We love cruising for various reasons but a transatlantic cruise is freaking awesome. So much food, entertainment, no jet lag, stopping at remote ports, and having the comfort of a cabin but the expanse of a ship…just… mwuh!
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If you’ve ever been on a major cruise line before, you know the food is generally really good. Let alone, the endless options and endless amount. Royal Caribbean does amazing food and with their new menus, we felt it to be even better then before the change.
Well, the cruise culture is one of a kind. There are so many nationalities onboard. Although, there’s no cultural sites onboard, it is still welcome to get to know the staff and their stories if you care to listen.
People say the cabins are small….but you shouldn’t be spending time in there other then to sleep. The ship is your playground! Plus, when crossing an ocean, no jet lag!
Once you spend 2 days on board, you know your way around the ship. Out in port, maybe not but generally there’s maps at all the ports ready to guide you to the top spots.
It was our first Trans-Atlantic cruise and we were pretty nervous about what the weather would be like. There was no choppiness on the water and we had absolutely 0 sea sickness.
We left from Newark, New Jersey On May 1st, 2023 headed across the pond to disembark in Southampton England. It was 6 days at sea before reaching our first port! We were never bored though with endless hourly activities, 4 pools, 4 hot tubs, a sea plex, a flowrider, and indoor skydiving. We could barely tell we were at sea! Our first port of call:
Ponta Delgada, Azores
The Azores are a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. They are often called the Hawaii of Europe and we understood why! We docked in Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island, the largest island.
We decided last minute to rent a car and drive to Sete Cidades and the twin lakes. However….it didn’t go as planned. Super dense fog covered the entire island so we barely saw the lake, let alone a view from any of the lookout points along the road. Oh and it was Amber’s first time driving a manual car….not a good idea but we survived with some youtube training. We rented the car from Ihle Verde car rental at the airport location which was about a 15 minute cab journey from town. It was 50 Euro for the day which wasn’t too bad to explore the island by ourselves.
We made it through the cliff side, dirt road, fog covered switchbacks to the town of Sete Cidades. Being a town of only 800 people, it sure was popular with the tourist buses. Luckily, we got there earlier to explore by foot, check out Igreja de São Nicolau church, and walk near the lake.
We left taking the north path around the west side of the island instead of back over the treacherous volcano. We made some stops along the way for some ocean lookout points and saw some of the “Happy cows” as the natives call them.
Amber made it back to the rental car drop off ready to get rid of the underpowered, manual, old car. We had used alot of gas climbing all the mountains in most likely, the wrong gear…. so we just paid them to refill. That was a 50 Euro mistake…whoops. We then walked back from the airport through old town Ponta Delgada. We felt incredibly welcome and safe here.
This port surprised us…a lot. Once docked, we had about a half mile walk into town. We noticed a fortress sitting atop a hill so we hiked it. Turns out, it was free on Wednesdays so we explored around and got the best view of the city. It was a Museum in a 19th-century fortress charting the events of WWII & D-Day in Cherbourg.
Afterward, we hiked down and into the central downtown area which was absolutly beautiful. After passing through the port, we stubled upon a botanical garden, a bisilica, and a central fountain plaza:
- Basilique Sainte-Trinité de Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
- Parc Emmanuel Liais
La Havre, France
After leaving the ship, it was at least a mile walk into town. Although well marked, it was a very industrial port and town. After climbing the hilly region, we made our way northeast to visit Les Jardins Suspendus. Another fortress from WWII, but this one was turned into a garden oasis.
Place General de Gaulle was a great halfway point to stop and watch kids learn to sail in the large water basin.
After our transatlantic, we landed in Southampton, England! Checkout that expense report here.
Unique Opportunities and Experiences
Cruising offers something other vacation don’t: transportation, exploration, food, and lodging all in one. Although most of the time, you are only in each port for a day, it gives you a taster. Some places are worth returning too!
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Royal Caribbean Cruise
Cost Saving Opportunities
We do not like to spend any additional money on excursions or tours when we’re in port. We love to walk around, find free museums, and just explore. A helpful tip is to look at the excursions the ship is offering, and do research ones that look interesting. Find a way to do the same excursion yourself! Often times, its a simple bus, cab, or train ride away. Check out a further breakdown on our Instagram post!