A crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by ship is on the bucket list of many of those who enjoy cruising. A route once traversed by famous explorers like Columbus, European Immigrants in search of a better life, and famous vessels such as the Queen Mary and the Normandie, it gives those who take it a sense of history.
Most transatlantic cruises happen in both spring and fall as the lines reposition their ships between Europe and the Caribbean, for the beginning or end of the summer or winter seasons. Some itineraries will include a stop in the Azores, Bermuda, Iceland or other islands along the route. A few lines, such as Cunard, do Transatlantic year round.
Our friend Michael recently returned from a crossing on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, as she repositioned from Barcelona, Spain to Tampa Florida. The fourteen night cruise included stops in the Canary Islands as well as Coco Cay, the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas.
Michael tells us about his exciting journey and reasons to choose a Transatlantic cruise.
” You can get some great deals on repositioning cruises, it’s also a good chance get some peaceful days at sea and enjoy the ship.” explains the Toronto resident. “Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is also a unique experience and getting to see the Canary Islands is a huge bonus”.
Joined by one of his friends, he boarded Rhapsody of the Seas in Barcelona, Spain on November 5th. The ship spent the first two days at sea, then arrived at the first port, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
“Lanzarote is known for its mostly volcanic landscape, with scarce vegetation – we chose to do a ride on a camel, a fun adventure, and a great way to see the island. The tour also visited the salt flats and “Los Hervideros”, some interesting rock formations and caves formed by hot lava colliding with the cool sea. At the conclusion of the tour, a motorcoach brought us back to our ship.”
The next port was Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, the capital of the island. At this port, Michael chose to enjoy a walk around the beach and the downtown area. “The waters of the Atlantic were a bit chilly to swim in, okay when you got used to them. The downtown was quite vibrant with lots going on.” Later, he joined a local tasting tour, one of the ship’s shore excursions. “It was a great chance to try some local cuisine, including dried meats, cheeses and desserts – one of the highlights of the cruise!”
Before making the trek across the Atlantic, Rhapsody made one final call at the Canary Islands at Santa Cruz De La Palma, another beautiful scenic island. “We took a 16 person, 4×4 tour bus into the mountains, where we were able to walk around the edge of a volcano – it was a good thing we brought our jackets as it got quite windy and cool”.
Once all passengers were back on board, Rhapsody of the Seas began her six day journey, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, toward to the Bahamas. This was a great opportunity for him to relax, take it easy, enjoy the ship and a slow pace of life. “We had a smooth ride during most of the six crossing days, with one evening passing through a thunderstorm. Made full use of the lounge chairs to enjoy a book, watched the theatre shows in the evenings and was up well past midnight each night dancing in the disco. Tried out the rock climbing wall a few times, and was able to improve since my last cruise! With six days at sea, life really slows down.”
On day thirteen, Rhapsody of the Seas approached Coco Cay Bahamas, Royal Caribbean’s private island resort. Unfortunately, the Captain started the morning with some bad news. “We hovered in place close to the island for about 20 minutes, and then it was announced that the port was being cancelled due to rough sea conditions. It was very disappointing as after six days we were really looking forward to a day at the beach.” Instead, the vessel spent the day at sea and then continued on to the final port of Tampa, Florida.
“Despite the last stop being cancelled, I still had a good time and would consider doing another transatlantic in the future, in a few years – although on a larger ship, with more on board amenities to enjoy during the sea days”.
Thanks Michael for sharing your experience with us! We will take a closer look at Rhapsody of the Seas, and the Canary Islands in future posts!