First of a two-part series
There are bargains to be had on cruises and airline flights that don’t fit the regular schedules. In Part 1, we look at repositioning cruises.
Whether for maintenance, the change of seasons or a shift in marketing strategy, cruise lines occasionally have to relocate their vessels. The travel industry calls this “repositioning.”
And it can work out to be a good deal for you.
From the industry side of things, the logic behind selling repositioning trips is easy to grasp. If they have to move the ship or the plane, anyway, why not make some money from it, even if it’s less than what they’d make on a regular round-trip
That’s the thing about repositioning trips, you see: They’re nearly always one-way.
The cruise industry in particular has been doing this for decades, shifting vessels from frigid European waters in the winter months to warmer Caribbean climes, and vice versa. These position changes occur in the spring and fall.
In recent years, the cruise industry has found a different reason to move their ships around, shifting them to hot new non-traditional markets around the globe. Fifteen years ago, it was Europe. Now, it’s Asia and the Middle East.
For cruise travelers, repositioning makes for a very different kind of cruise.
Most cruises typically last from three to five days. You start from Port A, visit Ports B through E in short order, depending on the number of days the cruise lasts, then return to the port from which you first departed.
Repositioning cruises can be as short as three nights or as long as four months.
At first, these were strictly “deadhead” trips, starting in one port and ending in another, with several consecutive days at sea in between. Nowadays, many repositioning cruises manage to work in several port calls on their one-way sailings.
What’s more, cabin prices on repositioning cruises can see some major markdowns — sometimes in excess of 75 percent.
Do I have your attention now?
If the only cruising you’ve ever done has been on Carnival or Royal Caribbean vessels, the bargains you can find on repositioning cruises might give you a chance to check out some of the high-end luxury lines that otherwise would be financially well out of reach.
Even with discounts that big, repositioning cruises aren’t necessarily dirt-cheap. So how do you know if you’re getting a good deal?
The traditional way to calculate the answer — not just for repositioning cruises, but any cruise — is to divide the total price per person for the entire cruise by the number of days.
If it comes in under $100 a day, that’s not bad.
If it works out to less than $75 a day, it’s may be a steal.
If it adds up to $50 a day or less…what are you waiting for?
Here’s one example of a repositioning cruise I pulled off the Web:
Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas
Barcelona, Spain – Sao Paulo, Brasil
That works out to $53 a day.
Some repo cruises have gone as low as $35 per day. You’d be hard-pressed to do that well on a land-based vacation.
You will have an added expense on these cruises, namely your return flight home. But with the money you can save on the cruise itself, that might not be such a hardship.
Repositioning cruises are not for everybody. Even on those that make multiple port calls, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time at sea, aboard ship. If you need a lot of on-board activities and hype to keep you distracted, this kind of cruising may not be for you.
But if you love the idea of being at sea for days at a time, away from the cell phone and the cable TV, able to read, exercise or just chill to your heart’s content, a repo cruise is worth a look.
Any good travel agent, especially those specializing in cruise travel, can hook you up with a repositioning cruise. So too can the various individual cruise lines.
About.com offers a bare-bones listing of the cruise ships being featured on repositioning runs this spring and fall.
Next time, we’ll look at the airlines’ version of repositioning and how to make it work for you.