While the jet age has made many people forget about the option of long distance sea travel, I have had the wonderful opportunity to cross the Atlantic four times by ship. Here are 10 reasons I love and recommend this unique experience:
10. Value for money – The spring and fall transatlantic repositioning cruises offer exceptional value, as low as $499 for a two-week trip. Remember, this includes all food, room, entertainment plus the passage across the ocean. Moreover, children often go free (or at a reduced price) and have their own professionally supervised activities.
9. No jet lag – When traveling by ship, clocks are usually changed by only one hour every two days, allowing your system to acclimate gently to a new time zone without the shock of a long-haul flight.
8. No cooking and no cleaning for two weeks! Moreover, no decision fatigue even thinking about these things!
7. Cool ports of call – When will you otherwise visit places like the Azores, Madeira, Tenerife, Gibraltar or St. Maarten?
6. All kinds of fun stuff – swimming pools, whirlpools, sauna, fitness center, rock climbing, table tennis, mini golf, trivia games, dance lessons, cooking lessons, card rooms, towel animals, shuffleboard, movies under the stars and even ice skating!
5. The food – everything from gourmet dining to casual food to room service breakfast (all included in your fare!).
4. Outstanding service – a great chance to meet and be served by people from all over the world. Whether you travel by cruise ship, ocean liner or even freighter, the professional staff on board looks after your every need.
3. Live music and Broadway-style shows – singers, dancers, magicians, comics, acrobats, gymnasts and even ice skaters. In addition, live musicians playing in various venues around the ship. I personally enjoy the piano bar found on many cruise ships.
2. The romance of the sea itself – We have seen flying fish, double rainbows, spouting whales, hundreds of dolphins, giant ocean sunfish, waterspouts, beautiful blue water, inky night skies and even a solar eclipse! These kind of experiences are missed when rushing through airports.
1. Finally, sea travel provides one of those rare times we get as adults to just simply “be” in a relaxed, unhurried atmosphere. The days at sea are strangely empty, yet strangely full. As our world become more hectic and stressful each year, this kind of downtime is healthy, therapeutic and necessary.
1. “I’ll get seasick” – My wife is very susceptible to seasickness and has now completed four sea crossings. There are medicines available to help with this, and frankly, we have never experienced rough weather, even though three times we sailed during the fall hurricane season.
2. “We can’t afford the cost” – Since the price includes not only your transportation from Europe to America, but also food, lodging, entertainment and activities, the repositioning cruises can cost as little as $50 per day, an incredible value. And remember, this experience is much different from a cramped airline seat.
3. “I can’t afford the time” – Can you afford not to? Read reason number 1 again. We all need to create space away from the busy pace of life. Yes, this even means taking a rest from the internet, too!
4. “Aren’t there a lot of hidden extra costs?” – Yes, you will pay tips to the staff, but they will be working very hard to serve you the entire time (about $12 per day). However, if you avoid spending money on bar drinks, the casino, and extra shore excursions there really are no hidden costs.
The overall best values are the spring eastbound repositioning trips to Europe and the fall westbound return journeys to the USA. For those unable to take time off during these shoulder seasons, there are also reasonably priced one-week crossings on the Queen Mary 2 offered year round.
I sincerely hope you will consider this travel option in the future, and if you go, I wish you fair winds, calm seas, blue skies, and joy in the journey.