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Repositioning cruises can be some of the best bargains at sea. Photo by Clark Norton

Repositioning cruises can be some of the best bargains at sea. Photo by Clark Norton

Note to readers: Today’s post is an updated version of a previous post on increasingly popular repositioning cruises, which generally represent excellent value and will sail this spring, largely in March and April:

Every spring, a number of ocean-going cruise ships leave the warmer areas of the world — say, the Caribbean, South America, or Hawaii — to travel to other regions (such as Europe, Canada, or Alaska), to take advantage of the more seasonable weather in the latter spots.

In the fall, usually around October or November, the vessels reverse this pattern, traveling from the cooler climes to warmer waters.

These are called repositioning cruises (repo cruises for short), and they tend to be longer — sometimes quite a bit longer — than typical cruises.

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.

In the spring, for example, 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.

In the fall, you might find a 17-day October repositioning cruise from Italy to Brazil for about the same price as a regular 10-day cruise.

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.

If you enjoy being at sea, a repo cruise might be your ticket. Photo by Clark Norton.

If you enjoy being at sea, a repo cruise might be your ticket. Photo by Clark Norton.

Repo cruises also 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.

Deals, Deals, Deals

 Here are some of the current (as of January 27, 2016) repo cruise deals offered at the online cruise discount agency vacationstogo.com. Keep in mind that the top discounts only apply to certain  (usually considered less desirable) cabins, and that availability may disappear at any time. Still, at less than $50 a day for some cabins, you may want to head over to their website pronto:

  • A 19-night March 1, 2016, sailing of the Costa Pacifica from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Savona, Italy, is on sale for up to 80 percent off the brochure price — as low as $899.
  • A 21-night March 20, 2016, Holland America Eurodam voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona is going for up to 75 percent off ($1,079).
  • A 34-night voyage from Los Angeles to Barcelona leaving March 21, 2016, aboard the luxury class Seabourn Odyssey have cabins up to 71 percent off ($11,499).
  •  A 21-night April 10, 2016, sailing of the Norwegian Star travels from Tampa, Florida, to Copenhagen, with cabins up to 58 percent off ($1,379).
  • A 24-night sailing from Miami to Athens leaves April 11, 2016, aboard the Oceania Riviera (a premium ship), offering savings up to 82 percent off  ($3,374).

Travel Tip of the Day: Just because a cruise ship cabin is priced lower than that in another category, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s less desirable than the more expensive cabin. For instance, cabins on higher decks are usually pricier than cabins on lower decks — yet the latter cabins are more stable and might well be preferable for a person prone to seasickness. Or a cabin with balcony might not be worth the extra cost if, say, you’re sailing in a cold climate. So heavily discounted cabins might be even better deals than you think.

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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