Repositioning Cruises Are the Best Kept Secret for Budget Travel

Updated: May 19, 2023

They're not for everyone, but repositioning cruises can be a super affordable to travel long distance on a tight budget.

One of the best-kept secrets in the travel industry is repositioning cruises, one of the most affordable ways in the world to travel long distances. They’re not for all travelers, but if you’re someone on a tight budget, it could be an option. Most top cruise lines offer repositioning cruises if you know where to look on their websites. These one-way cruises can save travelers a boatload!

What is a repositioning cruise?

Repositioning cruises are one of the big secrets cruise lines won’t tell you about. These are one-way cruises that generally happen at the end of a cruising season, usually in the fall or spring, when a cruise ship needs to go from one home port to another. For instance, a cruise ship based in Florida during the fall and winter months needs to cross the Atlantic for a summer cruise season based in Barcelona. Or, a ship needs to move from one coast to the other and must traverse the Panama Canal.

Since it’s a one-way cruise, you’ll have to fly home. But the benefit of repositioning cruises is the money you save. Often the deep discounts can save you from 50% to 75% off the usual cruise price.

What are some examples of repositioning cruise itineraries?

aerial drone view of the Sydney Harbour with the Opera House, a cruise ship and many skyscrapers in the backgroundWallix/Getty Images

Celebrity Cruises offers a one-way repositioning cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia that’s 17 days, stops at seven ports (including Tahiti and New Zealand) and costs $1,557—discounted from the normal price of $4,738. The company offers another 12-day one-way cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Lisbon, Portugal, with stops in Azores and Porto, that costs $949—discounted from $3,016.

Is this type of cruise for everyone?

No, repositioning cruises are for a special kind of budget traveler who is experienced with cruises. Don’t make a repositioning cruise your first-ever cruise, according to Allianz Travel. Two weeks aboard a ship, with seven days or more at sea, is a big commitment unless you already know you enjoy the cruising lifestyle.

Some other tips for these cruises:

• Be familiar with the type of ship and its amenities.

• Don’t book too early. Cruise lines have a hard time filling these rooms, and there are always last-minute deals.

• While on a repositioning cruise, be careful with your budget. With so many days at sea, it’s easy to blow your money in the casino, the spa or the bar.

“Repositioning cruises are a better fit for frugal travelers who can entertain themselves by reading, writing, chatting or crafting,” according to Allianz Travel.