Google for cargoshipcruises. It's a dutch company (dutch site) but has an English page. They are good and reliable so I have read and they offer you the possibility to have a room on a cargo ship which probably takes about 7-10 days. You can travel to North east USA or even by river into the border area of Canada/US. It's more expensive than flying by the way....
Maybe you could do it in a submarine. Someone did row the distance but it did take one hell of a long time and nearly kill him a few times along the way.
Well kind of obviously your mainly limiting yourself to sea.
Fromwhat I hear there are two main ways of approaching sea travel and i think which side of the pond you start on might effect things.
The first is getting a cruise. I know it sounds more Old Age Pentioner than Indie traveller (apologies to readers who fit both of those catagories) but you can get some fairly good deals. Ships are big and you can find quite a bit of interest aboard. Getting on a cargo ship sounds like the more adventurous alternative, but from what i hear its really not recommended. First of all your shafted for a timetable. Cargo leaves when its needed and when its least likely to get damaged in a storm. You may be forced to wait around in ports for days or longer until a captin deems it fit to leave. Its also not any cheaper! You tend to get put in the old officers cabins and pay a rate similar to a fancy room on a cruise. On top of this, you just don't have the range of company. Crews arn't huge and i'd imagine they'd probably be more occupied with their jobs than entertaining you. I havn't ever looked into getting a job on a ship. It might be possible but sounds like real hard graft.
Option two is my personal preferance. Getting on a private ship. Start by finding out where the majority of private boats set out from to cross the atlantic. Get yourself down there and see if you can talk up the harbourmaster. They'll know exactly where everyones headed and when. They may even know some of the captains personally. Dress smart. Be polite, polish the old charm and see if you can make some friends. Some people may charge, some might need extra crew, some may even just want company. I hear if you've got a skill (being able to play an instrument ranks high) and could help keep up moral on a trip you stand a better change. But this again totally depends on the gift of the gab. Your also at risk of being trapped in a confined space with someone you could turn out not to like, and for lone female travellers there are probably other considerations too. But still, its worht popping down and gettting the lay of the land. Even if it takes some time to find the right ship, it should be a pretty cool adventure, mebby even cheap too!
Disclaimer: This is all based on research i did around a trip, never actually got round to get just yet. Sounds solid on paper, someone correct me if i'm wrong and keep me posted if it actually works!
Hope this helps,
strandtravel do places on container ships from Liverpool-Montreal among other places and prices are generally under 1k one way, although i suggest booking well in advance.
Wow, thanks everyone - those are all really great. I was thinking more along the lines of a cargo ship - better still would be a private sailing ship or something. I'll check out what you all mentioned for sure.
Huw, those are good incites , not a bad idea at all to go down and talk to people first hand - it's just a matter of finding out where.
M07m, i'll check them out too. Even if it's a bit more than a flight I don't mind at all - I'm finished with flying. (for the most part.. .still my work requires I fly sometimes
Thanks Utrecht will definitely check that out, would be cool to take the train to montreal and then boat across.
I'm not really sure on a submarine aharrold45, would be fun in a way though!
Let me know which side of the Pond your starting from.
Can't help if your stateside, but know a few ports and harbors over in the UK, south coast area.
I'm in Canada - so like you say, could be tough for you to name some places to start