Finding a repositioning cruise (or “repo cruise” or “transitional cruise”) is harder than you might imagine (if you have ever even imagined finding repositioning cruises at all – they are often overlooked). Why exactly it is difficult to find a repositioning cruise is a bit strange – they are basically a win-win for cruise lines and passengers alike – but the world doesn’t always make sense. What matters is that they are a little hard to track down, so we’ve decided to outline exactly how to find a repositioning cruise below.
First, we should point out that we’ve been rather aggressively covering repositioning cruises lately, so we have a lot of good information on this site about them if you need to get caught up. If you have no idea what a repositioning cruise is, check out our article Repositioning Cruises: The Basics, and if you like the concept of these cruises and think you might want to take one, you should look at the cruise lines that offer repositioning cruises and also confirm that you are the type of person who can take a repositioning cruise. You’ll also want to look into the precise types of discounts and deals you can get with a repositioning cruise. If reading all of this convinces you that you want to take a repositioning cruise, continue to read this article, and then move on to the final stage, booking a repositioning cruise. (There is some inevitable overlap between these articles, but they all explore different angels that demand separate treatment.)
The first reason repositioning cruises can be hard to track down is that they are often not explicitly billed as “repositioning cruises.” The fact that they are also called “repo cruises” and “transitional cruises” isn’t really a problem because searching for any of these terms will bring up the same information. Rather, the problem resides in the fact if you are booking a cruise through a deal website (e.g., CruiseDeals.com) or through a cruise line website (e.g., Carnival’s), there is rarely an option to search for “repositioning cruises.” Along with the standard cruise destinations, you’ll only find options for transatlantic or transpacific cruises, which may or may not be repositioning cruises, and in any case these two options don’t exhaust the range of repositioning cruises that are available. This isn’t to say that the websites have no listing of whatever repositioning cruises they offer, but only that you can’t search for them in a straightforward way by using the “search for a cruise” tools on the site.
Why is this the case? In truth, we aren’t entirely sure, and as we said above, we think it is strange that it isn’t easier to find repositioning cruises. Passengers like them because they are relatively cheap, and cruise lines like them because they allow them to fill ships with paying customers when they are simply relocating vessels to another region of the globe. One possible reason that they are a little harder to find is that there aren’t that many of them in any given year. Generally, a ship only needs to move twice a year, so even a big cruise line might only have a dozen repositioning cruises a year. This theory is supported by the fact that the one major cruise line we’ve been able to find that makes it easy to locate repositioning cruises is Norwegian, which happens to offer a disproportionate number of these cruise per year. (They actually offer far more than Carnival, despite the fact that the latter is a much bigger cruise line.)
Given that you largely can’t search for repositioning cruises through cruise line websites or deal sites, how can you find them? First, there are a few sites out there that are specifically dedicated to repositioning cruises. A helpful one that we make reference to in our article about booking repositioning cruises is RepositioningCruise.com, on which you can find hundreds of different vacation possibilities. Another good strategy is to simply work search engines for repositioning cruises that match your criteria. For example, if you are looking for a repositioning cruise with Disney, just search for “repositioning cruise Disney,” or something like that, and you’ll find what you are looking for.
And so, as you can see, finding a repositioning cruise is not really difficult per se. The process can be like booking any sort of highly specific cruise, but you have to know what to expect going into the search. In particular, you have to realize that the process of booking a repositioning cruise isn’t always straightforward if you like to use deal sites or cruise line sites, and that as a consequence you might have to alter the way you normally find cruises.