Please sign in to post.

We hate to fly - so we have to go by sea

I can't face another flight. It's not that I'm afraid to fly, I have claustrophobia. So we've decided to go to Europe only by boat. Does anyone else have this problem?

Posted by
31303 posts

I don't find flying particularly enjoyable but to answer your question, I don't have any problems with it in terms of claustrophobia or whatever. I view flying as a "means to an end" in getting me to Europe relatively quickly so that I can start touring, and then home again.

There have been discussions here in the past about travelling to Europe by cruise ship. As I recall, most of the ships seem to depart NYC and arrive in Southampton, so you'd have to plan your trips around those ports.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
8285 posts

I'm like Ken, flying is a means to an end. As far as transatlantic cruises, there are repositioning cruises that travel from the U.S. to Europe in the Spring and from Europe to the U.S. in the Fall. Many of the cruises leave from Florida and go to Spain and Italy. They are very reasonably priced, you just have to have the time to spend 10 - 14 days each way in transit. If you have plenty of time you could take the Spring cruise to go to Europe, spend up to 90 days in the Schengen zone, then go to the U.K. You could then take a repositioning cruise from there in the Fall to return home.

Posted by
8293 posts

I met a couple on board the QM2 year before last who spend half the year in their London apartment and the other half in NYC, and they cross both ways on the Queen Mary 2. Not because of fear of flying but because of a distaste for what transatlantic flights have become.

Posted by
2828 posts

Flying is not very pleasant, several days in the ocean, confined in a ship, without broadband Internet, is much more terrorizing to me than up to 11 miserable hours on a cramped seat.

Posted by
1568 posts

I prefer non-stop flights even if they are 12 hours. I sleep and read while on plane.

Posted by
11798 posts

I think I'd really enjoy traveling, at least one way, on a repositioning cruise. Unfortunately, my vacation time is currently too valuable to spend on at-sea days, so I have to put up with a relatively short uncomfortable flight.

I do prefer window seats, on long flights, because there is a little room to lean into that you don't get with other seats.

Posted by
4637 posts

I don't know if that will solve your problem which is not fear of flying but claustrophobia as you say. Your cabin on the cruise ship will be certainly smaller than a cabin of transatlantic plane.

Posted by
1399 posts

I too hate flying but put up with it because I want to travel. I have also become very claustrophobic but an aisle seat helps me with that.

Posted by
18021 posts

You don't give your location or your destination in Europe, so I can only give you an example, but if you go from Boston to Frankfurt on IcelandAir, you change plans in Reykjavik. Each leg (Boston to Reykjavik and Reykjavik to Frankfurt) is 5-5½ hrs. You could fly to Boston, spend a night there, then fly to Reykjavik and spend another night and still be faster (and probably cheaper) than a cruise ship.

Would limiting the time in the plane to about 5 hours at a time help?

Posted by
6570 posts

If you'll look at the following posting, you can find all of the cruises out of the New York area. The repositioning cruises are about 90% down the list.

http://vacationstogo.com/ticker.cfm?r=0&m=0&l=0&s=0&n=0&d=1509&v=0&sm=0&tm=0&sp=y

Unfortunately, all cruises out of New York are pretty expensive. There are another group of repositioning ships out of South Florida and Puerto Rico that go East around the 3rd week of April and come back to the Caribbean in the Fall. They are better priced.

The only regularly scheduled ships back to North America, other than freighters, are Cunard. And their regular fares are expensive. They'd be just about the only way back to North America without flying for 6 months--until more repositioning takes place. Remember that you can stay in the Schengen Countries only 90 days out of 180 days.

Do like Rick Steves and take an Ambien when you get on the plane--and sleep through the flight.

Posted by
11450 posts

One day I would love to cruise there,, my mom did twice on repositioning cruises , then flew home( so cruises were not expensive and included the one way airfare, but since you would not fly back it may be more expensive for you to take a regularily scheduled flight back, but get to a GOOD cruise SPECIALIST to get all options)

The ships are not claustrophobic at all.. get an outside cabin, with a balcony if you can afford it,, and the rest of the ship you have the run of..

Andre,, I can go for a month without the internet,, and do , on most of my vacations to Europe.. can't imagine being so electronically tethered.. so you see,, everyone has their issues.

Posted by
11450 posts

kwasylowski.. I suggest you go on the cruisecritics.com forums.. they are cruise specific and likely have seperate catergories for transalantic and freighter cruising( another option!) .

Posted by
27 posts

I can't thank you all enough for taking the time to post. I felt really stupid posting the question in the first place. We just returned from a 23 day trip to Europe. We flew over on BA and our first mistake was where we sat - last row against a wall. In the diagram I had thought it was an open space behind us. We could not lean back but the people in front of us could - tray against my stomach for 8 + hours. I still get nightmares. It's just not for us. There are not enough episodes of Big Bang Theory to get me to cross like that for a long time. We returned on a ship(15 days) Civitavecchia to Spain to Morocco to Gran Canaria. Our handicap cabin had a balcony so we had lots of room. I'm going to check on the sites you kind people have recommended. I have to go back - I have the travel bug big time now - just wish I could afford first class.

Posted by
265 posts

Boy that really was a bad seat. Here is a way to perhaps overcome a bad set of seats.

For maybe a couple of hundred dollars more per person you could get an economy plus (United) or economy comfort (Delta)seats. They offer around 4 more inches of leg room and that does make a difference. Then check out seatguru.com for input and a review of the quality of each seat on each type of airplane for all of the different airlines. Many people on this helpline have commented in the past that the extra inches of these seats are a good investment. And that Seatguru and other similar web sites are helpful to pointing out things like limited recline. Let's face it flying will never be that great but it is a fast and cheap method to get to where we want to go.

The first time we got economy plus seats going to Europe we kept saying to each other that it was the best money we ever spent. That extra leg room and space made the flight okay. My son was 6'3" and we sat in the middle section of seats on a 777. And he was the one saying the extra space made a big difference.

I have also taken a transatlantic cruise home (from Rome)and enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. I had the time and the base fare was really cheap for my inside cabin. Plus as a bonus it made ports of call in Spain and Portugal where I had never visited.

Posted by
143 posts

I also have a bit of claustrophobia when flying. As soon as the door shuts, it hits me. Economy seating doesn't help the situation as you're stuffed in like sardines. What I've found to be a big help is to use my FF miles to upgrade from ecnonomy to business. It really is a huge difference for me as I have a bit more wiggle room and in general, less packed in. As long as your financially responsible and pay off the balance each month, you can acquire miles rather quickly. All you have to do is look at the mileage program in question and see what type of points you can get when shopping at particular stores and so forth. May be something you could look into.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks so much Amanda, but I don't think I can fly enough to earn the miles to upgrade. It's a catch 22 isn't it? We can certainly find enough cruises from Florida to ease my travel bug, the problem is London. I absolutely adored London and I have to get back there, somehow, someday. I hate to admit that about three hours into that transatlantic flight I took refuge in the little wine bottles they were giving out so freely. I had three and then I 'fell asleep' for a while. Trouble was, the next day I suffered for it.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

I don't particularily care for flying either but, as pointed out above, if you like traveling to Europe, it's something you just put up with, ie, can't wait to land. As long as the flight in economy is direct from Calif and doesn't go beyond ten hours or so before landing in London at LHR, or Frankfurt, or Paris at CDG, I can tolerate it mentally, am prepared to sleep most of the way.

Luckily, twice I was bumped up to business class going to Frankfurt on Lufthansa, a real surprise and a much more pleasant experience than being "constrained" in economy for ten hours.

Posted by
8285 posts

If you have a credit card that gives you airline miles, the miles are accrued by spending, not flying. For example, I have a United credit card. Yes, some of my miles came from actually flying. Most came from the 30,000 miles they gave me to open the account, and the rest came from using it as a credit card. It is important to pay it off each month. I have no idea what the interest rate is because I don't pay interest, but I know it's high. I was able to book two round trip tickets for next Fall, from Sacramento-London and Frankfurt-San Francisco for about $260. That is to cover the taxes. I also upgraded our Houston-London segment to Economy Plus for less than that amount.

Posted by
143 posts

Kwasylowski,

As Ms. Andrea mentioned, you can earn miles by using your mileage credit card to purchase your day to day items. As long as you pay the balance off monthly, it's quiet easy to earn miles. If you're dead set on being unable to fly, have you thought about transatlantic crossings? I'm not sure your budget or time frame, but a few years ago, I took the QM2 from New York to Southampton (a few hrs south of London). It took 6 nights/7days to cross. It was a fun trip. The ocean liner is very large, so you have room to stretch out and also offers plenty of activities to keep you busy. I had met a couple who were doing a roundtrip on the QM2 and had about 14 days between sailings to explore the UK, so that could always be a possibility if it falls within your price range.

Best of luck!

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks again everyone! I will look into the credit card mileage - can't believe the deal that you got.

Also, Amanda, I have booked up on the QM2 for July this year, both to England and back. We'll have 8 days in the UK and we thought we'd spend the first four on Britrail and then settle into my beautiful London for the rest. I can't wait - I'd move there if I could talk my husband into it.

I think that with the selection of a better seat and maybe the hope of an upgrade I could take flying, but my husband really doesn't want to and I won't force him. For now we'll stick to the sea even though it takes an eternity to get anywhere.

Posted by
1 posts

Congratulations on your upcoming trip on Queen Mary 2. We made our first transatlantic crossing three years ago and I think that you'll find, as many of us have, that your seven days at sea pass all too quickly. To our surprise, we loved it so much that we made the same journey both ways last summer and we'll be doing it again this July and August as well.
If you haven't already visited the Cruise Critic website, you might consider registering there. Look for the roll call for your voyage. There's usually a delightful meet and greet on the first full day at sea, and you'll find a warm welcome from your fellow Cunarders.

Posted by
1546 posts

Sounds like you may not have had seat assignments prior to arriving at the airport. Most airlines (maybe not all) allow you to choose seating after you have made your flight reservations. Check the airline websites at least once a month to confirm your flights have not changed, but also your seats. As others have mentioned use Seat guru to select best available seats.

Posted by
14399 posts

Some (many? all?) airlines allow you to purchase the best economy seats (like exit row) for $100 or less. While it won't give you as wide a seat as business class, it will give you about as much "space" around you and it's a lot cheaper.