New York with no jet lag & no luggage limit

Joanne Cowdery on 19 November 2019
Back in the day, an ocean cruise was the preserve of celebrities or the wealthy. Nowadays they are much more affordable and much more popular than ever before. And actually, a transatlantic cruise is a particularly efficient way of travel.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to cross from New York to Southampton on the Queen Mary 2 when my family celebrated my father’s special birthday. The trip was absolutely wonderful and it opened my eyes to the enjoyment of cruises.

We opted to sail eastbound from New York to Southampton because we could see there were a number of benefits. Firstly, with no luggage limits on the sailing home, going shopping in New York before we travelled was an absolute breeze. Secondly, there’s no jet lag because the clocks move forward an hour nearly every day, so you arrive on British time feeling as fresh as a daisy. And of course, there is the spectacular departure from New York, standing on deck to watch the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty slowly disappear. It was an awe-inspiring start to our trip.

The crossing took six days. I’d been worried I might get bored but there was no fear of that! Nowadays cruise ships are geared to 24-hour entertainment and it can even be a struggle to do everything you want to do in the time available. From lectures to quizzes, dance classes, art classes and sports tournaments there are activities for everyone. Of course, you can also relax at the spa, watch films, shows or stand-up comedy, or visit a pub to enjoy live music and singing. And if that all sounds rather exhausting there are plenty of quiet corners to read and relax, as well as a library with more than 8,000 books.

On our first morning I opted to do a tour of Queen Mary 2’s public areas which proved a really good way to get my bearings and provided several useful hints and tips. Later I did the ship’s ‘galley tour’ which gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the largest and busiest kitchen, where 160 chefs prepare and deliver almost 16,000 meals every day. It was fascinating.

I found walking around the deck an unexpected treat and was rather surprised at how often I would meet fellow passengers exercising their dogs around a gated deck area. Humans weren’t the only passengers on the voyage! I also tried to make a point of catching as many sunsets and sunrises as I could because the ocean scenery was spectacular.

Everyone who has been on a cruise tells you how wonderful the food is, and I’m afraid I’m not going to be the exception. There were so many different restaurants on board, all serving mouth-watering dishes, that we were spoiled for choice. If you go on the Queen Mary 2, I recommend you make time and space for their famous Afternoon Tea because it’s truly something to write home about!

My cruise from New York to Southampton was an experience of a lifetime and gave me some priceless memories. So, I’d definitely say that a transatlantic cruise deserves a place on everyone’s bucket list. Cruises are still a luxurious and special way to travel and as there are options to suit every taste and budget, they are well worth investigating.