Cruise Q & A: Repositioning Cruises as an Airfare Alternative

by  Amber Nolan | Jun 29, 2010
Cruise in the ocean
Cruise in the ocean / Vladimir_Timofeev/iStock

Norma, a subscriber to Sherman’s Top 25 writes:

I am wishing to return to the States (preferably the West Coast) from the U.K. and am on a budget. Do you know how I could do this? What about repositioning cruises? I am very flexible depending on what's available, but I’d like to travel around September. Also, are there any cheap one-way flights if the ship option doesn't work out?

Repositioning cruises are almost always less than the cost of regularly scheduled sailings, plus they offer unusual one-time-only itineraries. These cruises usually leave the U.S. after peak Caribbean season ends (around April) and sail to the Mediterranean for the spring and summer. Once the fall rolls around, the ships return to the U.S. at drastically reduced rates. Some of the best bargains I’ve spotted are in November (as low as $349).

Repositioning cruises are usually 9-14 nights (or more), but if you have time to spend they are certainly a memorable way to cross the Atlantic; however, they will only take you as far as the East Coast. From there, you’ll have to hop on a cheap domestic flight to get you to the West Coast.

Here are two repositioning cruise options this fall:

On October 4, the Norwegian Sun sails a 12-night cruise from London (Dover) to Port Canaveral (Orlando area). En route, the ship calls on Lisbon, Portugal and Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Interior cabins start at $799 per person (based on double occupancy).

Princess has a 14-night repositioning cruise that sails from London (Southampton) on September 3 to Reykjavik, Iceland; Qaqortoq, Greenland; Dublin, Ireland; St. John’s, Newfoundland; and more before concluding in New York City. Rates currently start at $1,299 – but will likely drop as the sailing time approaches.

Keep in mind that cruise rates are per person, based occupancy so you’d need a travel buddy or else you’ll be paying the hefty single-supplement fee (which can be double the rate).

Airfare Option:

International flights are very expensive right now, but they do start to drop slightly in the fall. Icelandair has some competitive fall flights to Boston, New York, Seattle, and Minneapolis. I’m finding one way tickets to Seattle from September-October from $488 on Icelandair. Air Berlin has a ticket to San Francisco on October 20 for $486. Rates fluctuate regularly, so I would recommend signing up for fare alerts on Once you register and search a flight route, you can request daily or weekly alerts be sent to your e-mail address letting you know what the current lowest price is for the route(s) you selected. You may search entire month spans for one-way flights, and can even enter the maximum amount that you’d like to pay.

Have a cruise question? E-mail Amber ( with cruise Q & A in the subject line.

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