Taking a Transatlantic Cruise: Then and Now

Traveling between countries and continents by ship hasn’t always been a pleasurable affair. Originally, these voyages were undertaken for purely practical reasons and they could be highly dangerous. However, towards the end of the 19th century, things started to change, and the first transatlantic cruises heralded the so-called ‘golden age’ of cruising…


Historical voyages

Thanks to the development of the steam engine, transatlantic cruises began gaining popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Shipping company White Star Lines had set to work building its first fleet of ocean liners as early as 1849.

With the arrival of air travel, shipping firms had to change their emphasis and they started to focus on tourism rather than passenger transport. This spelled the emergence of transatlantic cruises. In 1900, the American-Hamburg Company created the first vessel designed specifically for cruises. Measuring 406 feet in length and 52 feet in width, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise was a trailblazer for ships to come.

Cruising across the ocean today

These days, cruises are among the most popular holidays available, and many of these trips cross the Atlantic. Of course, things have come a long way since the first pleasure cruises. If you travel on a P & O or Cunard vessel now, you can expect to benefit from a host of onboard facilities, such as swimming pools, spas, shops and more.

Ocean liners offer the very highest levels of comfort and luxury, and this is important on trips across the Atlantic, where you could be at sea for several days. But many holidaymakers enjoy the chance to just switch off until they reach their destination. And with itineraries including lectures by leading personalities, cooking demonstrations, and a whole ship’s library to explore, as well the inevitable sunbathing on deck, there’s still plenty to entertain on board.

One of the great things about transatlantic cruises is the fact that they join the old and new worlds, providing real cultural contrasts. You can choose from departure points in Portugal and Spain, from the European side, and cruises sail from Florida, Hawaii and New York in the US. These breaks are the ultimate in indulgence and, more than 100 years since the first great voyages took place, they are still the perfect way to unwind and forget about the modern world.

Image by Sean and Lauren, used under Creative Comms license

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