When it comes to crossing the Atlantic, most of us choose flying—with the long security lines, rude people, huge crowds and all the other headaches that come along with it—but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Transatlantic cruising is quickly gaining in popularity, as more people are foregoing flights for the comfort, style and fun that cruises are known for; not to mention the fact that with prices as low as $300 per person, transatlantic cruises are often much cheaper as well.
With Norwegian Cruise Lines Transatlantic cruises, it’s about a lot more than just getting from point A to point B. As most of the days will be spent at sea, you’ll have ample time to relax and take advantage of the numerous restaurants, shows, spa facilities and much more. Still, it must be said that these cruises are only run as a way for the cruise line to make money out of repositioning their ships between seasons, so unlike traditional cruises, not all activities or areas may be open and the entertainment options are often more limited.
The Lowdown on Norwegian Transatlantic Cruises
Norwegian only offers a few transatlantic cruises during the year, in early spring and autumn, when their ships are being moved between Europe and the Caribbean. Currently, only two Norwegian cruise ships—Norwegian Epic and Star—offer transatlantic trips, but occasionally there are other cruises on offer, such as the recent maiden voyage of the Norwegian Getaway from Southampton, UK to New York.
Most transatlantic cruises only stop a few ports of call after crossing the Atlantic, usually either in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, although the Norwegian Star also stops in England, Amsterdam and Sweden on its way to Copenhagen.
Crossing the Atlantic aboard the Norwegian Epic
Sailing aboard the world’s third largest cruise liner, the Norwegian Epic offers a truly unique experience. The massive size of the ship allows for a multitude of entertainment options and activities, ensuring you won’t be bored during your long Atlantic crossing.
The ship spends half of the year based in Barcelona and the other half in Miami, so you’ll be embarking in one of these cities and disembarking in the other. Typicaly, Epic leaves Barcelona in April, and returns from Miami in November so look for cruises around that time depending on which direction you want to travel. No matter whether sailing from Europe to the US or vice versa, you’ll stop at the picturesque port of Funchal on the Portuguese Island of Madeira; a fun stop that’s difficult to get to by plane. If you have time, the scenery is about as dramatic as you can get and ideal for walking/hiking.
Sailing from Miami to Barcelona typically takes 11 days, unless you combine it with another cruise, while the return trip takes 14 days, as you’ll be sailing down into the Caribbean, stopping in St. Maarten and St. Thomas before turning north for Miami. Both of the transatlantic cruises on the Epic offer great value for your money and more than enough options to keep you occupied at sea, setting them apart from most others.
Will I get bored on board?
This is a typical worry people have who have never taken a long cruise before. The joy of cruising for a longer stretch is that you have time to enjoy all that the ship has to offer, and to spend more time with newly-made friends. So long as you’re reasonably sociable you’re bound to find someone interesting on board. The cruisers typically tend to be slightly older than normal Norwegian cruises as those are the passengers with enough time to justify the trip (and may not be as well-suited to air travel).
Having said that, you’re never forced to do anything social if you don’t want to. If your idea of sitting on deck reading for 10 days without being disturbed is appealing, you can do that too. Order room service anytime you want, or if you want to dine in the restaurants you can do that any time thanks to Norwegian’s “Freestyle” cruising concept.
Norwegian Star Atlantic Crossings
Like the Epic, the Star spends half the year in Miami, but the other half of the time it’s based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. The thing that makes transatlantic cruises on the Norwegian Star so special, is the stop made in the beautiful Azores; each cruise docks at stunning Ponta Delgada Island. Combine this with a visit to magnificent, modern Copenhagen, and either London, Amsterdam and Sweden, or the tropical paradise of St. Thomas, and you’ve got the makings of a truly unique and totally wonderful holiday. Nonetheless, the Star isn’t nearly as large as the Epic, and as such, some people do find it a bit crowded or lacking in entertainment options.
Whether you sail aboard the Epic or the Star, a Norwegian transatlantic cruises are great for those looking for a budget friendly, longer cruise or anyone looking for a cheaper, far more relaxing way to cross the Atlantic—provided you happen to be crossing at exactly the right time.