Usually when I mention the idea of cruising to fellow backpackers or bargain travelers I get strange looks and the same question: ďArenít cruises too expensive for a backpacker?Ē A lot of people have a mental picture of cruises based on what theyíve seen on the love boat, but this isnít accurate anymore. In fact, cruising can be a very cheap and rewarding mode of travel for backpackers, bargain hunters, and slow travelers. Itís a fun and inexpensive way to cross the ocean, visit out-of-the way places, and take some time to relax.
When Dina and I started planning to head from our home in Canada to Europe we checked into the best way to cross the Atlantic. We were shocked to find out just how cheap a transatlantic cruise can be. We ended up on the Ruby Princess for its first transatlantic sailing. Yes, the days spent at sea were long, but it was very relaxing and peaceful to be out there in the middle of the ocean. A great time for reading, writing, and conversation with friends.
Our transatlantic cruise itinerary
Taking a cruise can also be a great way to see some out-of-the way islands that you might not get to otherwise. How about Madeira, Sardinia, the Azores, or the Canary Islands? Theyíre a bit difficult to get to and expensive, not usually on a backpackerís itinerary, but a handy stop with a cruise. And arriving in a new city by ship is so much more exciting than by land. Sure, your time in each city is short, but itís a great way to get a small taste of a lot of different places. That can help planning which places youíd like to come back to and spend more time in.
What do you do during a transatlantic cruise? Usually the ship will spend 7 days or so in various port cities, so youíll spend that time exploring the cities youíre in. Then youíll spend another week or so at sea. Thereís lots to do on the ship, but what I liked most was the peace and quiet. If youíre returning home after backpacking through Europe, a cruise would be a perfect time to unwind, reflect, maybe get your photos organize and fill in the gaps in your travel journal.
Itís pretty windy out in the middle of the Atlantic
How cheap is it? There are lots of cruises available now crossing from the USA to Europe, usually lasting about 14 days or so, for about $600 USD per person including your accommodations and food. Thatís around $45 a day! How much would you pay for basic hostel accommodations and simple food for 14 days? On the cruise youíll be served fabulous meals, have all kinds of entertainment, stay in a nice private cabin and have all your transportation included. If you flew, youíd pay at least $600 for the flight, plus youíd need to organize a bus or train and spend hours riding and waiting when you want to head to a new city. On a cruise youíre sailing while youíre eating, sleeping, and enjoying yourself. Then you wake up in the morning docked in a new city to explore.
The rock of Gibraltar, one of the popular transatlantic stops
If you have a few friends to go with you, it can be even cheaper. You can often add a 3rd and 4th person to your room for another $200-300 each bringing down the cost even more.
Sure, there can be downsides. The cruise line will try hard to push expensive excursions, cocktails, photo packages, and souvenirs on you. Itís simple: donít buy them. And I always remember that the reason my cruise was so cheap is that the other travelers are subsidizing me with their purchases of trinkets and alcohol.
The best time to take a transatlantic cruise is when the seasons change. At the end of winter, roughly March-May, ships move from the Caribbean and South America to Europe. Thatís when you will find great bargains on these sailings. Then those same ships head back across the ocean from Europe to the Americas once it gets cold, from October-November.
Re: Transatlantic cruises for backpackers: see more and pay less
I hate cruises but I did a variation of this on an extended visit thru Greece and turkey. You can take ferries and cargo ships to hopscotch your way thru the islands. It's cheap. You're not sleeping on a bed. Sometimes, you have to get up really early but it is cheap. I love watching dolphins kinda racing the ships and getting off on some island and deciding how I will hang for a few days
Oh, they mentioned Madeira which was really cool. Terrifying airport tho. That runway....
INDONESIA I was born and grew up in the Island of Java (you know, west from Bali). I graduated from a university in Bandung with a BSc. in Chemistry degree. The first time I traveled abroad was to Germany, France, and Switzerland, thank to my sister and parents. I and my sister stayed in a very small town in Maulburg, Germany, in the edge of the Black Forest, really close to the border with France and Switzerland. It was an unforgettable moment, being in the nature, culture, and towns so different from where I used to be. It was the first time my eyes were opened that the world doesn’t only share one point of view.
A typical house in Tomohon – North Sulawesi
Being a backpacker from Indonesia, my Indonesian friends and family often misinterpret what I’m doing. Typically people there will contact travel agencies to take care of their flights, hotels, and tours, which makes a journey expensive. Being backpackers, we always try to be as cheap as possible. You know, staying in hostels or other cheap accommodation, walking for hours instead of taking taxi rides, eating from supermarket, arranging our own walking route instead of paying for a guided tour, washing clothes in sinks and drying them around the bed, and so on. No pile of pretty summer dresses, tight jeans of different color shades, or many pairs of exotic shoes, just a few of light-weight quick-dry tank tops and cargo pants. Pay nothing if you can do without. This idea of traveling is still unusual, so some of them think I’ve been a splurge traveler for the last 11 months. I hope this blog will give people a better idea of what backpackers and backpacking are.
Dina and all of her possession inside her backpack, Flower Market, Amsterdam
CANADA I moved to Canada. I continued my education, and this time I was dealing with radioactive related synthesis Organic Chemistry for cancer detection. A year before I finished my study, I had to choose between continuing my education for 4 more year to get PhD degree, or cutting it to just 1 more year, then I could start our backpacking journey sooner. It took a long time to decide, but I made the right decision. I graduated with a MSc degree a year later, I’m now a backpacker, and I couldn’t be happier.
25 cents Canadian coin, at Royal Canadian Mint, Ottawa
BACKPACK WORLD After the graduation, we were preparing for leaving. We sold, gave away, or dumped most of out possessions. Common donations, as well as a self-help one: we left our stuff around the garbage dumpster of our apartment, and homeless people from 3 different homeless shelters nearby picked them up right away. Ryan told me that he saw a homeless carrying my college backpack in his back while sniffing the freshness of his old undergarment. We didn’t have the heart to put undergarments in official donation bags, chose to leave it as garbage, but look what happen to them. Next time I will launder all clothes before throwing them away. We released our apartment, left the hometown, and joined the world.
The Minoan’s Palace of Knossos, Crete Island, Greece
So, we have been on the road since April 2009. Us and 2 backpacks are what we have, and we enjoy our simplicity. We travel light. I found that you can live comfortably during a summertime with only 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of shorts, 2 tank tops, 1 t-shirt, 1 windbreakers, 1 swimsuit, a few underwear, 3 pairs of socks, a pair of comfortable shoes and a pair of flip-flops. Of course in my possession sometimes these number are increasing because sometimes I can’t stop myself from shopping. Then, when our possession got to heavy, we purge: ship our stuff to our parents home. Being light and cheap are essential for us.
Temple of Poseidon, Sounion, Greece
It’s almost a year since we’ve been on the road, and we don’t see we are going to stop. The world is just too big and too interesting to stop exploring. Articles by Dina
Location: In We Trippy Mane's closet and still chillin' in jj2345's sisters closet
Re: Transatlantic cruises for backpackers: see more and pay less
Originally Posted by La Sirene 777
There has to be a company that organizes these kinds of trips for solo backpackers. A cruise damn sure is better than a flight.
I think cruise critic does. I'm a member on there but i haven't been on there in ages. You can get in touch with someone who is trying to go on the same cruise as you and yall can hook up. but other than that I'm not sure if there is a company that does the work for you like that.