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Ocean travel to Europe
Old 01-04-2010, 01:17 PM   #1
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Ocean travel to Europe

In another thread someone suggested avoiding airline travel inconveniences by employing alternates modes. The only other public transportation option between America and Europe that I can think of is by ship. Has anyone gone to Europe by boat from the east coast of the USA? How was the experience?
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:07 PM   #2
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Not yet; my goal is to take a transatlantic repositioning cruise at some point though. There are usually some VERY good deals to be had if you can find a way to get one way transatlantic airfare for cheap (I have). Of course it takes a week and costs much more than a plane ticket.
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:12 PM   #3
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Dh's BIL has an uncle who regularly travels around the world on cargo ships. He says that he has a ball.

DH was entertaining the idea himself until we watched a show on Discovery Channel about rogue waves - there is some outrageous amount of ships that go missing with no sign ever found of them.
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:37 PM   #4
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I go to Europe several times a year and I absolutely hate to fly, but quite frankly I much prefer a quick 8-hour flight to a week-long cruise across the North Atlantic.
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:17 PM   #5
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As an increasingly long time investor in shipping companies, I don't think I would spend a lot of time worrying about rogue waves. Bigger issues would be piracy (depending on where you sail), groundings, delays (ships queue when ports get busy), and theft of your goods when in port.

As a sufferer of seasickness, I do not think I will be pursuing this option. Wish I could.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:14 PM   #6
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Timely thread. I just finished watching an episode of Big Bigger Biggest on large cruise ships and it showed the history of transatlantic passenger ships dating back to the first steam powered ship. They said it cut the travel time from England to NYC from a highly variable period up to 2 months by sail down to a fairly certain 15 nights by steam and paddlewheel.

I'm referring to the 1300 ton Great Western steamship, the first purpose built transatlantic steamship. Interesting that the displacement of that ship is 1/100 the current breed of cruise ship.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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Heh, and Vale (Brazilian mining company) ordered some 425,000 ton ore carriers a year or two ago.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:57 PM   #8
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Went across NYC to the UK in 1970 to go to school, seems like a lifetime ago. Wonderful experience.
The thing to do now is to get a repositioning cruise which only happens once or twice a year, long, cheap cruise, probably not from NYC but from this hemisphere to Europe.
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:29 PM   #9
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Here are some crossings to Europe:

Princess Cruises®
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:50 AM   #10
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It seems obvious now that travel by sea is more costly than air travel. I had hoped that since air freight costs more than surface shipping there would be a similar effect with passengers. I'm willing to take a slower trip for less money but in this case it costs more. I'm disappointed.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:34 AM   #11
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It seems obvious now that travel by sea is more costly than air travel. I had hoped that since air freight costs more than surface shipping there would be a similar effect with passengers. I'm willing to take a slower trip for less money but in this case it costs more. I'm disappointed.
I bet if they could cram people in steerage class or third class, then the cost may be comparable to flying. There's just not any demand for that since it would be very uncomfortable for a number of days instead of just 8 hours or so.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:56 AM   #12
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Not yet; my goal is to take a transatlantic repositioning cruise at some point though. There are usually some VERY good deals to be had if you can find a way to get one way transatlantic airfare for cheap (I have). Of course it takes a week and costs much more than a plane ticket.
I'd love to take a repositioning cruise - can you give some info. on how you get the flight deals?
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:05 AM   #13
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I'd love to take a repositioning cruise - can you give some info. on how you get the flight deals?
Free or very cheap frequent flyer miles. Although a lot of offers have dried up. Here's an example of one deal I did recently:

The best milage sign-up bonus for a credit card. Ever.

Citicards and Chase have some good cards w/ frequent flyer miles. There is a dual benefit that comes from using FF miles. One is that if you get them cheap/free, you don't pay a lot for the flight. The other is that many programs allow you to book one way flights for 1/2 the miles that a round trip would cost you. Perfect for repositioning cruises, since you just need a one way ticket to/from Europe. If you try to buy a 1 way ticket to/from Europe, in my experience you'll pay roughly the same, or even more than if you just bought a round trip ticket and threw away the return portion.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:17 AM   #14
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My husband and I took one of the last QE2 transatlantic crossings in April08. He had been once before in the late 1960s. I absolutely loved it. We had a small, basic cabin not too far above the water line, so it was fun to look out our porthole and to hear the waves. Three meals a day, plus late night buffet, afternoon tea and room service. Concerts, movies, lectures, library, pub, casino (we didn't indulge).

I was just mesmerized by walking the deck or sitting in the many public lounge areas watching the waves, the clouds, and the sun. There was a mysterious sort of emotional awe at actually crossing the North Atlantic as my ancestors had done (though not in such luxury).

There is quite a bit of evening formality on the Cunard ships, but that was fun in itself. He took a tux and I took some simple long black skirts and some "glittery" tops. We then spent about a week in England and flew back on British Airways. We used a local travel agent who got a pretty good rate on the return flights thru Cunard.

Now there is the QM2, which makes several TA trips each year, and the Qeen Victoria, which QE2 and QM2 fans tend to look down upon as a "cruise ship" and not a true "ocean liner".

I would do the whole thing again in a minute!
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:25 AM   #15
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I bet if they could cram people in steerage class or third class, then the cost may be comparable to flying. ..................
And might I add, the ambiance would also be comparable.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:44 AM   #16
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And might I add, the ambiance would also be comparable.
That was my point - similar experience, just for 8 hours instead of 5+ days.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:47 AM   #17
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I was just mesmerized by walking the deck or sitting in the many public lounge areas watching the waves, the clouds, and the sun. There was a mysterious sort of emotional awe at actually crossing the North Atlantic as my ancestors had done (though not in such luxury).
That's the sort of experience I'm looking for too. And to retrace the same steps that some unknown ancestors made way before the invention of the airplane. The DW, having emigrated here in 1984 on a wide-body jet, doesn't care to experience the same trip though...
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:32 AM   #18
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two views from the deck of QE2 North Atlantic
Attached Images
File Type: jpg QE2 and England 094.jpg (345.6 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg QE2 and England 077.jpg (360.7 KB, 1 views)
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:52 AM   #19
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That was my point - similar experience, just for 8 hours instead of 5+ days.
Oh, I've never been in steerage. I pictured something like rats, standing water and an assortment of livestock roaming loose.
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:27 PM   #20
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Oh, I've never been in steerage. I pictured something like rats, standing water and an assortment of livestock roaming loose.
I think the humans are herded like cattle. Kinda like flying on any airline.
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