After six months exploring the Eastern Hemisphere, six months and 10,000 miles in the USA, we are now on our way to our next big adventure: Europe!! But why live the life of an every day European traveler when there is a chance for me to make things more complicated? Rather than fly to Europe, we opted for a 14 day, trans-Atlantic cruise. That’s right, we’re on a “mother f*cking boat!” sailing from Miami, Florida to Civitavecchia, Italy.
I Put My Toes in the Water
It has been on my bucket list to do a “crossing” for quite some time. But, given our somewhat precarious financial situation, that in itself might not be a good enough motivation for actually doing it. So, here is my financial break-down of why cruising was actually a super clever idea:
- We had obligations scheduled at Mom’s house from March 7 to March 28.
- Mom doesn’t have internet at her house, so we can’t make any money.
- Our first European house sit was booked in Germany for April 13.
With these facts in mind, it was challenging to work out the perfect financial balance. We needed to move on from Mom’s house ASAP so that we could make money (we work online, after all), but we didn’t want to show up to Europe too soon and have to pay expensive EU prices. What’s a girl to do? Make a spreadsheet, of course!
Beyond the Sea
Let’s say we were to fly to Europe on the 28th. Thankfully, flights from Orlando to Frankfurt are really quite affordable at an average of $400 one-way. That brings us to one full day of travel and a loss of $800, leaving us with 15 days between landing and our first sit. Assuming we stayed in Germany for that time, we would make an average of $20 per day by working online for 14 of the days. However, we would also have to spend an average of $50 per night on a budget hotel and $25 for food. Without any entertainment or inter-city travel, that puts us at +$280 for work and -$1080 for living expenses. Altogether, we’d be looking at paying a minimum of around $1600 to fly and stay in Europe.
Now let’s look at checking off my bucket list idea of cruising. The price for two tickets for an inside room for 14 days was $1,768. That includes room, transportation, food, and entertainment. It does not include internet or the $28 per day gratuity charge. Thankfully, we saved up $200 of on-board credit from our credit card reward points. This brought the final cruise bill to $1,960.
In conclusion, it was definitely more expensive to take the cruise than it was to fly, but not by much. However, by doing the crossing, I was able to tick an item off my bucket list, eat delicious 5-star meals, see nightly shows, visit two new countries, and make a ton of new friends. I’d say it was 100% worth the extra $350.
Just A Dream and the Wind to Carry Me
With my calculations complete, we opted to forgo the usual flight to Europe and instead booked passage on a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. We sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas for 14 days from Miami to Rome’s nearest port, Civitavecchia. The crossing took us through a total of nine sea days along with stops in the Azores, Gibraltar, Alicante, and Valencia.
Ocean Front Property
There were some early issues with our bookings which led us to getting a different room than the one we’d originally booked. We ended up down on the second floor, directly across from the crew’s quarters. It was so far off the beaten path that there was only one set of stairs that led to it rather than the usual two. On the positive side, we got a lot of exercise from climbing up to the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth floors. We had a port-hole window, which was nice, but when the seas got rough (and they did), our window had to be covered by a steel plate, essentially turning it into an inside-cabin, which often sells for nearly half the price of an outside cabin.
That said, the room itself was actually quite nice and comfortable. After spending several months in the van, it felt really spacious. We had a bed, two night stands, couch and coffee table, TV, desk, closet, and bathroom. The bathroom wasn’t big enough for two people, but had plenty of space for one person to comfortably move around.
Eating Cake By the Ocean (Actual Cake)
It is well known that cruises are all about the food. Though I disagree with the “all about” portion of that statement, I can’t deny that food plays a really big role. We almost always ordered coffee, orange juice, and assorted pastries through the free room service each morning. There were several options for lunch, but we most often visited the buffet. The buffet always included meats and cheeses, salad bar, hamburger and pizza station, a rotating international foods station, and a dessert buffet. For dinner, we opted for the 5:30 meal time in the “formal” dining room. We shared a table with eight other people and were served delicious three-to-five course meals.
Full Time to Floatin’
The ship had a lot to offer as far as entertainment. Each night, I received a schedule of the following day’s events and activities. Every night I went through it with highlighter in hand to plan out the next day for maximum fun-ness. The scheduled daily entertainment included trivia contests, scavenger hunts, and wellness activities. Each evening there was a scheduled stage show. My previous cruises told me that only 50% of the shows are any good; however, this particular ship provided excellent stage entertainment. I was floored with all but two of the 13 shows. For the late evening, there was karaoke, dancing, and adult-themed games.
In addition to the scheduled activities, there were magazines and board games, pool tables, ping pong tables, rock wall, mini-golf course, video-game arcade, movie theater, pool, shuffle board, shops, bars, and more. Needless to say, we did not get bored on this trip! On the contrary, we lost some weight taking yoga and dances classes, and made a name for ourselves as the Sudoku and chopsticks masters (long story).
I’m Sailing Away
I’m so glad we opted to take a ship across to Europe instead of fly. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. We ate delicious foods, met amazingly talented people, and saw new places. I love trying new things, especially when it comes to transportation and travel. Join me as I recall our adventures at sea over the next couple of blog posts. Stay tuned. Europe is coming!