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Marga.Anders

Transatlantic - scary? - best routes

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Hi!

 

I have flown all over the planet for years and years, but since 2001 I have an enormous fear of flying and have not been back to my friends in the USA. Since I really want to visit them me and my husband are now looking at taking a longer period of work (maybe 3 months) in 2 - 3 years and going to the USA for an extend period of time.


We are planning a transatlantic cruise back and forth. Maybe a  'fast' one like QM2 one-way and a slower one the other way. 

I am not sure where to start looking for a good solid plan. There are so many options. 

I have a few main questions you can maybe help me with; and other suggestions are more than welcome:

 

- What is the best season for these cruises weather wise. I am a little bit anxious about big storms, and super large waves (spent too much time on youtube); so I want to pick a quiet season.

- Does the ship matter in terms of waves /storm/ stability?  I know QM2 is an ocean liner; are smaller ships much different going transatlantic?

- Which cruise lines offer the most ports on the way?  Are the routes pretty much the same each year?

 

Thanks!

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The first question would be...where are you going?  As in where do you live?  I’m thinking the UK?  
 

The QM2 sails on the North Atlantic route.  This is where you can get into rough seas...not so much between May and September but you never know.  All the other ships reposition...usually March to May and September toDecember.  Most of these ships sail the Southern Atlantic and experience smoother seas and milder temperatures.  We love to cross the Atlantic in October or May.  We have always found the southern route to be smooth and comfortable temps.  

 

 

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We have done two transatlantic round trips [2017 & 2019] with a third planned for 2021.

 

On our 2017 cruise [M733B, for those keeping score at home 🙂 ], the westbound crossing encountered strong winds [Force 11] and large waves from a tropical storm. For the most part, the ride was smooth - there was a period where the spa pool was unavailable, but that may have been due to other issues [large piece of the pool overhead needed repair on the eastbound leg].

I have read reports, and watched some video clips filmed aboard QM2 in Force 12/Hurricane winds - and the ship handled the weather gracefully.

 

We don't avoid boisterous weather, so we typically will schedule crossings in the early autumn. 

The QM2 round trips fit our schedule, and lets us avoid air travel and hotel stays. [Only need to unpack once]

For ports, the round trips have multiple port days between the crossings, but the ship itself is our main attraction. 

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All of my trans-Atlantic crossings have been part of a longer cruise.

 

I have sailed in June, July, and August as well as in March (was a South Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Senegal) and April.  The ones sailing the more Northern Latitudes (i.e. near Iceland) were more "bumpy" for a day or two than the other crossings.  But, if one is going to be on a ship, one cannot expect it to be a day "at a Marriott resort" each day.  None of the crossings made me uncomfortable physically or mentally.  

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20 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

The first question would be...where are you going?  As in where do you live?  I’m thinking the UK?  
 

The QM2 sails on the North Atlantic route.  This is where you can get into rough seas...not so much between May and September but you never know.  All the other ships reposition...usually March to May and September toDecember.  Most of these ships sail the Southern Atlantic and experience smoother seas and milder temperatures.  We love to cross the Atlantic in October or May.  We have always found the southern route to be smooth and comfortable temps.  

 

 

 

Thank you for your response. I live in the Netherlands, so it would be Europe to USA and back. 

 

I am now thinking Europe - Northern USA - roadtrip across the country - maybe a short cruise to Mexico from Texas, then roadtrip further along to either Florida or back to Norther USA and then back to Europe.

Super excited already even though it might be a few years 🙂

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17 minutes ago, Marga.Anders said:

 

Thank you for your response. I live in the Netherlands, so it would be Europe to USA and back. 

 

I am now thinking Europe - Northern USA - roadtrip across the country - maybe a short cruise to Mexico from Texas, then roadtrip further along to either Florida or back to Norther USA and then back to Europe.

Super excited already even though it might be a few years 🙂


Hi Marga,

Hopefully by the time you are ready to go all the ships will be sailing again.  Your trip sounds like a big one.  Many times a European comes to America expecting to see everything.  They do not realize how big the country really is.  If you want to cruise to Mexico you have to leave from Florida or Texas and maybe New Orleans.  
 

Cruising back to Europe is best done on the Southern Atlantic route for the smoothest sailings.  Most ships reposition from America in the Spring and Fall.  
 

Good luck!

 

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On 9/9/2020 at 6:25 AM, Marga.Anders said:

Hi!

 

I have flown all over the planet for years and years, but since 2001 I have an enormous fear of flying and have not been back to my friends in the USA. Since I really want to visit them me and my husband are now looking at taking a longer period of work (maybe 3 months) in 2 - 3 years and going to the USA for an extend period of time.


We are planning a transatlantic cruise back and forth. Maybe a  'fast' one like QM2 one-way and a slower one the other way. 

I am not sure where to start looking for a good solid plan. There are so many options. 

I have a few main questions you can maybe help me with; and other suggestions are more than welcome:

 

- What is the best season for these cruises weather wise. I am a little bit anxious about big storms, and super large waves (spent too much time on youtube); so I want to pick a quiet season.

- Does the ship matter in terms of waves /storm/ stability?  I know QM2 is an ocean liner; are smaller ships much different going transatlantic?

- Which cruise lines offer the most ports on the way?  Are the routes pretty much the same each year?

 

Thanks!

 

I have crossed the Atlantic in both directions many times, including an Eastbound in mid December. As others have mentioned, it can be unpredictable. To answer your questions, with respect to highest probability of smoother sailing:

  • Best season - Westbound - although the shortest routing is a Great Circle, which goes North, few ships opt for this routing due to adverse currents. Most ships go further South for lesser seas and favourable currents. I would opt for a repositioning cruise at the end, or after TRS (Tropical Revolving Storm) season - November/December. Since Bay of Biscay can be rough, I would consider a Meddy departure to a southern US port.
  • Best season Eastbound - the shortest route and prevailing currents dictate use of the north Atlantic for fuel savings. I would consider QM2 for this segment. I would probably avoid Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb
  • Best ship - the QM2 is a true liner, with a hull design optimised for speed and comfort in choppy seas. All ships must meet minimum intact and damaged stability requirement, so no ship is really better for stability. For movement, I suggest QM2 is the best option. Selecting a m'ships and lower deck cabin also helps in a seaway.
  • Cruise lines - tough one to answer, especially with the number of variables. Suggest developing a list of your priorities - comfort/time of year or itinerary. Once you know the priority you and/or a TA can research what is available.

Sound like a great trip, enjoy.

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7 hours ago, Marga.Anders said:

 

Thank you for your response. I live in the Netherlands, so it would be Europe to USA and back. 

 

I am now thinking Europe - Northern USA - roadtrip across the country - maybe a short cruise to Mexico from Texas, then roadtrip further along to either Florida or back to Norther USA and then back to Europe.

Super excited already even though it might be a few years 🙂

 

What a sensational trip plan!  

 

7 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

 Many times a European comes to America expecting to see everything.  They do not realize how big the country really is. 

 

I'll second what this gentleman is saying!  Just as it is impossible for an American to experience all that Europe has to offer, it's not likely that a guest from another country would be able to do with the United States or Canada.  

 

May I suggest another travel possibility in addition to driving?  Parts of America can best be easily seen by train.  The Western Long Distance routes lend themselves to this particularly well.  (For example, Chicago to Seattle via Amtrak's Empire Builder or The California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco.  Seattle to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight or Los Angles to New Orleans on the Sunset Limited would be other routes that I'd suggest.)  If you would be doing your trip in the near future, however, I'd be reluctant to recommend such experiences.  Like much else in the United States. Covid-19 is upsetting "normality" and Amtrak seems to be among the victims.  If--and when--Amtrak gets it's LD train "act together again", you might be able to "ditch" the car and "quickly" and comfortably see a large swath of America.    

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9 hours ago, Marga.Anders said:


I am now thinking Europe - Northern USA - roadtrip across the country - maybe a short cruise to Mexico from Texas, then roadtrip further along to either Florida or back to Norther USA and then back to Europe.

Super excited already even though it might be a few years 🙂


Hi Marga,

Just a few ideas for your consideration...How about this.  Fly into the USA...Amsterdam to Boston.  You will want to do this in late August or September...avoid the heat.  Rent a car and see New England, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.  Fly down to Florida Take in the sights then sail from Fort Lauderdale or Miami for a 1 week cruise to Mexico.  Then rent a car and drive to Orlando, see the sights and drive on to New Orleans.  From there you will have your choice of the states in the Southwest.  Then fly back to Florida and take a repositioning cruise in October/November back to Europe.  
 

Good Luck

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Thank you all for the responses! Very good information 🙂

 

To add:

 

- I once lived for a year in the USA, so I have a good picture of how big it is (lived in Texas). That's why we are going for 3 months. That's the maximum amount of time without a visa.

- The train is a really good suggestion, I will look into that thanks!

- Flying is not an option. Somewhere along the way I got a fear of flying and flying on the first flight after 9/11 from NY to AMS was the final drop for me. Haven't flow since. Don't plan to either. Even if I would push myself to do it, all the fun of the vacation would be gone because I would be so stressed for the way back. Cruising is the way to go for me 🙂

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6 hours ago, Marga.Anders said:

The train is a really good suggestion, I will look into that thanks!

 

CGTNORMANDIE's suggestions are ones that I can support as well.

 

In considering a trip on Amtrak, (and using his idea of getting to New Orleans by car and then to somewhere in the Southwest or the West Coast), the Sunset Limited would be a good choice for seeing that part of the country without driving.  There is a website called Amtrak Discussion Forum that you might want to access.  Those of us who enjoy train travel participate.  Lots of informative information and the opportunity exists--either as a Guest of the Forum or as a Member--to ask questions about rail travel in North America as well as in other parts of the world.  Past and present Amtrak employees and other railroads of the past employees are active on the Forum along with the rest of us who just enjoy train travel.  

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Here's the thing:  trans-At is highly seasonal.  In spring, there are lots of ships going eastbound.  They do the Caribbean in winter and Europe in the summer.  Then in the fall, they head westbound again, huge choice, good value.  Most of the trips will be 12 to 16 days.  We have done four of them, 2 each way, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and Seabourn.  Loved all of them, the ship is the destination.    You are so far south that weather is not a problem.  If you leave from Ft. Lauderdale and end up in Lisbon, sailing well to the south of Bermuda, how bad could it be in April?  Smooth trips, all of them.

 

Then there is QM2 that takes 7 days but goes north Atlantic at all times of year.  Done that each way.  Great way to go but winter weather can be, shall we say, unpredictable.  We've been lucky.

 

So depending on your timing, it sounds like you could take advantage of the seasonal migration and the QM2 three months before or after.

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21 hours ago, Fairgarth said:

....   You are so far south that weather is not a problem.  If you leave from Ft. Lauderdale and end up in Lisbon, sailing well to the south of Bermuda, how bad could it be in April? .....

 

Not necessarily true. April can have very bad weather on the Atlantic. The Raffaello encountered a freak wave in 1966 that did major damage during an April storm.  Did a westbound once from Malaga to Fort Lauderdale via Madeira in November and encountered force 10 for several days. Saw lots of food trays go flying in the dining room. There are no guarantees on the Atlantic, no matter how far south.

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On 10/4/2020 at 7:11 PM, Fairgarth said:

We have done four of them, 2 each way, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and Seabourn.  Loved all of them, the ship is the destination.    You are so far south that weather is not a problem.

 

The Atlantic is similar to every ocean worldwide, in that the weather can be unpredictable at any time of the year.

 

With only 4 crossings of the Atlantic, you were fortunate to experience no weather issues. Having completed numerous Atlantic and other oceans/sea crossings, at best, you can say you have less potential for adverse weather in the respective summer months.

 

When heading to lower Latitudes in the North Atlantic, you also have the potential for Tropical Revolving Storms from June through November, which must form in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or doldrums, at the Equator.

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I guess we have been lucky.  May it continue!  From the experience of others, it sounds like one of these days we'll get tossed around a bit.

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On 10/6/2020 at 4:23 PM, Fairgarth said:

I guess we have been lucky.  May it continue!  From the experience of others, it sounds like one of these days we'll get tossed around a bit.

 

That's part of the enjoyment of cruising for me.  If I wanted a guaranteed "rock solid no motion" vacation, it would not be a trip on the ocean.  Or, even on any large body of water such as the Great Lakes.   

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