Written By Liza Reekie
Updated 9th February
Table Of Contents
Can you afford the time to allow for an extra 7 – 21 days rather than a flight of 8 – 15 hours to reach your destination? If the answer to that question is YES, you definitely should choose to cruise, instead of flying.
Just imagine stepping across the gangway and boarding a luxury modern cruise ship, your home for the duration of the cruise. You admire the atrium; the centrepiece of the ship featuring sweeping spiral stair cases and look up in awe at the extravagant hanging sculptures towering over multiple decks. This area really is the heart of the ship and leading off it you will find bars, piano and live music performances, shops, lounges & cafes the perfect place to people watch and let time slip by. Out on the upper decks there are swimming pools and hot tubs, sports court, a running and walking track and rows upon rows of loungers. Inside is a fully equipped gym and day spa offering a long list of treatments and thermal suite.
After exploring all that the ship has to offer you will have no doubt worked up an appetite and the food onboard will not disappoint. With the choice of eating in the main dining room, the buffet restaurant or a selection of speciality restaurants and even room service you will never go hungry.
The entertainment on board is wide and varied, from theatre productions, headliner acts, enrichment lectures with guest speakers – on recent cruises I had the pleasure of listening to a former CSI investigator and the costume designer from The Greatest Showman – it’s so fascinating listening to the stories they have to tell. Then of course there’s trivia games, bingo, karaoke, dance lessons, fitness classes, workshops & seminars. You will likely find there is not enough time in the day to fit everything in. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to retreat to your cabin for a restful sleep before doing it all again the next day and the next… And if you can find a repositioning cruise don’t be at all surprised if you find it costs less than a flight.
INTERESTED IN OTHER CRUISE INFORMATION OR ITINERARIES:
– An Epic Adventure on the Diamond Princess – Cruise Japan
– Repositioning Cruises & Deals – The Ultimate Luxury Travel Hack
– Why I Hated My Antarctica Holiday
What is a repositioning cruise?
These are one-way cruises rather than a round trip. They take place at the end of the season when the cruise lines move their ships from one region to another. The traditional seasonal regions are the likes of the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Bermuda, Panama Canal, Alaska, Hawaii, Asia & Australia.
What is the duration of a repositioning cruise?
Expect routes between Europe to North America to be around 2 weeks long with around 9 seas days and 4 ports of call. Routes between North America and Australia are around 3 weeks long. On a recent cruise from Seattle to Sydney there were 14 sea days and 6 ports of call on a 3 weeks cruise.
What time of year will you find a repositioning cruise?
You will usually find offers for these sailings twice a year. During the months of April & May when the ships in the Caribbean move to Europe/Alaska and the ships in Australia move to Alaska/North America for the scheduled summer season. Then in the Fall, September through November when the ships travel in the reverse direction from North America/Alaska to Australia and Europe to the Caribbean for the scheduled winter season. My favourite places to research repositioning cruises are Vacationstogo, Cruisedirect and Cruise1st.
Alternatives – Scheduled Transatlantic Crossing & Around The World Sector Cruises
Another option is a one-way Transatlantic Crossing with Cunard onboard Queen Mary 2. Cunard offer a scheduled service throughout the year on this route, with 7 nights onboard a true ocean liner. The Queen Mary 2 is built to plough through the Atlantic Ocean, crossing back and forth between Southampton and New York.
Alternatively look out for cruise lines offering world cruises where you can book an individual sector, rather than the full 3 to 4 months cruise. Most world cruises embarking from ports in the northern hemisphere depart in January and return between March & May. You’ll find world cruises listed with Cunard, Princess Cruise Lines, Holland America, P&O, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Fred Olsen, Seabourn and Cruise & Maritime. For those looking to embark at a southern hemisphere port Princess Cruise Lines offer a round the world cruise from Sydney departing in May and returning in August.
What is included in the cruise fare?
Your accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and a whole host of entertainment. Depending on the cruise line some include tea, coffee and soft drinks, it’s always worth checking directly. Also check for port taxes – in the USA they are generally added onto the advertised cruise fare, while in Australia & the UK they are included in the cruise fare.
What is not included in the cruise fare?
Drinks, spa treatments, casino play, Wi-Fi, shore excursions & gratuities. Again, like the port taxes some cruise lines in Australia & the UK offers fares with prepaid gratuities.
Pre-departure – Plan to arrive at the departure port at least one or two days before sailing. You never know when travel disruptions & bad weather might hit and the last thing you want to do is watch the ship sail off without you.
Time changes – My recommendation is to take a watch that you can easily adjust for the constant time changes and avoid smartwatches that change time automatically base on GPS as they do not track “ship time”. Passing through multiple time zones the time will change by an hour on several days to allow you to arrive at your destination already acclimatised to the local time, with no jet lag. Depending on the direction of travel the clocks will move forward an hour (usually during the day) or back an hour (usually at night). Also, if you travel over the international date time be prepared to either lose and day completely travelling west or enjoy an extra day travelling east.
Gratuities/Tips – Remember to factor into the additional cost of tips for the waiting staff & cabin steward if it is not already included in your cruise fare. This can add $10 – £20 per person, per day to the cost. Some cruise lines add the charge automatically to your onboard account, for those that prefer to reward crew members directly, on most ships you can remove or adjust automatic tips by visiting guest services.
Wi-Fi – Yes Wi-Fi is available onboard ships although it can be slow, unreliable and expensive. So be realistic in your expectations and keep in mind the remote location of repositioning cruises and don’t expect the same speeds you would get at home.
Dress Code – Expect two or three formal nights. But don’t worry if luggage restrictions limit what you can bring. These types of cruises attract people who are taking long extended trips and are generally a more casual affair. I found on the longer Transpacific repositioning cruise with Royal Caribbean most men wore a suit and tie to dinner on the formal nights, with a few wearing national dress or tuxedos. By the third formal night towards the end of the cruise the tie was left in the cabin! For ladies a smart dress or pair of trousers and a dressy top were the norm, I didn’t see any ballgowns. If shorts are more your thing, the buffet restaurant and room service are always an option. On the other hand, Cunard Queen Mary 2 operated a strict dress code of no jeans after 6pm anywhere on the ship.
Passport & Visa – Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months. If your itinerary has multiple ports of call, check you have the correct visa for each country even if you do not plan to disembark. This information can easily be found on your local government website:
Finally, if you have the time, it truly is worth exploring repositioning cruises as a mode of transport. You avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport and arrive relaxed at your destination.
About The Author
Liza Reekie is the editor of a local community magazine and a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA). Based in Scotland, she lives with her husband and son in the East Neuk of Fife. As a former travel agent she now enjoys planning her own adventures and recently returned from an around the world trip which took in a Transpacific cruise from Seattle to Sydney.