If you’re looking for a bargain vacation that’s a little out of the ordinary, repositioning cruises may be the answer you’ve been seeking.
Every spring, cruise lines send some of their ships from the Caribbean to seasonal destinations such as Alaska, Europe, and New England and Canada. And every fall, they send those ships back to warmer waters for the winter. Instead of sailing empty ships on several-day journeys, the cruise lines invite the public along for the ride. These one-way sailings, called repositioning (or repo) cruises, are usually longer than average and include more days at sea or an unusual selection of port stops.
To entice travelers to book these repo cruises, the lines often discount the per-day rates. You end up with a unique cruising experience and a great bargain.
The biggest perk of a repositioning sailing is the cost. According to a Norwegian Cruise Line representative, “Repo cruises are definitely considered good values. Sometimes they can cost less than $100 per day.” At press time, we found repositioning cruises as low as $650 on Windjammer Barefoot Cruises; for that 13-day sailing, the per-day cost works out to $50 per day. On many vacations, hotel costs alone will top $50 per day, and that doesn’t include the food, entertainment, and transportation between cities that cruises provide.
Depending on your tastes, you may find the unusual itineraries to be another perk. Repo cruises often travel for several days at sea with no port calls. These sea days allow guests to sleep in, take advantage of the ship’s amenities, and just relax onboard. And on some cruises, you will find an unlikely combination of port calls. For example, a Celebrity repo sailing in May calls at both Bermuda and Belgium; regular season cruises rarely combine these ports in one itinerary.
Another signature aspect of repositioning cruises is length. These sailings are usually close to two or three weeks, much longer than the typical seven-night cruises offered in the regular season. While not everyone can take two weeks at a time for a vacation, those who can will benefit from a long stretch of pampering, relaxation, and adventure.
How to book
The majority of repositioning sailings take place in April, May, September, October, and November. The sooner you book your cruise, the better chance you have of getting the lowest price and your top choice of cabins.
You have several options for booking your cruise. You can search your favorite cruise line’s or consolidator’s website for repositioning cruises or one-way sailings. Or, call a travel agent or your cruise line and inquire about repo cruises. And, don’t forget to check SmarterTravel.com’s Cruise section for the latest sales.