For cruisers, fall and spring mean more than just transitioning wardrobes. These seasons are the prime times of year for repositioning cruises.
Though some ships spend 365 days sailing the same itineraries or sticking to the same regions, many relocate a few times a year -- depending on the season -- from Europe to the Caribbean, or Asia or Australia to Alaska, for example. Cruise lines sell these one-way routes (usually at a discount), rather than sail the ships without passengers. These voyages, known as repositioning cruises, are sometimes enhanced with enrichment options, such as guest lecturers.
Intrigued? Learn more about why you should take a repositioning cruise, and continue reading below for details on several of our favorite repositioning cruises for 2018 and 2019.
Editor's Note: Remember that these are just a few of the many repositioning cruises available. Contact your favorite cruise line or travel agent for more options.
The Trip: 14-night transatlantic crossing from Bergen to Montreal, departs September 4, 2018 (Viking Sea) or September 22, 2018 (Viking Star) and visits Lerwick (Shetland Islands), Torshavn (Faroe Islands), Reykjavik (Iceland), Nanortalik (Greenland), Qaqortoq (Greenland), L'Anse aux Meadows (Canada), Saguenay (Canada), Quebec City (Canada)
The Perks: Viking has managed to transform the oftentimes uninventive transatlantic repositioning sailing into a fascinating itinerary all its own. Dubbed "In the Wake of the Vikings," this itinerary traces the Viking route of Leif Eriksson, who's credited with "discovering" America some 500 years before Columbus. The two sailings kick off with an overnight stay in the historic maritime city of Bergen, Norway, before setting off to the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Cruisers then arrive in Newfoundland, Canada, where they can visit the ancient Norse settlements at L'Anse aux Meadows, before continuing on through Canada's Quebec province at Saguenay, Quebec City and, finally, Montreal.
Who Should Go: If you love the idea of a transatlantic crossing, but aren't keen on too many sea days, this one's for you, with only four days of the 14-night itineraries spent at sea. History buffs will revel in the rare firsthand insights into the little-told story of Eriksson's early arrival upon American shores, while adventurers will appreciate the far-flung nature of the ports of call in Greenland, the Faroe Islands and beyond.
The Trip: 14-night Panama Canal sailing from San Diego to Galveston, departs October 19, 2018, and visits Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Cartagena (Colombia), Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands), Cozumel (Mexico)
The Perks: Make way from Cali to Texas by sea on this two-week fall repositioning cruise that traverses the Panama Canal. The itinerary includes plenty of beach-friendly stops along the way in Mexico (with three calls, in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel), Colombia (Cartagena) and the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman). Plus, there are seven days at sea to enjoy Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder, which features a southern cooking/live jazz eatery, an English pub and the kid-friendly Marvel Super Hero Academy, as well as a Disney's Oceaneer Club for children.
Who Should Go: Halloween fans will especially enjoy this festive sailing, which coincides with the holiday on October 31, and boasts Disney's "Halloween on the High Seas" theme, touting special decorations, treats and shows like Mickey's Mouse-querade Party and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream.
The Trip: Six-night Eastern Caribbean sailing from Bayonne, New Jersey, to San Juan, departs October 21, 2018 and visits St. Maarten and St. Thomas
The Perks: Celebrity Summit repositions from its summer of sailing to Bermuda from Bayonne -- and an early fall stint on the New England/Canada circuit -- on down to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for its winter Caribbean season. Hop aboard as it transitions there in October, stopping off at Philipsburg, on the Dutch side of Dutch/French isle St. Maarten, and at Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, known for its excellent duty-free shopping. Before arriving in the Caribbean, though, you'll have three full days at sea to make the most of the ship, including its rooftop terrace, where you can sip cocktails, nosh and watch movies under the stars.
Who Should Go: Those looking to score an early-season Caribbean sailing at a bargain rate, to boot. Plus, if you're local to the Bayonne area, you'll likely save some cash as compared to a Caribbean jaunt by air-and-land, since you'll only need to book a one-way ticket back home from San Juan post-cruise.
The Trip: 14-night Atlantic coastal sailing from Montreal to Miami, departs October 28, 2018, and visits Quebec City (Canada), Sydney (Canada), Halifax (Canada), St. John (Canada), Bar Harbor (Maine), Boston, Newport (Rhode Island), New York City, Charleston, Port Canaveral
The Perks: As Seven Seas Navigator repositions from a schedule of fall foliage sailings in Canada and New England on to its winter home exploring the Caribbean, cruisers are granted a rare sweep of the diverse Atlantic coastline, reaching from Montreal all the way south to Miami. Start off in the heart of fall leaf-peeping season while taking in five Canadian ports in the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, before dipping into New England with stops in Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport. The sailing also gets you a perfect autumn-in-New-York overnight stay in the Big Apple, before heading down South with a call in Charleston before stopping at Port Canaveral (gateway to Orlando's theme parks) and, ultimately, Miami. Bonus: Regent Seven Seas' fares for this sailing include up to 74 free shore excursions to help you make the most of it.
Who Should Go: This is an excellent opportunity to travel the expanse of the North American Atlantic coast with minimal effort, packing in an opportunity to take in prime fall foliage destinations, NYC immersion and Floridian beaches, in just two weeks.
The Trip: 20-night transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to Santos (Brazil), departs November 20, 2018, and visits Savona (Italy), Marseille (France), Malaga (Spain), Casablanca (Morocco), Funchal (Madeira), St. Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands), Recife (Brazil), Maceio (Brazil), Salvador Bahia (Brazil), Ilheus (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
The Perks: Not all transatlantic sailings start or end in the U.S. For something more unique, consider this Barcelona to Brazil voyage on Costa Cruises that incorporates a good mix of Mediterranean and Brazilian ports, along with a stop in storied Casablanca, Morocco. After a few days of port-hopping in the Mediterranean (with calls in spots like Marseille and Malaga), you'll make way for Casablanca and Atlantic isles at Madeira and the Canary Islands, before crossing the Atlantic, where you'll hit six cities along coastal Brazil. There are eight sea days, too, allotting ample time to take in Costa Favolosa's many diversions, including the bi-level Samsara Spa, five restaurants, 13 bars and a 4D cinema.
Who Should Go: Those with the time to spare for this lengthier trip will enjoy a quartet of varied vacation destinations in an all-in-one voyage, combining classic Mediterranean ports, romantic Casablanca, far-flung Atlantic isles and several coastal Brazilian cities. However, be prepared for the extra cost of multi-destination international airfare on this continent-hopping itinerary.
The Trip: 16-night cruise from Santiago to Los Angeles, departs March 7, 2019, and visits Santiago (Chile), La Serena (Chile), Pisco (Peru), Lima (Peru), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)
The Perks: This wide-sweeping sailing with Princess Cruises explores the coasts of South America, Central America and Mexico as the ship sails north from Chile to the U.S. Eight sea days will allow you to take full advantage of the ship's many offerings, while an overnight call in Lima permits a more comprehensive experience in this lively Peruvian capital. Onboard Royal Princess, you'll find plenty to do like dining at multiple venues (with main dining room dishes designed by Chef Curtis Stone), watching Movies Under the Stars or walking across the glass-floored SeaWalk attraction.
Who Should Go: This is a great pick for adventurous cruisers who want to experience a variety of cultures and destinations. Keep in mind that an international one-way flight to Santiago could be pricy, but it might be worth the cost if you're seeking a longer, far-flung cruise that visits a wide assortment of Latin American destinations.
The Trip: 10-night Hawaii cruise from Honolulu to Vancouver, departs April 19, 2019, and visits Kauai, Hilo, Kona, Maui
The Perks: Come along for part of the ride as Carnival Legend makes its way from serving the Australian market (out of Sydney and Melbourne) for the winter season to its Vancouver base for a summer season of sailing Alaska. You'll get to explore five Hawaiian Islands -- for which you only have to unpack once -- before settling in for a spate of sea days. Legend comes outfitted with all the typical "Fun Ship" accoutrements: a Caribbean-styled pub, piano bar, comedy club, water slides and the Serenity adults-only relaxation area.
Who Should Go: If you want to explore multiple Hawaiian Islands, taking a cruise is a great way to avoid having to plan your own itinerary with multiple flights and hotel rooms. But keep in mind: You must love sea days, as this sailing features five in a row.
The Trip: 14-night transatlantic cruise with Canary Islands from Tampa to Barcelona, departs April 27, 2019, and visits Key West, La Palma (Canary Islands), Tenerife (Canary Islands), Malaga (Spain)
The Perks: This transatlantic sailing from Florida to the Mediterranean includes two stops in the Canary Islands and a large number of sea days as the ship sails the Atlantic. Rhapsody of the Seas is a great place to be if you're spending more than a week crossing the ocean. At-sea activities include outdoor movies, dance classes, cooking demonstrations, rock climbing, game shows and wine-tasting.
Who Should Go: This cruise is suited to travelers who thoroughly enjoy sea days, as the itinerary features nine full days at sea, including seven days in a row. And since it sails from one continent to another, it calls for passengers willing to pony up for open-jaw international airfare.
The Trip: 14-night transpacific cruise from Yokohama (Tokyo) to Vancouver, departs April 28, 2019, and visits Muroran (Japan), Kushiro (Japan), Kodiak (Alaska), Icy Strait Point (Alaska), Ketchikan (Alaska)
The Perks: Tons of repositioning itineraries make transatlantic runs, but it's rarer to come across an interesting transpacific offering. Enter Holland America's spring crossing on Westerdam, which stitches together an itinerary between Japan and Canada's British Columbia, as the ship repositions from Asia for its Alaska summer cruising season. You'll get to explore a trio of Japanese ports, as well as three destinations in Alaska, before the sailing winds down in Vancouver. While a considerable portion of the cruise is spent at sea (eight days precisely), one of those offers guided scenic cruising through Alaska's Inside Passage. That leaves plenty of time to explore Westerdam, which comes outfitted with three live music venues (B.B. King's Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Online), America's Test Kitchen, The Retreat area with private cabanas and a Rijksmuseum at Sea, featuring reproductions of some of the famed Amsterdam museum's masterpieces.
Who Should Go: Cruisers interested in combining the rich culture of Japan with the wilderness of Alaska can do so via one seamless itinerary. Just keep in mind that a one-way flight to Tokyo for embarkation will surely rack up total trip expenses.
The Trip: 18-night Panama Canal crossing from Miami to San Francisco, departs May 1, 2019, and visits Havana (Cuba), Colon (Panama), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala), Acapulco (Mexico), Mazatlan (Mexico), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), San Diego
The Perks: This port-intensive repositioning sailing between two happening U.S. cities -- Miami and San Francisco -- brings passengers to ports brimming with Latin American flavor, along with San Diego, on nine out of its 19 days of sailing. As Oceania's Regatta repositions from the Caribbean to Alaska, explore lesser-visited locales like UNESCO-protected Old Havana and volcano- and lake-coated San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. Plus, transit the Panama Canal and take in a smattering of Pacific Coast Mexico favorites like Acapulco and Cabo. Onboard, Regatta is noted for its gourmet dining options, touting several specialty restaurants that are included in the rates.
Who Should Go: This trip not only gets cruisers a bucket-list Panama Canal crossing but incorporates a good balance of days at sea with days in port, while taking in a mix of both popular and lesser-known Latin American ports. Best of all, there's no need to buy pricy international airfare, since the voyage starts and ends on U.S. shores.
The Trip: 12-night cruise from Reykjavik to Montreal, departs September 5, 2019, and visits Saint-Pierre (Saint Pierre and Miquelon) and the following Canadian ports: St. John's, Corner Brook, Havre St. Pierre, Sept-Iles, Saguenay, Quebec City
The Perks: As Silver Wind passes through the North Atlantic en route for a series of autumnal Canada and New England voyages, this unique itinerary brings cruisers from Reykjavik to Montreal. Along the way, travelers get to explore some lesser-visited Canadian ports, as well as make a pit stop in France -- at least at the French overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon that is. Two days at sea -- including one cruising Canada's Saguenay River -- afford time to enjoy Silversea signatures aboard the intimate yacht-like Silver Wind, including complimentary cocktails, personal butler service and all-suite accommodations.
Who Should Go: Cruisers looking to combine a visit to Iceland with more off-the-beaten-path Canadian ports will appreciate this rare itinerary. Just be sure to factor in the cost of one-way international flights to Reykjavik and back again from Montreal.
The Trip: 18-night transpacific cruise from Honolulu to Sydney, departs September 20, 2019, and visits Tahiti (French Polynesia), Moorea (French Polynesia), Bora Bora (French Polynesia), Wellington (New Zealand), Picton (New Zealand)
The Perks: You'll start in Honolulu before journeying to a handful of breezy South Pacific islands. Love snorkeling and roaming pristine beaches? This cruise goes to a trio of French Polynesian destinations in Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. Then it's off to New Zealand, with stops in its hip little capital at Wellington and lesser-visited seaside town of Picton, before winding down in Sydney. And Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas offers plenty to do during the many sea days on this itinerary, from mini-golf and mystery dinner theater to a sports court and outdoor movies.
Who Should Go: Beach aficionados who really like sea days -- this sailing has 13 days at sea.
The Trip: 19-night transatlantic cruise from Copenhagen to New Orleans, embarks October 20, 2019, and visits Rotterdam (Netherlands), Southampton (England), Le Havre (France), Portland (England), Cork (Ireland), Ponta Delgada (Azores), Royal Navy Dockyard (Bermuda), Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas), Miami
The Perks: The itinerary includes an exciting combination of European and island locales, including stops offering access to major European capitals (like Le Havre for Paris or Southampton for London), as well the wind-swept Azores, before passing through Bermuda and the Bahamas en route to Miami, and, ultimately, New Orleans. A total of nine sea days will give you plenty of time to try the abundant mix of entertainment and dining options onboard this humongous cruise ship. Getaway has 28 dining spots, an open-air promenade, a large sports complex, five water slides and even a Broadway musical show.
Who Should Go: Cruisers who love big cities -- and big ships. Find urban adventures in Copenhagen, Paris, London, Miami and more, while the cruise itself lets you fully experience everything a 21st-century floating skyscraper has to offer without feeling rushed or like you'll run out of time to do it all.
The Trip: 14-night Caribbean cruise from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale, departs October 25, 2019, and visits Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Curacao, Barbados, Guadeloupe, St. Barts, Turks & Caicos
The Perks: As Crystal Symphony repositions from a season of Alaska sailings to offer a series of fall/winter Caribbean voyages out of Florida, cruisers can partake in an interesting itinerary out of New Orleans along the way, which kicks off with a full day of cruising along the Mississippi River. Then it's off for a robust Caribbean itinerary that includes stops at seven sun-kissed isles, though nearly half of the cruise is spent at sea aboard the revamped ship, a perfect opportunity to sample the Umi Uma eatery by Nobu Matsuhisa, as well as Crystal Cruises' signature enrichment programming, including art and iPad moviemaking classes and guest speakers, as well as active onboard diversions like Nordic walking and golf instruction.
Who Should Go: This cruise is the perfect Caribbean getaway for passengers looking for a tropical getaway bookended by two lively U.S. cities. It's also long enough in duration to propose the perfect balance of both port visits and at-sea relaxation.
The Trip: 13-night Caribbean cruise from NYC to Miami, departs October 28, 2019, and visits St. Maarten, Martinique, Barbados, Grenada, Curacao, Aruba, Bahamas
The Perks: Get ready to explore the southern reaches of the Caribbean. MSC Cruises is moving its MSC Meraviglia to the U.S. for the first time, where it will homeport in Miami for a full season of Caribbean sailings come fall 2019. En route from Europe, however, it first touches base in NYC, before heading south to Miami on a Caribbean-rich itinerary that takes in seven tropical isles, including the line's private Bahamian island reserve at Ocean Cay. There will also be five full days at sea, ample time to take in the modern ship's impressive offerings, including two ship-exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, an Eataly restaurant, LEGO-designed kids' areas and a polar-themed water park touting four water slides.
Who Should Go: East Coast folks, especially cruisers who want to experience more far-flung Southern Caribbean ports. This sailing is a particularly good opportunity for New York-area residents to cruise way south -- all you need to get home is a one-way domestic flight from Miami.