10 Nov 2023
A transatlantic cruise is the truly sophisticated and relaxing way to travel between Europe and America. This is the ideal kind of cruise for people who love lazy days at sea, and aren't looking for daily port calls and frequent shore excursions. It's an exciting, exhilarating adventure that everyone should experience once in a lifetime.
The majority of transatlantic sailings are of the type known as repositioning cruises, when cruise lines move their ships between winter in the Caribbean and summer in the Mediterranean or Baltic. These crossings usually spend 6-8 days at sea, plus calls at various ports, which extend the cruise length to two weeks or more. Spring and autumn are the peak times for repositioning cruises.
The other type of cruise is by ocean liner, such as the Queen Mary 2, which makes regular return trips, usually between Southampton and New York, often with no port calls at all. Many people recommend this mode of crossing, not just because of the elegance of the accommodation and the romance of the occasion, but because the liners are built to withstand the heavy seas of the Atlantic far more robustly than the cruise ships, so the crossing is much more comfortable. These crossings take place all year round, but are better in the warmer months, to ensure sunnier days and calmer seas.
There are a number of possible routes that repositioning cruises can take, depending on their destination. A ship heading to or from the Baltic is likely to take the northern route, perhaps calling at Shetland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Newfoundland before arriving at New York. The southern route will be between the Mediterranean and more southerly US ports, such as Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
Among the most frequent and popular port calls on transatlantic cruises are charming Ponta Delgada in the Azores, and Funchal in beautiful, mountainous Madeira. The Azores are known for their rugged volcanic beauty and rich, prolific flora and fauna, and you could choose to walk the rim of a volcanic crater, visit a tea plantation, or join a whale-watching expedition on your shore excursion. Funchal offers a whole array of possibilities, including a cable-car ride in the mountains, exploring coastal fishing villages, or browsing city centre markets. Most ships also stop at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canaries, dominated by mighty mountain ranges, with the chance to go on a mountaineering expedition, visit a banana plantation, or play a round of golf on one of the fabulous and scenic golf courses.
A transatlantic cruise is a chance to recreate the glamour and romance of the glory days of ocean crossings, before the advent of air travel. There are few more thrilling adventures than travelling across this most majestic of oceans, watching the mighty swell of the waves, and knowing you're as far from land as it's possible to be. No wonder it's one of the most sought-after travel experiences of all.