Crossing the Atlantic by ship is an experience travelers should enjoy at least once in their lifetimes. We’ve done it several times. It never gets old. Here are six things we love about it.
Most cruise lines don’t specifically offer transatlantic cruises. Cunard is the exception. For most of the year they cross the Atlantic once a week. It’s a seven day voyage. You can get the experience from other cruise lines. These might be marketed as repositioning cruises, the movement of the ship from the Mediterranean market to the Caribbean market. Several lines offer world cruises at the start of the year. These voyages might be 100+ days, but you can purchase segments. An Atlantic crossing should be one of the choices offered.
Our experience has been almost exclusively on Cunard, sailing about the Queen Mary 2 or Queen Victoria. These examples relate to those experiences.
- The smoothness of the journey. Many people shy away from sailing on the open seas. They feel the weather will get rough. I tell friends “Ships have come a long way from the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.” You can have surprisingly smooth transatlantic crossings. Modern ships have stabilizers and innovative population systems. This applies to vessels designed as ships first, not floating hotels. If your ship is doing a world cruise, chances are it’s a real ship.
- The ship is your destination. There aren’t any port stops! Your only ones are at departure and arrival. Experienced travelers are aware shipboard activities are significantly reduced while the ship is in port. The casino is closed. Shops too. Usually no live shows in the theater. All this is happening nonstop when your ship is crossing the Atlantic or seven nights.
- The people you meet. This might be unique to Cunard. When crossing the Atlantic, Americans are not the dominant country of origin among passengers. The British usually top the list. Americans come second. There are likely another 25 nationalities represented. We enjoy the transatlantic portion of the world cruise for different reasons. Many of the passengers are repeat customers! They take it every year! It’s not uncommon to meet people on their 25th world cruise! We make lifelong friends on every voyage.
- Abundant formal nights. We like dressing up. The rules have relaxed over the decades. Long ago, it was understood every night the ship wasn’t in port, the evening dress code was black tie formal wear. Today, a seven night crossing with five “at sea” nights includes three black tie evenings. Dark suits are acceptable.
- 25 hour days. It’s preferable to sail East to West. Southampton to New York. Why? Because there’s a five hour time difference working in your favor. You get five 25 hour days! Is that cool? On five of your seven evenings, signs and TV messages remind you to set your clocks and watches back an hour before turning in. Getting those extra five hours is really refreshing.
- The drama of New York Harbor. It’s dramatic. You see the New York skyline. You see the Statue of Liberty. You sail below the Verrazano Bridge. Summer sailings are best if you are sailing out of New York harbor because it gets dark later. When sailing into New York from Southampton, you want to be out on deck early.
There are many reasons why a transatlantic crossing is memorable.