Every year, generally spring and fall, cruise lines need to move their floating resorts from one part of the world to another. Seasoned cruisers know that this is prime time to find that deal of a lifetime, as repositioning cruises are often the best value cruises around.
To chase the sun and to meet high season demands, most ships must relocate. During the spring, ships will sail from the Caribbean or Mexico to the Mediterranean for the summer months, then sail back to Mexico and the Caribbean in the fall for the winter season.
Exclusive repositioning sailings aren’t as itinerary driven as typical sailings, keeping cruise rates low, while port-of-call heavy itineraries remain more popular. As the rates include your daily tidied cabin, all meals and snacks as well as your entertainment for over 2 weeks, the value is incredible!
Now, before you jump for your credit card and book, there are a few things to consider.
Days at Sea
Unless you are looking to completely sit back and relax with a fat book by the pool, do your research and choose a ship that has the facilities and amenities that suit you best. Whether it’s a gym or workout facility, a favourite type of restaurant or a well-stocked library, be sure your home away from home has what you need, as chances are, you’ll be seeing a lot of it.
Keep in mind that the ship that’s taking you to Barcelona is not bringing you back.
As you aren’t buying a flight and cruise deal, it is important to plan and budget for a one-way flight home at the end of it all. While an additional cost, this can open up great options as well, offering you the flexibility to return whenever and from wherever you like. As most countries require you to have proof of a flight (or a train, boat, etc.) out of their country to get in, it is imperative you buy your one-way flight home before embarking on your cruise.
While many of us are used to a typical one or two week holiday, some repositioning cruises are anything but. I’ve seen a West Coast repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco that lasted a whole two days, with no ports of call.
Although not a great sightseeing opportunity, it is the perfect chance for a first-time cruiser wondering what it’s like to cruise, if not a fun weekend getaway. And if you’ve still got a few days to fill, rent a car and drive into wine country, Los Angeles or San Diego, before flying back home. Odd-duration sailings can be interesting if you’re creative.
As the reason for a ship’s repositioning is essentially seasonality, trips take place at either the very start or at the tail end of a season. Spring and fall can bring unsettled weather worldwide and it’s something to keep in mind when packing.
Another tip in finding a great cruise deal is looking at the first or last sailing in a cruise line’s program. As the weather on these sailings can still be suspect, they are usually the least expensive departures, even in advance. For an even bigger bang for your buck, combine a repositioning cruise with either the first or last regular sailing.
So, now that you know what cruise junkies have known for years, jump in. Cruise lines may market these as “trans-Atlantic” sailings or a Panama Canal cruise, and they may be sometimes hard to find, but with a little research and creativity (or a good travel agent), repositioning cruises can be the deal you’ve always hoped to find.