Travelers cross over the Atlantic Ocean by air travel all the time – few opt to make the trip by boat. But getting to Europe from the United States by boat can actually be a relaxing and economical mode of travel. Whether you’re traveling to Portugal, Italy, Greece, or France, your European vacation would definitely be memorable if the journey there allowed you to take in the natural wonder of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. There are a few different ways to do it: by freighter travel, repositioning cruise or luxury cruise. Choose your mode of ship travel based on how much you want to spend and how much time you have on your hands.

Traveling by Freighter

Freighter cruises allow travelers to hop on board cargo ships to get from one place to another. Maris runs regular transatlantic freighter cruises with the motto, "The pace is relaxed; the mood is informal." At the time this is being written (2023) many freighter cruises around the world are still not offering as many sports for passengers, but this is expected to grow in the coming year.

Freighter ships can carry up to a dozen passengers, but most usually accept only two to six. Maris offers two routes from the U.S. to Europe:

Rickmers:* Departs twice monthly from Houston via New Orleans; crosses transatlantic to Antwerp, Belgium, and then makes several other stops in Europe.

CMA CGM:* Departs every two weeks from New York, also stopping in Virginia, Florida and Georgia, and crosses the Atlantic to Algeciras, Spain, making several other stops in Europe afterward.

The Rickmers voyage costs between $1,400 and $1,700 per person for the whole journey, and the CMA CGM journey costs about $112 per person per day for the duration of the trip.

Taking a Repositioning Cruise

Most major cruise companies offer low-season repositioning cruises, which take place when a cruise ship travels from one major port to another in the off-season. These trips tend to cost less than typical cruises, but still offer most of the usual cruise amenities. This could even allow you the opportunity for a last minute bonus vacation to the Caribbean or Bahamas while the cruise line repositions.

There are a few different repositioning cruises that cross the Atlantic from the United States to Europe, most operated by Cunard. Journeys aboard The Queen Mary 2 go from New York, Miami or Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, United Kingdom and Hamburg, Germany, and the cost varies, depending on the time of year and length of journey. For example, an 18-day transatlantic repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton in July of 2019 is going for $3,100 per person, while a 14-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton in March of 2018 is going for $1,300 per person.

Springing for a Luxury Cruise

If you have a roomy vacation budget and are looking to relax as much as possible on your cruise journey, you might consider a luxury cruise from the United States to Europe.

Cunard runs several transatlantic cruises, including a few round trips. Sailing from New York to Southampton round trip, for example, takes 14 days and starts at $3,349 per person. On trips like these, the cruise ship makes for most of the vacation, offering food, drink and entertainment on top of comfortable accommodation for the duration of your journey to and from Europe.

It might not be as cheap or fast as typical airfare, but these trips embrace the beauty of the journey. So the next time you’re considering that trip to Norway or Barcelona, take a moment to look at the ports of call and consider if this is finally the time to test your sea legs!