Repositioning Cruises: Are they right for you?

repositioning cruise
On a repositioning cruise, you can take the time on sea days to unwind with friends and family. - Photo by Seabourn

Repositioning cruises are one-way cruises where a ship transfers from one home-port to another. While some cruise ships may be based in a single homeport for the entire year, plenty of others alter itineraries seasonally. For instance, a ship could spend winters in the Caribbean, but relocate to Alaska or Europe for the summer when the weather is more suitable and the destination is at peak season for tourists. These one-off voyages can be a great bargain but there are a few things to consider before you start looking to book a repositioning cruise.

Who should book a repositioning cruise?

A repositioning cruise typically attracts seasoned cruisers looking for good deals, as well as travelers who have the time (ie retirees) to take 10, 12, 14+ night cruises. If you fall into either of these categories, you can definitely find value in booking a one-way cruise.

If this is your first cruise, it’s probably not your best option. A traditional cruise could be a safer option because you can get the full experience with a mix of ports and sea days, all while testing what type of cruise is best for you. Check out our best cruise ships for first-time cruisers to find something a little more suitable.


What makes a repositioning cruise so attractive?

repositioning cruise royal caribbean pool deck
Fewer passengers on repositioning cruises give you more freedom to enjoy all activities on board. - Photo by Royal Caribbean
  • The Pricing

The cost of a repositioning cruise tends to be much lower than traditional fares. The lack of port stops and the longer length means these cruises aren’t as popular as a traditional seven-night sailing.

In addition to the lower price, you can usually receive additional perks like upgrades and bonus offers. The repositioning sailings are among the first sailings to be included in promotions and special offers to entice consumers to book. Cruise lines will offer a variety of incentives such as free upgrades, onboard credit, drinks package, free wi-fi, complimentary specialty dining to name the most popular options.

Tip: Remember that these are one-way cruises, which could mean an expensive flight that may off-set any discounts or promotions you receive. Be sure to check airfares before you book.

  • Less crowded

Ships and ports tend to be less crowded during these shoulder seasons. It’s not likely that the ship will be sailing at max capacity, so if you’ve been wanting to try out a certain ship but don’t want to deal with crowds, a repositioning cruise is a perfect time. You’ll have easy access to onboard activities, restaurants, entertainment, and spas, along with plenty of sea days to enjoy them.

  • Time to relax

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to relax on board, and you won’t feel rushed thanks to the less intensive schedule. With fewer ports and less pressure to plan what you’re going to do in them, you can truly relax. Repositioning cruises are ideal for people who don’t need to be constantly stimulated or entertained, or who need a break from their intensely scheduled days at home.

  • More adults, Fewer kids

If your hope is to have a more adult-oriented cruise, a repositioning cruise is a great option. Longer cruises are generally less appealing to families, so these sailings are perfect for passengers who appreciate a quietly sophisticated vibe sans children.

  • Try a Luxury Line

For some, the repositioning cruises present the opportunity to try a higher-end cruise line, like a luxury line that would ordinarily break the budget. Since repositioning sailings are usually heavily discounted, it makes the luxury cruise lines much more affordable.

  • Enrichment

Due to the extra sea days, cruise lines — particularly luxury lines — will often break up long sea days with interesting lectures by guest authors, academics, and other experts on everything from politics in the Middle East to oceanography. Activities including wine tastings, movies, and classes — from painting to dancing and languages — are also scheduled for these sea days. It’s also a great time to sign up for a computer class with many lines offering a variety of classes onboard.

  • Actually enjoy the port

Since repositioning cruises take place in the off-season, the ports they do stop at are not at the height of their tourist rush. For example, England and Portugal in April or October, en route between the Caribbean and Mediterranean, are less crowded than in the summer months of July and August.


Why be cautious about booking a repositioning cruise?

  • Several days at sea

A lot of sea days can mean a lot of time on your hands. If you need to be consistently stimulated or entertained, you might be going a little stir-crazy by day 4 at sea with no land in sight. This will be less of an issue on ships with plenty of onboard activities and entertainment, so make sure you fully research the ship before booking.

  • The temptation to spend more.

You’re also going to spending more money on board. If you find yourself looking for things to do, you might end up in the casino, spa or onboard shops more than you ordinarily would. Plenty of activities are included in your fare, so these longer cruises can be great time to learn to play cards, take a dancing class or participate in things you would skip on shorter, more port-intensive cruises.

  • Possibility of bad weather.

Since repositioning cruises happen in the off-season, the weather might be a factor. For example, if you take a repositioning from New York to the Caribbean in the late fall, you probably won’t be able to use the pool or other outdoor activities your first day at sea.

Join the discussion

Would you ever book a repositioning cruise?

1 Comment

Posted by joendoodle190

Would I ever book a repositioning cruise? Absolutely, and we have and will continue to: We love the Transatlantics: The article gives several of the advantages, I have a few more that work for us. Time changes: On a T/A, the clock adjusts 1 hour each of several days.. My body hadles that real well.. on a flight to or from Europe, my body id goofed up for a few days adjusting to the 6 hour change. Westbound (Fall cruises) is even better, an extra hour of sleep on 6 of the nights of the cruise. Ports: The cruise lines have figured out how to make T/A's more popular, they have become longer (now normally > 2 weeks) and thus added more ports, and actually the price has risen also. (Our last T/A crossing, 15 days, had 7 port stops) 1st we did one to be sure we would like it.... we loved it, the only negative was the long flight back to the US. But compared to taking a "normal" European cruise, with the T/A you only have 1 long flight. Bundled one of our T/A's B2B with a Baltics criuise.. the Baltics cruise (a bucket list item) was GO GO GO everyday.. it was awesome but not a relaxing vacation.. followed by the 17 day T/A home .. I never knew how relaxed I could be.. Venice was another "bucket list" place for us, after visitng teh grandbabies, a few days in Venice, boarded the ship for an Adriatic cruise, then the T/A back home. Another was a T/A to Barcelona, followed by a western Med cruise, a few days in Barcelona, then off to see the grandbabies. We have 3 more booked, each with different iteneraries than we've experienced before.. Since then some of our Grandbabies moved to Europe (military).. So we fly one way, do a T/A Bundled with a sightseeing cruise.. So 2X each year we spend 3 weeks w/ the grandkids, and cruise for 3-4 weeks.. The price of the T/A portion is on par with flying... So for us it is 4 cruises and 2 8 hour flights each year (booked as a round trip, 4-5 months apart).

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