A TransAtlantic Cruise For You?

Lee in Gijon, Spain

Many of you have shared your interest in a TransAtlantic cruise with me, but some of you have held back from booking one so far for various reasons. When Lee booked their second TransAtlantic cruise recently, I asked if he could share why they love these cruises with my guests.  Here’s my friend and guest blogger, Lee  Whitman, with his thought about TransAtlantic cruising:

Mike and I took our first cruise in 2005 and caught the bug…hard!  We’ve been on two dozen cruises now, and our friends seem to think that we’ve lost our minds. We even started our own cruise blog, Cruise Notebook, and it’s amazing to us that over 100,000 people have viewed our pictures.   We just love the fact that we pack once, visit many exotic places, have a variety of experiences onboard, and meet all kinds of people.

We have found that as our cruising experience has grown, the types of cruises we look for have changed.  At first, it seemed that we wanted to cruise as often as possible.  That meant shorter cruises and, invariably, Caribbean destinations.  After a while, we wanted longer cruises and new ports.  While it’s definitely a first world problem, we were getting tired of the same ports over and over, so we branched out and took a Mediterranean cruise.

Our sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas from Barcelona to Venice and back was not only utterly fantastic but also utterly exhausting.  We came home needing a vacation from our vacation.  This made us wonder, is there a way to sail to Europe and not arrive home exhausted?  The solution, it seemed, was a TransAtlantic cruise.

A TA (Transatlantic) cruise seemed to be a sailing many experienced cruisers really loved, but we had always shied away from because we were afraid we’d get bored.  That’s a running joke in our house now because we were anything but bored!  Even though we’re very active people who want to try everything, we found lots of things to fill our days shipboard without arriving home pooped.  Many of our friends were horrified at the idea of being at sea that long “with nothing to do” but thatwas not our experience.  We participated in wine tastings, receptions, speaker series, afternoon teas, backstage tours, and all manner of diversions.  Also, we found that we enjoyed the evenings a lot more without thinking we had to get up early the next day.  A TA allowed us to see a few European ports (France and Spain, in our case) while having a long period of relaxation afterward.  Also, because we chose a westbound TA, we had six 25 hour days and arrived home with no jetlag.

Here are my tips for having a great TA cruise:

  • Book early or book late.  Booking early will mean you get the room of your choice.  Those great cabins with extra space on their balconies go fast.

    Mike & Lee in Paris

    Repositioning cruises are really popular now, and they have their loyal fans who will grab the best cabins very early in the sales cycle.  On the other hand, if you have flexibility in your planning, we’ve seen TAs on large ships go for $599 per person, but those prices only arrive very close to the sail date (about six weeks beforehand) for a brief sale.

  • Choose the ship, then the itinerary. A Caribbean or European itinerary might be chosen because of the ports, but it’s important to choose the ship well on a TA. After all, it will be your home for two weeks; you will want to choose a ship that offers all the comforts you think you will want.  We love Celebrity’s Solstice Class for this, especially the Aqua Class staterooms.  Even after 13 days, there were many areas of the ship we had hoped to spend time in that we hadn’t visited yet.  It had a Gelato bar, a Panini cafe, a coffee shop, a thermal relaxation room, and four specialty restaurants (including a private one where those booked in Aqua Class could dine every night, included in their cruise fare).
  • Spend a few days in your embarkation city.  You’ll get over the jetlag and have a more in-depth experience of one of the ports.

We met Lee and Mike at a dinner before we all boarded the pre-inaugural cruise of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.   We became fast friends, sharing our love of good food, fine wine, and fun travels, especially cruising, so I encourage you to visit their cruise blog, Cruise Notebook.  Thanks, Lee, and if any of you are ready to book your next vacation, give me a call!

Category: Cruise
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