I just completed a 16 night transatlantic cruise that started in Copenhagen and ended in Boston on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas. A lovely mid-sized ship with approximately 2500 guests, she had been sailing in northern Europe over the summer, with itineraries in the Baltics and up into Norway. She now needed to get back to Boston for a few quick 5 day round-trips to Nova Scotia before heading down to "winter" in the Caribbean.
This re-positioning cruise was by far one of the most fun and memorable cruises I have ever taken. The trip caught my eye because of the unusual itinerary. Most re-positioning cruises have a lot of sea days (which is why many of us take these type of cruises) and limited ports of call, but this itinerary included 8 port days including 4 days in Iceland, a top destination on my must see list. As it turned out, Iceland was the big draw for most people on this trip, and the people we met made this cruise an extra ordinary, exceptional experience.
This is what travel is all about. Exploring new places, learning new things, meeting new people. The ultimate take away from this trip were the new friends we made. Very special people I hope to be cruising with again in the near future. They made this trip exceptional. No, beyond exceptional.
That being said, there are many reasons to consider a re-positioning cruise. Here are my top reasons:
Bottom line, re-positioning cruises are a great value. Cruise fares are lower because there are fewer ports of call, thus fewer port charges. Cruise lines don't want empty cabins and thus offer great pricing. Cruise lines also offer specials, for example, discounted specialty restaurants or spa passes. At $100 per day or lower per person, it makes for a wonderful and very affordable vacation. You can expect the same level of service, great dining and on-board activities as you would see on any other cruise.
Re-positioning cruises are very popular with well-traveled guests, especially older guests who dislike lengthy international flights. It is much easier on the body to gain or lose an hour over a day or two than to change multiple time zones all at once. Re-positioning cruises are quite often combined with other cruises (back to back cruising), providing a longer, more relaxed cruise vacation. I met a number of passengers who had completed the Baltic and Norway cruise just prior to the transatlantic. 30+ days of cruising - nice!
As said, these cruises are popular with well-traveled guests who are well aware of the value, fun and relaxation offered. The understated value is the opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded folks who love to travel, share their stories and learn alike. AND you never know who you might meet!
UNIQUE PORTS OF CALL
Most re-positioning cruises have few ports of call, but not all re-positioning cruises are the same, and some, like this one, offer spectacular places to visit. We even crossed the Arctic circle four times! Transpacific re-positioning cruises often stop in multiple South Pacific island chains, including Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii - how bad is that? And remember, some of the ports are only visited on re-positioning cruises.
END OF SEASON SALES
End of season sales have never been my calling, but I will say that there were awesome sales on board (and in the ports). Shops on board as well as in the ports want to get rid of inventory as they transition into a new season or new destination (Baltic jackets don't sell well on Caribbean itineraries!), and thus the sales abound. Don't count on them at the beginning of the season, but they will be plenty at the end of season. On this cruise, I saw several people walking away with stacks of t-shirts! And the 75% off on the jackets and fleece sweaters came in handy for those who didn't bring enough layers.
Of course one can always count on plenty of other items being on sale as well, including watches, accessories and branded items like coffee mugs and handy water bottles.
If you love to cruise, re-positioning cruises are most probably already part of your plan. But if you are new to cruising or have not cruised a lot, you may not be as familiar with the great value they offer. Give them a try - I doubt you'll be disappointed.