Whether you're a seasoned traveler looking to visit new ports of call or a cruise novice interested in an unbelievable deal, a repositioning cruise will give you a unique opportunity to embark on an out-of-the-ordinary journey to see multiple destinations and sometimes different continents of the world. The most common itineraries feature sailings from Alaska to Hawaii or transatlantic voyages from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean in the fall, or the reverse in the spring, although there is an endless combination of itineraries periodically offered throughout the year as ships move from region to region around the globe.
Spend days relaxing onboard resort-style ships as you cruise to or from seasonal cruise regions like Bermuda, Alaska, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Panama Canal, Hawaii and Asia, stopping to explore interesting ports along the way. The most popular time to take a repositioning cruise is usually during the spring or fall when ships are repositioning to their summer and winter destinations.
All cruises now require proof of citizenship. On some itineraries, a certified copy of your birth certificate and a driver's license or government-issued photo I.D. are sufficient, on others a passport is required. Itineraries with multiple stops may require travel visas to disembark; before traveling, go to the country-specific Web pages on the U.S. State Department Web site, www.state.gov, to research required documents. It’s also a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport, driver’s license, tourist visa and any other documents you may need in case you lose the originals.
All children, including infants and newborns, must have their own passport. Some countries may require other documentation as well. Again, refer to the State Department Web site for specifics.
Check to see if your ship provides childcare. Most ships will provide activities structured around sports, arts and crafts and games for children and teens. Again, check with your cruise line to get detailed activities and programs. Cruise lines that tend to be popular with families and offer extensive youth facilities and activities include Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, MSC, Norwegian, P&O, Princess and Royal Caribbean.
Repositioning cruises are one-way vacations, so you will need to make travel arrangements to meet the cruise ship at the port or to return home. To be safe, consider arriving at your departure port one or two days in advance of embarkation; you’ll also want to give yourself some wiggle room when booking a flight home. Give yourself an extra day to relax -- and budget some time for airport delays and other emergencies -- before boarding your ship or plane. Consult your Vacations To Go travel counselor for pre- and post-cruise flight arrangements and hotel packages.
The advantage of most repositioning cruises is that there are no restrictions on luggage. However, airlines do have certain restrictions, so check to see if your baggage will add to the cost of your trip.
When packing for a repositioning cruise, think in terms of layers. For example, you'll need warmer clothing if heading east and northeast to Europe. Going west and southwest, you'll want to lighten up as you cruise in the direction of balmier weather, such as the Caribbean. Don’t forget a pair of good walking shoes and a windbreaker for shore excursions.
Be sure to include a few dressy outfits for the evenings, as most repositioning cruises host elegant dinners. (The longer, more expensive cruises take "formal night" to extremes. Tuxedos are suggested, but even the most exclusive ships will accept a dark suit and tie unless you’re invited to dine with the ship’s captain.) Generally, the mood on board a repositioning cruise is country club casual. Dressy shorts, slacks, jeans and other casual attire is the norm throughout the day. Swimsuits, sarongs, tanks, trunks and workout clothes are reserved for the ship’s deck, gym and pool.
Some cruise lines will automatically charge a gratuity to your onboard account. (Carnival, for example, will bill $10 per day, per passenger. Celebrity also automatically charges a gratuity, ranging from $11.50 to $15, depending on accommodations.) And don’t forget off-ship gratuities -- tipping is customary in most destinations visited by repositioning cruises, so please reward outstanding taxi drivers, waiters and other service staff during port calls.
Some cruise lines have an ATM onboard, usually near the casino. ATM fees range from $5 to $7 in addition to bank fees. You can also cash a personal check at the purser’s office. Check on limits and requirements. Traveler’s checks may also be cashed at the purser’s office.
Currencies vary depending on your port of call, but credit cards are widely accepted onboard and in many destinations worldwide. However, many ships will set up currency exchange facilities before docking so you can change small amounts of money prior to departing for your shore excursions. Once on land, you can also go to a nearby town, which likely will have ATM facilities.
Direct-dial phones are available onboard. You can send and receive emails and faxes from the ship’s Internet café. Wireless Internet usually is available either in public areas or your stateroom. Charges will be billed to your onboard account. As for cell phones, you can make and receive calls onboard if your wireless provider has a roaming agreement with the cruise line.
Yes, you can, even though hair dryers will be provided onboard. Depending on your location, outlets can be either 110 or 220 volts. Converters and adapters come in handy for international visitors.