Monday, September 21, 2015

Repositioning: Steal-of-a-Deal Cruises

The 34-day spring cruise aboard Oceania’s Nautica that took us from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey was a repositioning cruise.

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Oceania Nautica on the Indian Ocean
The four-day fall cruise aboard the Ruby Princess that took us from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California this week was also a repositioning cruise.

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Ruby Princess on the Pacific Ocean
The two were vastly different cruising experiences: one aboard a small ship with not quite 500 passengers that took us to exotic places we’d probably have otherwise never visited and the other a ship of 3,500 passengers that took us on a long-weekend-like getaway to familiar places.

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Sailing from Vancouver, B.C. - sunny, but cold

What was similar was the fact they were ships being repositioned from one part of the world to another for a new sailing season.  The Princess ship, for example, was moving south from its summer Alaska sailings to California, and warm-weather destinations for the winter season.

Thus, the name “Repositioning” cruises; and offered in the spring and fall when ship’s are being moved. The cruise line offers deals so that they make some money while moving the ship and passengers benefit from the deals they offer to fill the ships. 

After I posted on the TravelnWrite Facebook page about our little cruise, I had so many questions that I thought  it time to highlight them again. They’ve been the subject matter of several posts  in recent years because they are among our favorite cruise types; so much so, that I wrote about them for the Seattle Times.

Short Pacific Northwest Getaway cruises

We’ve taken a number of short getaway cruises on the ships that sail the waters between Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, BC and Alaska during the summer months. They range in length from overnight to four- or five-days.

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Our mini-suite on the Ruby Princess
The most recent, a three-night sailing with no ports of call, took us from  Vancouver, B. C. to Los Angeles. The price had been the enticement – a mini-suite for just over $500. The mini-suite featured a sitting area, two-flat screen televisions, a king-size (and very comfortable) bed, walk-in closet and full bathroom (double the size of our Oceania ship’s bathroom).

We rented a car in the Seattle suburb, Bellevue, WA for $60 and dropped it off in Vancouver, B.C.  We were traveling with another couple, so it was cheaper to rent the car than to pay for four Amtrak train tickets. We returned home to Seattle from LA on Alaska Airlines for $99 per person. We spent a night in Vancouver but could have driven up the day of the cruise, saving the cost of the hotel and meals.

Note:  It is important to factor in these additional costs when considering cruise deals because they do add up. In the case of our Oceania cruise, entry visa costs for various countries added to the cost calculations. India, for example is $369 per person while Turkey is $20 per person.

Exotic Ports of Call and Days At Sea

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Yangon, Myanmar, a port of call on Oceania's Nautica sailing
Repositioning cruises can often take you to out-of-the-way places that would be difficult and expensive to reach otherwise and they offer long days at sea.

The affordable, reduced, price and extremely generous on-board benefits ($1,800 in on-board spending, pre-paid gratuities –a savings of about $800 -- and daily unlimited internet – saving about $900 )-- when coupled with an array of exotic ports of call were what enticed us to take the Oceania Nautica last spring.

We visited 10 countries, unpacking at the beginning of the cruise and packing at the end – no hauling bags, no airports, no muss, no fuss.  We were able to experience a high-end cruise line and visit a number of places that would have been both difficult and expensive to reach had we gone to them on our own. Some we need not return to, but others are now on our list for a return visit and longer stay.

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Celebrity Solstice in Sydney, Australia's harbour
There were long stretches of days at sea on the 23-day repositioning cruise we took aboard the Celebrity Solstice from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia.  The ship was repositioning from Seattle, but we opted for fewer days and flew to Honolulu to board (it also cost less from there). A number of fellow passengers were from Australia having also flown to Hawaii to sail home.

Note: Again we were able to visit multiple places including three South Pacific islands and New Zealand en route to Australia while not having to deal with air travel (and its cost), packing and unpacking at each stop.

Getting to and from Europe

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Canary Islands - a port of call on repositioning cruises

One of our favorite types of repositioning cruises is transiting the Atlantic Ocean, either going to or returning from Europe. Any number of cruise lines offer these sailings; we’ve crossed on Holland America and Celebrity ships. The ports of call usually include one or two stops on the United States side of the Atlantic and three or four on the European side with six or seven days at sea.  One of the best deals we nabbed was a balcony room for $125 per night.

Note: The plus side of these cruises are the stops in places like the Canary Islands and Madeira – destinations that would require expensive and long flights and multiple connections for travelers like us, living in the Western United States.

Long Days At Sea and Weather Considerations

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Repositioning cruises involve long, lovely days at sea
Because ships are being moved from one area of the world to another, repositioning cruises often involve long stretches of days at sea – no land in sight, no ports of call. Even our little cruise from Vancouver was two days at sea with no ports of call.
NOTE: Cruise lines go overboard (pun, intended) in lining up activities, events, classes, lectures, promotions, games, music and dance to keep passengers busy on those days.  Some, like us, prefer to laze away the time with a good book and watching the waves. 
If you are not able to deal with days at sea  and being confined to the ship, you might want to think twice before taking a repositioning cruise, no matter how good the deal.

Weather on these shoulder season cruises can be good, bad, or a bit of both. Our first day out of Vancouver was a blustery rainy and windy day and our second day allowed us to bask and burn in California sunshine. You'll want to check weather sites and pack accordingly.

“The Scout’s” Deal Finder

“The Scout” is credited with finding all the repositioning cruises we’ve taken.  He uses a number of cruise web sites. We booked our three-day cruise using Vacations To Go. They have a link to repositioning cruise deals.  CruCon Cruise Outlet is our usual ‘go to’ site as they’ve often offered benefits that tip the scale in their favor, even if the cruise price has been the same as offered elsewhere.

That’s it for today.  If you have specific questions, ask them in the comment section below or shoot us an email.  Hope it is smooth sailing ahead for you and your family until we see you back here. We’ll return to tales from our repositioning spring cruise with a stop in Mumbai, India.

Linking up with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday

49 comments:

  1. OOOH - I'd LOVE to be there!
    Hope to see you at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/09/steam-powered-whatchamacallits.html

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    1. You will! Thanks for stopping by and the invite to join you!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Rajesh and for taking time to comment! Always appreciated.

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  3. We had a great experience with Norwegian's trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise that we took at the end of April this year (Miami to Barcelona) and plan to repeat this experience again when we get a chance. I've followed your recent posts with a mixture of envy and fascination on your Oceania Nautica cruise with it's exotic ports of call and was surprised to learn that this was a repositioning cruise. Thanks for your tips - I'll have to put this on my MUST DO list!

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    1. Anita, once you've done a repositioning and loved it; it will be hard to go back to 'normal' cruising. Thanks for your comment - we are considering those Atlantic cruises again ourselves, glad you had such a great experience!

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  4. Had no idea there was such a thing as a repositioning cruise but it does make sense. Good thing there's team work involved too with your hubby booking cruises.
    Interesting reading Jackie, thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

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    1. Glad you found the post interesting Judith. And thanks for the comment. Yes, "The Scout" does his job very well -- I am lucky to be on his team of travelers!

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  5. Replies
    1. Yes, they all were fabulous in their own ways. Thanks much for stopping by!

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  6. I didn't realize that repositioning cruises were a thing! That actually appeals to me more than a regular cruise because on the long at-sea parts, you'd be essentially forced to slow down and relax. I think I'd be frustrated with how brief the port stops tend to be, since I tend to want to see absolutely everything!

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    1. Actually Oceania had port stops that allowed you to get off, like in India and Egypt that I've been writing about where people were off the ship for as long as four days - plenty of time to get acquainted with an area and determine whether you wanted to return for a land version or not. Thanks for stopping by Rachel!

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  7. I've never been keen to go on a cruise that is effectively a city-on-the-sea...but the idea of a repositioning cruise on a smaller ship (and with fewer passengers) appeals. Thanks for all the useful info and links!

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    1. And thanks Anita for stopping by and leaving a comment, Anita.

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  8. Sounds like a fantastic cruise that you ennjoyed.

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    1. Yes Margaret, we enjoyed them all and hope to do more in the future. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I think I would enjoy a cruise, but my husband HATES ( to the nth degree) the idea of traveling on a ship with a ton of other people. Maybe someday!

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    1. I agree with your husband on the huge ships and the thousands of people (especially on bad weather days when everyone heads to the indoor common areas and don't spread out around the ship's pools as they do on sunny days) but cruising on a small ship is a wonderful experience! Thanks much for the visit. xx J.

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  10. Um...Blogger swallowed my first comment...drat! Hi Jackie, what great finds you and Joel have made. I'll have to check out those sites, and see if I can find something on this side of the world (or close)!

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    1. Oh they do have some on that side of the world, in fact we've been considering the Oceania from Hong Kong to Mumbai (another segment of the cruise we took last year in a manner of speaking), sadly the bennies and price haven't yet reached a low that we want to pay so will likely not be cruising in 2016. Check Celebrity when you look - they may have some great deals but then aren't you heading to Portugal?

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  11. Hello Jackie,
    So much wonderful information in this post from you two inveterate travellers!
    Now I'll be on the lookout for repositioning cruises, even though we are in NZ on the other side of the world, it seems we can benefit as well!
    Hugs
    Shane

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    1. Most definitely as those ships that head your way in the fall head our way in the spring! Hope you find an adventure on one of them! Thanks for the visit Shane~

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  12. A handy post! I met a couple on our Uniworld Venice Cruise who had taken a repositioning cruise from their home in Montreal to Europe and had many many good things to say about it. Thanks for the links, I'll definitely check it out!

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    1. They can't be beat if you like a combination of out of the way ports and days at sea! Good luck in finding a sea adventure! And thanks for stopping by~

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  13. Looks like a blast!
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/09/steam-powered-whatchamacallits.html

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    1. Yes, they all were great fun! Thanks for hosting the linkup. See you again soon I hope~

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  14. Useful information for cruise lovers!

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    1. That's what the post was intended to be - I've set two goals for the blog: to inspire others to travel and to inform them of ways to do it affordably! Thanks for the visit!

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  15. I like the idea of the deals that can be had by taking a "respositioning" cruise, but I think I would have to think twice about how many days I wanted just "at sea".
    Thanks for the info - it's certainly worth considering. Happy travels.

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    1. Try out a few sea days and you'll likely be like me; simply amazed at how quickly they go past and how wonderful they are! Thanks for stopping by - as always, it is appreciated.

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  16. Wow, we had no idea. Never heard of repositioning cruises before, but it sure seems like a great way to see the world without going broke. Thanks for the heads up.

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    1. Thanks much for stopping by - I am picking random comments to highlight on the why to read TravelnWrite and will be featuring this one (I'll mention the book as well).

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  17. What wonderful ships! Looks like you had a great time.

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    1. We did have a great time on each and every one of them! Thanks for the visit!!

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  18. Repositioning cruises really sound like something to consider. Never knew about these deals. Might be just enough additional incentive to get me on my first ocean cruise. Especially like how some of them take you to out-of-the-way places. Great info for travel planning.

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    1. Oh Cathy, You and Mr. TWS would love them I am sure. Try one from California to Washington as a sample when they move the boats next spring - should be several available!

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  19. Might be time to reconsider a large cruise ship. A repositioning trip sounds relaxing and enjoyable.

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    1. For those long stretches of sea days, it is good to be on a larger ship as it gives you a lot more space and tons of activities. Thanks for stopping by~

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  20. Jackie, I've never thought I would be interested in a cruise, but I have to admit a repositioning cruise sounds right up my alley!

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    1. Oh Corinne, I used to say the same thing, especially about those sea days and now I can't get enough of them!

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  21. Great info! I'm considering doing an Atlantic crossing repositioning cruise in 2016. Looks like fun!

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    1. Oh Patti, I suspect you will love doing an Atlantic crossing. We really like the southern routes that hit Madeira or the Canary Islands. Hope to read about your cruise in a few months!

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  22. Hi Jackie,

    As you may have noted, and much like your repositioning cruises that may not see land for days, I, too, have not seen a laptop in many days. BUT, when I finally got a chance tonight, after a very gruelling week, I felt completely relaxed in all the wonderful packages you describe so well, and in detail. There are many things to consider, but what an amazing idea these repositioning cruises are - everybody wins! Personally, not sailing for days, even if it is very smooth sailing, with no land in sight, sounds a little agoraphobic to me, so I'll take the shorter ones, thank you!

    Happy Sunday, you two!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. Oh Poppy, we've had continuing problems with our computer so I can relate to being afloat in the world. You'll have to come out to the Pacific Northwest and try one of those overnighters -- I'll join you, if you do! Hugs, Jackie

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  23. Hello Jackie, the repositioning cruises sound like a great deal. It does sound like a way for both the vacationers and the cruise lines to win. Thanks for sharing the links.
    Have a happy day and new week ahead! PS, thank for visiting my Chelan/Stehekin post.

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    1. Oh Eileen, as always, thanks so much for leaving a comment. Glad you liked the post. And glad you enjoyed Chelan/Stehekin!!

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  24. One day when we are empty nesters, I would like to take a repositioning cruise. They don't currently fit into our schedule as we can only travel during school holidays (aka peak season). My only worry is that I am prone to seasickness and wonder if the days on the open sea are rockier than those close to land.

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  25. I've heard about these cruises but never knew they were a "thing." Lots of helpful info. Thanks!

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