Twice each year, major cruise lines reposition some of their ships. You have lines that position ships from Caribbean service to Alaska for the summer period and then reposition them back to the Caribbean for winter service.
The same is true for ships cruising the Mediterranean in the summer and then reposition to Florida for Caribbean cruising in the winter.
Soon, there will be many ships leaving their summer posts for Florida. These repositioning cruises usually offer the public lower daily per diems than they do when on their usual schedules.
Since fall is just around the corner, let’s discuss these repositioning cruises. Various ships depart Alaska to return to Florida via the Panama Canal, usually the end of September, stopping at ports that may include San Francisco or Los Angeles, one stop in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama City, one or two islands in the Caribbean and finally into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.
Fares for these voyages run from $995 to $2,500 for a 14- or 15-day cruise. Ships that will sail these warm waters offer lazy days at sea with plenty of time to relax, read a couple books, get re-acquainted with your spouse, enjoy the fine cuisine in the dining rooms and various restaurants the ship offers, get a little sun, perhaps take some spa treatments, do some swimming in the pool and simply take it easy. You might even elect to do some Christmas shopping in the ports where the ship stops.
The ships that are scheduled to reposition from Alaska to Florida in September include: Celebrity Century, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Millennium, Coral Princess, Crystal Symphony, Disney Wonder, Golden Princess, Island Princess, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star, Holland America Lines Amsterdam, Oosterdam, Statendam, Volendam, Westerdam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam, Royal Caribbean Lines Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas. And, there are still more.
And then in September, October and November there are ships that will reposition from Europe to the east coast of the U.S., mostly Florida and usually offer very interesting itineraries. Some examples would include the Norwegian Epic of NCL sailing a 13-night transit from Barcelona to Miami with stops in Ponta Delgada, Azores and St. Thomas to Miami. Fares begin at $746. The sailing begins Oct. 21. The Grand Princess sails Nov. 3 from London to Ft. Lauderdale with fares for the 13-night cruise priced from $1,158 per person with stops in Normandy (La Havre), Vigo, Spain, Lisbon, Portugal, Azores and Bermuda to Ft. Lauderdale.
MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) Poesia repositions on a 16-night voyage from Genoa, Italy to Ft. Lauderdale departing Genoa Nov. 11 and calling at Barcelona, Spain, Casablanca, Morocco, Funchal, Portugal, Bridgetown, Barbados, Pointe-a-Petire, Guadeloupe, St.Thomas, USVI and Freeport, Grand Bahamas to Ft. Lauderdale. Fares begin at $998 per person, double occupancy. This is an Italian line with which I have cruised several times and enjoyed the Italian service. It attracts a pretty diverse set of guests: Spanish, French, German, British and American.
Some companies offer tours in Europe before boarding a positioning ship to sail the Atlantic to Florida. YMT Vacations, a leading provider of affordable group travel packages, is offering two Europe/trans-Atlantic cruise-tours. You can discover historic cities and experience the sophistication of sailing the Atlantic. YMT’s 21-day “Highlights of Spain Tour and Cruise” departs Oct. 14 and is priced from $1,699 per person. The package includes a six-night tour of Spain and the 13-night trans-Atlantic cruise aboard NCL’s Norwegian Epic. Guests will enjoy the art, history, culture and cuisine of Madrid, Toledo, Segovia and Barcelona. The ship will also call at Ponta Delgada, Azores and St. Thomas while on the cruise back to Miami.
Another YMT tour with the trans-Atlantic cruise departs Sept. 23 and is priced from $1,799 per-person. The 22-day package includes a six-night tour of Holland, Germany and Denmark. Cities highlighted are Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg and Copenhagen plus the 14-night trans-Atlantic cruise aboard NCL’s Norwegian Sun with calls in Lisbon and Madeira.
For more information, or to request a brochure, call YMT Vacations at 800-922-9000 or go online to www.ymtvacations.com.
On another note, the Disney Wonder sails from Vancouver to San Francisco and Los Angeles departing Sept. 10. You will have three days at sea and have time to explore every inch of the ship. Onboard entertainment includes performances of “Toy Story – The Musical” and other original productions, Disney movies, interactive games in Studio Sea, wine-tastings and cooking demos for adults, character meet-n-greets for kids and Disney’s famous deck parties. In San Francisco, excursions include tours of the city aboard a fire engine and visits to the Walt Disney Museum, as well as daytrips to the Muir Woods redwood forest, wine country in Sonoma and the seaside towns of Monterey and Carmel. Disney does make sure its ships are fun for adults too, with 18-plus onboard venues that include Italian restaurant Palo, the Route 66 nightclub district and the Quiet Cove pool.
We are taking the grandkids, ages 10 and 12, on a Disney cruise early this October, sailing to the Caribbean for a week. The kids don’t know it yet. We’ll tell them in early September so they can plan their activities and shore excursions.
Another positioning cruise departs Quebec City sailing to Tampa, Fla., departing on a 16-night itinerary Oct. 26. The Norwegian Dream stops at Portland, Boston, New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Charleston, Miami, Key West to Tampa. This is a most interesting itinerary with stops at historic ports as well as the Big Apple and so much more. While sailing in the northland, be prepared for cool weather and some rain. Pack a parka and/or warm coat. The fares are low. Contact NCL on the Web or give them a call.
Many people I know tell me they want to pass through the Panama Canal some day. Well, the Norwegian Jewel (NCL) sails from Los Angeles Sept. 27 on a 15-night cruise calling at Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Quetzal, Puntarenas and Cartagena to Miami.
The passage through the Panama Canal will be the most interesting of all.
On sea days you have Karaoke, Nintendo Wii, cooking and dancing classes and can play bingo and ping pong as well as get a good tan. This will give you an introduction to Central America among other things.
There are many other positioning cruises available this fall. All you have to do is contact an experienced travel agent who can give you good ideas, recommend cruise lines and ships and supply you with brochures and other information. Also, consider the purchase of travel insurance in case you have to cancel before your departure. This can save you a lot of money.
Have a wonderful cruise vacation this fall. It’s usually a good time to travel with mild temperatures and less crowding.