November 10, 2011 | By Collette Peck
Transatlantic cruise crossings harken back to the classic days of travel before there were dozens of daily transatlantic flights. I’ve flown to Europe enough times to seriously consider sailing – at least one way – to avoid that whole hazy airplane time travel thing. Also, there’s no stopping and starting for islands or shore excursions. You stay aboard and find all the nooks and crannies of these fabulous ships! Time to Relax!
It’s best to cross the North Atlantic on a real ocean liner and not just any old cruise ship. Why? Because the weather and seas can prove to be unkind and unpredictable at times. A ship with a purpose-designed hull can withstand the pressures of harsh sea and weather conditions. Almost all cruise ships built today have much thinner hull plating than a real ocean liner like Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, new in 2004. It has the power and speed required to cross the Atlantic Ocean in comfort.
There are plenty of distractions during a transatlantic cruise. Lectures by renowned authors, leading personalities, and celebrities of stage and screen or maritime history, (a favorite subject on crossings), cooking demonstrations and social events take place daily. Take time to indulge yourself, too! Read a good book from the ship’s library, or have a massage or body treatment in the spa. Take time at sea to enjoy the pace of a real ocean crossing in style.
The regularly scheduled crossings with Queen Mary 2 depart from Southampton. Some cruise ships also offer a transatlantic cruise twice each year, when repositioning between winter in the Caribbean and summer in Europe (from Southampton, and European ports such as Barcelona). Crossings are typically in April and May (eastbound) and October (westbound). However, they usually take the southern (warmer) route – from embarkation ports such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, San Juan, Antigua and Barbados to European ports like Barcelona, Rome (Civitavecchia), Athens, and more.
When to Go
The best time to go is between April and December, especially onboard ocean liner Queen Mary 2. On early and late crossings the weather can be more unpredictable. It can be foggy in the spring and autumn. Note that on the southern (repositioning) itineraries, the hurricane season is from June to November.
How Long to Go For
Queen Mary 2’s crossing takes a serene seven days. Repositioning cruises, taking the southern route, take longer – typically between 12 to 16 days.