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Repositioning Cruises Offer Unique Values

With the change in seasons come changes in cruise destinations—especially in the spring and fall. When cruise lines move their ships from one destination to another, it's called a repositioning, and the voyage is called a repositioning cruise. "Repositioning itineraries offer cruising experiences that are available only once or twice a year," says Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Where the Repositionings Are

Common repositioning routes include the Caribbean to Europe or Alaska, and back again. An Alaska repositioning cruise may include highlights from eastern, western, and southern Caribbean sailings, as well as from the Panama Canal and the Mexican Riviera. Repositioning cruises from the Caribbean to Europe across the Atlantic can include stops in the Canary Islands, Portugal, and exotic Morocco.

By no means are repositionings just between the aforementioned locations. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) offers a repositioning cruise in the fall from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina and the Caribbean, and vice versa in the spring. Repositioning cruises are generally longer than normal cruises (because there is more water to cover), and they can offer unique ports of call. As an example, the Seabourn Pride crosses the North Atlantic via Reykjavik, Iceland.

Great Value

In addition to providing unique itineraries, repositioning cruises offer great value. For the most part, repositioning cruises cost significantly less per day than other sailings of the same ship. Much of the value stems from the time of year; repositioning cruises operate on the shoulder seasons and rarely operate during peak travel times in the summer and winter months.

Lucy Hirleman, President of Berkshire Travel in Newfoundland, NJ, says, "Cruise lines offer very attractive packages on 'repo cruises' to ensure that their ships sail as full as possible. Pricing is sometimes 50 percent of the normal per diem on a regular itinerary. Depending upon the cruise line, pricing can be anywhere from $50 to $400 per day, per person."

Furthermore, cruise lines will at times include bigger savings on these sailings by offering free airfare, and/or two-for-one pricing. All cruise lines feature repositioning cruises in their brochures; you can check with a travel agent to find out about these offers.

Unlike on conventional cruise itineraries, passengers might not visit as many ports during a repositioning voyage—meaning more days at sea. Nonetheless, passengers still enjoy the same accommodations and services that travelers on more popular cruise itineraries receive.

Relaxing Sea Days or "Tai-Chi At Sea"

Basically, repositioning cruising is an authentic cruise experience. It has a certain romantic aura about it. Devotees of trans-Atlantic crossings aboard Cunard Lines' Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE 2) will attest to their preference of slowly navigating the time zones in luxury rather than being subjected to the jetlag of air travel.

Many travelers just love the atmosphere of being at sea, and they prefer ship activities instead of the stress associated with non-stop ports of call. "In our hectic-paced world, a 'repo cruise' will definitely soothe the savage beast," says Hirleman. "It's like Tai Chi at sea," she adds. An abundance of sea days leaves plenty of time for enhanced onboard entertainment and activities. Often cruise lines schedule theme events such as cooking classes, wine tastings, guest lectures, and entertainment.

It's also a time to enjoy more hedonistic pleasures such as breakfast in bed, spa treatments, and hunkering down to read a good book. "A repositioning cruise offers long, restful days at sea," says Linda Coffman of CruiseDiva.com. She adds, "If you see yourself sitting lazing in a deck chair sipping morning coffee while gazing at the endless horizon, a repositioning cruise may just be your ticket."


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