A transatlantic cruise, also known as an Atlantic crossing, can be a great value, an unusual experience, and an elegant and relaxing way to travel between continents with plenty of time to fully relax, recharge, and fully experience a ship and its offerings.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’ve been curious about a transatlantic cruise – or it’s on your bucket list, as it is for many people – read on.
There are several types of transatlantic cruise experiences.
Repositioning cruises that cross the Atlantic are offered when cruise lines move their ships in spring and fall between Europe and the Caribbean, often with one or two ports added. Almost every major cruise line offers some version of this. Popular reposition itineraries leave from Barcelona or Lisbon and end up in Fort Lauderdale or Miami for the winter months.
Many lines offer cruises that cross the Atlantic, with multiple port calls along the way as a way to explore . Viking’s 29-day Greenland, Iceland, Norway, & Beyond cruise, for example, travels between Bergen, Norway and New York City (and in reverse) with 17 port calls in five countries. 2023 fares start at $13,998 per person.
Cunard’s ocean liner, Queen Mary 2, makes regular trips back and forth across the Atlantic in seven days between Southampton, England and New York City At times, Cunard does the crossing with some added ports of call as well.
Cruise lines will sometime list these clearly as repositioning cruises; other times you’ll find them under a line’s ‘transatlantic’ tab.
“If you’ve got time on your side or you don’t like flying, take one,” said Leah Bergner, Senior Travel Advisor for Coastline Travel Advisors. “A transatlantic cruise is a good opportunity to spend time in the spa, read, knit, write,” or do other projects, she said. “And these cruises can be very inexpensive. I just found a 14-day passage for a client with fares starting at $748. That’s just $53 a day.”
Repositioning cruises and transatlantic cruises can also offer great deals on ultra-luxury cruise ships and luxury yachting lines as well. Gary Randle Johnson, president of Seattle-based Woodside Travel has clients who regularly book Sea Dream Yacht Club repositioning cruises in spring from the Caribbean to Europe and in the fall back to the Caribbean. “It’s 13 to 16 days, and about 100 guests and 100 crew members, so it’s like their private yacht,” he says. 2023 prices for these upscale, all-inclusive cruises start at $3999: about $300 per person per day.
On mass market, luxury ships or luxury yachts, there are usually deals to be had on repositioning and transatlantic crossings because cruise lines “have a bit more trouble filling them up,” said Kanise Kelley, the cruise specialist with J5Travel/Word Cruise Advisors. “Most people have limited vacation time, want to go to as many ports as possible and don’t want a lot of sea days.”
Of course, there are factors beyond price to consider.
“Consider pricing your flights before committing to the cruise, especially if one port is international and one isn't,” says Céleste Auger Munsh, a travel advisor with Gifted Travel Network. “Make sure to mind what the weather will be as it’s likely you will be needing clothing for multiple seasons. And consider the size of the ship. The smaller the ship, the longer it takes to get to the final port of call.”
And choose your cabin wisely. Seas can be rough on a transatlantic crossing, “so you should go midship and low,” said Leah Bergner of Coastline Travel Advisors, in case you get seasick. “And because you’ll be spending so much time on a ship, consider booking on one of the new cruise ships coming in 2023.”
Which are the “best” transatlantic cruises? That will depend on your budget, your interests, your cruising style, and your vacation calendar. Here’s some more in-depth information on transatlantic cruises.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 offers a seven-night classic transatlantic ocean liner experience.
“She’s big, fast, and powerful and is just perfect for a crossing,” said Bill Miller, an ocean liner and cruise ship expert. “It has the biggest library at sea, a planetarium, activities such as fencing and ballroom dancing, and a great line-up of guest speakers. They also do a traditional afternoon tea each day with gloves, violins, scones, cakes, and all that kind of stuff.”
Queen Mary 2 is also a good choice for people who want to travel with their pet. The ship allows passengers to bring dogs and cats on board, but keep in mind there’s an extra charge; slots in the onboard kennel are limited to just 24 dogs and cats; and guests may not take their pet to the cabin or around the ship.
2023 prices start at around $699 per person and there are at least four themed cruises scheduled during year focusing on dance, music, food and wine, and literature.
Holland America Line will round out its 150th anniversary celebration with a special transatlantic cruise on its newest ship, Rotterdam, in April 2023.
In October 2022, the cruise line made a commemorative transatlantic crossing from Rotterdam to New York to recreate its maiden October 1872 voyage. HAL will recreate that voyage in reverse – from New York to Rotterdam – in April 2023 with maritime historians offering lectures, menus showcasing classic dishes from as early as the 1920s, and a “Throwback Happy Hour” offering cocktails – and prices – from the early days as well. Prices start at $1,169 per person for an inside cabin.
Holland America Line offers transatlantic and repositioning itineraries] on a half dozen of its ships as well.
In addition to the lines mentioned above, almost every cruise line offers repositioning and/or itineraries that cross the Atlantic, said Kanise Kelley, of J5Travel/Word Cruise Advisors. So, if long days at sea are what you’re after, you should be able to find a transatlantic adventure that fits your time, budget, and travel style.
For example Celebrity Cruises’ list of 2023 transatlantic and repositioning cruises includes a 15 night itinerary with 10 sea days traveling from Tampa, FL to Barcelona, Spain in April starting at $898/per person on Celebrity Constellation. Ultra-luxury line Silversea will be sending its brand-new Silver Nova ship across the Atlantic from New York to Lisbon in November 2023 on an 11-day voyage with prices starting at $3,950 per person.
Here are links to other cruise lines that offer transatlantic cruises.
Updated November 22, 2022