As the weather warms, some of the ships that have spent the winter sailing the Caribbean or in South America begin to yearn for Europe or the cool Alaskan waters. Cruise lines move the ships from their winter itineraries to their summer ones, or they "reposition" the ships. These repositioning cruises occur in the spring, and the reverse happens in the fall. If you love sea days, then a repositioning cruise is for you! Most of these cruises are 9 to 18 days long, and embark from Florida, Caribbean, or South American ports and sail to Europe or through the Panama Canal to the western coast of the United States or Hawaii before heading north to Alaska.
In addition to the large number of sea days, another great thing about repositioning cruises is the price. Cruise lines must get their ships from the Caribbean or South America to Europe or Alaska to start the summer sailing season. Although many cruisers love repositioning cruises, they are not as popular as those that include many ports of call. Cruise lines like repositioning cruises because having passengers "trapped" on board encourages more on board spending (not that we're complaining, given the elegance and pampering provided by many cruise ships!). For these two reasons, in order to fill up the ships and get that revenue, cruise lines will sometimes discount repositioning cruises significantly.
If you look at a map, there aren't many ports of call in the Atlantic. There are only a few islands dotting the Atlantic between North America and Europe. Most of the ships stop at exotic-sounding ports that may only see cruise ships twice a year during these repositioning trips. We've all heard of Madeira, but how many of us have actually traveled there? I know that the Azores are islands in the Atlantic, but I didn't know the names of the ports where cruise ships call such as Ponta Delgada (island of Sao Miguel) or Horta (island of Faial) until I started reading about the Azores when doing some research for this article. (And I always pride myself on my good geography skills!)
Cruise ships transit the Panama Canal in the winter, but often the cruises end in Costa Rica or Mexico. The first leg of the repositioning cruises usually goes to California or Ensenada, Mexico. The ships then sail to Alaska via Hawaii. Often cruise lines market the trip from the Caribbean to Alaska or Vancouver in these 3 segments, with disembarkation in California, Hawaii, or Alaska.
If you can't go on a repositioning cruise in the spring, there's always the fall when cruise ships migrate south for the winter.
The other type of spring cruise is a river or canal cruise in the Netherlands. The spring tulips are marvelous! Read onto page 2 to learn more about spring tulip cruises.
Page 2 > > Spring Tulip Cruises in the Netherlands > >