Cruise ships follow the same route over and over. Remember the line from the Love Boat theme song: “The Love Boat, soon will be making another run…” Once or twice a year, the cruise line needs to move their ship from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. That one-off voyage is called a repositioning cruise.
Here is a list of repositioning cruises.
Twelve Reasons You Want to Book a Repositioning Cruise
Cruise lines move their ships around at the end of the season. They don’t want to move empty ships around any more than airlines want to fly empty planes.
1. Fares are lower. Cruise lines are great at understanding pricing. They know their competition in certain markets and seasonal demand. When they move a ship between markets, it’s a one-off event. They need to get it done. They will likely offer low fares to get the ship filled.
2. Better chance of an upgrade. If the fares are low, you might just pay for a better cabin. If they have lots of space, they might just bump you up as a gesture of good will. Once the ship leaves the dock, making a bed in a larger cabin takes about the same amount of effort as making a bed in a large cabin.
3. Booking bonuses. Maybe the cruise line does want to engage in a race to the bottom (figuratively, not literally) by slashing fares too deeply. It might hurt their brand. They have other ways of making a voyage attractive, like stateroom credits and prepaid gratuities. These offers might materialize if booking is slow.
4. See ports the ship doesn’t usually visit. Most of us could probably name the Love Boat ports by heart. When relocating the ship, the cruise line needs to make a few stops, otherwise a long voyage might get boring. They will likely find a couple of attractive places along the way and maybe another in the market the ship will be cruising for the winter.
5. Ports are less crowded. If you’ve been to Venice, Nassau or St. Thomas when several cruise ships are in, you know how crowded ports can be! If you are visiting the port off season, or at the start or end of the season, it’s probably more relaxed. The lines are shorter. You can get into restaurants.
6. Seas aren’t as bad as you think. The cruise line wants to get the ship from point A to point B in one piece. They’ve got a new schedule to start upon arrival. A winter trip across the Atlantic will likely take a southern route. The captain will likely steer a course to avoid storms or rough water if possible.
7. Enjoy the ship more. If you are like most people, you enjoy only a fraction of the amenities the ship offers. If it’s cold outside, you aren’t going to be spending much time in a deck chair on sitting on your balcony! This gives you time to explore the indoor activities on offer, which you might not see on a warm weather cruise.
8. It’s not all cold weather. The ship might be repositioned from a market that’s gotten cold to a warmer climate. You should still have some warm, sunny days as the ship gets closer to its destination.
9. Fit in an extra vacation. If you are retired and have time on your hands, you might cruise a lot. Most people don’t have an endless supply of money. Finding a really good deal on a repositioning cruise might allow you to squeeze in an extra vacation.
10. Try another ship or cruise line. We all have our favorites. A repositioning cruise at a great fare is a way to try something new, without having to give up one of your favorite trips or routes.
11. Wear a jacket. What does cooler weather mean? You dress appropriately. Back home, you wouldn’t skip going to work, attending an event or going grocery shopping because it’s cold. You would simply dress appropriately. It’s the same at sea.
12. One of those classic 1920’s fantasies. You’ve seen the photos. It’s been in the movies. You are sitting on a deck chair, bundled in blankets. You are in a sheltered area on deck. A steward comes by with hot tea or bullion, topping it up when needed.
There are lots of reasons to take advantage of repositioning cruises.
Photo: Cape Horn, South America (©DennisCox/WorldViews)