The day we used a cruise ship as a ferry!

October 17, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Tips and Resources


One of the things on my bucket list was to cross the Atlantic on a boat. October 2013 we decided to miss the Northern Hemispheres winter and spend it in New Zealand’s summer instead. Naturally we looked at flights, but from Scotland it would take almost a day and a half and they were expensive.

A cruise ship instead of flights

As we were in no hurry I decided to look into the option of sailing part way on a cruise ship. After a little research I found the Norwegian ‘Epic’ sailed from Barcelona to Miami. The journey took 13 nights stopping on route at Madeira and St Thomas. I was quite apprehensive as we had never cruised before so I didn’t know what we were letting ourselves in for. Thirteen nights is a long time to be stuck on a boat. What if we were miserable or we got sea sick? There really is no way off when you are floating in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Normally we are quite independent travellers, preferring to piece together our own travel itinerary so this really was going to be a very different experience for us.

A great way to travel

I needn’t have worried. The kids loved the cruise, making new friends and playing in the ship’s swimming pools and waterpark. I had a great break – No meal planning! Sometimes the kids ate with us and sometimes kids club was just far too appealing. They often grabbed a quick snack from the buffet before rushing to the excitement of the well organised activities offered by NCL. These activities could be high wires, playing basketball, making origami, movie nights or Halloween parties to name but a few. Once we knew the kids were safe and being entertained we could settle down and have a meal together in one of the ships A la Carte restaurants. Overall the food was pretty good. There was a wide selection at every meal. I was pretty surprised by the quality – There was one day when my husband did manage to eat steak for breakfast lunch and dinner!

The organised entertainment on board seemed to be good. Watching flying fish or dolphins catch waves and Jupiter rise above the horizon from our balcony was enough entertainment for us. Granny came with us and she made the most of all the attractions on board. She even ended up being the star of the ‘Blue Man Show’ – much to the girls’ embarrassment!

The best part

And the best part – this cruise worked out cheaper than taking a one way flight from Europe to America!

In October a one way flight from Edinburgh to Miami would cost anything between £400- £700 each.

This cruise was £370 per adult and £170 for the kids. Remember this includes all accommodation, all entertainment and food for 13 nights! All we had to do was get to Barcelona from Scotland which we managed on Ryanair for £17 each.

Why are these cruises so cheap? And where can I find one?

Most of the big cruise companies ships follow the seasons. This means that they spend the summer cruising around the Mediterranean Sea and the winters going round the Caribbean. Twice a year these ships have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to get to their next seasonal destination. A lot of frequent cruisers don’t want to do these cruises as they last around 2 weeks and they usually only offer 2 stops. Most seasoned cruisers are looking for a full shore itinerary and these relocation cruises don’t provide this. A transatlantic cruise can work out a great deal as the cruise company doesn’t have to pass on as many port charges making it one of the cheapest cruises available.

You can contact the big cruise companies directly to look for these offers but often the best deals can be found online with one of the big cruise discounters. I use ‘Vacations to Go’ or ‘Cruise 1st’.

Just input your dates (April – May for West to East cruises or October – November for East to West) and you can get an idea of what is on offer.

Cruise companies also offer cheap Transpacific options. March – April they sail from Australia to the West cost of USA, September – October in reverse.

Next time, take a cruise ship

If you are travelling long term and don’t mind too many sea days then I would highly recommend you consider travelling on a cruise ship as a change from taking a flight. It can keep the cost of your travel down, take you to new places you may not have considered going to and allow you to arrive at your destination feeling as if you have already had a ’Vacation’.

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    Mamasmu said on November 3, 2016 12:25 pm:

    I’d love to do this. My children would love it and what an experience. I’ve yet to find one as cheap as that though but I’ll keep trying!

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    workbob3 said on November 3, 2016 3:53 pm:

    thanks, Gillian…….that was some great info…….we hope to try this out next Fall……..