Showing posts with label repositioning cruises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label repositioning cruises. Show all posts

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sailing in the Bay of Bengal ~ Heading to HRA

We are India bound as I write this update! As I wrote in the last update, our internet strength is great, but Live Writer (the program I use for blog writing) is refusing to recognize my whereabouts so I am back to Blogger until sometime in the future. . .therefore posts will be brief; but I did want to write a quick update.

Leaving Singapore

We've left the "Far East" part of this Oceania cruise called the "Far East Odyssey" and are heading for India following an amazing three-day stop in Yangon, Myanmar (aka Rangoon, Burma - its old name). It was an amazing, yet-unspoiled-by-mass-tourism destination that deserves several blog posts when time and internet allow.

Yangon, Myanmar
It was a good introduction to the exotic and different ports of call we have ahead of us the next couple of weeks.  We are today sailing the beautiful Bay of Bengal, the largest bay in the world which is part of the northeastern Indian Ocean.  We are slicing through this triangular shaped body of water and will sail south of Sri Lanka en route to our next stop Cochin, India.

Saturday morning
Because many of you were a bit nervous about safety along this exotic route we've chosen to experience, I wanted to assure you that safety is taken most seriously here. This ship, Nautica, was attacked by pirates back in 2008 as it plied the waters we are heading to in a few days. The story has become like a legend among passengers and the bottom line is the pirates never reached the ship.

But for safety's sake we've been notified that we are going to be entering an area known as High Risk Area (HRA) for Piracy as we travel from India to the Gulf of Aden (yes, it is the one by Yemen, but we aren't talking about war - just pirates).  We also will have a pirate attack safety drill tomorrow and have been given certain instructions for on board while we sail the area.

"While sailing through the HRA we will be in permanent contact with an International Task Force, including U.S. and U.K. naval forces that are assigned to protect merchant vessels from pirate attack by a United Nations mandate," says the letter from our Captain.

Off Phuket Island Thailand

This ship kept watch over us while we were anchored off Phuket Island - another example of safety on our route.  So we are not worried. It is rather interesting and adds a bit of adventure to the trip. For now we sail the sea and sip morning coffee with nothing more off our port side than bands of dolphins and flying fish. Thanks for your time - safe travels to you!
Saturday Morning in the Baby of Bengal
Linking up with (maybe):
Weekend Travel Inspirations

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Suffering from ‘traveler’s – not writer’s – block’

Have you ever suffered from ‘Traveler’s block’? 

Its symptoms are brought on by taking a fabulous trip through lands (and waters) that were previously unknown to you and then, after returning home, when you are trying to tell others what you’ve seen and experienced, your memories are so jammed into your head that it’s a struggle to get them out in some semblance of order.  

The ship's navigational map kept track of us
Our month-long trip slicing through the South Pacific was so sensory stimulating that we both admitted we were looking forward to that bottom-busting 17 hour flight home, simply to decompress and get those memories in order. Two weeks later we still are suffering ‘traveler’s block’.

I took pages of notes and hundreds of photos of places and people that I want to introduce to you. (Please, don’t unsubscribe. . .I promise not to overwhelm you!)

And I’ve started at least five posts, but can’t decide what to tell you first. . .

So today I decided to give you a sample of what is to come in future posts:

Hula class, anyone?  Just one of the activities offered on board

How to Savor – not just survive – long days at sea. We had 12 days at sea on this cruise; that means days where the only thing we saw from morning to night were endless stretches of the Pacific Ocean. No birds, no planes, no boats, no sea life. Just sea and sky.

Just the thought of that makes some uncomfortable and those folks probably shouldn’t sign up for a repositioning cruise that crosses the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans.

The reality is there were so many activities offered that you couldn’t keep up with them or yourself. Each day they began at 6 a.m. and ended after midnight.

By Invitation Only Champagne Party . . .why were we there? You'll have to stay tuned.

By Invitation Only:  We will take you to some of the events we attended on board that were ‘by invitation only’ like a sail-away-from-Hawaii cocktail party held on the normally off-limits helicopter landing pad.

The beauty of Bora Bora was evident from every spot on the island

The Islands of the South Pacific: I’ve concluded that when God made heaven, he spilled some drops in the process. . .those are now islands in the South Pacific.  The magnitude of the beauty of the islands and their residents is difficult to capture in printed word and photo – but I will give it a try.

We will go back to Russell, New Zealand - in the Bay of Islands

The surprises:  We had both places and people surprises along the way. Places, like New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, a place that we’d likely never have picked out of a destination list on our own, but that charmed the pants right off of us!

And people, well,. . . we had some surprises. More on that soon.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney and the Land Down Under!  I was the ambivalent one when it came to Sydney and Australia. . .yes, it would be nice to go there, but it fell in the ‘someday’ category on my bucket list.  Well, I can tell you that after five nights in Sydney, I am ready to return – soon! The iconic Opera House and Bridge but the tip of the iceberg on wonderful experiences to be had in this art- and fashion-filled city with a population of millions (4.57 in 2010)

We know your time is in demand and we appreciate that you spend some of it with us. We hope our tales will inspire you and our tips will help you save some money when planning your trips.

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Or for the bloggers out there, you can find us on Bloglovin’.  Hope you’ll all be back regularly! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TP Thursday: Cruise Blues

A friend who recently spent two days at sea on an Alaskan cruise proclaimed he wasn’t a cruiser after the experience. And then, in an incredulous tone asked us,

“How do you do it? I nearly went nuts knowing I couldn’t get off the ship??!!” 

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Unlike our buddy, our favorite cruises are those that involve crossing an ocean – the kind that have at least a  half dozen ‘sea days’; those kind of days where you see no other signs of life – no land, no ships, no birds, just blue. Cruise blues. In this photo our ship was leaving Fort Lauderdale, Florida bound for Europe.

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This strip of Florida beach was the last land we would see for nearly a week. The next land would be the Azores, 3,117 miles (5,016KM/2,706NM) away.  The islands that make up the Azores are 1,118 miles (1,800 KM/900NM) west of Portugal.

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We began many of our sea days with a trip to the gym (also hues of cruise blues) – a necessity when they ended with . . .

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gourmet food. . .and sommelier served wine. (BTW, that was a piece of fish hidden under the veggies in that artistic display above.)

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Sometimes we watched other guests play lawn croquet. (If you missed my earlier posts about this Celebrity Solstice ship – it, like others in its class, has a real live lawn.)

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Other times we watched glass artists at work, thanks to a partnership between Celebrity and the Corning Museum of Glass. We’d attend those lectures on subjects that interested us, but skipped the multitudes of  bingo sessions, dance classes, contests, games and other activities that drew contingents of  fellow cruisers.

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Generally on these types of sailings, when it comes to sea days – we prefer to soak up the ‘cruise blues’. The kind created when sea and sky merge.

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A day dreamin’, book readin’ and sun tanning kind of cruise blues.

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A where-did-the-day-go-so-fast kind of cruise blues. . .

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The kind of cruise blues that gave way to blazing orange sunsets.

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And then it seemed too soon we'd reached the Azores -  our first in a series of  ports of call en route to Barcelona, Spain.

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Transatlantic cruises, like this one, offer some of the best cruise bargains to be found.  We’ve taken several and have been able to book a balcony room for as little as $125 – $185 per night, not per person but per cabin! 

Also called repositioning cruises, sailings take place  generally in the spring and fall because that is when the ship’s are being ‘repositioned’ from one area of the world to the other. 
As cruise enthusiasts, we want to spend as much time on board as possible and yet visit interesting ports of call. This type of cruise provides for both.  Companies we use and recommend for cruise deals  can be found on Joel’s Deal Finder page.

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so head on over to Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos from around the world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We’re “Fall-ing” for Spain

Spring in Madrid caught us off-guard. 
We had amply prepared to explore a new city. . .but we weren’t prepared to be enchanted by it. 

Nor, at the time, did we suspect that the magic spell it cast over us would linger through the summer and prompt us to book a return trip to Spain this fall.

And while admitting that we are suffering from enchantments; we were so taken with the Celebrity cruise that took us to Spain, we've booked ourselves on one of their repositioning cruises that will depart Barcelona for Ft. Lauderdale, visiting several ports of call that will be new to us along the way.

We so liked what we saw of Spain in the springtime, we’ve booked our pre-cruise flight to allow us a few weeks to continue our explorations.  We are planning to take a very circuitous route to the port – via Andalusia.

Map picture

We will fly to Seville, then after a few days of soaking up history, will hop a train or bus to Osuna (too small to show on this map) a picturesque country town about 55 miles away for a few more days as we make our way to Malaga. At this port town, we will pick up a rental car -- and our friends who are arriving from London -- and our foursome will head to Marbella for a week of modern tourism at the Marriott Vacation Club on the Costa del Sol before heading to Barcelona

As usual Joel’s been finding us ‘deals’ in airfare, cruise prices, and accommodations. In the coming weeks we will tell you more about those, the places we are heading and the cruise we are taking.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Celebrity Crossing

We’ve taken many cruises since the time -- nearly a decade ago -- when we announced, “We are NOT cruise people.”
Ah yes, those famous last words that come back to remind you of the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to travel and the adventures you might miss without it.

Take repositioning cruises.We also used to say ‘we’d likely go nuts” on a ship with as many as six days at sea . . .then we took one. Not only is it one of the best cruise buys available, but we love those sea days! 

Soon we’ll be crossing the Atlantic aboard Celebrity’s Solstice (pictured above). We will travel for six days from Port Everglades, Florida to Ponte Delgada, in the Azores. We’ll then hopscotch our way around the Portuguese and Spanish coastline finally arriving in Barcelona on day 14.

Our floating home, the Solstice,  is so large, that it is like a  floating hotel, well, maybe a floating a hotel in an amusement park.

Let’s start with statistics: Length: 1,033 feet (think three football fields put end to end and then some) and 15-floors high. (We are at the very back and on the 9th floor - we'll stay fit!) We will be among some 2,850 guests if the ship is full; I suspect it will be. And we'll have 999 crew members to take care of us all.

To keep us entertained, there’s a spa, a library, internet, a movie theatre, basketball court, 14 bars and lounges, 10 hot tubs, 3 pools, and a basketball court.

But this ship will also have some features we’ve never had on previous cruises: The Lawn Club, a field of real live grass; a Hot Glass Show (co-sponsored by the Corning Museum of Glass) and Smithsonian Journeys, a lecture series sponsored by the Smithsonian’s Travel Program. More on those from somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. . .


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