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How to Find the Best Repositioning Cruise Deals: Under $50 / Day!

Last Updated: August 16, 2020

Using cheap Repositioning Cruise deals to travel around the world can provide for an incredibly affordable way to get from one continent to another in complete luxury. We know this because we’ve now taken over a dozen repositioning cruises all across the world’s oceans and have been carefully tracking repositioning cruise prices over the past decade. As a result, we’ve scored many repositioning cruise deals that have gotten us on over a half year’s worth of these unique sailings between North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and even Africa!

Repositioning cruises can be a wonderful travel experience to slowly voyage from one continent to another, stopping at far-flung ports along the way, with the easy & carefree living that cruise travel delivers. Cheap repositioning cruise deals can offer considerable savings compared to daily rates of regular closed-circuit cruises. The bargains can be so good that repositioning cruises often prove to be even less expensive than a coach flight between the same locations. Yet scoring a repositioning cruise deal provides so much more of a travel experience compared to a cramped seat on a redeye flight.

We firmly believe that repositioning cruise deals are the best travel value in the world. The decadent four-course dinners, Broadway-style entertainment, traveling from island-to-island, and retreating at night to a comfy stateroom can all make for an extravagant travel experience that many would only assume is entirely unaffordable. Yet if you know where to find the best repositioning cruise deals, such extravagance can be easily achievable for less than $50 per day!

Our love of these seasonal one-way cruise deals is so strong that we even utilized a series of repositioning cruises to travel entirely around the world without taking a single flight. 

We’re now spilling our secrets of where to find these repositioning cruise deals. This article goes in-depth into everything you may have wanted to know about repositioning cruise deals. But we’ve also hand-picked the cheapest last-minute repositioning cruise deals you can find right now for Fall 2020 sailings.

First, let’s dive into exactly how these one-way repositioning cruise deals work and the costs involved.

Celebrity Eclipse docked in Bermuda which was the first repositioning cruise deal we got

Repositioning Cruise Deals: Table of Contents

🛳 What Is a Repositioning Cruise?
🗺 Repositioning Cruise Routes & Timing
💲 How Cheap Are Repositioning Cruises?
⚠ What’s the Catch?
📅 Best Time to Book a Repositioning Cruise Deal

🚢Cheapest Repositioning Cruises You Can Book Right Now🚢
     🦠 Disruptions of 2020 Repositioning Cruises 🦠
🚢🔖Cheapest Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise Deals
🚢🔖Cheapest Transpacific Repositioning Cruise Deals
🚢🔖Cheapest Panama Canal Repo Cruise Deals
🚢🔖Cheapest Asia ↔ Europe Repositioning Cruise Deals
🚢🔖Cheapest Europe ↔ Africa Repositioning Cruise Deals
🚢🔖Cheapest Australia ↔ Asia Repositioning Cruise Deals

➕Booking a Repositioning Cruise Deal

What Is a Repositioning Cruise?

A repositioning cruise is a one-way cruise voyage in which a ship is being relocated from one region in the world to another. Cruise lines regularly reposition their fleets annually based on seasonality, as weather conditions and travel patterns change across the globe.

Since these ships are being moved from one part of the world to another, repositioning cruises do tend to be lengthy voyages with a higher amount of sea days. As a result, these lengthy, off-season, one-way cruises can have low demand. So repositioning cruises are often priced dramatically lower to entice passengers to come aboard these unique, intercontinental itineraries.

Repositioning cruises are sometimes also referred to simply as repo cruises (for short) or relocation cruises (an alternate name). It’s all the same.

So that’s a brief primer on repositioning cruise. For more detail, open our separate article in the link below, and continue reading here for more info on how to score the best repositioning cruise deals.

  • Open in a new tab to read more: What Is a Repositioning Cruise?

Stromboli volcano from a repositioning cruise


Repositioning Cruise Routes & Seasonality

Before revealing where to find the best repositioning cruise deals, it’s important to have an understanding about

  • when repositioning cruises are relocated, and
  • where repositioning cruises actually go.

When Do Repositioning Cruises Travel?

Repositioning cruises tend to be most active during the change in seasons:

  • Spring,
  • Fall.

As an example, let’s take a look at transatlantic repositioning cruises to illustrate these seasonal cruise relocations. The Mediterranean Sea boasts pleasantly warm weather and is high season for travel in the summer. So cruise lines often move ships to the Mediterranean in the late Spring to serve the many passengers who desire taking a summer Mediterranean cruise.

Meanwhile, summer months are the Caribbean’s hot and stormy summer offseason. So it’s only natural for cruise lines to move ships across the Atlantic Ocean by May, relocating them from ports serving the Caribbean to ports serving the Mediterranean and Europe.

The reverse occurs each Fall. That’s when many cruise ships are moved from Europe across the Atlantic to Florida, among other home ports serving the Caribbean, in time for the winter high-season months.

These transatlantic repositioning cruises form the most common repositioning cruise route. But there are many other repositioning cruise routes to consider.

Alaskan cruises can’t sail in the winter. So those ships need to go elsewhere, of course! Europe-Asia repositioning cruises can provide for port-intensive journeys between the adjoining continents. Transiting from North to South America (or vice versa) can be an interesting voyage that often includes a Panama Canal Cruise. There are many seasonal shifts in cruising that bring about repositioning cruises.

Cruise ship in Glacier Bay National Park

Where Repositioning Cruises Go in the Spring

The most common trend for Spring repositioning cruises is for ships to be relocated towards

  1. European ports and
  2. the Pacific Northwest (specifically, Vancouver & Seattle) for Alaska’s summer cruise season.

Below are typical repositioning cruise routes during the spring months.

Spring Repositioning Cruise Route Map

  • Northern Transatlantic: Florida (and US East Coast) ➡ Europe
  • Southern Transatlantic: Argentina & Brazil ➡ Europe
  • Panama Canal: Florida (and US East Coast) ➡ US Pacific Coast
  • TransAmerica Panama Canal: Chile ➡ Florida
  • Southern Transpacific: Sydney & Auckland ➡ Hawaii, California, & Pacific Northwest
  • TransAmerica Pacific: Chile ➡ California & Pacific Northwest
  • TransAsia: Asia (usually Singapore) ➡ Europe
  • MiddleEastern: UAE ➡ Europe
  • TransAfrica: South Africa ➡ Europe

Where Repositioning Cruises Go in the Fall

During Autumn, cruises are repositioned away from Europe and Alaska. Most commonly ships are move to Florida and US East Coast ports to do Caribbean cruises during winter months. But cruises are also repositioned to Asia and locations throughout the southern hemisphere.

This is where cruise lines tend to reposition their cruise ships in the Fall:

Fall Repositioning Cruise Route Map

  • Northern Transatlantic: Europe ➡ Florida (and US East Coast)
  • Southern Transatlantic: Europe ➡ Argentina & Brazil
  • Panama Canal: US Pacific Coast ➡ Florida (and US East Coast)
  • TransAmerica Panama Canal: Florida ➡ Chile
  • Southern Transpacific: Hawaii, California, & Pacific Northwest ➡ Sydney & Auckland
  • TransAmerica Pacific: California & Pacific Northwest ➡ Chile
  • TransAsia: Europe ➡ Asia (usually Singapore)
  • MiddleEastern: Europe ➡ UAE
  • TransAfrica: Europe ➡ South Africa
  • Canadian Maritimes: US East Coast ➡Quebec, Canada

Note: The above route maps provide a general idea of the timing of repositioning cruises. Exact routes are constantly changing each year. Later is this article, some of the best repositioning cruise routes for 2020 are detailed. 

What’s It Cost: How Cheap Are Repositioning Cruise Deals Really?

Repositioning cruise deals can vary greatly in cost, based on purchasing trends, timing of the purchase, the popularity of the ship, and the appeal of the exact itinerary.

That said, a decent deal for a two-week oceanic crossing can range from around $400-$800 per person. That breaks down to about $30-$60 per person, per night! Personally, we try to shoot for repositioning cruise prices under $50 per person, per night. Sometimes we’ll go above that threshold that for a great itinerary or if extra perks are included.

During each Spring and Fall season, we regularly see cheap repositioning cruise deals for about $500, or even less, on all the common routes. For those who are ultra-price-sensitive, a nightly rates of $40 or less per person (before gratuities and port fees) is an achievable repositioning cruise deal to aim for.

But repositioning cruises are regularly priced higher than those aforementioned deals. Factors such as great itineraries and sought-after ships will certainly help to drive up the prices for repositioning cruises. Purchasing trends also affect pricing. It’s not uncommon to see repositioning cruises listed for over $1,000 and much higher.

Yet supply and demand for each particular voyage can help drop repositioning cruise prices very low. So how low can they go?

The cheapest repositioning cruise we’ve ever spotted was for a two-week transatlantic cruise deal for a total of $159! This unfathomable $12/night price-point even included the rare feat of an open bar beverage package throughout the entire sailing. It seemed too-good-to-be-true. So back in 2016, we booked this insanely low-priced cruise simply to investigate if this deal was legit. If you’re curious to know what a $159 two-week cruise is like, then read our separate post reviewing it.

  • You can read: Pullmantur Monarch $159 Transatlantic Cruise Review here.

Pullmantur Monarch sailing under Malta flag as it leaves the port of St Maarten

Extra Costs of Repositioning Cruise Deals: Taxes & Gratuities

Do know that the repositioning cruise prices mentioned here are before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. This is the industry standard when quoting cruise prices. So understand that the total cost of repositioning cruises will end up being just a bit more after factoring in these compulsory charges.

Taxes & port fees for repositioning cruises will vary greatly depending on the ship and itinerary. But expect taxes to add at least $100, or more, to the total price for each person. This is all added to the repositioning cruise price during the booking process.

Gratuities are the semi-obligatory tips to deserving wait staff, room attendants, and other crew. This service fee typically adds $12-$16 per person, per night and usually isn’t charged until you’re onboard the cruise. (Note: For British and Australian passengers, gratuities are sometimes handled differently.)

So taxes and gratuities do add to repositioning cruises prices. But even after budgeting for those costs, repositioning cruises are still incredible deals that often remain under $50 per day. In addition to those little extra costs, the section below details everything you should be aware of before booking a repositioning cruise deal.

Beyond the compulsory charges, there’s no major hidden costs for repositioning cruises beyond the typical extras passengers may want to indulge in. For those unfamiliar with cruising, additional expenses can include purchases such as alcoholic drinks, dining in specialty restaurants, shore excursions, wifi at sea, spa packages and other splurges.

So What’s the Catch of a Cheap Repositioning Cruise Deal?

These cheap repositioning cruise deals may seem like they’re too good to be true. But they’re totally legit. There are no major catches, really.

It’s a common misnomer that repositioning cruise deals are so cheap because they’re boring and stripped-down cruises. That is simply not true!

It’s actually quite the opposite. Cruise lines tend to ramp up activities, lectures, and entertainment during all those extra days at sea. It can be a lot of fun. We always keep busy and never get bored.

The nightly four-course dinners include the same filet mignons and lobster tails passengers indulge in on regular weeklong cruise itineraries. The first-class staterooms are, of course, the same rooms. They don’t strip down the staterooms for repositioning cruises. The high level of service remains the same too.

Meanwhile, the many exotic ports that are visited along the routes are arguably the greatest appeal of repositioning cruises. Reaching some of these distant locations would cost a fortune to fly to. Thousands of dollars! Yet a repositioning cruise deal can provide a seamless and inexpensive way to reach many far-flung destinations, all while voyaging across the ocean in luxury.

Despite our love and praise of cheap repositioning cruise deals, they certainly aren’t for everyone. We strongly advise anyone to fully understand some potential downsides before booking your first repositioning cruise across the ocean:

  • Travel dates are very specific, not at all flexible, and these deals are only at certain times each year.
  • These are lengthy journeys. So while they can be affordable, you’ll need the luxury of time to really take advantage of the deals (best for retirees, digital nomads, and long-term travelers). A two-week vacation would make for a very tight trip.
  • For passengers who are not continuing onward travel when the repositioning cruise ends, you must account for the cost of returning home. One-way intercontinental flights can add a major expense to the overall trip.
  • Some of the best repositioning cruise deals are last-minute. This can make advanced planning complicated and any last-minute flights can become even more expensive.
  • The best deals are usually for interior staterooms (meaning, no balcony or window). But inexpensive veranda rooms are possible. In fact, free balcony upgrades can be even easier to achieve on repositioning cruises.
  • There tend to be many sea days, which are fun-filled & relaxing (we never get bored). But this may not be for everyone.
  • Any expenses onshore while in port are at your own cost, of course. So that’s another cost to budget for. But exploring ashore can be a minimal expense for those comfortable with independent travel.
  • Wifi is often expensive and can be slow. This is a major problem for anyone who needs to stay connected for working online. Here are some cruise wifi hacks to help deal with that.
  • Repositioning cruise prices are usually based on double occupancy. So you’ll need a partner or travel buddy to score a cheap deal. Otherwise, solo cruisers are often forced to pay a harsh single supplement fee, usually ranging 50-100%.
  • Alcoholic drinks and even soda onboard are typically not included. So drinks can get pricey. To ease bar tabs, here are 20 proven strategies to get cheap drinks on a cruise.
  • Service gratuities will typically add $12-$16 per person, per night, to your daily cost. So this should be budgeted accordingly into total costs.
  • Lastly, you must know how to find these repositioning cruise deals. They’re not heavily promoted. Also, the best repositioning cruise deals tend to only be around for short periods of times. But we’re here to show you where the deals are and when to book them!

The Norwegian Star's upper deck during a transatlantic repositioning cruise

Know the Best Time to Book Cheap Repositioning Cruises

Trying to book the cheapest price on any cruise can be tricky and is always a bit of a gamble. It can be difficult to predict price fluctuations. Yet over the past decade, we’ve carefully tracked repositioning cruise price trends to discover common patterns on when to book.

So here’s what we’ve noticed over the years to now help you score the lowest price on repositioning cruises.

Lowest Repositioning Cruise Rates Often Emerge 2-3 Months Prior to Departure

A pricing trend that has remained consistent over the years is being able to find some of the best repositioning cruise deals by booking fairly last-minute. Rock-bottom prices tend to appear two-three months before the repositioning cruise is scheduled to embark.

This comes contrary to common advice for booking cruises. Often with cruises, it’s recommended to book as early as possible to score the best deal. And there are indeed some great repositioning cruise deals that can be scored in advance. But for particularly common routes, like transatlantic repositioning cruises, rates are sometimes slashed in the few months leading up to embarkation.

This last-minute repositioning cruise booking strategy has been a tried-and-true method we’ve used to uncover some of the best repositioning cruise deals out there. Prices tend to drop when each cruise’s cancelation period ends, which is about 45-90 days out.

Understand the economics at play. Those who book a cruise in advance have an option to cancel and receive a full or partial refund up until about 2-3 months before the cruise departs. This is known as the cancelation period and it varies by cruise line, ship, and itinerary. Once the cancelation period ends, anyone who booked the cruise are locked into it. Therefor, the cruise lines don’t really know their true occupancy count is unknown until that time frame.

At this point, the cruise lines will often discount remaining cabins greatly in attempts to fill the ship to capacity at the last minute. So during the two-three month period prior to the desired sail date, you can regularly find very attractive prices. That is, if you have the nerves to hold out on booking such an extensive cruise at the last minute. After all, waiting to potentially get a deal also comes with a realistic risk of prices rising or the cruise selling out. (Also note: as most cruise lines have greatly eased cancelation policies for 2020, this could greatly change booking/pricing trends for 2020 and 2021 repositioning cruises.

A general rule of thumb is the following:

  • Spring repositioning cruises: Around February can be an attractive time to buy for March-April sailings.
  • Fall repositioning cruises: Buy around late August or early September for October-November sailings.

We’ve found that for an April embarkation, around February can be the best time of year to make a move. During this timeframe, you actually get a double whammy of good fortune. For one, this time of year is what the cruise industry calls “Wave Season,” a promotional period when cruise lines are offering deep discounts and generous perks such as onboard credit, drink packages, prepaid gratuities, wifi packages, and more.

For the Fall repositioning cruises, the best time to buy can be around August and into September. Of course, this all depends on the cruise’s exact departure date, cancelation policy, and recent booking trends.

It Can Also Make Sense to Book Repositioning Cruises in Advance

If you see a repositioning cruise that you really like at a price you’re willing to pay, sometimes it can be a wise move to just book it.

The most obvious rationale for booking a repositioning cruise early is to have the luxury of making international travel plans in advance. And it’s definitely possible to find some decent repositioning cruise deals without having to wait until that semi-last-minute period.

While typically waiting until a few months before the cruise’s departure to buy can be a good bet, above all else, just buy if you see a great deal regardless of the time of year.

There have been instances when we’ve expected a repositioning cruise price to drop based upon past trends, but then prices rose instead. It’s always a gamble as to whether any cruise’s price may rise or fall. If it’s a really nice ship or a very attractive itinerary, the repositioning cruise price can be at even greater risk of rising. And these repositioning cruises actually do sell out.

So if you find a great price on a repositioning cruise you really want to take, it can be smart not to get greedy and wait for price to go lower. Just book it! Waiting for a lower price can often prove to be a wise strategy, but it sometimes leads to disappointment.

Note for 2020 repositioning cruises: Most cruise lines are currently offering flexible cancelations policies, often with refundable cancelations up to 48-hours before sailing. Therefore, it could definitely make more sense to book whenever you see a great deal, given the possibility to cancel without penalty.

Sunrise on a repositioning cruise

The Best Advice for Timing Your Repositioning Cruise Purchase

Really, our best advice on timing your repo cruise booking is this:

If you don’t care much about what cruise line, ship, or itinerary, then it will prove best to wait it out to the 45-90 cancelation period before booking. You will most certainly get an excellent bargain on a sailing, for under $50 per night.

But if there is a particular ship or itinerary that you definitely want to cruise on, then be careful gambling by waiting for rates to potentially drop. Prices could rise unexpectedly, leaving you heartbroken and missing the deal for a specific cruise you’re eyeing.

Yet for 2021 repositioning cruises, if see you a great repositioning cruise deal now and the cruise line has a generous cancelation policy, then it can really makes sense to book it now.

Best Repositioning Cruise Deals for 2020 and into 2021

🦠 Note About 2020 Repositioning Cruises during the Pandemic

Each repositioning cruise season, we update this article to highlight the best and cheapest last-minute repositioning cruise deals. But for 2020 the coronavirus pandemic has canceled many cruising voyages around the world. This includes repositioning cruise cancelations, of course. Unfortunately, many Fall 2020 repositioning cruises have been canceled.

Yet there are still some Fall 2020 repositioning cruises that you can book right now! Of course, you must be able to comply with any government restrictions and weigh the personal risks on your own.

Also, be familiar with the refund policies in the realistic instance that these last-minute repositioning cruises don’t sail. If you do book a repositioning cruise and the cruise line cancels on you, they tend to offer generous future cruise credit (often 125% of the amount paid), or a full cash refund. So it could prove financially beneficial to book and get canceled upon, if you’re able to use the future cruise credit for a repositioning cruise in 2021. Just know the policy before you book.

But will any repositioning cruises actually sail in Fall 2020? No really knows for sure, as the situation continues to evolve. Personally, we have have much greater confidence about 2021 repositioning cruises happening. So the section below now also highlights the best repositioning cruise deals we’ve spotted for 2021.

Booking a Repositioning Cruise for 2020 or 2021

Below are some of the best repositioning cruise deals we’ve found that you may be able to book.

We’ve linked to them through our affiliate at CruiseDirect. We’ve chosen to recommend CruiseDirect because of their easy online booking, a low price guarantee, no booking fees, and they maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. But more than any other reason, we recommend CruiseDirect because we regularly find they have the lowest prices and the best deals. Hence, CruiseDirect is what we’ve been using ourselves to book the last several repositioning cruise deals.

Remember, repositioning cruise prices do regularly fluctuate, sometimes even daily. And in 2020, there’s been even more changes than normal. So be sure to follow the links we’ve left below to confirm the most up-to-date price quote, which may be even lower than what we’ve listed here. With the disruption of cruising this year, prices and even itineraries may change overnight, or may even get canceled. So be sure to click through the links to verify the sailing.

Below are the handful of Fall 2020 repositioning cruise deals that may still be available, in addition to the best 2021 repositioning cruise deals.

Cheapest Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise Deals: between Europe & US

Transatlantic repositioning cruise route map

Transatlantic repositioning cruises are a classic repositioning cruise route to embark on. They’re the most common and often the easiest to get a great deal on an inexpensive voyage.

The itineraries range from fairly barebones direct sailings across the ocean to port-intensive voyages with only a few sea days in between to break up the trip. Some transatlantic itineraries include Caribbean islands on the eastern side, an abundance of European ports on the Western Atlantic, and far-flung islands in between. Stops into Atlantic Ocean islands such as the Azores, Canaries, Madeira, and Bermuda help to break apart the lengthy ocean crossing.

Last-Minute Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise Deals for Fall 2020

Most Fall 2020 transatlantic repositioning cruises have been outright canceled. Only Norwegian cruise line has one late-season transatlantic itinerary that prospective passengers can still book.

🔖🚢 The Norwegian Getaway late-season Dec 5th sailing could potentially happen. This beautiful 5-star ship is scheduled to cross the Atlantic with rates down to $82/night. We love the packed itinerary from Barcelona to New York! After leaving Barcelona, it stops daily in three great Spanish ports before continuing on to intriguing Madeira and and the far-flung Azores. The voyage culminates by porting in Bermuda for the day, then making the final push to NYC. It’s a great ship and great itinerary. If it does sail, we foresee possible itinerary changes and a potential for prices to drop.  See complete itinerary and up-to-date rates.

2021 Spring Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise Deals: US to Europe

There are already some unusually low rates for 2021 transatlantic repositioning cruises, well in advance of the deals that tend to emerge in the last-minute. In fact, we’ve already spotted a dozen 2021 transatlantic repositioning cruises within the $50 per night range! There’s even this 16-night Royal Caribbean cruise that’s down to a mere $35/night!

The table below highlights the cheapest transatlantic repositioning cruise rates we’re seeing for 2021. If you like any of these 2021 repositioning cruise deals, it’ll likely prove to be a good bet to lock in these low prices now!

RC JewelMar-22-2021GalvestonBarcelona$35
RC VisionApr-19-2021Ft LaudBarcelona$46
NCL PearlApr-05-2021MiamiRome$48
RC RhapsodyApr-10-2021TampaRome$49
RC HarmonyApr-04-2021CanaveralBarcelona$51
NCL EscapeApr-16-2021NYCLondon$55
NCL StarApr-16-2021NYCLondon$58

2021 Fall Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise Deals: Europe to US

NCL PearlDec-07-2021RomeMiami$42
RC RhapsodyNov-30-2021BarcelonaTampa$49
RC VisionOct-30-2021Barcelona Ft Laud$50
Carnival LegendOct-31-2021BarcelonaBaltimore$50
NCL EpicNov-20-2021RomeNYC$52
RC JewelOct-27-2021BarcelonaMiami$55
NCL EscapeNov-02-2021RomeNYC$57
RC HarmonyOct-31-2021BarcelonaCanaveral$58
NCL GetawayDec-05-2021RomeMiami

This post first appeared on Roaming Around The World - Travel Blog With Tales, please read the originial post: here

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How to Find the Best Repositioning Cruise Deals: Under $50 / Day!


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