By , May 5, 2012 2:18 pm

Well, we made it.  4919 nautical miles.  14 nights.  6 time zone changes.  7 consecutive days at sea.  And now we’re across the pond, marvelling at the architecture in Barcelona and kissing on the streets of Paris.

Our home away from home for 14 days

It turns out cruises are a great means of transportation.  While I probably wouldn’t choose a cruise vacation any time soon (for reasons I will explain later), it certainly beats a long flight followed by the jet lag that’s certain to occur.  Interestingly enough, we only met a handful of other travellers on board that were staying in Spain or Europe for a while… the vast majority were on a two week cruise vacation, taking flights homes within a day or two of arrival .

In case you’re new to the site or you missed our cruise announcement post, we just took a 14 night, 5 star Transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Barcelona, Spain.  We booked the cruise because it was simply the cheapest option.  Taxes and tipping included, our cruise package cost us $1306.48 for two people.  That included food, entertainment, and accommodation for 14 days.

View from the Royal Promenade of the ship

The cruise itinerary looked something like this:

Day 1 – Depart Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Day 2 – Port of Call: Nassau, Bahamas
Day 3 – At sea
Day 4 – At sea
Day 5 – At sea
Day 6 – At sea
Day 7 – At sea
Day 8 – At sea
Day 9 – At sea
Day 10 -Port of Call: Tenerife, Canary Islands
Day 11 – At sea
Day 12 – Port of Call: Cadiz, Spain
Day 13 – Port of Call: Malaga, Spain
Day 14 – Port of Call: Valencia, Spain
Day 15 – Arrive in Barcelona, Spain

The Good

There are a lot of obvious benefits to long distance travel via cruise ship: two weeks of luxurious hotel-like accommodation, delicious buffets and fine dining experiences, entertainment of all varieties, and more leisure activities than you’ll know what to do with.

The food was amazing. Before you ask, yes we are still vegetarians. We indulged in sushi almost every other day, as they made vegetarian rolls on request.  We also indulged in (more than) our fair share of desserts… and we did it all without significant weight gain!

One of the great vegetarian options in the dining room… eggplant parmesan

We went ice skating, rock-climbing, played mini-golf, worked out in the gym, relaxed in the hot tub, swam in the pool, took in an enrichment lecture, caught a Broadway-esque musical, participated in a few champagne art auctions (by drinking the free champagne, not by bidding, silly), watched an ice-skating show with world champion skaters, read books, shared great conversations with our dinner mates, and took in many other shows including a hypnotist, juggler, violinist, Paul McCartney impersonator, and motown group. There’s probably some stuff I’m missing, but you get the idea. And it was all included at no extra charge!

Rock-climbing wall

One of the less obvious benefits of the cruise, however, was just getting to shut off our travel brains. One problem that us full time travelers have in common with the retired community is that we never get a day off. The CONSTANT internal banter of where are we going next? how do I find my hostel? is my passport safe? is my wallet safe? is that guy going to try to rob me? is this area safe? is this hostel safe? and so on and so forth never stops.  After months on the road, it’s exhausting.  Being able to shut off that part of our brains and just…BE was phenomenal.

Mike’s Leonardo moment (okay, I forced him to this)

Another plus was the time change.  Rather than shifting 6 hours ahead in one fell swoop, we had a one hour time change six times on the cruise.  Always on a sea day, the clock would simply jump from 11:59 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  This gave our bodies the time we needed to adjust and we arrived in Barcelona on-time in more ways than one.

Whether it was losing an hour a day most days, or the sheer quantity of activities available to us, the days flew by on the cruise.  We thought we might get bored or feel closed in with seven days at sea, but that was not so.  We were actually sad when the sea days to ended.

Some of the art in the champagne art auction

The Bad

What didn’t we like about the cruise?

The food, though amazing, got a little repetitive.  We skipped the dining room half the nights because they would often only have only a curry or pasta dish for vegetarians which was the same curry or pasta dish as the day before, and sometimes the day before that. There were many more whole food options in the buffet.

I proved that gastrointestinal problems can strike not only in Central American, but on a cruise ship too.  I quarantined myself in our stateroom for about 24 hours while I expelled more fluid than I thought my body could hold.  Luckily our cipro supply from Central America made short work of the bug/food poisoning/whatever it was.

We were pretty much our own age category on the boat. The average age of our co-cruisers was a wee bit higher than us… by about 35 years or so! This made it tough to form more than superficial relationships with anyone, and we really didn’t meet too many people that we could relate to. Our dinner mates were good company, however, and made our dining experiences our social highlights of the trip.

Formal night in the dining room… notice the age of the other diners

The ports were the least enjoyable part of the cruise.  We loved all the Spanish cities we stopped at, but afterwards they all started blending together in our minds.  We typically had about 8 hours to exit the ship, get out of the cruise terminal, explore a port city, and return.  8 hours is just not enough time to experience a place.

We thought briefly about some of the shore excursions that were offered through the cruise line, but they were all quite expensive, fairly brief (1-3 hours) and worse still, took away from the already limited time we had to explore each port city.

This is why we wouldn’t book a cruise vacation anytime soon – it’s just not our kind of travel experience.  But would we book a re-positioning cruise as a method of transportation?  Absolutely.

Ice skating show onboard the ship


Interested in booking a cruise as transportation?  Check out transatlantic and re-positioning cruises on a site like

I have to end with a towel animal… this little monkey was happy to see us!

5 Responses to “Why a Cruise is the Best Way to Cross the Atlantic”

  1. June Cubbon says:

    Interesting, Mike and Ashley, we did take a cruise vacation and had similar opinions. We saw some nice places but we felt rushed to explore the area and return to the ship on time. I was not a fan of the sea days because we were stuck on the ship with 3,000 other people and we constantly seemed to be lining up for things. Likewise, we won’t be rushing to book another cruise but if we do, we would like to spend more time in each port. Your situation does sound like the best means for crossing the Atlantic. Enjoy Europe!

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Thanks, June. The lines never really seemed to bother us… maybe because of all the waiting we’ve done in the last 10 months. Where did your cruise go?

  2. Carlo+Geneva says:

    Good job on the cruise! You really got sick of the cruise ship food though? Crazy.

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      We didn’t get sick of the food on the cruise, just in the dining room. With the amount of options in the buffets, it was pretty much impossible to get sick of it all!

  3. […] Photo via […]

Leave a Reply