Europe and Beyond Without Flying – How Did I Do It?

Cruise ships included Koningsdam to Europe

“I long to be at sea,” she whispered through an ear-to-ear grin. That “she” was me.

A tall, colorful sail-away drink in one hand, camera in the other, I set out on another transatlantic crossing.

Cruise ships, river ships and trains

Another year, another lengthy haul to Europe and back. It’s how I travel without flying.

I’ve traveled back and forth to Europe from Florida for over 12 consecutive years and never set foot on an airplane. It’s not easy. To plan all the cruise ships, river ships and even the Eurostar takes almost twice as long as the time spent away.

Yesterday I returned home from nearly two months spent traveling solo on cruise ships, river ships, trains and an occasional hotel stay. To be precise, I visited nine countries, traveled on seven trains, stayed at four hotels, cruised on three river ships and two transatlantic crossings.

Countries visited (in order of appearance): Portugal (Azores), Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and United Kingdom.

Ocean ships:  Koningsdam to Europe – from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome; Queen Mary 2 Southampton to New York.

River ships:  CroisiEurope Douce France, Viking Rolf, Avalon Vista

Trains: Frecciarossa, SBB, TGV, Eurostar, Amtrak

Europe 2018 in a nutshell

  • Ft. Lauderdale to Rome via Holland America Koningsdam: Transatlantic crossing 14 nights
  • Rome: two nights / three days Westin Excelsior
  • Rome to Milano to Basel:  Two trains with a 25-minute train change in Milano – one day
  • Basel to Amsterdam: Rhine River cruise aboard CroisiEurope Douce France – eight nights / nine days
  • Amsterdam to Paris: Train – one day
  • Paris:  One night at Westin Place Vendome hotel stay
  • Paris round-trip to Normandie: Seine River cruise aboard Viking Rolf
  • Paris: Three nights Le Metropolitan Hotel
  • Paris to Amsterdam: Train – one day
  • Amsterdam round-trip through Holland and Belgium:  Various small rivers aboard Avalon Vista seven nights / eight days
  • Amsterdam to Brussels to London:  Train to Brussels and change to Eurostar to London, St. Pancras Station
  • London:  three nights Premiere Inn St. Pancras hotel (close to the station)
  • London to Southampton:  Via Cunard motor coach to meet Queen Mary 2 in Southampton – Transatlantic crossing 7 nights
  • Southampton to New York – Brooklyn Red Hook Terminal: Aboard Queen Mary 2, seven nights / eight days
  • New York City: One night in Manhattan staying with friends
  • New York to Orlando: Aboard Amtrak – one overnight

Traveling solo has its advantages. If I had to drag along a traveling companion, unless they know their way around Europe, there’s no way.

Home again with over 2,000 photos and a notebook full of, well…notes, I’ve decided to get creative.

Each day, for the next 53 days, I’ll publish my favorite photo in chronological order; one for each day of the trip. Pic of the Day.

Read more: 12 Things I Like About Holland America Koningsdam

Pic of the Day

March 28, 2018 – Sailaway aboard Holland America Koningsdam to Europe.

Whomever said Holland America is stodgy, hasn’t been on Holland America lately. This photo-bomber says it all. Next stop, after six sea days, Horta-Azores.

Sailaway to Europe without Flying, aboard Koningsdam
To Europe without flying. Sailaway aboard Holland America’s Koningsdam en route to Rome.

After a busy, crazy day and a quiet evening settling into my room, I was excited for the next day’s onboard adventures…and maybe a trivia contest!

Day 2

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  1. Hi Rose, lucky you! Without knowing how long your cruise is, I can’t really help with packing tips except to say, less is more. I always use either the ship’s launderette or send out my clothes to be cleaned a couple of days before we arrive. I think your plan for one large (not too large) and one carryon is perfect. I travel with one 24″ (including wheels) and a computer bag, all spinners. For shoes, I bring one walking shoe (my New Balance), an almost-flat nice black shoe for dressy nights and comfortable enough to wear with nice slacks in Paris or Rome etc. I’ve ended up mailing my high heels home so now I get double-duty with a black, low-heeled shoe. Sometimes I’ll buy a pair of low boots or walking shoes in Europe. In addition to my New Balance and the black shoes, if warm weather then a pair of sandals or maybe a higher espadrille. In total, usually four pairs, including the one I wear to board.

    Tide makes cute little laundry detergent packs (pack of 3) that are perfect for one sink-ful of water for a hand wash.

    Did you see my “Ultimate Packing List Guide”? This might give you a few more hints. Thank you for writing and have a wonderful cruise and vacation in Italy.

  2. Hi Sherry, My husband will be sailing on this ship to Italy in April 2019. I really enjoyed reading about your trip. Could you offer tips details about packing? Did you use a laundry service on the ship? How about shoes what types and how many pairs did you bring? We are planning to bring one carryon and one large suitcase each.
    Thank you, Rose

  3. Hi Tom,
    It’s difficult to quote trip costs. I watch for sales and always try to book a future cruise while I’m on the ship so I can get a little onboard credit. Queen Mary 2 can run anywhere from $599 pp and up for an inside stateroom in fall and winter. Plus about $200 in fees and taxes. Your best bet is to find a travel agent and work with her/him to find your best offers.

    There are several cruise lines that reposition from the US West Coast to Australia and then head back after two-three months cruising around Australia and NZ.
    I hope some of this is helpful. Thank you for your question.


  4. We have done the trans Atlantic and stay in London Before taking the Queen back to NY. I stopped flying around 6 yrs a go even though being ret mil we could fly almost for free. I would love to know about how much your total trip cost, Please. Also how about and Aussie itenary by sea.

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