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Suppose that:

  • I have both valid US & Schengen visas
  • I am a savvy backpacker with a preference for economical travel
  • I have no fixed schedule to meet. A longer travel time is even better.
  • Any European port (of Schengen country) is okay.
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I can't imagine you could sail cheaper than you could fly, but the answers will be interesting! –  trideceth12 Feb 10 '13 at 18:28
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@trideceth12 yeah, u are right. but the main objective here is to cross (& experience) Atlantic, not just "going" to US. –  kmonsoor Feb 10 '13 at 18:35
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It's not cheaper, but one reason is that it takes a week and it's full-board, so you're simultaneously paying for a full week of meals and lodging. Hence, comparing prices directly is not a fair comparison. –  gerrit Feb 10 '13 at 21:02
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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Mouvicels answer is correct. I'd like to add a bit more on freighter travel. Although I have no personal experience with it, I think it's an interesting option that I would certainly like to try out some day. The information below is fully based on what I have read on the internet.

In freighter travel, you get to travel on-board a freighter. Those freighters take only a handful of passengers, typically a dozen or so. You need to entertain yourself. The freighter has a particular route and you can join either the whole way, or from port to port. You may need to pay a not inconsiderable amount of money to use such an unusual port of entry in the United States. Your luck is that transatlantic freighter travel is one of the most popular routes.

You might pay around US$1500. This cannot be directly compared against an airfare, because for this price includes all meals and lodging. For some routes, the prices are in US$/day plus a base fee.

It will probably take between 8 and 12 days.

Some sources for freighter travel:

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thanks for ur answer. looks like a freighter will be great to fit my necessity. after ur links, i also done a lot of "research" on freighter cruising. –  kmonsoor Feb 17 '13 at 15:00
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The two main options that I am aware of are:

I would not be surprised if you could join a crew aboard a luxury yacht in Monaco going to the Caribean for the winter. For example, Cruisers forum has a Crew wanted section. In that case, you get paid for the experience.

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There is a relatively simple and cheap option for those who don't want the rigours of a freighter and don't have the skills to crew a yacht. That is to take a repositioning cruise on a normal cruise liner. These get sold off very cheap, since it's basically fifteen days on a cruise ship without stopping at the interesting islands and tourist spots that happen on a normal cruise. A fifteen day cruise (one way) can set you back less than the price of a (return) transatlantic air fare - and you get meals and entertainment with that. However they tend to be at only certain times of the year, and the American end will be in the Caribbean, not New York (mostly).

Here is the trans-atlantic repositioning schedule for Royal Carribbean. Here is a more general article. Now you know they exist you should be able to find them for any cruise line you want. Any cruise line that operates in both the Carribbean and Mediterranean will do a few of them a year.

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Learned something new today! +1 –  Jonas Feb 11 '13 at 14:25
    
@DJclayworth the RC link shows all the cruise. How I can find the "repositioning" schedule ? thanks by the way for ur great answer. –  kmonsoor Feb 14 '13 at 10:40
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That is the repositioning schedule. They just don't give it that name. Look at the prices. –  DJClayworth Feb 14 '13 at 14:26
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My website loco2.com has an informative post on cargo-ship (freighter) travel. The post recommends various websites for how to book, including Strand Travel in the UK, which has an extensive range of voyages listed on its website, including Southampton (UK) to New York for around £1,000.

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Although it perfectly answers your question, I am sure this won't make your cut... But if you truly are a backpacker, then you can actually traverse the seas on human power.

This idea comes from the recent news of Jason Lewis, who circumnavigated the world only on human power!
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21377623

Now that's just baw's of steel, so I explicitly forbid you to undertake it and thus have no liability whatsoever!

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though off-topic, but interesting ... thnx –  kmonsoor Feb 14 '13 at 10:55
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