Sizing It Up

“Chicken or pasta?”

We cruise enthusiasts are appalled by what passes for dining choices aboard those multi-hour flights that transport us across the Pond.  And don’t even mention lack of comfort, sub-par entertainment … and jet lag. Fortunately, there is a seagoing option when it comes to trans-Atlantic travel:  The Atlantic crossing, likely aboard one of your favorite ships!

Yet, even some passionate sailors avoid a crossing expecting a voyage filled with boring port-less days and motion sickness.  Are they justified?  Join me as I cross the Atlantic aboard three very differently sized ships and find three very different experiences.


Size/Capacity: 149,215 grt/2,695 guests

Month:  December

Ocean Motion: Smooth Sailing

Duration:  6 Days (No ports)

“Good luck.”  My friend’s words dripped with sarcasm when I revealed that I’d be crossing the Atlantic in mid-December.  But she didn’t realize I’d be aboard Queen Mary 2, a massive ocean liner built specifically for the journey.  The ship’s higher power, larger draft, and twice the stabilizers of most cruise ships deliver smooth sailing, all the way from Brooklyn to Southampton.

Cunard’s typical Atlantic crossing is filled with events and activities.  A morning workout at the gym, a treatment at the Mareel Spa, watercolor art classes, dance instruction, lectures, darts or roulette tournaments, morning trivia, and a visit to the ship’s planetarium (the only one at sea) are nice daytime options for those not content to simply select a book from the lavish library on Deck 8, curl up with it, and relax.

But don’t get too relaxed!  Queen Mary 2 comes alive each evening with gala theme nights.  Guests don their red-and-gold finest, a nod to Cunard’s official colors, or slip into a flapper dress for a Roaring 20’s celebration that begins at dinner at one of QM2’s eight dining venues and continues with dancing to live ‘20s music at the Queens Room, the largest ballroom at sea.

If nostalgia isn’t your thing, continue past the Queens Room to G32, the two-level rock/pop club tucked behind it.  Dance to your favorite tunes, perform karaoke, or just watch the action from the packed bar.  I was dancing until 2:00 a.m. at G32 … the latest I’ve lasted on a dance floor since my 20s!

And before booking your QM2 crossing, check out the ship’s event cruises — a number of themed voyages like London Theater at Sea, Literature Festival at Sea, or, this August, a sailing that celebrates Queen Mary 2’s 400th crossing and features ship historian Bill Miller, a lecturer who simultaneously educates and entertains.


Size/Capacity: 47,842 grt/930 guests

Month:  March

Ocean Motion:  Negligible

Duration:  14 days (3 ports:  St. Martin, Madeira and Barcelona)

Ah … Viking Mars, one of Viking Ocean’s identical sister ships.  Since I’ve sailed others in the fleet, I feel right at home the second I board.  Wine is included with lunch and dinner, but should you wish a tipple between meals, Viking Ocean’s “Silver Spirits” beverage package is available at a very reasonable $25 per… 

By Judi Cuervo


This is an excerpt from the latest issue of Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine. To continue reading, click above for a digital or print subscription.

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.