I would like to travel from France to USA (ideally New York) with a ship. I want to use a ship because I have a long-term flying phobia; I know this is the root problem that I should solve, but this will take some time, and I am not psychologically ready yet. Thus the idea of a boat ocean crossing, and also because it can be a beautiful journey on sea.

Are there solutions still available in 2017? Time is not a problem, I have 10 days if needed, or more. Super-luxury cruise ship with 5k$ budget is not an option for me. I thought maybe cargo ships, or even ships in which you have to work (busboy / catering)?

Which are the cities connected to New York via ship? Brest or La Rochelle?

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    I would recommend to use a ship instead... a boat is something small, and only an adventurer would risk his life going out on the ocean with it.
    – Aganju
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 12:25
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    See also travel.stackexchange.com/questions/67908/…
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 12:31
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    You mentioned in comments that there are 2 other people. Have you thought about you traveling by sea and they by air?
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 1:21
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    @Aganju: not really. "Boat" covers any size of watercraft - it does cover small boats, but referring to a luxury cruise liner as a "boat" is fine. Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 8:42
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    @Aganju - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_freighter. "These vessels are traditionally called boats". Also, industry jargon is usually heavily disjointed from common use, in literally every industry. If someone heard me talking about programming they would think I had a seizure.
    – Davor
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 12:37

4 Answers 4


You don't need $5k for a cruise. For example, http://www.repositioncruises.com/holland-america-repositioning-cruises/ has

2017 October 3 – 15-day Transatlantic from Rome to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, visiting Alicante (05), Malaga (06), Cadiz (07), Funchal (09) – prices from $1200 pp.

2018 March 28 – 14-day Transatlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Rome, visiting Ponta Delgada (05), Malaga (08) Cartagena (09) – from $900 pp.

Getting to Rome from Paris is not hard if you time it well: Monday to Thursday there's a TGV (TGV 9247) leaving Paris at 9:41am arriving to Torino Porta Susa at 16:18 with the Rome train (ES 9575) leaving at 16:30. Note: some comments suggest 12 minutes is not enough. Perhaps leave more time; there are connections with ~an hour wait time. No matter what, I would plan to arrive to Rome a day earlier than necessary -- you don't want to miss your ship because of this or that.

Many websites will recommend a route changing trains in Milan but that require changing stations there which is a hassle. Driving this is 13.5-14 hours, yes, the train is faster, only 11:14.

Amtrak has direct service from Fort Lauderdale to New York twice a day, it only takes one forever, opsie, 26-30 hours depending which train you take. This is a 21 hour drive, net.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 5:19
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    Note that repositioning cruises only usually happen in one direction at a given time of year: the ships move to Europe for the summers and back to the Caribbean for the winters. This might make round-trip travel difficult. Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 17:09

Freighters are an option. It's not really cheap but should be cheaper than 5k$, perhaps around €1500 all-in. In France, Brest or La Rochelle are not usual departure points, Saint-Nazaire or, especially, Le Havre are better options. This answer to another question provides pointers to a number of agencies who can arrange a trip like that.

One thing to note is that travelling by freighter to the US means you need a visa, even if your citizenship makes you otherwise eligible for the visa waiver programme.

  • Do you think 2000€ for a 2-way trip is something possible? (France -> USA -> France)
    – Basj
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 12:48
  • @Basj Not with a freighter, no. You also have to have something like €300 for the visa, various insurances and harbour transfer. In total, maybe €3000 for a round-trip.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 13:11
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    Hum ok, so pretty expensive for a 3-person family because of my flying phobia ;) Thanks for your answer @Relaxed!
    – Basj
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 13:27
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    Good point on the VWP angle. One could in theory avoid the US visa by traveling to Canada by ship and crossing the US border by train or bus. I do not know whether such a route would be available in practice, but it seems like one ought to be.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 14:05
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    One note I have read with freighter travel (I've never done it myself) is that you have to be flexible and prepared for unpredictable changes. The ship may adjust its schedule, experience delays, add or remove ports, or even cancel altogether, because the primary purpose is to make a profit transporting cargo, and any passengers are simply an added bonus. When you'll get there, what kind of food you'll get, etc... are all simply out of your control. If you like traveling like that, then great, but if you really need to be somewhere at a certain time, it may not be the best option. Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 21:00

Another option is Cunard's Queen Mary 2, the only passenger liner with regularly scheduled service between Europe and the USA. You'll have to get yourself to Southampton by train, but the ship docks in New York on the other end.

While it is expensive, they have some special offers for fares on certain sailings between $649-$1049/person (assuming double occupancy, plus taxes and fees), mainly for inside cabins. The ship runs every few weeks (occasional special trips disrupt the schedule), and they go slow, so it usually takes seven days from Southampton to New York.


There are such travels offered, for example http://www.cruisepeople.co.uk/transat.htm. Google 'transatlantic passenger sailings' for more.

They take about 8 days, and start around 135$/day, but other sites might offer cheaper.

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    I found routes as low as $100/day. Subtract the cost of plane fare, and you're left with ten to fourteen days cost being similar to a cheap hotel cost.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 19:07

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