Repositioning cruises 2024 and 2025: A guide to one-way, seasonal cruise travel – The Points Guy

Looking for a cruise where you can truly kick back and take advantage of onboard amenities without getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of a different port of call every day? Consider a repositioning cruise.

Repositioning cruises are the name for one-way sailings that bring the ship to a new home port or a different part of the world to kick-start a new cruise season. Because these sailings often cross oceans, you’ll likely experience ports in more than one cruise region — and have ample sea days to take advantage of the spa, dining and entertainment options on board.

All the major cruise lines offer the occasional repositioning cruises, typically on ships that usually sail in destinations with shorter seasons, such as Alaska or the Mediterranean. Here, we answer all your questions about repositioning cruises.

Note: Listed fares were accurate at the time of publication and are subject to change without notice.

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What is a repositioning cruise?

Cruise ships chase warm and sunny climates, so they often move, or “reposition,” from one part of the world to another when chilly weather sets in. Cruise lines don’t want to sail a ghost ship, one carrying only crew and no passengers, across the ocean because it’s wasting an opportunity to earn money. They have figured out that by discounting rates, they can fill the cabins on these oddball itineraries.

Repositioning cruises are never round-trip sailings. Your origin and destination cities — or, in cruise-speak, embarkation and disembarkation ports — will not be the same. You might sail out of Florida and arrive in Barcelona or Southampton, England, allowing you to explore two continents on one vacation. Or, you might simply sail from Boston to Florida or from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Repositioning cruises are known for having a greater-than-average number of days spent at sea, but it’s not as if you never get off the ship. On a transatlantic sailing, port stops could be in Spain’s Canary Islands or Portugal’s Azores islands. A repositioning cruise from Southern California to Vancouver before the Alaska cruise season might sail up the Pacific Coast and visit cities like San Francisco and Astoria, Oregon.

Related: How to avoid seasickness on your next cruise

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Another aspect that makes a repositioning cruise different from a typical sailing is that many of these itineraries are longer than a week. (This is by design. It takes longer to sail from Florida to Europe than it does to sail to and from the Caribbean.) Still, there is a lot of flexibility, just as with booking any cruise. The shortest you’ll find is four or five days (for example, Southern California to Vancouver) and the longest is around 28 nights (yes, almost an entire month, usually between continents).

Are repositioning cruises one-way?

Yes, repositioning cruises are one-way voyages that start in one region and end in another. Because they happen when a cruise ship switches destinations based on seasonality, these sailings often involve travel to a different part of the world, which can result in many consecutive days at sea.

Where and what time of year do cruise ships reposition?

The good news is you can book a repositioning cruise nearly six months out of the year, spanning mid-spring and mid-fall months, which are the cruise lines’ shoulder seasons.

Because repositioning cruises are not all tied to the same destination, this only widens your options in terms of geography. To envision where these will sail and when, you need to know a destination’s cruise season.

Take Europe as an example. The majority of Mediterranean and Baltic sailings take place in the spring through the early fall. Europe-based ships flee the region during the winter, spending November through March in the warm Caribbean. Therefore, a ship will need to travel from the Caribbean to Europe in spring and return to the Caribbean by fall. Look for transatlantic repositioning cruises during those changeover months.

Related: From Alaska to the Panama Canal: Here are 9 of TPG’s favorite fall cruise itineraries

Some ships stay in the Caribbean year-round and only reposition when the cruise line chooses to move them to a different home port. However, ships sailing short seasons in Alaska, South America, Canada/New England and Europe will always be repositioned at least twice a year.

Due to increased cruise itineraries in the Middle East and Asia over the last decade, you might also find a repositioning cruise departing or returning to either of those regions. For example, MSC Cruises offers cruises from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Genoa, Italy, in April prior to sailing European itineraries in the spring and summer. Just be prepared to be away from home for a long time. The aforementioned sailing lasts about three weeks — a long trek through the Suez Canal, connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, by way of Egypt.

Note: Many cruise lines have canceled or altered their 2024 Middle East itineraries due to unrest in the region.

What happens on a repositioning cruise?

On many repositioning cruises, you will not get off the ship as often as you might on a typical sailing because there are no ports in the middle of the ocean you’re crossing. These itineraries often feature a string of sea days, so be prepared to spend more time and money on board.

Some people love port-intensive cruises so they can quickly check off a list of countries and only unpack once. But if you prefer leisurely, lazy days, then a transoceanic repositioning cruise might be your ticket to utopia. This huge stretch of time is a great opportunity to crack open books you’ve been meaning to read, launch into a knitting project or finally have time for daily workouts.

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Related: 16 mistakes cruisers make on cruise ship sea days

Programming — such as comedy nights, fitness classes, boutique shopping, art auctions, wine tastings and evening shows — are as much a part of a repositioning cruise as any other sailing, only you might be able to take in a whole lot more than you normally would. Some cruise lines organize themed sailings or invite guest lecturers on board for extra sea day activities.

You also might want to consider springing for a cruise line’s all-inclusive beverage package on a repositioning cruise. You’ll get better value than usual from the price because you’ll be ordering most of your drinks on board due to fewer port stops.

Another worthwhile splurge is a balcony cabin. You’ll have easy access to fresh air without the top-deck crowds and can enjoy the romance of gazing out at the seemingly endless ocean. Just be sure to pack a sweater or sweatshirt because shoulder seasons in these climates are not necessarily sunbathing weather.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a repositioning cruise?

When you book a repositioning cruise, you’ll likely be on board for at least two weeks, allowing enough time for the ship to sail between where it’s currently based and its new home port. Sometimes the voyage can be even longer, and it’s likely you won’t have more than five or six port stops during that time.

That means lots of days on board, many of them consecutive. It’s an advantage for anyone who enjoys relaxing at sea and doesn’t mind exploring the ship for days at a time without touching land; it’s a disadvantage for anyone who sees cruises as merely transportation to explore new places.

An advantage of repositionings is the price, which is often cheaper than what you’d pay for a round-trip sailing of the same length or which has more port days built into the schedule. However, the cost of the potentially expensive one-way or open-jaw flights needed before and after a repositioning cruise could eat up most of the money you’d save by booking that type of voyage.

Do you need a passport for a repositioning cruise?

Yes. The only time you don’t need a passport to cruise is if you’re booked on a closed-loop sailing — a voyage that departs from and returns to the same port within the U.S. Since repositioning cruises don’t leave from and return to the same port, the exception won’t apply, and you’ll need a passport in order to board the ship.

Are repositioning cruises cheaper than other cruises?

It depends on the sailings to which you’re comparing them, but repositioning cruises are often relatively affordable. Even though repositioning sailings can often be two to three weeks in length, you might find that they’re less expensive than a regular weeklong voyage that begins and ends in the same port of call. That’s because repositioning cruises offer mostly sea days, during which you’ll be enjoying the ship instead of lounging on the beach or exploring museums.

How to score repositioning cruise deals

ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

More often than not, a repositioning cruise is a good deal because it costs much less per night than a typical sailing. This is because the one-way, sea day-heavy itineraries are less desirable to the majority of cruisers, and they take place during slower travel seasons.

Related: 6 ways to get a deal on a cruise

Travelers who live near the embarkation or debarkation ports can save even more by only having to buy a one-way plane ticket rather than a full round trip.

Repositioning cruises can be tricky to find on booking sites. They often are referred to as repositioning cruises or transatlantic or transpacific cruises. When ships reposition between ports in the U.S. and Canada, the one-off one-way itineraries might not be labeled anything special beyond Caribbean or Pacific Coast cruises.

Not all of the cruise line or online travel agency booking pages have an option to check a box and search for repositioning cruises. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, do an online search for the term and the cruise line you wish to sail. Even better, call a travel agent or the cruise line’s booking staff directly, and they can help you find the repositioning cruise that’s best for you.

What are the best 2024 repositioning cruises?

14-night transatlantic on Carnival Glory

This two-week repositioning voyage on Carnival Cruise Line‘s Carnival Glory departs Barcelona on April 18 and offers just four port calls. The sailing will visit Valencia, Malaga and Las Palmas in Spain, as well as Bermuda, before reaching Port Canaveral, near Orlando, which is the ship’s seasonal home base in Florida.

Prices start from $649 per person for an inside cabin.

15-night transatlantic on Rotterdam

On Oct. 12, Holland America‘s newest ship, Rotterdam, sets sail on a transatlantic repositioning from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Florida’s Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Those ports bookend calls on Bruges, Belgium; Le Havre and Brest, France; England’s Isle of Portland; Bermuda; and Half Moon Cay, the line’s private island in the Bahamas.

Prices begin at $2,074 per person for an inside cabin.

14-night transatlantic on Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Norwegian Escape will relocate from the Mediterranean to Miami on Nov. 26, offering a repositioning cruise that begins in Barcelona. It calls on Cartagena and Malaga, Spain; Madeira, Portugal; Antigua; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and NCL’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas along the way.

Fares start at $829 per person for an inside cabin.

16-night Panama Canal transit on Seven Seas Grandeur

For a repositioning sailing that transits one of the world’s most impressive modern engineering marvels and offers lots of port stops, check out Regent Seven Seas‘ 16-night Panama Canal crossing on Seven Seas Grandeur. Departing from Miami on Dec. 13, passengers can check out Grand Cayman before enjoying calls on Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Antigua; and Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, before reaching Los Angeles.

Prices for this voyage on Seven Seas Grandeur, which is an all-inclusive, all-suite vessel, start at $10,499 per person.

What are the best 2025 repositioning cruises?

15-night transatlantic on Wind Spirit

Windstar Cruises‘ Wind Spirit, a masted sailing ship, is repositioning from Barbados to Lisbon, Portugal, on Feb. 22, 2025. However, you’ll only want to book this voyage if you’re interested in sailing vessels or you’re not easily bored. The ship is small, and there are no port calls on the schedule.

Prices start from $2,399 per person for a room with a window.

23-night Panama Canal on Coral Princess

For a lengthy voyage that will allow you to sail from Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal to Mexico and then up the California coast before arriving in Canada, check out Princess Cruises‘ Coral Princess. Beginning April 10, 2025, the ship is featuring a cruise that’s longer than three weeks as it repositions to Vancouver for a season of Alaska sailings.

Fares begin at $1,593 per person for an inside cabin. If you’re short on time, you can opt instead for a shorter voyage of 16 nights that also begins on April 10 and ends in Los Angeles before the ship moves on to Canada. Fares for the shorter cruise start from $1,048 per person for inside accommodations.

17-night French Polynesia and Hawaii on Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises‘ Celebrity Edge will relocate from its base in Sydney on April 14, 2025. Its ultimate destination is Vancouver, where it will be stationed for a series of Alaska voyages. On its way, it will take passengers on a 17-night trip to experience the beauty of French Polynesia before concluding the sailing in Honolulu. Port calls include Paihia and Auckland in New Zealand and Raiatea, Papeete and Moorea in French Polynesia.

Rates start at $1,574 per person for an inside cabin.

14-night transatlantic on Odyssey of the Seas

On April 27, 2025, Royal Caribbean‘s Odyssey of the Seas is repositioning from Bayonne’s Cape Liberty port in New Jersey to Rome. There are only five port stops — Ponta Delgada, Portugal; Malaga, Cartagena and Valencia, Spain; and La Spezia, the port for Cinque Terre in Italy — mixed in among the sea days. However, this Quantum Class vessel has plenty to keep cruisers busy on board. Amenities include surfing and skydiving simulators, bumper cars and a robotic arm that holds a glass-enclosed observation sphere for excellent ocean views.

Fares begin at $829 per person for an inside cabin.

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