A transatlantic cruise, like the name suggests, is a cruise that crosses the Atlantic Ocean either eastbound or westbound. It is synonymous with a repositioning cruise and in these cases, the cruise line is moving a ship from the United States to Europe, or vice-versa. Transatlantic cruises, however, always invoke a more glamorous image… long, leisurely voyages between the Old World and the New World, some as short as 10 nights and others over two weeks long!
In thinking about ships making the crossing between Europe and America it’s hard not to think about ancestors that made the same voyage generations ago, albeit significantly different conditions. Back then the voyage would take anywhere from four to six weeks under the most horrific conditions. Many passengers could only afford steerage accommodations, those large sleeping compartments holding as many as 300 or more persons each! Fast forward to the “golden era of cruising”, somewhere between the 1920’s and early‘50’s, when travelers boarded elegant ships to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. It was a very lovely way to travel…for movie stars and the wealthy! Today, many ships cross the Atlantic in the spring and fall, and thank goodness, you don’t have to be affluent to afford such a cruise. As a matter of fact, they offer excellent value for the cost!
The experience of a transatlantic cruise is one of solitude and relaxation. You can look forward to unhurried, restful days in which you gaze out onto the horizon and see nothing but the infinite sapphire ocean surrounding you. Lounge the day away with a good book while soaking up the sun and breathing in the fresh sea air. Step out into the cool blackness of night to be covered in a blanket of twinkling stars. You can’t help but feel at peace with the world, yet at the same time, marvel at its grandness.
Time is abundant but there are many activities to fill your days. The cruise lines provide wonderful enrichment programs that will energize your mind, activate your body and spark your spirit! Guest lecturers may be authors, pro sport personalities, scientists, naturalists, and destination experts. Spending time in the fitness center will keep you in shape when facing multiple sea days. Or try a meditation or yoga classes and learn how to attain that state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility! Gain new skills onboard; maybe it’s dancing, a new language, or how to mix a martini. Express your creativity by scrapbooking, painting, or journal writing.
Although the focus of a transatlantic cruise is the crossing itself and not so much the ports of call, most will make at least a few stops. Some Caribbean islands or European cities may be included near the beginning or the end of the itinerary. It’s a chance to visit cities not often seen on traditional European cruises such as Gibraltar, Lisbon, Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca. Some ports are more exotic. For example, the Canary Islands, coined “Europe’s Hawaii, a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa. Or the Azores, nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Sophisticated travelers have long appreciated the distinctive experience of a transatlantic cruise; peaceful sea days, onboard enrichment activities, luxurious spa treatments, and gourmet dining. When the shipboard experience is the reason you cruise, the time honored tradition of a transatlantic crossing may be exactly what you are looking for.