A repositional or a repositioning cruise is what you might expect: an itinerary that repositions a ship from one region to another.
While some ships, such as those in the Regent Seven Seas and Azamara fleet, tend to mostly plot a path across the world, moving from one destination to the next, the overwhelming majority leave and return to a seasonal homeport. That might be a seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Rome, then seven nights from Rome to Venice, back again to Rome, then Barcelona. The ship might then head back the same way, or head on another route. This is particularly true of the Caribbean, where ships sail from Florida down to the islands and back again. But, at the end of a season, as winter approaches, the ships will be moved to a different part of the world – perhaps from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean; Alaska to South America; or Antarctica to the Arctic, creating some of the lengthiest and most unique itineraries.
Given the costs of operating a ship, cruise lines don’t like to sail without passengers on board and will avoid it if possible, hence these sailings, which are often unique, contain extra onboard activities and can often be snapped up for a decent price.
They’re rarely flagged as ‘repositional’ though – you’ll sometimes see them as ‘taster’, ‘discovery’ or transatlantic voyages (although, of course, Cunard specialises in transatlantic voyages). Generally, for those with smaller budgets but a desire to do something a little bit different, and the luxury of a lot of time, they’re a great bet. Flights from two different destinations can push the price up considerably – so they are also great for customers wanting to get somewhere without flying (at least for one leg).
This month, MSC Cruises has a 14-night New York, Iceland & Nova Scotia from Southampton sailing from £1,249, while Holland America Line has a Vancouver to Alaska and Japan 18-nighter from £2,649.
As Cruise Nation puts it: “Repositioning cruises are the savvy cruisers go to when it comes to seeing the world on a budget. Granted, it does mean a [more difficult] task in planning your flights and hotels but imagine leaving the Mediterranean in your wake with Dubai and the Indian Ocean ahead.”