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Transatlantic cruise: what you should and need to know!

Updated: Feb 26

Today I will be discussing the difference and the pros and cons of the Transatlantic, Transpacific and Repositioning Cruises. I am familiar with these and in my opinion can give you the most bang for your buck, just as long as you can take extended vacations.

View of the Azores from NCL Jade
View of the Azores from NCL Jade

The one I took a few years ago was one of the best experiences I have ever had.  I have one booked for December 2023, and hopefully plan on doing more in the future. (Keeping my fingers crossed). Transatlantic, transpacific, and repositioning cruises have distinct differences based on their routes, itineraries, and purposes.  And with transatlantic and transpacific, they are often called transcontinental due to the main difference being which ocean they are crossing. All major cruise lines do these type of transatlantic or repositioning journeys, like Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise lines, just to name a few. They also leave from a variety of ports Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York City or even leaving from South America. You might leave from European cruise ports and travel back to the Americas. This style of cruise is considered a "one-way cruise" where most cruises are roundtrip leaving and coming back to the same port.

The cruise I took left Miami Florida and had stops in Sao Miguel Azores, Brest France, Portsmouth England, Le Havre France, and ended in South Hampton England. 16 days and after taxes and fees was less than $700 bucks. I got a real good deal. The one I will be taking in December 2023 is 15 days leaving from Civitavecchia Italy with stops in Florence Italy, Marseille France, Barcelona and Cadiz Spain, Lisbon Portugal, Ponta Delgada Azores, and possibly Bermuda before ending in New York City for under $1,100 for a balcony room for a solo traveler that is a great deal.

Transatlantic Cruises:

Beautiful picture I found, and had to share
Beautiful picture I found, and had to share
  • Route: A Transatlantic voyage traverse the Atlantic Ocean, typically between Europe and North America. They may include ports of call in both continents, allowing passengers to explore various destinations. My first cruise left Miami and ended in South Hampton United Kingdom, but the one I am taking in December 2023 Leaves Rome Italy's cruise port Civitavecchia and ends in New York City United States, with a number of popular ports along the way like Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

  • Itinerary: Transatlantic crossing usually have a set itinerary with multiple port stops along the way. Passengers have the opportunity to disembark and explore different cities or regions during these stops.

  • Duration: Transatlantic sailings tend to be longer in duration, often lasting around 7 to 14 days (sometimes more). They provide an extended period at sea, offering passengers plenty of time to relax and enjoy onboard amenities and activities on the ocean liner of your choice.

  • Seasonality: Transatlantic itineraries or repositioning cruises are scheduled during specific seasons when cruise lines reposition their ships between regions. Spring and fall are popular times for transatlantic voyages.

Transpacific Cruises:

From a cruise ship
From a cruise ship
  • Route: Transpacific cruises cross the Pacific Ocean, typically between Asia and North America or Australia. They cover vast distances and may include ports of call in various countries throughout Asia, the Pacific Islands, and North America.

  • Itinerary: Transpacific cruises can have diverse itineraries, with multiple port stops in different countries and regions. Passengers have the opportunity to explore various cultures and destinations along the way.

  • Duration: Transpacific cruises can vary in duration, typically ranging from 10 to 21 days or more, depending on the specific itinerary and number of port stops.

  • Seasonality: Transpacific cruises are often offered during certain times of the year, such as spring or fall, to take advantage of favorable weather conditions and travel patterns.

Repositioning Cruises:

A picture of a ship in port
A picture of a ship in port
  • Route: Repositioning cruises involve moving cruise ships from one geographic region to another. They can cover various routes, including transatlantic, transpacific, or other long-distance journeys.

  • Itinerary: Repositioning cruises generally have fewer port stops compared to traditional cruises. The primary focus is on the journey itself rather than frequent destination visits. Some repositioning cruises may include a few ports of call, while others may be entirely at sea.

  • Duration: Repositioning cruises can range in duration, from a couple of weeks to over a month, depending on the distance being covered and any potential stops along the way.

  • Seasonality: Repositioning cruises often occur during the change of seasons when cruise lines move their ships to take advantage of different markets and climates. For example, a ship may relocate from the Caribbean to Alaska for the summer season.

A Transatlantic route or transcontinental cruises offer a unique and exciting way to travel between different continents. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Hilton Honors

Pros of Transatlantic, Transcontinental or Repositioning Cruises:

Me at Durdle Door Dorset England from my transatlantic cruise port in Portsmouth England
Me at Durdle Door Dorset England from my transatlantic cruise port in Portsmouth England
  • Extended Travel: Transatlantic journeys or transcontinental cruises typically last longer than traditional cruises, allowing you to enjoy an extended period of travel. This can be ideal if you have the time and want to fully immerse yourself in the cruise experience. This makes for a great option for those of you who can take an extended vacation.

  • Uninterrupted Relaxation: With several consecutive days at sea, transatlantic or transcontinental cruises offer a chance to unwind and disconnect from the daily hustle and bustle. You can relax by the pool, indulge in spa treatments, or simply enjoy the tranquility of the open ocean.

  • Unique Itineraries: These types of cruises often have unique itineraries that include ports of call in diverse locations. You may have the opportunity to visit multiple continents, experience various cultures, and explore destinations that are not typically included in shorter cruises. Sometimes you will have extended time in ports which will allow you to explore more of the city and culture.

  • Onboard Activities: Since transatlantic or transcontinental cruises have more days at sea, cruise lines offer a wide range of onboard activities and entertainment options to keep passengers engaged. From live shows and enrichment programs to fitness classes and workshops, there is plenty to do during the journey. Your personal preference helps you decide what you want to do on a cruise.

New friends met on a transatlantic cruise
New friends met on a transatlantic cruise
  • Value for Money: In terms of value for money, transatlantic or transcontinental cruises can be a good option. They often include more days at sea and fewer port visits, resulting in potentially lower cruise fares compared to other itineraries. Right now, there is a transatlantic cruise available for less than $30 a night. That is a great deal, that I am tempted to take myself. Transatlantic cruises are a great value, with cost per night being extremely low compared to any other luxury cruise.

  • More time to meet more people. I was involved in a group meeting on Cruise Critic, which I highly recommend to anyone doing any cruise. Join their roll call for that specific ship for that specific cruise and start talking with people from all over the world taking this cruise. They usually schedule special events you can join, like a slot pull, poker run, games, room tours (if someone wants to show people their suite, they are nice to see). It is just a good opportunity to meet people. I am still friends with people I met on this cruise. Plus having extra activities with people from this group will help pass the many days you have in a row on the ship. (I do not mind at sea days at all)

Cons of Transatlantic, Transcontinental and Repositioning Cruises:

Relaxing on a cruise ship
Relaxing on a cruise ship
  • Limited Port Visits: Unlike traditional cruises that focus on multiple ports of call, transatlantic or transcontinental cruises may have fewer stops along the way. If you prefer exploring different destinations and experiencing various cultures, this type of cruise may not be the best choice for you.

  • Seasickness Concerns: Extended periods at sea can increase the likelihood of experiencing seasickness, especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Consecutive sea days tend to be the largest fear for people with seasickness, so it's important to consider this factor and take necessary precautions or consult with a medical professional before embarking on a transatlantic or transcontinental cruise. I use the Bonnie Pill, because I do suffer from this, I start taking them the day before I get on the ship and then for a few days after cruise is over. It helps me with having sea legs. lol. Crossing the Atlantic you have a higher tendency for rougher seas, some worse than others due to bad weather. Also, seas in the North Atlantic can be rough in the winter months too. 

couple on a cruise
couple on a cruise
  • Longer Travel Time: Transatlantic or transcontinental cruises require more time compared to other itineraries. If you have limited vacation time or prefer shorter trips, this type of cruise may not fit your schedule. Some people have turned in a Leave of Absence from work to be able to do these cruises, because having that many vacation days, or being allowed to take that many days off in a row is tough. This also makes these cruises more appealing to the older generations. They tend to be retired or have built up more time off to be able to take these cruises. I did notice mine to be an older crowd, which I did not mind at all. I get along with everyone being middle aged. lol

  • Limited Entertainment Variety: While some passengers enjoy the relaxation and slow pace of transatlantic or transcontinental cruises, others may find the lack of frequent port visits and variety in entertainment options to be less appealing. It's important to consider your preferences for onboard activities before choosing this type of cruise.

  • While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, sea days can be long when you have several in a row. I tend to think of them as relaxing as there is enough to keep me occupied on a cruise ship with plenty days at seas, but I can see why some people have issues have 4 or more days at sea in a row. Also, it does feel odd that the time zones change 1 hour at a time per day while on the ship. Usually depending on how fast the ship is moving across the sea, you will gain or lose on hour depending on which way you are crossing the Atlantic.

  • Weather Considerations: Depending on the time of year and the route, transatlantic or transcontinental cruises may encounter rough seas or adverse weather conditions. It's essential to be prepared for potential changes in weather and itinerary adjustments. As mentioned, before I had one rough day at sea and there is a video floating of me somewhere trying to walk on the deck during this crazy, windy day and the seas were rough.

VIDEO FOUND check it out for a laugh. lol

Ultimately, the choice of a transatlantic, transpacific or repositioning cruise depends on your personal preferences, time availability, and desired travel experience. Consider these pros and cons to make an informed decision that aligns with your travel goals and expectations. Each type of cruise offers a unique experience, with different routes and itineraries. Hope you have enjoyed this blog and its explanation. I will be doing a deep detail on my Transatlantic cruise in the future.

Cruise Critic

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