Repositioning Cruises: The Secret to the Best Cruise Deals

Looking for a unique way to travel between continents and seasons? Consider these one-way itineraries.

3min read

Published 11 May 2021


Looking for a unique way to travel between continents and seasons? Consider these one-way itineraries.

If you've got a bit of extra leave up your sleeve, are looking for alternatives to air travel or are a seafarer through and through, look no further than repositioning cruises (also known as turnaround cruises and relocation cruises). These one-way itineraries attract passengers looking for a unique way to travel between continents and seasons, and are surprisingly affordable. 

Never heard of them before? Read on to find out what repositioning cruises are, how repositioning cruises work and more!

What are repositioning cruises?

Repositioning cruises are cruise itineraries that start and end at different ports. You might also hear people call repositioning cruises “one-way cruises”.

How do repositioning cruises work?

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 a 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. This means the itineraries are incredibly diverse: you can board repositioning cruises from Vancouver, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Barcelona, Rome, Sydney and so many other places around the world.

Are repositioning cruises cheaper?

Repositioning with the seasons is a must for cruise companies, meaning the ships will complete the journey regardless of how many passengers are booked. This is excellent news for those keen to cruise on a budget, as many ships offer discounted rates for Transpacific cruises and Transatlantic cruises. Don't be fooled by the prices though! You'll get to enjoy affordable luxury, with full-service onboard amenities, fine dining and onboard activities daily.

Long story short, you can snag all the benefits of a standard cruise for a fraction of the cost when you embark on repositioning cruises.

Is it cheaper to book repositioning cruises with a travel consultant?

It depends on the consultant! 😉

If you're booking a repositioning cruise with Flight Centre, you can get access to exclusive pricing that you won't be able to find anywhere else online. That's because we've negotiated lower rates on a group of sailings with your favourite cruise lines. Talk to one of our travel consultants today to see how much you could be saving on Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and NCL ships, among others.

Do repositioning cruises have more 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 type of restaurant or a well-stocked library, be sure your home away from home has what you need — chances are, you'll be seeing a lot of it.

That said, while most of your time will be spent surrounded by the beauty of the deep blue, many repositioning cruises pull out all the stops to ensure there's plenty for you to see, learn and do on board.

How does the return airfare work with a repositioning cruise?

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 repositioning cruise.

What about odd-duration sailings?

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.

A quick note on weather:

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 repositioning 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 consultant), repositioning cruises can be the deal you've always hoped to find.

Flight Centre offers the lowest prices on repositioning cruises, cruise & stay packages and cruise-only vacations with the world's top cruise lines.

Flight Centre

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