To travel between the Americas and Europe we are planning on using a repositioning cruise. If you are not familiar with transatlantic repositioning cruises, the cruise lines have to move ships from the Caribbean to Europe in the spring and from Europe to the Caribbean in the fall. Since the ships have to be moved anyway and most people don’t want a one way trip, the result can be a fantastic value. Deals such as $399 per person for two weeks including accommodations and food are not unusual. The eastbound cruises leave between the end of March and the end of April, taking 14 days to cross the ocean. The extra allure is the opportunity to visit hard to reach destinations such as the Azores or Canary Islands.
Most repositioning cruises end in Southampton, England, Barcelona, Spain, or Rome, Italy. Our first choice would be Barcelona, followed by Rome. We prefer to depart in April rather than March because that will allow us to spend time visiting family in the US before the cruise.
An important consideration when planning an extended trip to Europe is the restrictions of the Schengen Zone. The 26 countries of the Schengen Zone (most of Europe) limit time in the zone for non-EU residents to 90 days total within a six month period.
Assuming that we start in Barcelona, we will work our way down the southern coast of Spain, stopping in some of the following destinations: Valencia, Altea, Palafrugell, Alicante, and Almunecar, before moving over to the Algarve region of Portugal, then up the Atlantic coast to the towns of Caiscais and Estoril, and ending in Lisbon. We will need to be finished with this part of the trip by early July since we will be attending a graduation in Bath, England.
After the graduation, we will be traveling in some of the following Eastern European countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, and Bulgaria, then finishing up in southern Italy, primarily in the regions of Abruzzo and Puglia. Planning for this stage of the trip is still very tentative.
At the end of our exploratory year, we will either fly or take another repositioning westward to the US.