What Is a Transatlantic Cruise?

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Transatlantic cruises are one of the most unique types of travel that you can choose. It’s a long journey, but definitely worth doing at least once, especially if you’re a cruise enthusiast.

Before booking your transatlantic cruise, you must first understand what you’re signing up for. The first step is to answer the question, what is a transatlantic cruise? Then you can decide if this type of cruise is right for you.

What Is a Transatlantic Cruise?

Let’s start by answering the simple question: what is a transatlantic cruise? A transatlantic cruise is a voyage that travels across the Atlantic Ocean – typically from North America to Europe. Many transatlantic cruises are repositioning cruises and the vessel will spend many days at sea. Let’s take a look at what that means. 

What Is a Repositioning Cruise?

A repositioning cruise is a one-way cruise from one popular departing destination to another. These cruises usually occur at the end of a specific season, when ships have to reposition themselves to a place with warmer and more cruise-friendly weather. 

You’ll find repositioning cruises for areas with limited cruise seasons, such as the Mediterranean and Alaska. Transatlantic cruises are often repositioning cruises for this reason.

Royal Caribbean Ship Repositioning
Royal Caribbean Ship Repositioning (Photo Credit: myphotobank)

Due to the nature and purpose of repositioning cruises, their daily rate can be cheaper than that of other cruises. You can often find transatlantic cruise deals at the end of the season. This is because cruise ships need to reposition either way, so why not carry on with business and do it with a few guests as passengers?

Read Also: What is a Cruise to Nowhere?

However, it’s important to keep in mind that though the daily rate may be cheaper, the overall cost is usually higher due to the length of the journey and additional airfare. Now that you know what a transatlantic cruise is, you might wonder how long they last. Let’s find out.

How Long Is a Transatlantic Cruise?

The most important consideration when determining whether a transatlantic cruise is for you is the length of the cruise. A transatlantic cruise is one of the longest cruises that you can take. 

Most transatlantic itineraries are at least 12 nights and can go up to almost three weeks. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean alone takes between six to eight days, so you should be prepared to spend about a week at sea. Compare this to a typical cruise where you only get a sea day or two between ports.

Queen Mary 2 on Transatlantic Sailing
Queen Mary 2 on Transatlantic Sailing (Photo Credit: Stephan Backensfeld / Shutterstock)

This long uninterrupted length at sea is one of the most unique features of transatlantic cruises. Most cruises have multi-city destinations and stop at a port at least every other day. With a transatlantic cruise, you only stop at ports at the beginning and the end of your trip. 

For a trip from Europe to North America, you can expect stops along the western coast of Northern Europe and the eastern coast of the United States.

Pros and Cons of a Transatlantic Cruise

Some people relish spending a week at an open-water resort. This gives you time to take advantage of all the amenities your ship has to offer without having to plan time to disembark for shore excursions and explore destinations.

At the same time, some people feel uneasy about being at sea for such a long period without the opportunity to access land. This is especially true for people who get seasick after a prolonged period on the water.

Transatlantic Sailings
Transatlantic Sailings (Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock)

If you’ve never been on a cruise, starting with a transatlantic cruise may be a big step. It might be better to start with a shorter cruise with more stops to get a feel for what a cruise ship is like. 

Another thing to consider is that the climate from your departing destination to the final destination can change significantly, especially if it’s a repositioning cruise over the North Atlantic Ocean. You need to ensure that you pack for these weather changes.

Worth Reading: What Is a Closed Loop Cruise?

Lastly, transatlantic cruises are typically one-way cruises, so you have to plan how you will get back home. That said, transatlantic cruises are a great way to start or finish a prolonged vacation!

Cruise Lines That Offer Transatlantic Cruises

Celebrity Cruises offers several transatlantic cruises with departing locations in Bermuda or Florida and Southwestern Europe. 

Since you’ll be on the ship for so long, a transatlantic cruise is an excellent opportunity to splurge on a more luxurious cruise, such as Cunard. Cunard has many transatlantic offerings throughout the year for you to choose from, mainly between Southampton and New York.

Royal Caribbean offers several transatlantic and transpacific cruises to allow you to see much more of the world. Often, cruise ships will sail across the Atlantic for a dry dock in Europa and then spend a summer season in the content before heading back to the US. It’s the same case for many cruise lines, including Carnival, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Line.


For some, a transatlantic cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cross the Atlantic Ocean and see the best of two different continents. While there is a lot to consider before embarking on a transatlantic cruise, what’s certain is that it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.

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