What is a Repositioning Cruise?


A Repositioning Cruise is a one-off sea/ocean voyage that cruise passenger ships make when transferring from one region to another. Usually, this is done in the spring and the autumn, often each year. 

Usually these cruises will be heavily discounted and uncrowded with lots of lazy leisure days to enjoy the facilities onboard the ship plus the tranquillity of the sea.  Generally repositioning cruises are the preferable option for frequent travellers to enjoy a truly special and most affordable sea cruising experience.

These special relocation cruises always feature a one-way itinerary connecting different embarkation and disembarkation ports – since cruise ships relatively often change their sailing areas due to economic reasons. Another most prominent feature of all these repositioning cruises is the bargain price – they all are really really cheap in comparison to the ship’s regular cruise rates.

Other names for repositioning cruise deals include Relocation Cruises or One-Way, and and Transatlantic.

Repositioning Cruises

When considering a Repositioning Cruise remember that it’s all about long and exciting voyages normally crossing the world’s biggest oceans. You’ll be most probably sailing coast to coast, often from one sea to another. It’s about comfort and impeccable service on some of the world’s best cruise liners. It’s about all the fun you can get on up to 3-weeks transitions visiting different continents, changing cold with warm climates. It’s about big-size swimming pool and Jacuzzi experiences, gourmet cuisine, bingo and casino thrills, onboard duty-free shopping. Some ships even offer rock climbing, surfing, hovering and ice-skating at sea.


Why Take a Reposition Cruise?

  • It’s a longer, often Transoceanic voyage.
  • The itinerary has only a few ports of call. Destinations are from the “special and exotic” category, featuring Africa, South America, Transatlantic and Transpacific, US East Coast and Caribbean, often Asia and Australia.
  • Experiences on bigger passenger ships, with a lot more sea days than on a normal voyage.
  • Irresistibly cheap rates – most affordable to cheap cruise rates on both mainstream and top luxury ships when they relocate in the spring and autumn each year.
  • These are all low-season discounted deals on alluringly low priced cruises.


  • Passenger ships sailing during the hot summer in Alaska relocate in autumn to the Caribbean Sea region through Panama Canal, or to Hawaii and then to Australia or Asia for their winter seasons.
  • Ships from Northern Europe sail to the Mediterranean Sea or cross the Atlantic Ocean to operate round-trip itineraries leaving from USA ports (Florida and New York mostly) or to Caribbean for round-trips from Barbados or Puerto Rico.
  • Ships move from South America to Florida (for Caribbean) or Transatlantic to Europe (Baltic or Mediterranean) in early spring.
  • Another exotic destination is Africa. Search for ships sailing along the Africa’s east coast. In autumn they will be departing from UK (Southampton, mostly) to Cape Town or Mombasa. In spring they will return (usually departing from Cape Town South Africa) to UK or the Mediterranean.


  • They are cheap! The lower to absolutely cheapest price is the most important factor for the popularity of these special deals. The average cost of a repositioning cruise is up to 50 percent less compared to a typical round-trip sailing from the same port. And the best index is the “Price per Person per Day” – it could be as low as £26.
  • All relocation cruises offer a full set of entertainment and dining options on-board – they are just like the regular cruises. This is the perfect chance to sample all the facilities on-board since you are going to spend so much time at sea. There are even more on-board activities while ships reposition! The list is endless including guest lecturers, top comedians and numerous specially themed activities and games to entertain guests.
  • And yes – the repositioning cruise ships are almost always not crowded.


  • Too much time aboard the ship instead of visiting different ports of call (sea intensive as opposed to port intensive). Some find it pretty boring.
  • Embarkation and disembarkation not in the same port and so can increase the expenses as to additional travel expenses can be incurred such as flight fares.
  • Spending a lot of time aboard the ship might tempt you to enjoy more “money spending fun” by splurging on bar drinks and gambling in the casino.
  • The duration of relocation cruises – some last up to 18 days, and most people cannot afford so much time off work.
  • You may experience the occasional bumpy ride due to rough waters (especially on smaller ships), and often choppy weather as your ship transits from one part of the globe to another. The changing weather can be an issue, and may have an impact on your cruise packing list.

What Time of Year are the Cheapest Repositioning Cruises?

Quantum of the Seas aerial view.
Most of them are operated in spring and autumn. Some exceptions are a few ship relocation itineraries in the end of August, and some very rare, very late re-position sailings in December, January or February. The best and most busy months with readily availability and cheap relocation cruise deals are April-May, and September-October.

What Are the Best Repositioning Cruises?

The biggest lines who offer reposition sailings are Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, and NCL Norwegian Cruise Lines.  All these company decisions are made with economic considerations in mind. Lines do cruise ships repositioning to improve profits by departing from different ports or to more attractive destinations.

Some of these lines relocate ships each year crossing the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and USA (Florida, New York, Boston) or South America (Brazil, Argentina). Some reposition ships between Alaska and Australia, or between Alaska and Florida ports via Panama Canal transits. Some lines offer transiting through the Suez Canal on cruise ships repositioning between Europe and Asia. So what you have to do is choose a destination and departure port.

Generally, luxury cruise deals offer smaller ship cruise travel marked by sophisticated, all inclusive, superb service experiences. The list of top luxury lines includes Azamara Cruises, Crystal, Seabourn and Oceania. The more affordable luxury options are on Cunard, Celebrity, Princess and Holland America lines. If you simply want to remain on a budget then you can save so much money by booking your cruise with Cruise1st we believe we have the best selection of repositioning cruises on the market.

Cruise1st’s Pick of the Best Repositioning Cruises

One of Cruise1st’s specialities is taking a repositioning cruise and repackaging it with flights, land stays and tours or excursions making it a truly bespoke cruise holiday experience. See below for a full selection of some of our unique itineraries, which are so much more interesting than just a repositioning cruise enjoying days at sea.

Just click on any of the links below for full details…

If you’d like to find out more or book any of these cruises, call 0808 2746 777.

Images via Royal Caribbean Press Center and Norwegian Cruise Line


About Author

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.


  1. michael on

    Hi, if I take a long repositioning cruise, are there any drinks packages as this is a big expense.thanks

    • Nadia Latif on

      Hi Michael! We do offer drinks packages on specific cruises. If you give us a ring on 0800 230 0655, one of our advisers will be able to talk you through what deals we have on at the moment, and find the right cruise holiday for you.