Tips For Enjoying Transatlantic Bargains
Written by: Kuki
Fall is approaching quite quickly, and with that, some of the most incredible bargains of the year are available on Transatlantic sailings.
From mid-October through to late November the cruise lines will be repositioning many of their ships, which have spent the summer sailing European and Mediterranean itineraries, to get them to the Caribbean, readying for their winter season.
These transatlantic repositioning cruises generally vary from 14 -18 nights, and the vast majority of those will include several ports of call in Europe prior to heading across the Atlantic (5 or 6 sea days during the crossing). Such itineraries also sometimes include a stop at a Caribbean island, prior to arriving in the United States.
Perhaps due the extended lengths of these cruises, or perhaps because of the additional cost involved in flying to the European ports of disembarkation, historically, demand for these sailings is not all that high, and therefore there are some exceptional deals to be had.
With just a quick search I found 15 nights on Celebrity starting at 668, sailing from Southampton, England; on the new Carnival Breeze starting at $1199 for a 15 night sailing from Barcelona, Spain; 13 nights on the Norwegian Epic from $548, sailing from Barcelona. . Some cruise lines are offering free upgrades or shipboard credits as additional amenities.
With some assistance from your travel agent I think it’s relatively easy to find pricing in the $40 – $100 per day range, depending on the type of cabin you prefer, plus receive some additional incentives.
Tip 1 – Airfare - is a major concern when considering a transatlantic cruise. However, this may not be as much of an obstacle as you first believe.
For North Americans cruising in the Caribbean I would never recommend purchasing air from the cruise lines; you can almost always find cheaper airfare yourself. However, for transatlantic cruises, “open jaw” flights are required. This means you are departing from one city, and your returning flight departs from a city other than the city you flew in to.
And, in the case of “open jaw” flights, in my experience, purchasing air from the cruise lines is considerably less expensive than purchasing it on your own, directly from the air lines. In fact, it’s often surprising how inexpensive those flights are when purchased from the cruise line’s air/sea departments.
Tip 2 – Age Demographics - on transatlantic sailings are often skewed to the 60s and above. This is the rather standard “typical” view on cruises 10 days or longer, but to expect much deviation from that standard on cruises lasting 15 days or longer would be unrealistic.
While that means you won’t find a “party atmosphere” on board every night, it certainly does not dictate the absence of some lively nightlife aboard.
The passengers on board may trend to an older generation, but they are often active, well travelled, and interesting. You can certainly meet many very interesting people on board, and given the length of the cruises, get to know your fellow passengers relatively easily, and well. And that includes pleasant, enjoyable, and social evening activities on the ship.
Tip 3 – Chair Hogs - the phrase used to describe people rushing out in the morning to place personal belongings on sun-loungers by the pool to lay claim for the day (whether they intend to use them, or not), is not an issue on transatlantic sailings. The length of the cruise, and the age demographic are contributing factors.
But, whatever the reason, if you are a sun worshipper, you’ll have no problem finding open “prime real estate” on deck.
Tip 4 – 25 Hour Days – are the extra bonus of transatlantic sailing that travel from east to west. Cruising, rather than flying, naturally eases the transition through time zones anyway. But, doing so traveling from Europe, in an westerly direction, means you’ll be passing through a minimum of 4, and as many as 6 time zones. Each time you pass through one of those time zones the clock moves back, essentially creating 25 hr. days.
Getting 5 extra free hours on your cruise creates the opening for you to enjoy an extra 13 meals on board.
Tip 5 – Reading, Bridge Play, Card and Board Games - are some of the more popular day-time activities on transatlantic cruises. Ships sailing these types of itineraries will have libraries on board; some with a wider selection than others. They will normally also set up a bin for a book exchange to augment their library selection as well.
These days E-readers have become an increasingly more popular means of cruisers carrying multiple books with them. Decks of cards are commonly available on the ship, as are some board games, but if you have a favorite, bring it with you. You’ll be surprised how much you play, and how easy it is to find fellow passengers to play with.
Organized Bridge play is very commonly available on transatlantic sailings, and the cruise lines often have bridge instruction available on these sailings.
The evenings on board feature the same entertainment as one expects on a cruise; with plenty of dining options, shows in the main theaters, and regular scheduled entertainers in the lounges and bars.
Tip 6 – Choosing – the itinerary and ship for your transatlantic sailing might seem simple. Yet the variances in disembarkation ports, itineraries, and length of cruises available, do require some work on your part, and consultation with your travel agent. You’ll then be ready to set sail on one of my favorite types of cruises —extended transatlantic sailings — taking advantages of some of the best prices of the year.
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Posted: August 7th, 2012 under Kuki.