So you’re considering going on an Ocean Crossing Cruise, otherwise known as a Transatlantic or Transpacific Cruise. Ocean Crossing happen twice a year. It’s when a ship is moved from its winter route to its summer route in the Spring and vice versa in the fall.
As its name suggests an Ocean Crossing Cruise does just that, it crosses an ocean. Transatlantic cruises clearly cross the Atlantic Ocean and Transpacific ones the Pacific Ocean. Ships that cross the Pacific general go from their winter routes in the Southern Hemisphere to their summer route in Alaska and up and down the US’s western coast. Atlantic crossing ships come in from their winter routes in the Caribbean to their winter routes in either Baltic or Mediterranean Seas.
I’ve yet to go on an Oceaning Crossing Cruise across the Pacific, but I’ve been on some Transatlantic cruises. Before you decide on which Ocean Crossing Cruise you should take you need to know that there are 2 basic routes; the northern route from the Baltic Sea that stops in Northern ports from England to New York or New Jersey before continuing on to their Caribbean routes; and the southern route that departs from either Rome or Barcelona stopping at ports in Spain’s sunny Costa del Sol and Canary Islands or Portugal’s Azores.
Which ever Ocean Crossing Cruise you decide on here are a few things you can expect:
Lots of days at sea.
Once you leave the shores of Europe and her islands there isn’t much land until you reach North America’s eastern seaboard.
If you’re on the Northern route expect these days at sea to be cold in windy. This means not much pool time, actually not much outdoor time unless you really love cold windy weather.
On the northern route you should also be aware that some of the ports of call could be scrapped due to poor weather or sea conditions.
When we did the South Hampton to New York Ocean Crossing Cruise we first got stuck in Dublin for 2 days due to poor sea conditions and heavy rain. This meant our stop in Belfast was cancelled. The ship must remain on schedule!
Then the seas were too rough to dock in Iceland. We could see Reykjavik, we were that close. But after a few hours of trying the port had to be scrapped. Needless to say folks were pretty annoyed. In case you were wondering, no you do not get a discount or refund because the shipped cancelled ports of call, it says so in your carriage contract. To make up for the disappointment of missing a couple of stops the captain decided to take a side trip thru the ice fields of Greenland. I thought it was pretty cool. We got a peek at the polar ice cap.
Now the Ocean Crossing Cruise on the southern route generally has some pretty great weather the entire cruise. This means lots of pool and other outdoor time. On our Transatlantic cruise last year we had 7 glorious days at sea!
Fewer Ports of Call
Remember the purpose of an ocean crossing cruise is to get the ship from its winter route to its summer route or vice versa in the most efficient way.
Yes they stop at ports that they usually don’t stop at unless it’s an ocean crossing, but once you leave the last port in either Europe or the Southern Hemisphere you’ve got nothing but ocean a head of you until you reach the next continent.
So unlike the very busy port intensive summer and winter routes these ocean crossing cruises are much more laid back and less hectic.
Lessons, Talks, Trivia Games, sales, and other activities
Ocean Crossing Cruises can prove trying for the cruise director’s staff. They’re in charge of keeping cruisers occupied. To keep everyone happy and engaged the staff schedules lots of activities, some of them aren’t scheduled during regular routes.
One example is the Egg Drop competition. I’ve never quite seen this one on any other cruises. It’s pretty silly, but it keeps participants busy for several days building the perfect contraption to safeguard the eggs when dropped from like 9 floors up. The actually event attracts most of the cruises who have nothing else to do but watch the interesting contraptions their fellow cruisers built.
Then there are all sorts of lectures. Everything from Art to History to Geography. Many are pretty interesting and worth while.
My favorite are the lessons, dance lessons, craft lessons such as scrapbooking and napkin folding, and art lessons. I attended the daily water color lessons and came home having learned some new techniques and a few creations I made in class.
The cruise staff does an excellent job of keeping everyone busy and occupied, unless of course you’d rather not participate.
Sailing during a holiday
If your ocean crossing is in the late fall chances are you’ll sailing during Halloween or possibly even Thanksgiving.
This can be a deal breaker for some, specially those who feel that holidays must be spent at home. But if all you’re concerned about is missing some of the festivities, don’t worry. The ship does holidays well.
I’ve been on several ocean crossings during Halloween ( I won’t go if it means spending Thanksgiving on a cruise ship) and it’s been pretty cool.
The ships decorate the main deck and the buffet. They have Monster Bashes and more. Trust me you won’t miss out on the festivities, well ok you don’t get to hand out candy, but you do get to dress up if you desire!
A whole lot of R&R
Because ocean crossings have so many consecutive days at sea expect to catch up on your sleep, reading, and generally practice the delicate art of doing nothing.
If you’re a go, go, go type of person an ocean crossing may not be a great choice for you; but if you love to lounge around, curl up with a good book, or your knitting then these cruises are made just for you.
Expect to gain a few extra pounds
No matter how diligent you are following your diet and exercise regime be prepared to gain a bit of weight.
Those long consecutive days at sea will get you! The buffet and specialty restaurants will most definitely test your will power.
On the other hand it’s a great time to try one of the specialty restaurants you won’t always have the time to try when on a busy port intensive cruise.
So go ahead, enjoy! One of the things I love about these ocean crossings are 2 weeks of yummy food prepared by someone other than me!