It’s exactly 175 years ago today that a Cunard ship made its first passenger crossing of the Atlantic. The steamship Britannia carried 115 passengers and 89 crew on the voyage, which took 12 days to reach Halifax, Nova Scotia from Liverpool, and went on to Boston and New York.
That first Cunard ship would fit comfortably inside the main dining room of Queen Mary 2 (above), which leaves the Mersey today on a one-off voyage to recreate the crossing, and which remains the only vessel providing a scheduled Transatlantic service between Southampton and New York
David Bowie and Rod Stewart are among the stars who have made the journey in recent years; within a few months, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Natalie Cole will follow in their wake. On 25 November, QM2 will leave New York on her 250th crossing.
For those reluctant to fly, or those who just want to spend time at sea, there are other ways to travel to the US by ship – either round-trip from the UK, or on cruise ships returning west after a summer in the Mediterranean – which often offer the best cruise bargains of the year.
Fred Olsen’s Balmoral is heading for America’s Deep South, leaving on September 14 for a 35-night cruise that visits much of the eastern seaboard from Sydney, Nova Scotia, down to Charleston, S Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida, and Miami. Fares from £2,999.
P&O’s Aurora departs on 17 September for a 24-night cruise to Canada and New England, visiting New York (overnight) Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; St John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. Fares from £2,399.
Balmoral heads west again in April, on a 34-night cruise to Norfolk, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland (overnight); New York (overnight); Newport, Boston, Portland, Halifax, and St John’s, Newfoundland, before returning to Southampton on 20 May. Fares from £3,499.
Check with your travel agent for some of the bargain deals as ships from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess and others reposition to the Caribbean during September and October.