By Mike Coleman
The cruise industry has a secret. Seasoned travelers on the high seas have known about it for years, but today, the secret’s out.
The “repositioning” cruise, a favorite of educated passengers for years, is slowly but surely becoming a popular voyage option for the masses.
Cruise lines will soon be repositioning their ships from one seasonal destination to another. From European waters to the warmer climates of the Caribbean, from Alaska to Hawaii, the West Coast or Caribbean, and from the Canada/New England region to the Caribbean, these special one-way voyages are offered but once or twice a year.
“The majority of vacationers know very little about repositioning cruises, or for that matter, what they really are,” said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the marketing arm for 19 of the world’s leading cruise lines.
“The itineraries offer guests a tremendous opportunity to experience unusual journeys that normally feature more leisurely days at sea and out-of-the way ports of call. Even better, in most cases, repositioning voyages offer travelers significant value compared with standard itineraries.”
Long days at sea won’t be boring, unless it’s solitude that you’re after. Quiet spaces abound on many ships but one can also enjoy enhanced onboard activities, including distinguished guest lecturers from the arts, sciences, politics and journalism. Itineraries may also feature culinary and wine appreciation seminars, computer classes or other enrichment programming.
While the CLIA umbrella features more than 150 ships for all ages and budgets, it’s the repositioning plans of the luxury and premium cruise lines which caught my attention.
Crystal’s Crystal Serenity celebrates the centennial of the Tommy Dorsey band, led by Buddy Morrow, on a November transatlantic cruise from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale. Crystal Symphony’s September transatlantic sailing from London to New York is dubbed a Film Festival/Distinguished Speakers Series cruise while its October sailing from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale will include lecturers from the Smithsonian and U.S. News & World Report.
In October, Holland America’s Westerdam sails from Civitavecchia to Fort Lauderdale on a 15-day crossing. In November, Prinsendam sails a 15-day itinerary from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale and Rotterdam operates a 17-day Lisbon to Rio cruise. Three fall Panama Canal sailings aboard Veendam, Volendam and Zaandam reposition the ships from Vancouver to Caribbean waters. Three Pacific Coast itineraries operate between Vancouver and San Diego.
Oceania Cruises’ Regatta sails on a 10-day Lisbon to Miami sailing Nov. 17 and Insignia on a 12-day Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro voyage Nov. 27. A highlight of Regatta’s repositioning cruise is a visit to Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Sister ship Insignia will make a call at Las Palmas, Canary Islands. The voyages will include an emphasis on wine. Tastings and wine appreciation classes will be offered.
Radisson’s Seven Seas Voyager sails on an eight-night crossing Nov. 13 from Madeira to Fort Lauderdale. En route to Fort Lauderdale, guests will be able to dance to the music of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra with Christopher Riddle conducting from the bandstand. A series of cooking classes, operated by famed Le Cordon Blue chefs, is available at an additional fee.
Guests on Seabourn’s Seabourn Pride can enjoy the line’s repositioning from New York to Nassau, Oct. 16, featuring Seabourn’s third annual Great American Food & Wine Festival. Seabourn Legend sails from Tenerife to Fort Lauderdale Nov. 9. Seabourn Spirit positions from Egypt to Asia on Oct. 23.
Silversea’s Silver Cloud sails in October on a 14-day itinerary from Lisbon to Barbados. Silver Wind departs in November on a 17-day “Passage to the Seychelles” adventure from Port Said, Egypt, to the Seychelles via the Red Sea and Suez Canal, calling at ports in Egypt, Jordan, Eritrea and Djibouti. Silver Whisper, meanwhile, has just returned to North America, having completed a 12-day voyage from London to Boston.