10 Reasons to Move By Sea

qm2You’ve got your visa–well done!–and now, inevitably, it’s time to consider how to get to the UK. You have two choices: fly on any number of airlines leaving regularly from every major airport in the US, or board the luxury liner Queen Mary 2 for a leisurely 7-day crossing. My husband flew; I sailed. Here’s why I think the ship is the way to go:

1. Comfort. You’ve flown coach recently, right? It sucks, even on the good airlines. Seats are cramped even for the short and slender, there’s going to be a line for the lilliputian bathroom, and inevitably a child will start crying while you’re trying to sleep. Now, maybe you’re rich enough to shell out thousands of dollars for a business or first class seat. Good for you. But a lot of us don’t have that kind of cash and get stuck in the back. Compare this to the idea of sleeping in an actual bed, enjoying afternoon tea in a fancy restaurant, stretching your legs on a deck instead of an aisle, and having your every whim catered to by attentive staff members. No contest.

2. Food glorious food! Airline food gets a bad rap, and while I don’t think it tends to be quite so awful as most comedians make it out to be, it’s still not something you’d choose if you had any other options. You wouldn’t buy that kind of food on the ground, is what I’m saying. Food on the ship was delicious and catered to every taste and dietary need. Why choke down gummy tortellini at 3000 feet when you can enjoy surf and turf and creme brulee while looking out at the Atlantic Ocean rolling by?

3. No luggage limits. More and more airlines are charging customers for daring to actually bring some luggage along, and overhead bins seem to be getting tinier (either that, or everyone’s bags are getting much, much bigger). Technically, you can only take as much luggage onto the ship as will “comfortably fit in your stateroom,” but those staterooms have a surprising amount of storage space. You can bring a lot, and someone will actually carry it for you. Delightful!

4. Enlightenment. For those who want to broaden their minds, the ship offers lectures given by college professors on every journey. On mine, we had a naval expert, a forensics expert, a historian, and a codebreaking expert on board, all giving fascinating talks on their area of expertise. If you’re more the self-directed type, the ship also has a lovely and rather well-stocked library on board. Some journeys also feature plays performed by students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

5. You can bring your pets. The reason I ended up on the ship was because of our two dogs, who have health problems that made flying impossible. The only other way to get them to the UK was to book them into the QM’s kennels, which are comfortable, fastidiously clean, and staffed full-time by a kennel master. Owners can visit their babies four times a day and cool their heels in the adjoining sitting room (which is stocked with tea and water). There’s a private deck area where the dogs can stretch their legs, and you can order up pretty much any food you want for your pampered pooch from the ship’s kitchens. The pets also get souvenir water and food bowls and a professional photo taken in their lifejackets. And all this is actually cheaper than flying them. Go figure.

6. It might make good financial sense. When we started looking into plane tickets for me, we were startled by how much they cost. When we started looking at the cost of a basic inside cabin, we discovered that it was actually around the same price as the plane ticket. And you get so much more for it (see above). If you consider the cost of shipping all the luggage you’re actually able to bring with you on the ship, it might wind up being less expensive for you to board the Queen Mary than it would be to fly to the UK.

7. It’s an experience. How many people in this day and age can say they’ve sailed across the Atlantic? You have to admit, it sounds pretty cool. And it’s a marvelous experience–the ship’s beautiful, the service is top-notch, and the amenities seem endless.

8. No jetlag. One of the worst things about flying overseas is the day (or two) you lose to jetlag when you arrive. This is not the time to be exhausted and fuzzy-headed–you’ve got work ahead of you and it helps to be sharp. If you sail, you compensate for the time changes by setting your clocks ahead an hour almost every night. No big deal. You arrive in Southampton refreshed, well-fed (you get breakfast before disembarking) and ready to face your next challenge.

9. No lines when you arrive. Along with your jetlag, you usually have to deal with huge lines at immigration, baggage claim, and sometimes even security when you arrive by air. This sucks. Immigration is handled onboard the ship, a couple of days into the voyage, a handful of passengers at a time, so wait time is minimal there, and when you arrive at your destination, you just disembark, grab your luggage (which is waiting for you) and head out. No lines, no waiting, no hassle. Brilliant.

10. You deserve a vacation. You’ve just been through a very stressful time, and you’re going to be facing quite a bit of stress as you settle in across the pond. This is an excellent time to treat yourself to a break. Take your seven days, enjoy the complimentary champagne in your cabin, try new foods, treat yourself to a massage at the spa, work off your overindulgences in the excellent onboard gym, meet some new people, catch a show, chill with your loved ones. Seriously, you deserve it.

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