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Transatlantic cruise: How long to cross the Atlantic?

NCL cruise ship
NCL cruise ship

Ahoy, sea-faring friends and cruisers craving the thrill of the ocean waves! Are you ready to set sail on a grand adventure across the mighty Atlantic? Pondering how long does it take to cross the Atlantic? On this majestic voyage you might take on a splendid Transatlantic cruise. The routes and ports that might be visited, as she dances with the tides from the sparkling cityscape of New York to the historic charm of Southampton, England?

Well, batten down the hatches and grab your captain's hat, because we are about to cruise through time itself to unravel this maritime mystery! I will also cover some basics from Leaving from other US cities and ending in other European cities, as well as many other facts and tips about transatlantic cruises.

🚢 How long does it take a cruise ship to cross the Atlantic. 🌊

Imagine the salty breeze in your hair, the endless blue as far as the eye can see, and the gentle rock of the cruise ship easing you into a sense of serene escape, taking this transatlantic tango quite seriously, carving through waves with grace and pace. The voyage from the bustling docks of New York to the welcoming shores of Southampton generally spans approximately seven to fourteen days of pure bliss upon the brine. It all depends on port stops along the way, and that is why the duration of a transatlantic cruise will vary so much. These can be long journeys on the open seas. 

Here is a list of possible ports you might encounter on a cruise from NYC to Southampton. Any mix of these ports can add many days to your cruise across the pond. Cunard’s Queen Mary offers cruises that give more of a direct route without any ports along the way.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Omaha Beach in France, visited from a port stop in Le Havre.
Omaha Beach in France, visited from a port stop in Le Havre

Saint Pierre Newfoundland

Saint John’s Newfoundland

Corner Brook Newfoundland

Saint Anthony Newfoundland

Qaqortoq Greenland

Nanortalik Greenland

Reykjavik Iceland

Seydisfjordyur Iceland

Le Havre France

Brugge Belgium

Amsterdam Netherlands

Stornoway Scotland

Belfast Ireland

Dublin Ireland

Cobh (Cork) Ireland

Isle of Portland England

Cornwall England

Liverpool England

As you can see in the list above, some of these cruises involve Northern Europe also. Traveling to Iceland, Netherlands, and Belgium. These cruises might be colder, but if it is in the summer, no worries on chilly weather. Cruises to the Northern Atlantic in the summer will be fine, and the pools will even be open, but traveling in the shoulder season or winter might be a different story. You might not want to swim in the pools, but the hot tubs will be lovely.

Azores from the ship
Azores from the ship

My first cruise was a transatlantic adventure on the Norwegian Cruise Line, the ship was the Jade. It left Miami Florida and ended in South Hampton England in April, with stops in the Azores, Brest France, Le Havre France, and Portland UK. It lasted 13 days because it only had 4 ports. 

My latest transatlantic cruise was also a NCL cruise on the ship called the Gem. It left from Rome Italy and ended in NYC, with stops in Florence Italy, Marseille France, Barcelona Spain, Cadiz Spain, Lisbon Portugal, and the Azores. It should have lasted 15 days and technically it did, we just pulled into NYC on day 13 because we skipped Bermuda due to bad weather and we docked before the storm hit New York City. This was a great treat, being able to leave the ship and explore NYC at Christmas in the afternoon of day 13 and all day long on day 14 before disembarking from the ship on day 15. It was like we had our own personal hotel in the harbor at pier 88 in NYC. Also, skipping Bermuda and arriving at New York City early was fine by me, I was very happy with avoiding the rough seas.

So, as you can see there are many transatlantic cruise routes, it's not just NYC to Southampton.

Extra Information

Near Portland England Cruise port
Near Portland England cruise port

As every seasoned sailor knows, the sea tells her own story, and the winds of time have altered the length of voyages over the years. Recently with the average cruise ship skipping across the Atlantic from Americas to Europe in around a week or two, depending on the currents of the cruise line's agenda and the whispering of the wind. Here is some more information and tips for your adventure.

Sometimes there will be strong winds out on the open sea, so always be prepared for the ship to be a little bit rockier than just cruising around the Caribbean. Weather conditions can change, and the crew members will make decisions that eer on the side of safety. If you have a tendency for sea sickness, plan on taking something to prevent it while out in the open ocean though. I prefer the over-the-counter medicine called Bonnie.

If you are just looking at distance, NYC is 2,977 nautical miles away from Southampton, which is 3,426 miles or 5,513 kilometers. But that is if the cruise ship is just doing a straight shot, more nautical miles will be added if traveling to different ports along the way to Southampton from New York City.

A tip I can give you is you will have early days usually at port stops to explore the region. Sometimes you may dock in the afternoon, but not often, they usually dock at 7, 8 or 9 AM. I love getting off the ships as soon as possible to have more time exploring the port cities. Sometimes I will be awake before daylight getting ready for a 7 AM excursion.

near Portland England cruise port
near Portland England cruise port

You might also be wondering if older cruise ships move slower across the Atlantic, then the fancier new ships that have all the bells and whistles. Or if size of the ship matters for speed. Honestly this is not the case. With the cost of fuel being so expensive and due to environmental concerns, cruise ships travel at 18 knots at the highest. Just a few years ago they were traveling at 21 knots, but times have changed. Cruise ships are looking to become more environmentally friendly over the coming years also. As new technology arises, speeds might change, but for right now they all basically travel at the same speed across that Atlantic.

Most people enjoy the length of a transatlantic cruise, the extra days onboard will give you plenty of time to explore the ship or use the services of the ship, but more importantly more time to relax. Spending time in the Spa is a great thing to do that people love and will help you enjoy your relaxing time on the ship. Consecutive days at sea are a glorious thing to help you relax and sleep in.

ocean view from transatlantic cruise
ocean view from transatlantic cruise

One thing to notice when traveling across the ocean, the time changes. At the end of your journey, you may have gained 6 hours depending on what port you disembark in. Your cruise line will change the time while crossing the Atlantic every day you will get a notification of the time change and when you wake up you will be in a different time zone. This will happen almost every day when you cross the Atlantic. If you are leaving from Europe and heading back to the United States, you will lose an hour every day due to the time zones differences. Remember westbound cruises lose hours, and eastbound cruises gain hours. You will experience jet lag whichever direction your transatlantic adventure takes you.

Also, good news, transatlantic cruise costs are a great value and sometimes less expensive than other cruises, especially if you watch last minute deals. One little tip I can give you is, the more port stops your cruise has the more expensive it will be due to port fees, each port charges port fees to dock at the port.

Other Transatlantic Journeys

Cadiz Spain Port Stop from a Transatlantic cruise.
Cadiz Spain Port Stop from a Transatlantic cruise.

Now, for a drop of honey to sweeten this tale, let's plunge into other journeys. When comparing these watery wanderings, you'll notice that Miami to Barcelona will average out to a dreamy two weeks aboard your floating palace. On the route from Miami to Lisbon, tales of the sea speak of an average odyssey lasting just a dash shorter, enticing travelers with a couple of days shy of a fortnight at sea. Even transatlantic luxury cruise lines can take 2 weeks.

On the southern route, I have seen Miami to Europe with stops in the Azores at Ponta Delgada, before heading to Lisbon Portugal, or several stops in Spain. In fact, some stop in the Caribbean before crossing the Atlantic, or after crossing the Atlantic stop in the Canary Islands or Morocco before ending the cruise in Lisbon, Barcelona, or Rome. Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral are other US cities where transatlantic cruises embark from voyages to Europe.

At times there are even transatlantic cruises leaving from South America. Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are common ports that could be used for this transatlantic voyage. This might add a little bit of length to a cruise, but exploring South American might be worth it for you.

🌍 Charting Comparisons: 🚢

Stonehenge seen from Southampton port on debarkation day
Stonehenge seen from Southampton port on debarkation day

If your curious compass yearns for more, allow me to paint you a picture of other voyages. Royal Caribbean, the king of cruise flotillas, has been known to waltz from Miami's warm waves all the way to Le Havre France, where the romance of Paris is just a few hours away. And for those lured by the siren's song of Italian allure, MSC's vessels voyage to Rome, an expedition that echoes through time with a similar cadence, spanning roughly the same duration of time, drenched in Mediterranean sun and sprinkled with history. Transatlantic repositioning cruises give you a unique opportunity to take a different type of cruise and see a variety of cultures.

All cruise lines use a transatlantic crossing at one time or another during the year to make sure they have ships in Europe during peak vacation time, it is called repositioning cruises. The best time to do Transatlantic sailings varies, some leave North America in April or May for time in Europe during the summer months. Some return to North America in the fall from Europe, because taking a Caribbean cruise during the winter months and early spring is very common. You will see crossings happen during hurricane season, but there is nothing to worry about, the captain will avoid the hurricane and rough seas that go along with it.

Whichever cruise line you choose for your adventure, whichever size ship, luxury ocean liner, or family friendly vessel, crossing the Atlantic will feel the same as a Caribbean cruise, just with some added time on the ship. These cruises will still have plenty of food, drinks, and activities to keep you busy and enjoying your overseas adventure. Use the extra time to enjoy more restaurants, play trivia, or just relax.

🏝️ An Invitation to Castaway into Adventure ⚓

From Civitavecchia, Rome cruise port.
From Civitavecchia, Rome cruise port.

Poseidon’s playground is vast, my dear cruise aficionados, and every ocean escapade is a pearl strung upon the necklace of your life's experiences. Whether aboard the Norwegian Star bound for Southampton or Cunard's Queen Mary, charting her course to continental horizons, your Atlantic crossing is not just a matter of mere days and nights—it is a timeless expedition filled with star-dusted skies, enchanting evenings, and daylight discoveries. 

Remember, though the sands of time in an hourglass cannot measure the weight of the memories gathered at sea, your cruise duration is your treasure map to a chest brimming with moments of wonder and whimsy. This is the most important thing, making memories.

Bon Voyage, brave explorers! May your hearts be your compasses, and your times at sea be as infinite as the ocean's own mysteries. 🌟⚓🌟

Hilton Honors

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