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Repositioning cruises and why they are such great bargains

By BootsnAll | February 20th, 2009

Ship at seaThey aren’t ideal for just anybody, but if your schedule and tastes match up with one of the famous repositioning cruises you can get the bargain of a lifetime and experience something that most people only dream of.

What is a repositioning cruise?

As the name implies, these are cruises where the ship is making its transition from a route in one part of the world to a route in another. A few of the most common cruise routes (like Los Angeles to Baja California) have the same ships doing them every week of the year, but the vast majority of them do one season in one place and one season in another. When the cruise line is moving the ship from one starting port to the next, they sell passage for this repositioning cruise rather than sail the thing empty at a huge financial loss on the way.

How much do they cost?

If you are looking for a bargain on a longer cruise, then look no further than one of these. One of the catches is that they are almost all between 14 and 28 days in length, so you have to be ready for that time commitment. But as long as you are ready for a longer cruise you can book these for as low as US$50 per day per person, and of course this still includes your room, all meals, and entertainment. Most are a bit more than that, but compared to the price of a normal cruise on the route the ship just came from or is going to, this will always be a major bargain.

What else makes repositioning cruises special?

Aside from the low price, there are a couple of other notable features of these cruises. The most dramatic difference is they almost all include quite a few days at sea.€ Especially the ones that go across the Atlantic or the Pacific, these are in a hurry to reach their destination, so there are typically far fewer port stops. The other thing to take note of is that the low prices often help draw groups aboard, and many of these cruises will have a specific theme or entertainment program. You’ll see this information when you are searching the listings, and most of these things don’t change shipboard life too much for most passengers, so they aren’t really anything to worry about.

What other expenses are involved in repositioning cruises?

Since there are fewer port calls the fees for this are usually much lower, but that can be balanced out by the fact that you’ll need to buy one-way airfare to reach at least one end of the journey. For example, if you live in Atlanta and you are taking a cruise that goes from Italy to Miami, you’ll have to fly yourself to Italy to get on board. Fares for one-way flights are cheaper than they used to be, but mostly for those who can book well in advance. Some cruise companies are also bundling in these one-way flights as well, but either way you have to consider this as part of the overall expense.

What are the most common repositioning routes?

  • New England/Canada to Florida September/October
  • Europe to Florida or Caribbean – September/October
  • Alaska to Caribbean through Panama Canal – September/October
  • California to South America – September/October
  • Caribbean to Hawaii – September/October
  • Florida to New England/Canada March/April
  • Caribbean/Florida to Europe – March/April
  • Caribbean to Alaska – March/April
  • South America to California – March/April
  • Hawaii to Caribbean – March/April

But there are really plenty more where these came from. It’s easy to figure them out when you categorize the summer and winter destinations, and then figure when they’ll be shifting the fleet.

Winter
Caribbean
Hawaii
South America/Panama Canal
Asia
Mexico

Summer
Alaska
New England/Canada
Europe/Mediterranean

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