2008 Trans-Atlantic Fall Cruises

| January 23, 2008

Five transatlantic cruises from less than $800 per person sail from Europe to the Americas this fall.

Transatlantic cruises are a bigger bargain than ever. The increase in air fares between Europe and the U.S. means you can enjoy an extended cruise of nearly two weeks for about the same price as a 10-hour flight across the Atlantic.

Below are five cruise ships that will sail from Europe to the Western Hemisphere this fall with lead cruise fares under $800 per person. This is for 12- to 16-night cruises on well-known cruise lines. If you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars more, you will find dozens more cruises.

These cruises offer several port stops in addition to several days at sea while you cross the Atlantic. Three cruises start in Barcelona and end up in New York or Florida; one starts in Civitavecchia (the port for Rome, Italy) and another in Lisbon. All but one stop in Atlantic islands that are well-known vacation spots for Europeans but not so well known to Americans: the Azores, Madeira or the Canary Islands.

Itineraries that feature these islands are often referred to as "Voyage of Columbus" cruises, since he is believed to have touched down on these remote isles before landfall on San Salvador in the Bahamas.

One of the cruises offers a typical seven-night European itinerary before heading straight across the Atlantic to New jersey. The final one starts in Lisbon and heads south to land in Brazil 14 days later. No matter which cruise you choose, you will spend about half your journey in port and half at sea. You will cover a lot of miles, not seeing land for at least five days or more.

Although the following cruises all start at under $800 per person, they have vastly different itineraries and ship styles. You can choose a premium Celebrity ship, a Royal Caribbean mega-ship, an NCL Freestyle ship or an older and smaller Royal Caribbean ship sailing all the way from Portugal to Brazil. We present these cruises in the order we recommend them, but everything is an individual choice.

Splendour of the Seas 15-night Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas gets a very late start across the Atlantic, departing December 2, 2008 from Lisbon and steaming to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Fares begin as low as $779 per person; one could never find airfare to cover this much distance so inexpensively. Although it is late in the year, the ship's heading is almost straight south from the time it leaves Portugal, crossing the equator and entering the summer season in South America around the seventh day. There are eight days at sea in all, with stops in Madeira and Brazil, so a command of Portugese would come in handy on this trip.

Here is the itinerary:

1 Lisbon, Portugal --- 7:00 p.m.
2 At Sea --- ---
3 Funchal, Madeira 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
4 Tenerife, Canary Islands 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
5 At Sea --- ---
6 At Sea --- ---
7 At Sea --- ---
8 At Sea --- ---
9 At Sea --- ---
10 Recife, Brazil 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
11 At Sea --- ---
12 Salvador De Bahia, Brazil 10:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
13 At Sea --- ---
14 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
15 Santos (Sao Paulo), Brazil 7:00 a.m. ---

Prices: $799 inside; $849 oceanview; $1,599 balcony; $2,049 suite.

Nota Bene: What is not to like about this cruise? It's enough to make you buy the Berlitz guide to speaking Portuguese. Just when the Iberian winter chill sets in, you head straight south to summer in South America. From Lisbon and Madeira to Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, the only non-Portuguese-speaking stop you have is in the Canary Islands.

You'll see Rio, one of the world's most exciting cities, and the rest of the Brazilian coast. This is an older and smaller Royal Caribbean ship, so bring a book. But the price is low enough that even after airfare it is like two vacations in one.

Norwegian Gem 13-night Norwegian Gem, one of the newer NCL Freestyle ships, sails a 13-night itinerary that features a full Mediterranean cruise before proceeding to New York City. This seems like an especially enticing bargain to us, since you get some great European sightseeing and a lift home.

Here is the itinerary for this cruise:

1 Barcelona, Spain --- 7:00 p.m.
2 Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
3 Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy 7:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
4 Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 7:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
5 Ajaccio, Corsica 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
6 At Sea --- ---
7 Malaga, Spain 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
8 At Sea --- ---
9 At Sea --- ---
10 At Sea --- ---
11At Sea --- ---
12 At Sea --- ---
13 At Sea --- ---
14 New York, New York--- ---

Prices: $749 inside, $899 oceanview, $1,249 balcony and $1,549 suite.

Nota Bene: This "Freestyle" NCL cruise gives you a taste of the Mediterranean before heading west. Get Italian culture with stops in the ports for Florence, Pisa, and Rome, Italy. Visit the isle of Corsica and Malaga, Spain. A week in Europe and a lift back to New York City for less than what you spend for either trip sold separately.

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