Every fall and spring, a number of ocean-going cruise ships leave one area of the world — say, Europe, Canada, or Alaska in the fall — for another, such as the Caribbean, South America, or Hawaii, to take advantage of the warmer winter waters in the latter spots.
These are called repositioning cruises (repo cruises for short), and they tend to be longer — sometimes quite a bit longer — than a typical cruise.
The cruise lines don’t want to run the ships empty, of course, so they sell the cabins often at much-reduced rates, especially considering the length of the voyages. You might find a 17-day October repositioning cruise from Italy to Brazil, for example, for about the same price as a regular 10-day cruise.
In the spring, you might find a 12-day repo cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Athens, Greece, for the price of a one-week cruise — or less.
Repositioning cruises aren’t for everyone.
For one thing, they’re one way only (unless you want to wait six months to return), so you’ll need to fly back from wherever the cruise ends. Or, if you’re an American taking a fall repo cruise from Europe home, you’ll need to fly one way to Europe first, and perhaps have to fly to your final destination at the end of the voyage as well. These extra arrangements could wind up costing you much of your savings.
For another, repo cruises typically make far fewer port stops than regular cruises. It’s not unusual for a ship to leave a Mediterranean port, make another stop or two in Europe, one stop in the Canary Islands or Cape Verde, and then continue all the way to South America with no further stops.
If you’re a big fan of sea days, as I am, repo cruises can be ideal. But if you’re someone who needs to get off the ship to touch land at least every other day, you’re probably not a good candidate.
Still time to book for this fall
It’s not too late to get some great last minute deals on fall repositioning cruises, or get a (somewhat) early start on booking a spring repo cruise.
Here are some I just found on the discount site vacationstogo.com:
On Oceania Cruises: From Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 28-November 20, 2014; $4,499-$9,099, depending on whether you get an inside cabin or a suite, with savings up to 74 percent off the brochure prices. Oceania is a super premium line, just below luxury, and is one of my personal favorites. Unlike many repo cruises, this one stops in Monaco, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and a couple of stops in Brazil before reaching Rio, with only six sea days between.
On Holland America: From Barcelona, Spain, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, October 27-November 16, 2014; $949-$1,799, with savings up to 65 percent off brochure prices. Holland America is a solid premium line; this voyage makes a few more stops in Spain and Portugal before heading out across the ocean to Ft. Lauderdale, but then makes a swing through the Caribbean before arriving at its final destination. Ten sea days.
On Holland America: From Quebec City, Canada, to Ft. Lauderdale, October 11-October 22; $699-$1,099, with savings up to 73 percent. This one makes several stops in Canada, Maine and Massachusetts before reaching Ft. Lauderdale, with just two sea days.
On Seabourn: From Barcelona to St,. Maarten in the Caribbean, October 27-November 23; $7,499-$10,999, with savings up to 75 percent. Seabourn is a luxury line; this cruise spends 11 days at sea, interrupted only by a stop in Madeira before reaching the Caribbean, where it island hops for almost two weeks, taking you to Anguilla, Martinique, Aruba, and St. Lucia along with several other islands before ending in St. Maarten.
That’s just a small taste of what you might find if you’re in a position to take a long, leisurely cruise this fall. Note that these deals go fast and may be sold out by the time you check them out, but there are dozens and dozens of other choices available at VacationsToGo.com.