When ships swap hemispheres for different cruise seasons, venture to a new home port or go into dry dock for repairs or refurbishment, it is called a repositioning cruise. Whether you are young or old, holiday as a couple, travel with kids, or see the world solo, there is sure to be a repositioning cruise to suit your taste and budget. Joining an ocean cruise that begins and ends in a different port isn’t just exciting, you often get better value for your holiday dollar as well.
Experienced cruisers got on board repositioning cruises years ago as these itineraries come with loads of benefits. For a start, longer cruises are usually cheaper, especially if they only stop at a few ports. We saw fares as low as $85 per person per day for a repositioning cruise we did from Rome to Fort Lauderdale on Holland America Line’s beautiful Nieuw Statendam.
The ship’s inaugural 14-night itinerary only included three ports followed by eight days at sea, but we couldn’t have been happier. With a swing ensemble, rock and roll band, classical piano quintet, funky blues band, and duelling pianos on board, we danced our way across the Atlantic.
We were also able to avoid the dreaded jetlag as the ship’s clocks were set back by one hour every second day while we were at sea. We gained an extra hour each time this happened, so we got even better value for our cruising dollar with more time on board. When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we were well-rested and ready for fun at Orlando’s nearby theme parks.
Our 15-year-old son loved the music on Nieuw Statendam but if you’re worried about younger kids getting bored with so many days at sea, there is little chance it will happen on a mega-ship. We almost needed a holiday after our Ovation of the Seas cruise last year. Our family went skydiving, rock climbing, rode the bumper cars and surfed the perfect break every day we were at sea, and on a few port days too after we got back to the ship.
The Singapore-to-Sydney cruise we did on Ovation of the Seas is one of the most popular routes for ships repositioning to and from Australia. However, there are plenty of others to choose from if you would prefer to venture further afield. Ships also reposition via Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. If you’ve dreamed of cruising down the Suez Canal in Egypt or the Panama Canal, a repositioning cruise offers an affordable way to do these journeys.
Sea days are wonderful but there is also plenty to get excited about in port when you’re on a repositioning cruise. One of the best things about these itineraries is they often feature lesser-known or off-the-beaten-track destinations. On our cruise across the Atlantic, we visited Funchal in Madeira, an archipelago comprising four islands off the northwest coast of Africa.
If you’ve always wanted to visit a well- known destination that can be expensive to reach, such as Tahiti or Komodo Island National Park in Indonesia, a repositioning cruise can save you thousands. It is also an easy and affordable way to see multiple cities on Australia’s east coast without having to drive. Sea days make getting from one destination to another a pleasure. Driving? Not so much.
Repositioning voyages are also great for socialising and meeting fascinating fellow cruisers. These journeys tend to attract a well-travelled clientele and savvy solo travellers. On longer voyages, there is almost always a solo travellers' table. Everyone is more relaxed and the itineraries are longer so there is time to get to know people and form meaningful friendships.
Whether you prefer to relax or stay active at sea, make sure you allow time to sit back and watch the ocean. One of the great joys of a repositioning cruise is simply enjoying the journey.