Repositioning Cruises: Are they right for you?
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?
- 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.
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?