. 2013 Reflection, Nov. 2016