While one might think that the average cruise liner is a straightforward business investment – float about the world and have tourists pay to stay on board – there are many complexities required from a massive cruise ship. After all, it is no different from any transportation like a car or bus; it must be refuelled and resupplied when inventories run low. Maintenance is to be done regularly, safety inspections must be upheld, new staff must come aboard are trained, and broken or malfunctioning equipment must be replaced. All cruise lines have a complex travel itinerary, many traveling up north to cooler ports during the summer (most notably Alaska and Scandinavia) while visiting the warmer ports during the cold weather to avoid damage from frosty, tumultuous seas. Of course, cruise ships cannot exactly move at rapid top speed, so it takes anywhere from a week to two weeks to be back in a homeport. Rather than have the rooms empty during this time, cruise liners sell repositioning cruises, which are less expensive but have fewer ports of call for travelers to see and enjoy.
Almost every ocean liner corporation has both warm and cold area cruises so that the intense sunlight in the Mediterranean or Caribbean sun will not harm customers or equipment or that the frozen Alaskan seas will not impede a voyage or renders a ship unusable. A repositioning cruise, thus, is available from any ocean liner without the normal costs associated with standard cruises. Many customers leap at the chance to take repositioning cruise deals, as a two week cruise lasts twice as long as a standard voyage while costing only half as much. These are one-way cruises, however, so all customers must arraign for flights or transportation both to and from the ports of call.
Though there is only one stop on these cruises repositioning their fleets about the globe, this gives travelers even more extra time to enjoy the accommodations on board. Just as with any cruise, the vast amount of staff and employees on board will do anything to assist you in order to make your voyage enjoyable. Every cruise ship boasts several pools and lounges, fitness centers and full gyms, activities for kids, movie theaters, shops and casinos, and five star dining locations. All of these remain open and ready for business, so do not worry about having to have second-class accommodation while you are enjoying a repositioning cruise.
While each cruise liner must take its own schedule to get into their desired port of call so as not to jam up the docks with behemoth floating luxury liners, most of these repositioning deals will take place in spring and fall. Ships travel through the Panama Canal during March or April to make it up the Pacific coast and into Alaska by May, where they will operate through summer time and then drop back down in October or November to begin cruising through the Caribbean, Mediterranean, or even the Arabian Sea and across the coasts of India.
The majority of repositioning cruises 2009 had to offer took place in between October 10 and November 30 in the fall, or between February 1 and April 15 in the spring. Although other voyages can be found year round, they may have higher rates due to the smaller sizes of the liners and thus the higher luxury suites. The cheapest of these cruises was a rock bottom two hundred and fifty dollars per voyage; even the highest-class balcony suites only cost around six hundred dollars. Both of these prices are around one third to one fifth of the cost of a normal cruise charter.
Royal Caribbean offers cruises up the coast of New England during spring and down through Mexico in the fall. While each cruise may in fact have up to half a dozen stops during the repositioning, there are no guarantees that any will be met if it is not warranted. Additionally, these stops are very short — a few hours at most — and sometimes tourists are not allowed to leave the ship as there is not enough time to even see a few local sights before the cruise liner is ready to head back out to sea. Most customers, however, report that their repositioning cruise had enough time both on and off the ship, allowing them to enjoy stops and time on the open waters.
If you are thinking about spending some quality time with your spouse or family on a cruise yet are concerned about the high costs, repositioning cruises may be the key to save money. Check with online sites for specific time lines and ports of call to plan your transportation. Check carefully to see if any free upgrades may be available, as these cruises are usually never fully sold out.