Sailing across the Atlantic was once the only way Europe could connect with America, and prior to the 19th century sailing ships were used to transport people as well as goods and mail between the two continents. Nowadays there are many different cruise deals avaiable that sailing across the Atlantic has become more affordable as most of these sailings tend to be ‘repositional’ cruises, where the ship is moving between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. These sailings will often include several stops in places like Madeira and the Canary Islands, as well as a couple of the Caribbean islands,depending on where the ship is coming from and heading to.
The only passenger ship that makes regular crossings is Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which is one of the most luxurious ocean liners in the world. Launched in January 2004, Queen Mary 2 has been making regular trips between Southampton and New York every year since. She is the largest ocean liner ever built and was designed for the specific purpose of crossing the Atlantic.
Generally the crossing will take around 7 nights and many people choose to have extra days in New York when they arrive if heading westbound, or before they set sail when heading eastbound. There are several different stateroom types to choose from, ranging from well-appointed insides for budget conscious travellers to the budget-busting Grills penthouses and suites. All are stylishly furnished with en-suite bathrooms, and those choosing either a Princess or Queens Grill suite are treated to additional extras which include exclusive access to the Grills Lounge and Grills restaurants.
Daytime activities really vary depending on what you feel like filling your day with, but rest assured there is plenty to keep you entertained. You can choose from enrichment classes, spa treatments, sports tournaments, port talks, pub quizzes, and ‘traditional’ cruise games like bridge and shuffleboard to name but a few.
Cunard’s Insights Programme is hugely popular and gives you the opportunity to meet and hear from guest speakers and experts in a particular field, such as arts and entertainment, science, history and literature. Past guests include actor and comedian John Cleese, motorsport commentator Murray Walker, and singer/songwriter Chris Difford. In addition to this there is also the Cunard Connexions, which give you the chance to learn a new skill or hobby like ballroom dancing or wine tasting, and the RADA Acting Workshops, where you can join several actors from the prestigious acting school who will share some of their training with you.
During the evening there are lots of different bars and lounges to choose from, all offering a wide variety of different entertainment choices from live music and comedians, to cabaret acts and dancing. The on board theatre will have several production shows and musicals throughout the cruise, performed by the ships’ own group of singers, dancers and actors, and the Illuminations theatre shows the only Planetarium show at sea, as well as classic movies and the latest blockbusters.
Crossing the Atlantic by sea may take much longer than flying, but when your surroundings are as luxurious as those found on a cruise ship it is easy to understand why it is still considered as the grandest way to travel.