It is possible to travel from the United States to Europe without flying. This guide explains how to 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 ship travel options from USA to Europe:

  1. Cruises
  2. Freighter Travel
  3. Sailing

I’ve previously written about flightless routes from Europe to America, but this guide focuses on the opposite direction. The examples in this post were checked in 2023.

Traveling from the United States to Europe without flying is not always easy. I know some of you will choose to fly anyway because it’s easier. In that case, I ask you to consider donating 10% of your ticket cost to a high-impact climate charity. Carbon offsetting isn’t very effective, so it’s better to support charities suggested by Giving Green instead.

Cruise ship routes from the United States of America to Europe
Travel from the USA to Europe on a cruise

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 various European destinations. As of now, 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. New York also serves as a departure point for many cruise ships, and there are even departures from Massachusetts (Boston), New Jersey (Boston), and even Texas (Galveston)!

Which are the most popular ports of entry in Europe?

For transatlantic cruises, Southampton in England, Barcelona in Spain, and Lisbon in Portugal are the top destinations. Other cruises also travel to countries like 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 start at around $1100-1500 for a cabin, including meals. For example, a 7-day voyage from New York to Southampton on the luxury cruise ship Queen Mary 2 start at approximately $1400. 

How long does a cruise from the United States to Europe take?

The duration of the journey varies depending on the departure and arrival points. The fastest transatlantic cruises to Europe leave from New York. Cruises from New York to Southampton, England, take around 7 days, while cruises to Hamburg take two days longer.

On the other end of the spectrum, cruises from Florida to Europe generally last about two weeks.

Is traveling on a cruise ship better than flying?

While this guide focuses on flightless travel routes it’s important to note that cruises and ferries may actually produce way more CO2 emissions than commercial flights.

However, there are sustainable ways to cross the Atlantic as well.

Freighter travel from USA to Europe without flying
Travel from the USA to Europe on a cargo ship

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 restrictions allow it.

Compared to cruises, freighter travel is considered nearly CO2 neutral. To book a freighter voyage, you can use specialized travel agencies or contact shipping companies directly, though the latter may be more challenging.

Popular freighter travel companies include 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 per day. A transatlantic journey typically takes around 10-15 days, resulting in a total cost between $1000-3000.

Which are the most popular ports of departure for cargo ship travel from the United States to Europe?

There are 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 destinations in Europe for freighter voyages include Antwerp (Belgium), Cork (Ireland), Le Havre (France), Rotterdam (Netherlands), and Southampton (England). Many ships make multiple stops along the European coast, with Mediterranean cities also being accessible.

How long does it take to travel on a cargo ship from the USA to Europe?

I provide more detailed information about this in my 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 examples with estimated prices for one person:

Flightless travel from the United States to UK, Spain, Portugal
Freighter travel routes from America to Europe

What else should I know about freighter travel?

Freighter travel offers an intriguing and sustainable way to explore the world. 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 passed the time playing games on my laptop, savoring delicious meals, and marveling the waves. My trusty Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader – one of my favorite travel essentials – kept me company.

(The photo above is from that journey.)

To travel on a freighter, you need to meet certain health and age requirements. You should also be quite flexible, as freighters have infrequent schedules. For more information, you can refer to my guide “How to Prepare for Traveling on a Cargo Ship“.

travel from USA to Europe by boat via Bermuda, Azores
Travel from the USA to Europe on a sailboat

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, although the reverse journey is more common. Also, direct boat travel from the United States to Europe is less prevalent. Starting your voyage from or making a stop in Bermuda is more typical.

Why is crossing the Atlantic from east to west more popular?

The trade winds are to blame. These prevailing winds blow east-to-west near the equator. The prevailing winds make a clockwise loop along the northern Atlantic.

As a result, sailing westward is aided by the wind in a warmer environment. Sailing eastward against the wind entails enduring 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 individuals willing to work as crewmates in exchange for the voyage.

Yacht clubs in harbors may also have notice boards for those seeking a boat or a crew. While many captains prefer crewmates with experience, it is not always necessary.

Sailing from US East Coast to Bermuda west to east
The distance between the Bermuda and US East Coast doesn’t vary too much.

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 typically takes a week or less.

However, traveling to the Caribbean first before continuing to Bermuda might be more convenient. To reach the Caribbean, you can 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 reached its peak yet.

How long does it take to sail from the USA to Europe?

Main article: How Long Does It Take to Sail the Atlantic?

According to Life of Sailing, an eastward crossing of the Atlantic takes around 4 weeks. This includes a week of sailing to Bermuda, two weeks or more from Bermuda to the Azores, and another week from the Azores to the coast of Portugal.

The journey from Europe to America tends to be slightly faster.

How can I sail from the US to Europe?

There are numerous comprehensive guides on crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat. I am not even trying to compete with the experts. In this guide, I have provided basic details about the Atlantic crossings. If you wish to explore the topic further, here are a few recommended guides:

Popular routes to travel overseas from the United States across the Atlantic
Flightless routes from the United States to Europe

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 predominantly flightless trip around the world. Since completing the journey, I have focused on writing flightless travel guides (along with random generators) for fellow travelers.

You can find more guides like this one on the Flightless Travel page.

P.S. In this guide, there are times when I call the USA “America”. Personally, I prefer not to use the name of the continent to refer to the country. However, many people hold a different view, and most of my readers come from Google searches.

For that reason, I have used phrases like “travel from America to Europe by ship” throughout the text. Additionally, I have omitted the article “the” from “the USA” for similar reasons.

A flightless or sustainable travel guide