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!
Ready to book your ocean crossing cruise? Call Savvy Nana Travel! We’ll help you plan the cruise of your life!
You’ve decided to try a Transatlantic or Transpacific cruise, and have actually booked it. Yay! Now let’s talk about packing for your ocean crossing.
It doesn’t take rocket science when packing for your ocean crossing, but there are some things you might forget to bring. So here’s a list of things you should consider packing for your ocean crossing cruise.
Don’t rely on the ship’s library, they’re pickings a usually slim and are even slimmer during ocean crossings. Unless you rush to the library the minute you step on the ship you’ll find that the books at the library go out fast. You could keep checking to see if any good books have been returned, but to ensure you have something to read, bring your own.
It’s not hard to do, just load however many books you can read during your cruise on to your tablet. Technology makes it much easier to bring books where ever you may go.
That ipad, kindle, or tablet won’t do you any good if they aren’t charged. So don’t forget to pack their chargers!
Bring your hobby or crafting supplies
If you love to knit, crochet, paint or whatever be sure you bring along your supplies. You can get a lot of knitting done on an ocean crossing. Not to mention there are on board gatherings for folks who share the same hobby.
I’d pack scissors, knitting needles, and other tools in the checked luggage. TSA will not look too kindly on anyone attempting to bring anything sharp and pointy on board an aircraft.
Prescription and OTC Meds
It goes without saying that you’ll remember to pack your prescription meds, but don’t forget to bring OTC meds too. Of course tylenol, cough syrup, dramamine, and other OTC meds can be purchased at the ship’s gift shop or medical center, but do you really want to pay $4-6 on 4 or 6 tylenol pills? Or would you enjoy spending almost $20 on a small bottle of Robitussin?
So bring your own meds, 7 days at sea is a long time to have a throbbing headache!
If your ship has self service laundrymats pack some travel size detergent, bleach and dryer sheets. I know Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines have self service laundrymats on just about every floor, Celebrity does not. But if you’re ship has them bring your own supplies. Sure they sell them but many times they run out as everyone is thinking the same thing.
Also bring a roll of quarters. Most times the change machine is out of order or has run out of change. Bringing a roll of quarters saves you a trip down to the purser’s desk in search of change.
Don’t forget to brink some comfy work out clothes and shoes. With all the food you’ll be enjoying hitting the gym or running track may not be such a bad idea. It might just start you on an exercise routine you can take home with you!
Halloween Costume or other holiday gear
If you’re on a cruise ship on Halloween or other holiday pack your costume or holiday tshirt or sweater. It’s fun to dress up and join the festivities!
Ready to book your next ocean voyage? Call Savvy Nana Travel. We’ll do the planning, you do the relaxing!
You might be wondering what exactly are Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises and why should you even consider taking one. Both cruises are essentially ocean crossings done when cruise ships are repositioning from one route to another.
Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises are usually offered in the early spring and late fall. The early spring cruises are done when ships are moving from their winter routes to their summer routes; late fall cruises are when the ships return to their summer routes.
Transatlantic cruises are generally from North American ports that serve as gateways for Caribbean cruises in the winter to European ports that are gateways to Baltic and Mediterranean cruises in the summer.
Transpacific cruises are generally from Asian and Southern Hemisphere ports that serve as gateways to Asian and Australian/New Zealand cruises in the winter to ports located in North America’s western ports that are the debarkation ports to Alaska in the summer months.
Got that? Ok now you should know that there are basically 2 transatlantic routes.
The northern route take ships from Florida to Northern Europe with ports of call in Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and Scotland before ending up in either South Hampton, England or Copenhagen, Denmark. These ships ply the Baltic route during the summer months. Their late fall return usually includes stops along eastern Canada and the US eastern seaboard to view the colorful autumn foliage.
The southern route takes ships from Florida to ports in Spain, Greece, or Italy with stops at the Canary Islands, Azores, and possibly the Spain’s Costa del Sol. These ships travel the Eastern and Western Mediterranean routes during the summer. Their late fall return usually follows the same route they take in the spring.
Transpacific routes generally travel from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand to San Fransico, Seattle, or Vancouver. They usually make stops in Mexico and Southern youCalifornia.
Having said all this there of course will be exceptions such as ships moving from their winter routes in South America and those that travel around the Middle East. For the purpose of this article we’ll stick to the Transatlantic and Transpacific routes.
Alright, now you sort of know what transatlantic and traspacific cruise are, so let me give you six reasons why you should consider taking one or perhaps why you shouldn’t.
The Price is Right!
Transatlantic and transpacific cruises are generally a good value. The ships have to sail to their seasonal routes anyway so it makes good business sense to fill them up on those crossings. I’ve paid as little as $1200 per person for a 14 day transatlantic cruise in a balcony stateroom. That’s less than $100 a day! They also included perks such as paid gratuity and drink package!
Restful and Relaxing!
Cruises with many ports of call are exciting, but they can also be exhausting. It’s go, go, go almost everyday! Some cruises are so hectic you hardly get a chance to enjoy all the things the ship has to offer, not to mention you might need a vacation after your vacation!
Well that is not a problem on a transatlantic or transpacific cruise. You will have plenty of days at sea to rest, relax, and enjoy everything the ship has to offer. Most crossings have about 5-7 consecutive days at sea, plenty of time to catch up on your reading, learn a new dance step, or just catch up on your sleep.
No Cooking for 2 Weeks!
This is one of my favorite reasons to go on a transatlantic cruise, or any cruise for that matter.
From breakfast to dinner and everything in between your meals are prepared by someone other than yourself, and you don’t have to clean up either!
You can indulge at the buffet, dine in the main dining room, grab a burger at the grill, or sample the different specialty restaurants. Whatever you’ve a yen for you’ll probably be able to satisfy it at one of the ship’s dining venues.
Best of all you’ll have the time and the appetite to try everything because you won’t be filling up on local foods on shore!
Interesting Ports of Call
Transatlantic and transpacific cruises make stops at some interesting ports that they don’t normally visit on their regular routes. Ports like Tenerife, the Azores, Greenland, and Iceland are not on Baltic or Med routes. Ships only stop there during their crossings about twice a year.
On our transatlantic cruise last year we stopped in Malaga, Cartagena, and the Canary Islands. All very nice cities!
Learn something new or try something different or silly
Cruise staff really work overtime during these crossings. They must come up with new and innovative ways to keep cruisers entertained. They offer lectures, games, lessons, live shows, movies, and activities for just about everyone.
Last year I really enjoyed the free water color painting classes on the cruise. Learned some new techniques and came home with a few pretty paintings.
We also enjoyed watching the Egg Drop event. It was amusing to see the contraptions cruisers came up with to save their raw eggs from getting smashed when dropped 6 decks down!
Meet new people and make new friends
On many cruises you’re too busy running around to really meet anyone, much less have a conversation with them. On ocean crossings this is not a problem.
It’s easy to be sociable when you see the same people everyday for 2 or more weeks! Unless you prefer to keep to yourself you will find many opportunities to meet new and interesting people. We’ve met many cruisers who’ve become great friends!
Ready to book your transatlantic cruise? Contact us at Savvy Nana Travel, we’ll help you plan your dream vacation!
Last spring my family and I had the misfortune of going on an MSC Cruise, NEVER AGAIN! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me begin by saying that we are a family of avid cruisers. We’ve all gone on many cruises with various cruise lines particularly Princess, Celebrity, and Royal Carribbean. And this was NOT our first MSC Cruise, in fact it was our second. We sailed on the MSC Lirica in Spring 2018; that was pretty bad!
So why you ask did we go yet again on another MSC cruise if the first one was so bad. I guess the answer is price, MSC has some amazing cruise deals and most of the time kids sail free. This is a huge deal when sailing with our daughter and son-in-law who have 2 kids and we usually take along one or two of our other grandsons. So free cruise fare for kids staying in the same room with their parents or grandparents is a very big savings.
We also figured that due to our first bad experience on an MSC cruise our expectations were pretty low but because of the great price we could still go on MSC if only to get from port to port. It’s definitely cheaper than flying to all those different places not to mention dragging kids and luggage, sorting out transfers to and from airports, booking hotel rooms, and finding a place to eating after a tiring day running around. We figured as bad as an MSC cruise was it at least got us from port to port without schlepping luggage, provided a reasonably clean room to sleep in, and fed us after a long day at port, even if the only thing we found palatable was the pizza. In short we were prepared to use the cruise sort of like a bus/hotel. Sounded like a great idea at one time; but after this past experience I wouldn’t take an MSC cruise even if they gave it to me for free! Yes it was that bad!
We sailed on the MSC Meraviglia on a 7 day round trip cruise from Rome’s port in Civittavechia. At first glance w thought Wow! This ship is amazing! And it was! the Meraviglia is one of MSC’s newest cruise ships that features state of the art technology, an amazing play area and pool for kids and adults, Cirque de Soleil shows, a chocolate shop, an awesome arcade complete with 3D simulators and F1 Racers, and first of it’s kind on sea digital display ceiling!
And that was where the Wow factor ended. Everything else was mediocre at best and terrible most of the time.
The food was mediocre at best, the buffet served the same thing pretty much the whole 7 days. Breakfast had bland made to order omelets (assuming you could fight the hoards and actually order one), runny tasteless scrambled eggs, under cooked bacon swimming in fatty oil, and only sunny side up fried eggs. The best thing at breakfast was the croissants and other pastries at the bakery section. Lunch pretty much consisted of pasta, pizza, and some type of ethic food like paella one day which everyone fought to get to. And dinner was a rehash of the same things.
The buffet layout was weird to say the least, it had a narrow aisle which everyone squeezed thru and blind corners where the ethnic foods were so that one pretty much had to claw one’s way to. And as huge as the buffet area was there were never ever enough tables and that’s because service was so bad. Buffet staff took their time clearing off tables during the meal rushes. Yup there were tables but you pretty much had to clear the plates yourself or find personnel willing to do so. Of course if you were Italian you got much better service than guests of other nationalities, it is after all an Italian company.
Now I talked about service, actually I should say the terrible service. Again we noticed if one was Italian it seemed they got better service than the rest of us. The bad service was every where, in any dining venue except possibly the main dining room because you did get to know your waitstaff if you had fixed dinner seating. If you didn’t have fixed dinner seating all I can say is good luck finding someone to help you make reservations and find your table.
Bad service abounded from every bar and cafe on board, to the shops, to the specialty restaurants whose menus and packages were out right confusing and the pricing highway robbery! Even the customer service desk and the shore excursion desk had very bad customer service. If you complained (we complained daily because our neighbors in the next cabin would pound on the walls, run down the hallway, and scream and yell every night between 2:30 to 4:30 am!) it was never dealt with. In fact we were never believed, because it seems they decided that I loved getting up every night at 2:30 am to call customer service to tell them my neighbor was knocking on the door. And then there was the time those same neighbors spent an afternoon on their balcony while we were docked in Barcelona tossing bread at the seagulls. Yup everyone just loves to have frantic seagulls dive bombing their balcony as the birds fight for the bread. Of course customer service didn’t believe us. Did I mention our neighbors were Italian?
And the shore excursions! They sold us round trip shuttle bus tickets to Marseilles, unfortunately they didn’t tell any of us, there were fellow passengers with us at the shuttle stop, that there would be no MSC shore excursion staff to help you at the shuttle stop in the heart of Marseilles, and that the buses don’t stop to pick up returning passengers at the shuttle stop if they don’t feel like it and they don’t follow the posted schedule unless they want to. So yes we all appreciated waiting almost an hour for a return bus that was scheduled to pick up every 15-30 minutes. We especially loved the fact that it as very cold and raining while we watched the buses pass by without stopping to pick us up. It was a great experience for the infants and toddlers that were there too.
Of course those of us who had to wait at the bus stop marched over to the shore excursion desk to complain. In a nutshell we were told that there was supposed to be MSC staff at the bus stop but he’d have to check out why they weren’t there (could it be because it was cold and raining?), and that the shuttle bus was contracted to a local company by MSC and therefore MSC has no control over what they do. Really?
Ok all this was pretty bad and we had already decided this would be our last MSC cruise, the free cruise fare for the kids just wasn’t worth the aggravation of everything they put us thru. But the final straw came on the last day after we disembarked from the ship. We were already on the train to Rome when I handed my grandson Devon what I though were his new airpods which I had found the night before on his pillow. At that time I thought how nice, the cabin attendant (I don’t know who it was because said person never introduced his or herself and I saw several different people cleaning our room during the cruise) kindly placed the airpods and the case on the pillow so that we wouldn’t forget them. I put them in my purse for safekeeping. (mind you Devon wasn’t allowed to remove the airpods from the room. He only used them while in our room to avoid loosing them.)
So on the train I gave them to him to use during the ride. He immediately told me that someone had switched his airpods for a broken pair. And sure enough they had been switched. How do we know? Well his new pair were in excellent condition and paired to his iphone as Devon’s Airpods, the pair that I had thought were his popped up on his iphone as John’s Airpods; Devon’s Airpods were not on the train with us. Not to mention there are no Johns in our family and John’s airpods would not charge up. So I can only deduce that one of the people servicing our cabin was a thief and switched the airpods for his broken pair.
As many cruises as we’ve been on, well over 30, we have never had anything stolen from us. Bad enough to steal but even worse when you’re stealing from a child!
This was the final straw I will NEVER sail on an MSC Cruise EVER AGAIN!
All I can say is that if you do sail with MSC keep your valuables locked up and your expectations very low!
Have you heard about Airbnb? This is a platform that allows you to rent other people’s apartment or home, especially when you are away on a trip. It enables you to save a few bucks that you would have spent renting an expensive hotel somewhere in town. An Airbnb coupon code allows you to pay further less money than other individuals who rent houses using the platform. It is, therefore, one of the perfect means of ensuring that you experience an enjoyable stay at your place of visit at a pocket-friendly price. But you wouldn’t want to feel cheated after finding that you’ve actually overspent instead of saving some funds? There’s a perfect way of ensuring that your experience with Airbnb is a blessing rather than a frustrating moment. On that note, you need to check on the following tips of renting an apartment on Airbnb.
- Negotiate the price before settling
Your primary aim of renting an Airbnb apartment is to ensure that you spend as little as possible on accommodation to free up funds for use in other activities during the trip. Therefore, you need to negotiate for the lowest possible price before making a payment. On the Airbnb website, there’s a button that indicates “Request to Book” where you need to click when making a booking. If you intend to negotiate the price, don’t click on the button first. Instead, click “Contact this host” and it will prompt you to indicate the dates that you are willing to stay in the house. Put this data in the necessary slots, and this will guarantee you of a place in the house that you are booking even though you don’t pay at first. From here, you can then negotiate with the house owner for the best price, and once you’ve agreed, you can proceed to make the payment.
2. Booking for more days than you need can be cheaper
You can save a lot of money while booking on the Airbnb platform if you are keen on the special offers they have for their users. At times, there are particular offers that enable you to save more if you book a number of days, say, one week. For instance, if you intended to stay for five days at a standard price of $ 800, you might find a similar home with a special offer of 7 days at $ 750. In such a case, it’s evident that you stand saving $50 should you pick the special offer. So, consider checking out such special offers before you select an apartment on Airbnb.
3. You can visit the place before you book
If you happen to be already at the area that you intend to stay in during your vacation, you can pay a physical visit to the place that you intend to stay in after identifying it on Airbnb. This will enable you to evaluate whether it is exactly where you would like to stay and has the facilities you need in an ideal apartment. Remember, booking first can be tricky as you may find out that the place is not as attractive as you thought. After visiting the apartment and you are satisfied that it is perfect for your stay, you should pay via Airbnb platform. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that you are not scammed which is a possibility if you pay directly to the house owner.
When you follow the tips mentioned above, you might save some bucks and will be able to choose a perfect home away from home through Airbnb.
It is without a doubt that Europe is one of the most beautiful continents in the world. The continent is a haven for sailing, from the beautiful scenery to its historical richness, Europe is a continent oozing of natural beauty. There are also many glamorous sailing destinations to choose from.
If sailing around your Europe is part of your bucket list, then check out SailingEurope.com for amazing deals and packages. We help to make the decision to cross it out from the list sooner rather than later. Here are some of the top three reasons why you should definitely look forward to sailing around Europe.
1. Beautiful Sailing Destinations
When deciding to sail around Europe, you will be spoilt for choice with the many beautiful destinations to choose from. Depending on your preference and budget, to mention but a few, here are a couple of destinations you can choose from.
I. French Riviera, France – This is one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in the world. You will be treated to the Celebrity Haunt Saint-Tropez, Coastline stopping off the Cannes and the Millionaire Playground.
II. Ionian Island, Greece – This would be a great place to begin with sceneries such as whitewashed beautiful villages, traditional taverns, and rugged mountains
III. The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia – Offers beautiful sun-soaked beaches, rich cultures from the beautiful traditional way of life of the people and hidden coves
IV. Sporades Islands, Greece – Located in the East Coast, you get to sail through the beautiful Islands with rich vegetation, maintained green-blue waters and experience the people’s traditional rich cultures.
V. Bay of Naples, Capri and Amalfi Coast, Italy – If you are a lover of wine and great traditional food, this is the place to start. You will also experience beautiful sunny shores, towns, and Isles.
2. Multiple Destinations Immersion
Imagine hanging out in the Volcanic Island of Ischia in the morning, wine tasting in Montalcino, Mecca in the afternoon and an intimate setting to recharge from a long day of discovery in the evening as you sail through to the next destination. This is most definitely possible when sailing through Europe. You are exposed to multiple destinations and cultures to choose from and experience at your leisure.
3. Exposure to Many Different Cultures
Europe is a fairly large continent with 50 countries and numerous ports. It is, however, small enough to sail around. Every destination you chose offers a different experience from the people and their way of life to the food and drinks. You get to learn and appreciate the different traditions set by the locals and passed from generation to generation. You will get to learn new expressions, experience foreign languages and visit some of the famous cultural places like Ireland. All these aspects will bring you one step closer to all the great and beautiful things in the world and also influence you positively to appreciate the different ways of life.
Well, there you have it. All that is left now is for you to get your traveling gear ready, choose your first sailing destination in Europe and you are good to go.