Spring and fall brings repositioning cruises. Repositioning cruises can be a bargain for the cruise traveler, and can also be a great opportunity to take advantage of a unique type of vacation. These cruises generally spend more days at sea than your average cruise, and are often heavily discounted.
Repositioning cruises are available when cruise lines move their ships from one part of the country or world to another to take advantage of the changing seasons. For example, a ship that is in Alaska during the summer months, may move to the Caribbean in the fall where the weather is warmer. This makes sense because passengers are more likely to want to be vacationing in somewhere such as Alaska during the summer months, not during the winter.
Generally, cruise lines focus their attention to the Northern Hemisphere during its summer, and then at the end of the season turn to destinations in the Southern Hemisphere, although there are quite a few destinations that are popular year round. The cruise lines are “repositioning” their ships and it makes sense for them to do it with passengers and make a bit of money, rather than sailing with an empty ship.
The benefit to the cruise line is that they make money while moving their ships around, and the benefit to the passenger is unique itineraries, discounted travel, and sometimes cruise lines will offer themed cruises to attract passengers.
So what is the downside of a repositioning cruise? These ships will generally spend more days at sea and less in port since the goal is to move the ship. These types of cruises will not appeal to every vacationer. If you enjoy ship life, and you are looking for a trip that is less about sightseeing and more about a relaxing time at sea, then a repositioning cruise may be for you. If you enjoy taking shore excursions and traveling from port to port, you may prefer another type of cruise.
One major factor that people should consider when getting ready to take advantage of these “bargain cruises” is to find out if the particular cruise they plan to book really is a bargain. If you have to spend a fortune on airfare returning from a far-away port, then you may end up paying more than you planned on. A repositioning cruise is certainly something you should ask your travel agent about and one important question to ask is whether or not airfare is included. Even if airfare is not included, you may still end up with a bargain if the cruise line is offering a two for one deal or other promotional discounts.
As with anything else, just read the fine print and do the math.