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Cruise Guide: ‘Repo’ cruises gaining in popularity

By Mike Coleman

Ocean crossings or leisurely one-way voyages between continents, with few if any port of calls, are becoming increasingly popular cruise vacation experiences. Such trips, known as repositioning cruises, harken back to a bygone era when plenty of onboard time added to the mystique and romance of a high-seas adventure.

No fewer than 15 major players, each a member of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), will soon move their fleets from summer seasons in Europe, Alaska and Canada to winter itineraries in the Caribbean, Mexico and elsewhere. In fact, 50 ships, ranging in size from intimately small to mega-liners, will be offering fall transatlantic or Pacific ocean voyages this year.

One of the world’s most popular cruise lines, Princess, might be the busiest. Look for Emerald Princess to sail on a 17-day, 8-port cruise, departing Venice on October 8 to Fort Lauderdale. Sea Princess leaves London on October 13, for a 14-day crossing to Barbados. Royal Princess sets off from Rome November 28 for Fort Lauderdale, on a 24-day cruise, and Star Princess offers a 17-day, 9-port sailing between Rome and Fort Lauderdale, embarking December 3.

On the West Coast, the line offers a series of two- to six-day voyages on the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Golden Princess and Coral Princess, from Vancouver to San Francisco or Los Angeles, between September 15 and September 24. Pacific Princess will make a nine-day cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu, departing September 12, and Sapphire Princess sails from Anchorage on September 15, arriving in Beijing 15 days later.

Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean will also be moving its fleet on one-of-a-kind sailings. Jewel of the Seas leaves Southampton October 30, on a 12-night trip to Fort Lauderdale. Brilliance of the Seas sails December 2, for Miami from Barcelona. Splendour of the Seas heads southwest from Lisbon on December 4, arriving in Santos, Brazil 14-nights later.

Voyager of the Seas heads west from Barcelona on December 8, on a 15-night voyage to Galveston. Heading south from Alaska in September are the Radiance of The Seas, on a 14-night cruise departing from Vancouver September 14 to Los Angeles; Vision of The Seas – nine nights from Vancouver to Los Angeles, departing September 21; and Serenade of The Seas, sailing from Vancouver on September 22, on a 13-night voyage to San Diego.

The luxury lines, too, will be repositioning respective fleets. After a summer season in Alaska, look for Regent Seven Seas Mariner to head west across the North Pacific. Departing from Seward on September 12, the ship’s 13-night itinerary includes Kodiak, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Hakodate, Sendai and Yokohama, before ending the cruise in Osaka, Japan. The voyage features six days at sea.

On Oct. 2, Silversea’s Silver Shadow slips out of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands for a 15-day transatlantic repositioning to Bridgetown, Barbados. Travelers wishing a little longer voyage are able to join the ship in Lisbon on Sept. 23 for the nine-day crossing to the Canary Islands, with stops in Spain, Morocco and Madeira.

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