Repositioning cruises are deeply discounted one-off itineraries that pop up when ships travel between two regions of the world, ending one season (in Europe or Alaska, for example) to begin another (in the Caribbean).
Mostly offered in the fall and spring, the typical repositioning cruise includes a long, lazy stretch at sea crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. Perfect for people who don't need a lot of action, repositioning cruises are especially popular with retirees and travelers who have the time for longer voyages.
Repositioning Cruises: Frequently Asked Questions
How many days will be at sea?
Transatlantic and Pacific crossings can have as many as six sea days in a row, while Panama Canal voyages will rarely have more than two consecutive days at sea.
Will it be too cold to swim aboard the ship?
All cruise ships have a gym, a spa, and pools -- though depending on when you cruise, it may be too chilly to swim outdoors. For example, crossing the Atlantic in November would not be conducive to an outdoor swim, though it might be fine in early October. There's always the hot tub, and some ships have indoor or covered pools that can be enjoyed in any temperature.
Will I get bored?
To enjoy a repositioning cruise, there's no question you have to be the kind of person who enjoys relaxing and enjoying the serenity of being surrounded by nothing but water for days on end. If you are truly claustrophobic, then a repositioning cruise may not be for you; unless, of course, the fares are just too hard to resist.
"For people who equate price to value above anything else, transatlantic voyages are the top of the heap by a good margin. We see prices that are below $50 per person per day with a few below $40 per person a day," says Kevin Weisner, vice president of CruiseDeals.com (www.cruisedeals.com). He says that because more ships were in Europe over the summer than in previous years, more ships are repositioning to the Caribbean, too.
What type of ship should I pick?
The biggest ships not only have more passengers to interact with, but the megaships also offer more entertainment venues and a wide variety of activities such as game-show-style contests, passenger talent shows, and bingo.
On the other hand, the mostly smaller ships of luxury lines (Crystal, Cunard, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea) also do their part to keep passengers entertained by hosting three or four or more onboard lecturers to give talks on history, politics, and other topics. These lines also focus on activities like wine tasting and computer, photography, and other classes.
What other fees should I keep in mind before booking a repositioning cruise?
"Keep in mind, that though repositioning cruises are less expensive than normal round-trip voyages, they tend to necessitate more expensive air itineraries since they require two distinct one-way tickets for your average customer," says Anthony Hamawy, president of Cruise.com (www.cruise.com).
This is especially true if you have to fly to or from Europe or Asia for a repositioning cruise. For a Panama Canal repositioning itinerary, on the other hand, airfare can be more reasonable since the embarkation and debarkation ports are typically closer to home in North America, though some of savings that is offset by other extra costs.
"In the past year or two, Panama Canal port taxes have increased substantially (more than $245 per person), driving cruise prices higher," says Tiffany Neidhardt, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Cruises-N-More (www.cruises-n-more.com).
Repositioning Cruises: Sample Cruise Deals
Check out these sample deals and prices from CruiseDeals.com, CruiseBrothers.com, Cruise Connexions, All-Travel.com, and other cruise companies.
a 13-night cruise from Barcelona to New Orleans with three ports of call in Spain and Portugal aboard the giant 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas, complete with an outdoor rock-climbing wall and indoor ice-skating rink (departs Oct 30, 2011; inside cabins from $609 per person)
a 16-night crossing from Barcelona to Galveston, Texas, aboard the new 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic with visits to two ports in Spain, plus the Canary Islands and Turks & Caicos (departs Oct. 28, 2011; inside cabins from $749 per person) Note: It may be a bit chilly to enjoy the ship's outdoor water park
a 15-night cruise from Civitavecchia/Rome to Ft. Lauderdale aboard Holland America's 1,404-passenger Rotterdam with visits to five ports in Spain, Morocco, and Portugal; plus complimentary culinary demos and first-run movies (departs Nov. 6, 2011; inside cabins from $749 per person, suites from $1,199 per person)
a 7-night transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England, to New York on Cunard's 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 (departs Nov. 10, 2011; inside cabins from $695 per person, outside cabins from $895 per person). The ship offers lots of diversions including a planetarium and a huge library.
a 23-night spring-time crossing from Miami to Venice aboard the 2,018-passenger Norwegian Spirit (departs April 17, 2012; inside cabins from $1,999 per person). Ports include Ponta Delgada, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Toulon, France; Livorno, Civitavecchia and Naples, Italy; Mykonos and Piraeus, Greece; and Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey; plus an overnight in Venice.
a 19-night South Pacific cruise from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia, aboard the newly refurbished 1,950-passenger Celebrity Millennium (departs Nov. 2, 2012; inside cabins from $2,299 per person) Ports include Hilo, Hawaii; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Suva, Fiji; Tauranga, New Zealand; Auckland, New Zealand; and Bay Of Islands, New Zealand. Perks include being able to view a solar eclipse while at sea and overnighting in Sydney.
a 12-night Middle East and Asia cruise from Dubai to Singapore on the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice (departs Nov. 11, 2012; inside cabins from $1,399 per person) Ports include Muscat, Oman; Cochin, India; and Port Kelang, Malaysia, with overnights in both Dubai and Cochin.
a 17-night crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo on the 296-passenger all-suite Silver Cloud (departs March 31, 2012; suites from $5,698 per person) The voyage includes 10 days at sea, plus visits to Bermuda; Madieria Islands, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar; Porto Mahon, Spain; and Marseille, France. Prices include all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and tips. The sailing features gentleman hosts to dance and mingle with single ladies. Guest lecturers include an English professor and Shakespeare scholar, a drama professor, and a retired U.S. Army colonel and author who served under several presidents.
a 13-night sailing from Lisbon to Miami aboard the 1,070-passenger elegant Crystal Serenity (departs Dec. 8, 2011; deluxe staterooms from $4,235 per person). Stops include Casablanca, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and St. Maarten. If you book by Oct 31, 2011, the deal includes a $500 per person "As You Wish" spending credit, free airfare from selected gateways, and prepaid gratuities.