Where’s your next European travel destination? Greece? Portugal? Italy? Iceland? Norway? Well, you can travel from the USA to Europe without ever setting foot on an airplane to get you to any ports of call in Europe – from Barcelona to Azores.

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat offers a unique and economical option for those aspiring to reach Europe without having to deal with air travel. Not on any old sailboat, but one of a few different options for transatlantic ocean travel: freighter cruises, repositioning cruises and luxury cruises.

Freighter Cruises

This is the simplest and cheapest way to cross the Atlantic by ship: hopping on board a freighter ship, AKA a cargo ship whose primary purpose is to transport cargo. Freighters usually carry up to a dozen passengers, and cost around $100 per day (including meals) for each person. Traveling from the United States to Europe via freighter will usually take from one to two weeks, so these trips work best for travelers with flexible schedules and plenty of time. There are many different shipping companies.

Maris offers a couple transatlantic routes:

  • U.S. East Coast to the Mediterranean, departing every two to three weeks and carrying six passengers, travels from New York to Spain in 18 days.
  • U.S. East Coast to northern Europe and the Mediterranean, departing at least once a month and carrying seven passengers, travels from Houston to Belgium in 14 days.

Freighter cruises aren't like your typical cruise experiences in that they don't exist to entertain their passengers. They offer a more minimalist experience, so if you opt for freighter travel, make sure you know what you're in for. Other trips may leave from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or other Florida locations.

Repositioning Cruises

Somewhere between freighter journeys and luxury cruises sit repositioning cruises, which offer itineraries on cruise ships relocating from one seasonal cruising location to another. Cunard's Queen Mary 2 makes regular transatlantic repositioning trips from New York to the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Itineraries range from seven-day, one-way trips to 27-day round trips, and prices range from $800 to $2,500 per person, depending on the itinerary and time of year.

These cruises are necessary for each ship and usually take place in the low season, which is why the prices stay generally low. Still, passengers get to enjoy the amenities of a cruise ship as well as the sights at each port stop.

Luxury Cruises

Aside from its repositioning cruise offerings, Cunard offers luxury cruises from New York City to the United Kingdom. These journeys are generally scheduled during the higher seasons and cost more per passenger, with even the cheapest eastbound bookings for seven-day cruises going for more than $1,000 per person.

Some transatlantic cruises and cruise lines may even stop at the Bahamas, Caribbean, or Canary Islands on the way.