TRANSATLANTIC CRUISES for BACKPACKERS: A Way to See More and Pay Less
Cruising can be a very cheap and rewarding mode of travel for backpackers, bargain hunters, and slow travelers. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to cross the ocean when the boats change locations at the end of each season, visit out-of-the way places, and take some time to relax – reading, writing, and conversation with friends.
1. See out-of-the way islands. How about Madeira, Sardinia, the Azores, or the Canary Islands? They’re a bit difficult to get to and expensive, not usually on a backpacker’s itinerary, but a handy stop with a cruise. Other stops could be Cadiz, Gibraltar and other cities. And arriving in a new city by ship is so much more exciting than by land. Sure, your time in each city is short, but it’s a great way to get a small taste of a lot of different places. That can help planning which places you’d like to come back to and spend more time in.
2. Relax. What do you do during a transatlantic cruise? Usually the ship will spend 7 days or so in various port cities, so you’ll spend that time exploring the cities you’re in. Then you’ll spend another week or so at sea. There’s lots to do on the ship, but what I liked most was the peace and quiet. If you’re returning home after backpacking through Europe, a cruise would be a perfect time to unwind, reflect, maybe get your photos organize and fill in the gaps in your travel journal.
3. Cost. How cheap is it? There are lots of cruises available now crossing from the USA to Europe, usually lasting about 14 days or so, for about $600 USD per person including your accommodations and food. That’s around $45 a day! How much would you pay for basic hostel accommodations and simple food for 14 days? On the cruise you’ll be served fabulous meals, have all kinds of entertainment, stay in a nice private cabin and have all your transportation included. If you flew, you’d pay at least $600 for the flight, plus you’d need to organize a bus or train and spend hours riding and waiting when you want to head to a new city.
If you have a few friends to go with you, it can be even cheaper. You can often add a 3rd and 4th person to your room for another $200-300 each bringing down the cost even more.
1. The cruise line will try hard to push expensive excursions, cocktails, photo packages, and souvenirs on you. It’s simple: don’t buy them.
2. Limited Times of Travel. The best time to take a transatlantic cruise is when the seasons change. At the end of winter, roughly March-May, ships move from the Caribbean and South America to Europe. That’s when you will find great bargains on these sailings. Then those same ships head back across the ocean from Europe to the Americas once it gets cold, from October-November.