Truth be told, my only experience with a repositioning cruise was as a precocious 6-year-old sailing Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 instead of flying when my family moved back to the U.S. from Paris. Our week at sea was spent watching the newly released Beauty and the Beast and splashing in salt water swimming pools. Even our poor cat, Fuzzy, came along for the ride, although I think she had significantly less fun than we did. (Apparently this trip made quite the impression on me, as the parent volunteers from my first grade class still to this day remember how I regaled them with tales of the QE2.)
Fond childhood memories aside, these types of cruises generally offer the best deals around, since cruise lines need to move their ships from one place to another and offer significant discounts on “one-way” passages. The itineraries can cost as little as $42/night – though note since you spend less time in port you’re more apt (so the cruise lines hope) to open your wallet for the ship’s onboard activities and specialty restaurants.
The biggest drawback to a repositioning cruise, however, is that you’ll have to pony up for flights on at least one leg of your journey, often at peak fares. Popular spring sailings, for example, bring ships from the Caribbean to Europe – leaving you stranded in some gorgeous Old World capital looking at a $600+ one-way ticket home.
Still, repositioning cruises incorporate some of the most interesting itineraries and ports – Canary Islands, anyone? – and there’s no denying the value of the actual cruise. If you time it right for airfare, it could definitely be worth the splurge. Here are a few of the most interesting (and affordable) repositioning cruises we’ve seen for next fall:
9/30 – 13-night Copenhagen to Miami on Norwegian Cruise Line, from $799 ($61/night)
Ports of call: Lisbon, Portugal; Madeira, Portugal
10/21 – 12-night Barcelona to Miami on Norwegian Cruise Line, from $799 ($67/night)
Ports of call: Ponta Delgada, Azores; St. Thomas, USVI
10/29 – 12-night Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale on Holland America, from $799 ($67/night)
Ports of call: Seville, Spain; Lisbon and Madeira, Portugal
11/3 – 14-night Barcelona to New Orleans on Royal Caribbean, from $609 ($44/night)
Ports of call: Cartagena and Malaga, Spain; Tenerife, Canary Islands; Nassau, Bahamas
11/7 – 13-night Barcelona to Miami on Royal Caribbean, from $549 ($42/night)
Ports of call: Toulon, France; Palma de Mallorca and Seville, Spain; Tenerife, Canary Islands