Cruise ship relocation trips, also called repositioning cruises, are a great way for passengers to enjoy a unique cruise vacation and discounted cruise fares without sacrificing the quality of a spectacular ocean-going getaway.
About Repositioning Cruises
A repositioning cruise is exactly that - a cruise line repositioning a ship to a new home port so it can offer a new set of itineraries to eager passengers. Understanding when, where, and why these one-way voyages take place will help passengers decide if this type of sailing is right for them.
Cruise ship relocation trips can occur at any time of year, but most of them are offered in the spring or fall as ships move to seasonal destination regions. April, May, September, October, and November are the most popular months for repositioning cruises, especially with ships moving between warm and cold climates. Other ships that relocate based on expanding fleets or new home ports may be repositioned at any time of the year, while ships that are simply moving to offer different itineraries can also be relocated anytime.
Most relocation cruises are based on seasonal cruising needs. Alaskan cruises, for example, can only occur during the summer months, and ships that frequently offer Alaskan voyages will be repositioned to different regions during the fall, winter, and early spring. Ships relocating from Alaska may offer Mexican cruises, Hawaiian cruises, or even pass through the Panama Canal to offer Caribbean itineraries.Other frequent relocations may include:
- Florida-based ships shifting to California home ports
- Ships shifting between Caribbean and European regions
- Ships based in southern ports relocating to New England for fall foliage sailings
These are just a few examples of where repositioning cruises may be located. Cruise lines can, in fact, offer repositioning voyages for a wide range of reasons, not all of which are climate-related.
While seasonal relocation trips are the most common, cruise lines also offer repositioning sailings for other reasons, including:
- Relocating ships to new home ports that have not previously hosted cruise ships.
- Changing itineraries for popular vessels to give frequent passengers more options.
- Showcasing new vessels with a series of one-way cruises to introduce them to the cruising world.
- Adjusting the number of ships servicing a particular port based on popularity and demand.
Pros and Cons of Repositioning Cruises
Before taking a repositioning cruise, prospective passengers should carefully understand the benefits and detriments of these unique voyages.Pros include…
- Cheaper Fares. Cruise ships are expensive to operate when empty, and because relocation cruises do not appeal to all passengers, cruise lines often offer heavily discounted fares to entice travelers on board.
- Longer Durations. When making a relocation trip, a single sailing may be two or three weeks in length, far longer than most itineraries.
- Unique Itineraries. Because these ships are traversing great distances to reposition, passengers have the opportunity to experience a vast array of distant cruise destinations that shorter, regional cruises may not offer.
- More Time at Sea. Because most cruise relocation trips involve crossing an ocean and traveling thousands of miles, itineraries usually include a higher proportion of days at sea. This is a great chance for passengers to relax, sleep in, indulge in a spa treatment, or otherwise enjoy the ship's features and amenities that may be neglected during port-intensive sailings.
- Superb Service. Just because the ship is on a one-way voyage, the service, dining, and luxury do not abate. Passengers on repositioning cruises will be treated to the same stellar entertainment and sumptuous treats as on any other voyage.
- One-Way Voyages. Because the ship will not be returning to the same port of all, passengers' airfare may be much more expensive than for a traditional cruise.
- Fewer Ports of Call. Passengers interested in visiting many ports of call may not enjoy the long stretches at sea that are necessary for ship relocation.
- Inflexible Dates. Because these voyages are not frequently offered, interested travelers do not have the option to choose a sailing date to fit a special occasion or vacation days.
Finding Cruise Ship Relocation Trips
Once passengers have decided that they would like to try a repositioning cruise, it takes decisive action to make the cruise reservations. Because of their uniqueness and discounted fares, these voyages can sell out quickly. Passengers who are more flexible about which ship they sail on may be better able to book a cruise, since while each ship may only relocate once or twice per year, there are dozens of different ships that are repositioned, adding up to many potential options. Cruise travel agents are a great resource for finding relocation sailings, or interested passengers can contact their favorite cruise lines directly about upcoming repositioning cruises.
Cruise ship relocation trips are unique sailings that passengers can enjoy as ships are repositioned from one home port to another. While these trips are not for everyone, they can offer a singular and enjoyable experience for passengers who understand the benefits of these lengthy sailings.