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 Alaska to Mexico, 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.
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: Santiago (Chile) to Los Angeles, 16-night South America, Central America and Mexico cruise
Departs: March 14, 2018
Itinerary: Santiago (Chile), La Serena (Chile), Pisco (Peru), Lima (Peru), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Los Angeles
The Perks: This wide-sweeping sailing with Princess Cruises explores the coast 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 Emerald Princess, you'll find plenty to do from dining at multiple venues (including SHARE by Curtis Stone), watching Movies Under the Stars and participating in an array of onboard activities.
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: London (Southampton) to New York, 12-night transatlantic sailing
Departs: April 21, 2018
Itinerary: Southampton (England), Ponta Delgada (Azores), Halifax (Nova Scotia), New York
The Perks: Set sail aboard Norwegian's newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, on its very first voyage this spring. This inaugural sailing will take the ship from Southampton, England (gateway to London), and on to New York, as it ultimately makes its way to Seattle for its summer Alaska sailing season. A sea-day intensive itinerary, featuring nine days at sea, offers plenty of time to uncover the sparkling new ship's amenities, including a 180-degree observation lounge, and entertainment options that include a prohibition-themed musical and a Tony Award-winning production of "Jersey Boys." Plus, break for a couple of stops en route, including a call at Ponta Delgada in the Azores, known for its rugged volcanic landscapes, and at Halifax, the maritime-flavored capital of Nova Scotia.
Who Should Go: Norwegian loyalists who wish to be among the very first to sample the line's third Breakaway Plus-class vessel, which will be a sister ship to the line's popular Norwegian Escape and Asian-based Norwegian Joy.
The Trip: Yokohama (Tokyo) to Vancouver, 14-night transpacific cruise with Japan and Alaska
Departs: April 25, 2018
Itinerary: Yokohama (Tokyo), Hakodate (Japan), Kushiro (Japan), Kodiak (Alaska), Ketchikan (Alaska), Vancouver
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 Volendam, 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 two destinations in Alaska, before the sailing winds down in Vancouver. While a considerable portion of the cruise is spent at sea (nine days precisely), at least two of those offer guided scenic cruising through Alaska's Glacier Bay and Inside Passage. That leaves plenty of time to explore Volendam, which will be fresh from a dry-dock refurbishment as of fall 2017, and outfitted with new a line of Explorations Central "EXC" locally immersive programming as manifested through both shore excursions and onboard port and enrichment talks.
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: Tampa to Barcelona, 14-night transatlantic cruise with Canary Islands
Departs: May 6, 2018
Itinerary: Tampa, Key West, La Palma (Canary Islands), Tenerife (Canary Islands), Malaga (Spain), Barcelona
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, a Royal Caribbean Vision-class ship (updated with modern amenities such as an outdoor movie screen and specialty dining venues), is a great place to be if you're spending more than a week crossing the ocean. At-sea activities include wine-tasting classes, dance classes, cooking demonstrations, fitness classes, rock climbing, aerial shows and even salsa dancing.
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: Miami to San Francisco, 16-night Panama Canal crossing with Central America, Colombia and Mexico
Departs: May 6, 2018
Itinerary: Miami, Havana (Cuba), Cartagena (Colombia), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala), Acapulco (Mexico), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), San Francisco
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 on nine out of its 17 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: Bergen to Montreal, 14-night transatlantic crossing with Northern European cities, Greenland and Canada
Departs: September 4, 2018
Itinerary: Bergen (Norway), Lerwick (Shetland Islands), Torshavn (Faroe Islands), Reykjavik (Iceland), Nanortalik (Greenland), Qaqortoq (Greenland), L'Anse aux Meadows (Canada), Saguenay (Canada), Quebec City (Canada), Montreal (Canada)
The Perks: Viking Ocean Cruises 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 sailing kicks 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 itinerary 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: San Diego to Galveston, 14-night Panama Canal sailing with Mexico, Colombia and Grand Cayman
Departs: October 19, 2018
Itinerary: San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Cartagena (Colombia), Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Galveston
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 (at Cartagena) and the Cayman Islands (at Grand Cayman). Plus, there are seven days at sea to enjoy Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder, which was refurbished in fall 2016 to include new spaces like a southern cooking/live jazz eatery, an English pub and the kid-friendly Marvel Super Hero Academy, as well as a revamped Disney's Oceaneer Club for kids.
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: Bayonne to San Juan, six-night Eastern Caribbean sailing
Departs: October 21, 2018
Itinerary: Bayonne, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan
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: Montreal to Miami, 14-night Atlantic coastal sailing with U.S. and Canadian ports
Departs: October 28, 2018
Itinerary: Montreal, Quebec City (Canada), Sydney (Canada), Halifax (Canada), St. John (Canada), Bar Harbor (Maine), Boston, Newport (Rhode Island), New York City, Charleston, Port Canaveral, Miami
The Perks: As Seven Seas Navigator repositions from its stint 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 66 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: Barcelona to Santos (Brazil), 20-night transatlantic cruise with Mediterranean ports, Atlantic isles and Brazilian cities
Departs: November 30, 2018
Itinerary: Barcelona, 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), Santos (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 the 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: Guayaquil (Ecuador) to Valparaiso (Chile), seven-night South American Pacific Coast sailing
Departs: November 16, 2018
Itinerary: Guayaquil (Ecuador), Salaverry (Peru), Valparaiso (Chile)
The Perks: Popular European river cruise company Scenic Cruises will be making its first foray into the ocean cruising market with the launch of its luxury Scenic Eclipse super-yacht in August 2018. This fall seven-night repositioning voyage (en route to where the ship will winter for a season of Antarctica and South America sailings) traces the Pacific-facing South American coastline, stretching from Guayaquil, Ecuador (gateway to the Galapagos) to the charming Chilean port city of Valparaiso, with a stop at Salaverry, Peru (an access point to several ancient Mesoamerican archaeological sites) in between. The itinerary's light on stops, with five sea days, but that allows ample time to explore the new all-suite, all-balcony ship, touting features like 10 dining venues, a spa sanctuary and a fleet of adventure toys that include two helicopters, a seven-person submarine, Zodiacs and kayaks.
Who Should Go: Trend-savvy cruisers who are eager to see the next big thing in luxury adventure cruising will appreciate the chance to experience Scenic Eclipse during its inaugural season. Plus, cruisers in search of more off-the-path ports will be drawn by this itinerary's trio of lesser-visited but altogether worthwhile South American port cities.