Many people love to go on cruises. The sun, the ocean, the food and exotic ports are a tremendous draw. If there is anything that stops others from considering a cruise (aside from concerns of motion sickness) it is the price. But for the savvy and somewhat flexible traveler, re-positioning, or as the industry calls them”repo cruises” offer very deep cuts from the published rates.
So exactly what are re positioning cruises? Well, much like the marine creatures that move below and above it, cruise ships tend to migrate to seek warmer climes. Cruises to Alaska and Scandinavia are wonderful in the mild summers of the region, but as soon as the leaves turn the cruise companies re-position their ships southward. They may even have their ships change entire hemispheres, moving ships to chase the seasons. Christmas is a summer holiday in Australia and the cruise companies want to be there to help them celebrate.
Moving ships and their staff across oceans and sometimes around the planet is expensive. The cruise companies would like to recoup for that loss, but repo cruises have proven hard to market. They are willing to take a loss just to have bodies in their cabins, hoping revenue from the casinos and specialty restaurants will help the margins. Interestingly however, the cruise companies almost never advertise the repo cruises, keeping the focus on the much higher priced standard cruises.
So how much can you save exactly? In preparation for this post, I researched current going rates. (These are actual prices). A 14 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome is valued at $2,799 and is being offered at $689. A 14 day itinerary from Barbados to Lisbon valued at two grand is now $600. There are many more of these and they are offered throughout the year. As a rule, the savings are anywhere from a minimum of 50% to as high as 80-85% off.
So would a repo cruise be right for you? Here are 5 Yeps and 4 Nopes to consider:
Yep Number 1: The Prices or more wisely put ‘The Value” .
As already mentioned the discounts normally run anywhere from 50-85% . This makes it an outstanding value considering the all inclusiveness of cruise travel. The price includes food, accommodations and shipboard entertainment. A 14 day cruise discounted to $600 averages out to about $46 per day. Even the most frugal traveler might find that number difficult to beat.
Yep Number 2: Benefits for the Solo Traveler
If you are a solo traveler on a cruise you are often priced out of the market. The cruise ships often charge a ‘single supplement’ to the price often doubling your cost. You have the option of a singles cruise and sharing a cabin with a cabin mate of the same gender, which waives the supplement. But what if you’re not really that interested in meeting someone new or perhaps are already encumbered and have a partner who doesn’t care for cruise travel? Your options are pretty limited. Some ships now have single cabins but they are obviously quite popular and fill up very fast. repo cruises offer rates so low that if there is a supplement it might still work budget wise. Additionally since rep cruises are nowhere near full your chances of getting a single room are infinitely greater.
Yep Number 3: The ports of call tend to be more exotic
Since the ships are moving across oceans and sometimes entire continents, the ports of call are often off the path of many travelers. Transatlantic repo cruises include stopovers Casablanca, Morocco, the Azores and the Canary Islands. These locales are most often devoid of the touristic hordes which means lower prices in the cafes and souvenir shops. Transpacific ports of call often include islands just as picturesque but more secluded than their more popular cousins.
Yep Number 4: Longer days at sea Admittedly, this might be a Nope for some folks. For me, this would be a huge benefit. Crossing an ocean takes time. sea days are usually about 4-6 days. The ship offers plenty to keep you busy shows, on-board entertainers and even classes on every subject you can imagine. You can also bring a book or just enjoy not having anything on the schedule. It’s much needed downtime just you and the dolphins.
Yep Number 5: No jet lag Cross a vast swath of the planet at a much slower pace. When you get to the other side you are rested and renewed. It sure beats cramming in to a fuselage for 10hrs on no sleep.
Repo Cruises have a few self-evident Nopes such as:
Nope Number 1: The cruises are one way. The entry port and the final port are usually on different continents. This would most likely necessitate two one way tickets back home. Sometimes this can be more expensive than a round trip ticket.
Nope Number 2: Longer itineraries Repo cruises usually run for 14 days, sometimes longer. Many prefer a nice 5-7 day cruise instead. “Too much of a good thing” and all. Plus, a lot of us would have a difficult time getting that much time off work. Retirees are a huge clientele for these type of cruises.
Nope Number 3: The ports may be exotic, but there are sometimes less of them. A typical round-trip, week long cruise might make four or five stops. A typical 14 day repo cruise will usually do about the same but it seems less given all the days at sea. Some only offer four or less calls. Some slightly more, but the weekly average is always less than on a standard cruise.
Nope Number 4: Where’s the party? Many come on cruises for the party atmosphere. It’s sun,booze and general revelry. While you still have all the amenities of a standard cruise, the atmosphere is markedly different. The crowd tends be mostly retirees and the lower attendance overall usually means a much more sedate voyage. Heaven for some Hell for others.
So if you slogged through this blogpost thus far and you still think Repo cruises just might be the ticket for you or you’d like to at least check out rates, here’s what you do. There are several websites to check rates on my personal favorite is ‘vacationstogo.com’ . (VERY STRONG DISCLAIMER: I do not have any relationship with this company. I make no money whatsoever from them. I have just gone on a couple cruises through ‘vacations to go’ and had a very positive experience working with them.) They have a huge database of repo and standard cruises and you can check out the rates. I think you’ll be amazed by the savings.
So to repo or not to repo? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.