I’m currently on a cruise, which is really where I’d be for most of the year if I had my way. While I do love all cruises to some extent, there is a certain secret type of cruise that is by far the best type: The Westbound Transatlantic or it’s more rare cousin, The Westbound Transpacific.
When you are on a trans-oceanic cruise, you feel like you are in a club with everyone else on the boat. It is the first transatlantic for many of them, but they are in the club, too, even if they don’t know it. For others, it’s more obvious. Is this your first transatlantic? Oh no, we do one every year. Those are my people.
Cruise lines generally want most of their ships to be in the Meditteranean during the summer and the Caribbean during the winter. These two seas are far apart, though, so they must make a big two-week trek between the two twice per year.
These cruises don’t appeal to most people on the surface. They have few port stops, burn those precious vacation days, and require at least one flight, if not two. So they’re cheap, often around $50 per day.
What people quickly learn is that sea days are the best days, and transoceanic cruises have the highest concentration of sea days. The cruise I’m on now has only two port days in twelve days of sailing total. Sea days allow you to create your own little world, full of great food, leisurely conversations with your friends, and huge blocks of work time with the slowly passing sea as the backdrop. I love sea days.
Then there are the attractions on the ships. To cater to families, ships have incredibly fun things now. Artificial surf waves, mini golf, rock climbing, ice skating, go karts, laser tag, and amazing water slides. One of the water slides on the cruise is so steep that to start it you stand up vertically on a trap door. They press a button and you essentially freefall at a very slight angle before being launched back uphill and over the edge of the boat in a clear pipe.
The thing is, on normal cruises these attractions are so packed that they’re worthless. Do you really want to stand outside for half an hour to ride the surf wave once? But on transoceanic cruises, there are no children. These cruises only happen in the spring and fall, when kids are in school. There aren’t even any people in their 20s and 30s, because who can afford to take a two week vacation? So you have these things to yourself. I was the first passenger to ever do the crazy waterslide on this ship. I immediately did it again. On the cruises I’ve been on that have surf waves, we’ve often had them entirely to ourselves. The last cruise I went on was the first one on which I tried the rock climbing, and for the most part my friend and I each had our own automatic belay and could climb at the same time.
Why westbound, though? Because you get a lot of 25 hour days. I maintain that there’s no luxury in life quite as decadent as a string of 25 hour days. You work a ton, have fun on the slides and mini golf, eat long meals with your friends, go to sleep late, and you still wake up early because you got a free hour. It’s amazing. I love eastbound cruises as well, but nothing beats a westbound.
People have a lot of preconceptions about cruising, some of which are certainly true, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone who couldn’t have an incredible time on a westbound transoceanic cruise. My friends and I are only a third of the way into our cruise and already we’re avoiding talking about the inevitable end. There’s no life like cruise life, especially on a westbound trip across the ocean.
Photo is actually an amazing looking tea house in China because I’m not still on this cruise and I lost a bunch of my photos. Guess I have to go on another cruise soon to fix that….