Once a grand ocean voyage, Trans-Atlantic cruises were a luxury enjoyed only by a few. Stylish passengers spent their days lounging on deck, and then dined, danced and toasted with champagne while speeding between America and Europe. These pleasures still exist today for those who value the shipboard experience and appreciate traveling in style and comfort. And of course, there is always the romantic allure of simply making a legendary journey. Once the heart of daily commerce across the Atlantic, the Trans-Atlantic crossing has evolved from a business opportunity into the golden age of cruising from the early 20th century, and now into a mainstream treat for today's intrepid cruisers.
What can I do on a Trans-Atlantic cruise?
Because Trans-Atlantic cruises make few if any ports of call, the focus of the trip is the lifestyle on board the vessel. In answer to their guests' desire for activity many cruise lines take advantage of the opportunity to offer special interest cruises such as Big Band music, Swing dance or wine and culinary themes. Such a cruise might be hosted by a well-known chef, author or entertainer for additional appeal. Art classes, computer learning and other educational programs are generally provided, and the social environment on the ship will be organized to provide guests with plenty of opportunities to interact with one another. The extra time to relax is also conducive to taking full advantage of the shipboard spa. Of course, as Trans-Atlantic crossing always has been, and still is, the perfect vacation for catching up on your reading.
Where does a Trans-Atlantic cruise go?
The model Trans-Atlantic crossing is characterized by four or five consecutive days at sea. Most newer, and longer versions of the itinerary will usually offer visits to places such as Bermuda, the Azores or the Canary Islands. Some Caribbean islands or European cities may also be included near the beginning or the end of the itinerary. But the unique character of the traditional Trans-Atlantic cruise makes these ports short diversions from the main event: the transit across the vast expanse of the Atlantic.
When can I go on a Trans-Atlantic cruise?
True to its 165-year-old tradition, Cunard Line offers more regular Trans-Atlantic sailings than any other cruise line, and these classic departures can be found at some point during every month throughout the year, customarily for 6 nights between New York City and Southampton, England.
However, Trans-Atlantic cruises for most cruise lines are little more than a seasonal repositioning between the Caribbean and Europe. Usually at the end of April or in early May, ships ending their winter season in the Caribbean make an eastbound crossing to begin a series of cruises somewhere in Europe for the summer. Then in September or October, at the end of the summer Europe season, the ship returns westbound to the warm weather of the Caribbean where it will spend the winter. Look toward Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and more for 10-16 night itineraries.
How do I get there?
Eastbound Trans-Atlantic crossings frequently depart from New York, Boston, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and a few Caribbean ports. Westbound ships often sail from Southampton or Dover, England, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome and other major European port cities. And there are a handful of different routes the ship can take, for example a southern journey from Europe to the Caribbean or South America, a northern route along the coastline of Canada and the northeastern US or the quicker, shorter route direct from point to point without any ports of call.