Transatlantic is Completely Different
The one thing you will realize when you take your first Transatlantic Voyage or cruise is that it is completely different from anything you have experienced before. Many people just do not get it and repeatedly say they will never cross the pond on a ship! Crossing the Atlantic on a Cruise ship, or Liner, is truly a unique and amazing experience with its own character and charm. Contrary to the belief that there is nothing to do but eat and drink, nothing could be further from the truth. Compared with a traditional cruise vacation, a transatlantic crossing can be whatever you want it to be. Many people use it a s a great way to relax and unwind and travel between the US and Europe (or vice versa) in a civilized manner. No airport lounges and flights to contend with. Sheer Bliss.
I have made a number of transatlantic crossings but still remember the anticipation of my first crossing. Not sure what to expect and worried about being bored, it was the exact opposite. Loved it so much, we have been again and again. So to help you in your planning here are some of my top tips. There are lots of cruises leaving from NYC and this a also a good place to spend a few days on a pre-cruise vacation.
1. Chose the Type of Crossing You Want to make
The choice is yours. A re-positioning cruise is where the cruise companies move their cruise ships around at the start or end of a season in a particular region. Examples of this are from Europe last in the year back to the US and Caribbean and the same in reverse at the beginning of the year. There are always some great bargains to be had as the lines try to fill their ships.
The second option is a themed cruise taking a particular route accord the atlantic taking in various ports along the way. A good example of this is Seabourn‘s “Route of the Vikings” which traces the routes taken in ancient times.
The third option is to take the Cunard Queen Mary 2 on one of its scheduled transatlantic voyages from New York. Built to cross the Atlantic Ocean is style and comfort the Queen Mary 2 is the world’s only Liner and and a true icon of luxury at sea. This is my preferred choice. there are many
2. Be prepared for the experience.
With a minimum of seven or more consecutive days at sea there is something for everyone to do. From Dancing Lessons to Lectures, Wine tasting to Cookery demonstrations – the list is endless. And for those who just want to chill out and read a book (or kindle) there are plenty of public areas to settle down and relax. If the weather is kind then there is even the opportunity to catch some sun.
On most voyages there are interesting speakers and sometimes celebrities who give a series of talks an a whole range of subjects, and there is sure to be something that takes your fancy. From Royal correspondents to Nasa Spacemen, war heroes to simply interesting people.
3. Keep Moving
Most ships these days have superb fitness centres where you can undertake all kinds of fitness programs. For those who prefer more organised training sessions there are generally classes offering spinning, aerobics, Yoga, Pilates and most other forms of exercise. For the early riser there are normally classes just to get you going before breakfast!
If the Fitness centre is not your thing, then walk around the ship to burn those calories . The Queen Mary 2’s boasts a wraparound outdoor walking track/promenade deck, a mere three times around is 1.1 miles. On other ships, you can walk round the decks nine or ten times to complete one mile. Well worth it though. Keep a track of your steps and stairs climbed on your mobile phone. 10,000 steps a day is my target.
4. Watch Your Weight
It is quite a well known fact that the average cruiser puts on between 5-7 pounds in weight on a seven day cruise. That’s fine if you need to gain some weight but for most of us this is one of the sacrifices we have to make to make sure we enjoy our cruise to the maximum. There are many ways to avoid taking in too many calories and most cruise lines cater for this with “healthy eating” options. Salads and fresh fruits are in abundance on a cruise so make the most if it. Go easy on the Alcohol as these empty calories make weight gain easier than ever.
The other thing to watch is salt intake which has the effect of helping your body to retain water and things like your ankles and feet start to swell. Reducing your salt intake helps avoid this problem and is healthier for you at the same time.
5. A Transatlantic Voyage can be Flat Calm
Despite what you may think, the Atlantic Ocean can be flat calm at times. Several of our crossings have been just like a mill pond. The calmness of the North Atlantic is very eerie and if you couple this with the banks of fog that often exist when the sea is flat, this can make this experience feel simply weird. These are the days to be up on deck and taking in the sea air and getting some exercise!
Of course the Atlantic is also known for its bad weather and rough seas. Choosing a midships cabin or stateroom lower down in the ship makes any movement less pronounced and you are less likely to feel uneasy. Read our Our Top Tips for preventing Seasickness on a Cruise for more detailed guidance. My favorite ship to make the crossing – Cunard Queen Mary 2 is on Deck 2 forward. Mid-ships on a low deck and you’ll hardly feel the infamous thirty-foot seas and gale force winds!
6. East or West transit?
There are lots of theories about which way to cross the pond and everyone has their favorite direction. I prefer West to East because of the added hour each day. Some people prefer east to West particularly if sailing into new York. You need to be up early on the last day as you sail past the Statue of Liberty and on into new York. For me there is only one way to make the crossing and that is on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 which cruise ship (liner) offering regularly scheduled non-stop transatlantic crossings nearly year round. The elegant Queen Mary 2 is the only true ocean liner in service today. Built for transatlantic voyages in the North Atlantic, Queen Mary takes them in her stride.
7. No Jet Lag
Make the most of this one. What is missing from making a transatlantic crossing by ship? Answer : Jet Lag Why? It’s all to do with the gradual adjustment of the ships clock based on the position of the ship and if you are booked on a crossing of 7 or more days then there is less tan an hour each day difference. Traveling West you gain and hour each day, traveling East results in 23 hour days but many of the cruises lines adjust their clock at 12:00noon and so your body don’t notice as much. At the end of your voyage, in whichever direction you travel , you arrive well rested and ready for action.
Whether you decide eastbound or west, re-positioning cruise or direct voyage, it is truly an amazing experience that you will never forget.