The Queen Mary 2
christened the new cruise ship terminal in Red Hook last week, drawing
plenty of oohs and ahhs from onlookers, lots of platitude-filled speeches
from politicians and one unanswered question from skeptics, “What’s
in it for Brooklyn?”
More than 2,000 luxury
cruisers spewed forth from of the world’s largest passenger liner
on Saturday into the Red Hook sun and then promptly got on buses to Manhattan
or the airport.
“This is a very
nice terminal, but Brooklyn means nothing to me,” said Hoanes Koutouduian,
a visitor from Portugal. “I’ll be staying in Manhattan for the
food, drinks, and the jazz.”
Although the city spent $56 million to build the new cruise ship terminal at Red Hook’s Pier 12, very little has been spent on keeping passengers like Koutouduian in Brooklyn.
Cunard, which operates the 23-story boat, did little to encourage the Queen’s passengers to remain in Kings. The company’s Web site, for example, refers to its new port of call as “New York, New York.”
“See the bright lights of the Big Apple,” it reads. “Some come just for the shopping: there’s Bloomingdale’s on Lex, Tiffany’s on Fifth, Barneys and the unique boutiques along Madison. Or head downtown and explore the trendy shops of SoHo.”
Cunard did send a full bus of Queen Mary 2 crew members to the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls to pick up life’s essentials after more than a month at sea. One of the customers was, surprisingly, Captain Bernard Warner’s wife.
“Well, we sail out in just a few hours, so she headed to the nearest mall,” he said. “But I do imagine on a future visit that she will get into Manhattan. She wants to shop on Fifth Avenue.”
Borough President Markowitz, a strong supporter of the new cruise terminal, admitted that the Queen’s maiden voyage was no crown jewel — but said Brooklyn would soon reap what the city had sown.
“So many tourism opportunities will be opened up by this,” he said. “Small tour operators will start pitching Brooklyn packages to Cunard and, when there are more hotels in Brooklyn, there will be cruise packages that will attract people to stay here before and after their voyage.”
Markowitz has set up a kiosk at the cruise terminal that will be manned by volunteers who will promote Brooklyn institutions rather than merely handing tourists a map of Manhattan and a bus ticket.
One such a map, printed by the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, was available, but few people took it, and even fewer followed it to such Red Hook treasures as 360, Hope & Anchor, and LeNell’s.
“This is a joke,” said Tonya “Lenell” Smothers, owner of the neighborhood’s popular boubon-filled liquor store, “Who gets off a boat and goes to general contractor or a Chinese restaurant with bullet-proof glass?”
But Brooklyn Brewery owner Steve Hindy was certainly pleased: His company had just gotten “a rather large order” for his legendary lager, which will soon be served on ship, spreading the “Brooklyn” name across the seven seas.
— with Susan Cosier