What I Didn’t Know About Transatlantic Cruises

transatlantic cruises
View from my balcony on the Oasis of the Seas

I will try anything once, more if you can twist my arm.  When the chance to sail on the Oasis of the Seas after coming out of her dry dock stay in Rotterdam first materialized, I was all for it.  I love new ships, I love big ships, and I loved sailing on the Oasis of the Seas the first time in 2010.  Why wouldn’t I not want to sail on her again?  

While I will definitely detail and review my cruise experience in a later post, I wanted to jot down my thoughts on things I never knew about transatlantic cruises before I sailing my first transatlantic crossing.  You might disagree with me completely and I encourage you to do so.  If you haven’t taken a transatlantic cruise, here are my thoughts and you perhaps you can learn from my experience.

transatlantic cruises
View from my balcony on the Oasis of the Seas

Maybe like me you might not have known the following: 

1. The majority of people who take transatlantic cruises are over the age of retirement.  After all, who can usually take long vacations?  Maybe you’re part of this demographic or maybe all of your friends are of an earlier generation.  The cruise lines are are well aware of this and gear everything and I do mean everything, to this group.  The music, the entertainment, everything is geared for the majority.  So if like me, for example, you’d prefer music from this year vs. the 50’s or 60’s, then keep those ear buds in and bring your own music because it’s not likely you’ll hear or dance to anything you’ll find remotely familiar. 

2. It was cold for nearly the entire cruise!  We left Southampton, England and didn’t start feeling warmer weather until about three days before the end of the cruise.  For some odd reason I expected sun and hot temps and as a result, packed all the wrong clothing.  I needed more long sleeves and socks vs. tank tops, sundresses, and flip flops.

3. The monotony can drive you insane.  True, some might call it routine and expected and like that, but for me it was monotony extraordinaire.  It only occurred to me during this cruise that one of the reasons I realize I love cruising is the port days, which break up the monotonous routine one might encounter onboard.  I don’t play bridge, trivia, or like to read 24/7 nor do I really want to sit at a table of 12 at dinner.  I much prefer the unique and unusual and I’m pretty much not going to find it following the same predictable pattern every day.  Which leads me to…

4. The monotony can lead to unusual activities such as strange and unusual betting practices (no I won’t tell you what my bets were about), drinking far too much (especially with the drink package), and looking forward to having a picture taken with the DreamWorks characters onboard.  Yes, I did have my picture taken with Princess Fiona and was bummed I didn’t get a pic with Puss in Boots until I spotted him dancing all crazy like in the parade one afternoon which ended my feline love affair immediately.  

5. They can and will run out of food and beverages that you like.  Now I’m not saying they run out of all food and beverages so don’t panic.  But once you decide you like something, believe me everyone else will as well and that means they won’t have it for very long.  For example, day 2 onboard meant that Hoegaarden beer in the Schooner Bar was out.  They suggested going elsewhere, something you’d never find on dry land, right?  I liked getting a salad in Park Café, but strangely enough they ran out of salad items a few days before the end of the cruise.  Now either everyone was eating salad or someone budget enough food items for a 12-day cruise.  

6. The fitness center will not be as crowded at the end of the cruise as it is in the beginning.  I think this is because everyone opts for food vs. exercise as the cruise progresses.  You might spot a few people but hey, enjoy your personal fitness center and a rare quiet spot while you can.  

transatlantic cruises
View from my balcony on the Oasis of the Seas

7. You’ll unconsciously find yourself looking for land in the horizon even when you know there is none.  You might even start daydreaming about what sailors of the past must have done to entertain themselves while crossing the same waters.  

8. You’ll visit the same dining venue expecting a different outcome.  By this I mean I would go the Windjammer, the ship’s buffet, at breakfast and always expect that they would have something new and different to offer me.  As a vegetarian who doesn’t eat eggs, my breakfast options were extremely limited.  I could have cereal, oatmeal, grits, bread (toast, bagels, English muffins, croissants), cheese, and fruit.  I so wanted something different and would honestly hope it would somehow materialize, but never did.  I blame this on the sea air because on land I would’ve gotten over this quickly.  

9. You’ll become extremely protective of crew members.  I already have a soft spot for cruise ship crew members who spend many months away from family and loved ones and work killer long hours.  But I think that the longer passengers are at sea, the easier it is for them to take out their frustrations on crew members because they know they can’t say anything back to them.  Everyone has feelings.  Everyone has a story.  Don’t be so quick to judge and treat people poorly because you’re having a bad day.  (End of lecture). 

10.  You will lose track of the time.  Not just what time it is, but what day it is.  I didn’t know that we would move the clock back every night one hour for several days in a row.  This can be good or bad depending on your overall attitude and ability to adapt to change. I gave up early and decided to just wake and eat when I felt the need and it seemed to work perfectly for me. 

It’s impossible for me to compare a transatlantic cruise to any other cruise I’ve been on previously.  While I can have fun pretty much anywhere I go, I had no idea what it would actually be like and that resulted in me being genuinely surprised.  I’m always preaching about picking the right cruise ship, cruise line, and itinerary and it just shows that no one’s perfect.  Not all cruises are the same and not all cruises are designed for everyone.  While not a bad cruise, I think I need to get several (dozens) more years under my belt before I attempt another transatlantic cruise.  Either that or if a cruise line has some amazing options available that might interest me, then we should talk.  My next cruise is an amazing port intensive cruise, which I am eagerly awaiting.  

Come back for pictures and videos of my cruise including a cabin tour and an interesting time lapse video of me walking every deck of the ship from the top to the bottom (see #4 above). 

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