Once upon a time, transatlantic voyages were the stuff nightmares were made of. Passengers from all over the world risked life and limb on gut-wrenching journeys across the sea. These days transatlantic boat travel is a luxurious, all inclusive pleasure trip, and a welcome escape from the daily grind. According to the Cruise Line Information Agency, more than 7 million people last year spent their vacation time floating leisurely along while being completely pampered. The planning and packing for a cruise can be a lot more stress-inducing than the trip itself, which is a nice change of pace for many people. Even then, it's pretty low-key. The hardest part is getting to the boat, as most people are unfamiliar with the planning of one way travel. To get your transatlantic voyage off on the right foot, follow the steps in the guide below.
Decide which direction you'd like to cruise from- East to West or West to East. Ships travelling from East to West generally depart from Southampton, England, Barcelona, Spain and other major European ports. Ships travelling from West to East typically leave from Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Miami or New York.
Search the Internet for "transatlantic cruise." You can visit cruise line specific sites, such as Carnival Cruise lines or Celebrity Cruises, or general travel sites which Travelocity or VacationsToGo.com, which compare the prices for all participating cruise lines.
Consider the number of days you'd like to spend on your journey. Transatlantic voyages take anywhere from six to thirty-five days, depending on which trip you select. The trip itself ranges from a straight steam from Southampton, UK to New York, NY, or can meander up into the Mediterranean and down along the African Coast.
Study the cruise calendar and decide when you'd like to travel; most transatlantic cruises run from April though November, with the occasional Christmas voyage. The prices at both the beginning and the end of the season tend to be lower than those in the more popular summer months.
Research your ship options. Consider the size of the ship, the number of other passengers, the on board activities, the number and duration of ports of call and what, exactly, is included in the price.
Choose between "cruise only" or "air to sea." With cruise only, you will make your own arrangements to either meet the cruise ship or to get home, depending on which direction you're sailing in. With "air to sea," the cruise company makes the flight arrangements for you. Also, many cruise lines, in addition to handling your flight arrangements, sell pre- and post-cruise hotel packages.
Leave some room for error in your planning, if you'd like to fly over and cruise home. However, be sure to book your airline ticket to arrive at least 48 hours before the ship departs. This will give you some cushion if there are any travel delays, and allow you to rest and adjust to the jet lag prior to getting on the boat. Book a room in advance somewhere close to the dock to save on taxi fare. Alternatively, arrange to fly home after cruising and give yourself a few days to poke around the area where the ship docks. Travelling can be tiring, and it is nice to spend a few days on dry land before heading home.
Make your own one-way travel arrangements after you've booked your cruise, provided you chose "cruise only." Go online to Orbitz, Travelocity, Airgorilla, or Booking Buddy, and select "One Way Only." Then, enter the destination or departure city of your choice and the date you need to travel on. These particular companies offer reasonable pricing on one-way airfare; however, you should also check the price of a round trip ticket. Many times it is cheaper to purchase round-trip even if you don't use it.
Determine the date you need to fly, and enter the destination city of your choice and the departure date.
Travel by taxi from the airport to either your hotel (recommended) or directly to the boat docks, if the boat is departing the same day you arrive.
For the best prices, book your cruise four to six months in advance, and be sure to comparison shop prior to purchasing tickets. If you get bogged down in the details, go to a travel agency and explain what you'd like to do and let them take care of the details for you.
Do not attempt to take a cruise without a current, valid passport.