It is possible to travel from the United States to Europe without flying. This guide explains how you can travel by ship from the USA to Europe.
For one reason or another, you came here to look for information about crossing the Atlantic from America to Europe. This guide covers three different ways of traveling by ship from USA to Europe:
I have previously written about flightless routes from Europe to America. This guide describes options the other way around. The examples in this post have been checked in 2023.
1. Cruise from the USA to Europe
How can I find a transatlantic cruise from the USA to Europe?
Plenty of travel companies offer cruises from the United States to different parts of Europe. At the time of writing, the website Seascanner listed 108 one-way cruises from the United States to different parts of Europe.
Where do transatlantic cruises to Europe depart from?
Most transatlantic cruises from America to Europe leave from Florida. Fort Lauderdale – a part of the Miami metropolitan area – is the most popular port of departure. Most other cruise ships leave from New York. Some cruises also leave from Massachusetts (Boston), New Jersey (Boston), and even Texas (Galveston)!
What are the most popular ports of entry in Europe?
For transatlantic cruises, the most popular destinations in Europe are Southampton, England, Barcelona, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal. Other cruises travel to countries such as Germany, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands.
How much does it cost to travel from the USA to Europe on a cruise ship?
The cheapest cruises from the United States to Europe cost around 1100-1500 US Dollars or euros for a cabin. The prices usually include meals. For example, prices for a 7-day voyage from New York to Southampton on the luxury cruise ship Queen Mary 2 start from approximately 1400 dollars or euros.
How long does a cruise from the United States to Europe take?
The duration of travel varies a lot depending on the points of departure and arrival. The fastest transatlantic cruises to Europe leave from New York. Cruises from New York to Southampton, England, take around 7 days. Cruises to Hamburg take two days longer.
On the other end of the spectrum, cruises from Florida to Europe take around two weeks.
Is traveling on a cruise ship better than flying?
This guide lists flightless travel routes from the United States to Europe. The guide covers cruise ships as well, but if you avoid flying for environmental reasons, they are not recommended. After all, cruises and ferries may cause way more CO2 emissions that commercial flights.
Fortunately there are ways to cross the Atlantic more sustainably, too.
2. Travel on a Cargo Ship from the USA to Europe
Can you travel from the United States to Europe on a cargo ship?
Yes, you can! At least if COVID permits.
Unlike cruises, freighter travel is considered nearly CO2 neutral. To book a freighter cruise, you can use travel agencies that have specialized in cargo ship travel. You can also contact shipping companies on your own, though that is a little more challenging.
Here are a few popular freighter travel companies: Cargo Ship Voyages, Freighter Travel (NZ), Slowtravel, and Voyages en Cargo. I have personally used Freighter Travel, but I’m sure other companies work just as well.
What about COVID? Does the global pandemic limit freighter voyages?
Unfortunately, yes. At the time of writing (early 2023), many freighter companies around the world were not taking passengers. Some sources expect passenger sailing to resume normally in January/February 2024.
How much does it cost to travel from the USA to Europe on a freighter?
On average, traveling on a cargo ship costs 100-150 US dollars or euros per day. Crossing the Atlantic takes around 10-15 days, so a freighter voyage will cost something between 1000-3000 euros.
What are the most popular ports of departure for cargo ship travel from the United States to Europe?
There’s plenty! Cargo ships head out to Europe from many harbors on the East Coast. Listed from north to south, these include Boston (Massachusetts), New York, Charleston (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia), New Orleans (Louisiana), and Houston (Texas).
Where do cargo ship voyages from America to Europe arrive?
Popular freighter voyage destinations in Europe include Antwerp in Belgium, Cork in Ireland, Le Havre in France, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and Southampton in England. Many ships make several stops along the coast of Europe. Mediterranean cities are also available.
How long does it take to travel on a cargo ship from the USA to Europe?
I have answered this question more thoroughly in the article “How Long Does It Take to Cross the Atlantic on a Cargo Ship?“. That article also explains why cargo ships venture so slowly.
Here are a few routes and their estimated prices for one person.
- New York to Liverpool, England – 11 days, ~1500 US$
- This northern route includes a stop in Halifax, Canada, before crossing the Atlantic.
- Wilmington, North Carolina, to Antwerp, Belgium – 11 days, ~1500 US$
- At the time of writing, this route wasn’t available, but it was expected to open to passengers in mid-2023.
- Savannah, Georgia, to Algeciras, Spain – 13 days, ~1400 US$
- Freighter voyages to the south of Europe are less common, but here’s one example of a southern route.
What else should I know about freighter travel?
Freighter travel is an interesting way to explore the world sustainably. I personally haven’t traveled between America and Europe on a freighter, but I did cross the Pacific on a cargo ship during my 2-year trip around the world.
In summary, the journey was quite uneventful, but I loved it. I played games on my laptop, ate well and enjoyed watching the waves. I also read multiple books with my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader – one of my favorite things in my backpack.
(You can read more about my 18-day voyage here. The photo above is from that journey.)
To travel on a freighter, you need to meet the health and age requirements. You should also be quite flexible, as freighters don’t travel very often and the schedules are not set in stone. To find out more, you can read my guide “How to Prepare for Traveling on a Cargo Ship“.
3. Sail from the USA to Europe
Can you travel from the USA to Europe by boat?
Yes, traveling from the United States to Europe by boat is possible, though traveling the opposite way is far more popular. Also, few people take a boat from the United States to Europe directly. It is more common to start your voyage – or make a stop – in Bermuda.
Why is crossing the Atlantic from east to west more popular?
Trade winds are to blame. The prevailing winds near the equator travel east-to-west. The prevailing winds make a clockwise loop along the northern Atlantic.
In other words, the wind helps you sail west in a warmer environment. If you want to follow the wind east, you need to endure harsher weather in the north.
I don’t own a boat. Can I still travel from the USA to Europe by boat?
Even if you don’t own a sailboat or a yacht, you can hitch a ride on a boat across the Atlantic. Websites such as Find a Crew and CrewSeekers connect captains with people who are willing to work as crewmates in exchange for the voyage.
Yacht clubs in harbors may also feature notice boards for people looking for a boat or a crew. Many captains prefer crewmates with experience, but this is not always necessary.
Where and when should I depart?
First, you should head to Bermuda, an archipelago about 600 miles (~1000 kilometers) away from the US East Coast. A cruise or a sailing trip from the US to Bermuda usually takes a week or less.
However, it might be easier to travel to the Caribbean first before continuing to Bermuda. To get to the Caribbean, you can either hitch a ride on a sailboat or take a ferry from Florida to the Bahamas.
According to World Cruising Wiki, the best time to sail to Bermuda is in May/June. At that point, the weather is warm but the hurricane season hasn’t peaked yet.
How long does it take to sail from the USA to Europe?
According to Life of Sailing, an eastward crossing of the Atlantic takes around 4 weeks. That includes a week of sailing to Bermuda, two weeks or more from Bermuda to the Azores, and a week from the Azores to the coast of Portugal.
The journey from Europe to America tends to be a bit faster.
How can I sail from the US to Europe?
There are many guides on crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat. I am not even trying to compete with the experts. In this guide, I’ve only offered basic details about the Atlantic crossings. If you want to delve deeper into the topic, here are a few more comprehensive guides:
- How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic? (Lifeofsailing.com)
- How to cross the Atlantic from the Caribbean to Europe: Everything you need to know (Yachtingworld.com)
- Sail Across the Atlantic: The Definitive Guide (DeepSailing.com)
Traveling by Ship from USA to Europe
How to travel from USA to Europe by ship? In this guide, I have covered three ways of traveling from America to Europe without flying. The guide is not comprehensive, and I may have missed some good alternatives.
This website, Arimo Travels, is a sustainable travel blog. I launched the site during my mostly flightless trip around the world. After finishing the trip, I have focused on writing flightless travel guides (and random generators) for others.
You can find more guides like this one on the page Flightless Travel.
Ps. In this guide, there are times when I call the USA “America”. I don’t like to use the name of the continent to refer to the country. However, many people think otherwise, and I get most of my readers from Google searches.
Because of this, I’ve used phrases like “travel from America to Europe by ship” throughout the text. For a similar reason, there are times when I’ve excluded the article “the” from “the USA”.