Are you familiar with repositioning cruises?
We certainly had not heard about them until last year when a fellow house sitter traveled from Panama to Portugal and taking a reposition cruise could be a new way of traveling for you!
After downsizing and selling up everything we owned we now travel the world house sitting and writing about our adventures on our baby boomer travel blog. Travel costs are our #1 expense item and we are always looking for travel hacks to maximize our travel dollar and finding discount cruises is one way we do it.
What are repositioning cruises?
Cruise companies reposition their cruise ships from continent to continent to commence the next season e.g. Europe to the Caribbean.
Repositining cruises are one way the traveler can win too – fares are between 30% to 70% off the full price meaning cruise travel is more affordable for you.
Instead of arriving at a new destination jet lagged and exhausted from a 9-hour flight, we arrive refreshed, relaxed and raring to go.
During the cruise, the clocks are adjusted accordingly and by the time you reach your destination you are in sync with the country you are visiting.
We had expected a lower level of service and less entertainment and activities on our repositioning cruise, but that was certainly not the case.
At times one of the bars may have closed for renovation and repair but that did not hinder the experience on board at all for us or other guests.
Which cruise ship did we travel with?
We chose Pullmantur and their Cruise Ship – The Monarch.
We had a three-month house sitting assignment in Panama and needed to arrive early October. Our reposition cruise started in Bilbao, Spain on the 17th September with port visits to Lisbon in Portugal, St Maarten and Aruba in the Caribbean and arriving into Colon in Panama 16 days later.
It is a Spanish speaking ship, but we never needed to worry as English was the second language for all those on board. A great way to hone up on your Spanish skills!
What did the repositioning cruise cost?
As we were over 55’S, the basic fare per person for an inside cabin over 9 nights:
- US$237.50 per person
- Government taxes US$210.00
- Total per person US$447.50
- Cost per day per person US$30.00
The fare included all meals, all drinks, and entertainment.
The drinks package could be upgraded to premium brand spirits but we felt that was not necessary. We enjoyed our many different types of cocktails, red and white wine as well as sparkling wine.
As on all cruise ships, gratuities are not included. We paid 330 Euros for the two weeks for the two of us.
Hot tip for singles cruise
This is a great way for solo travelers to travel too. There was no singles cruise supplement charged. Some couples even booked two rooms, one for their luggage and one for themselves.
How did we choose our cabin on the repositioning cruise?
We were given a tip from a fellow blogger to choose a cabin on Level 3 and at the front of the ship. Did you ever wonder why the Medical Centre on board ships is located on the lowest level? There is less movement in rough weather the lower down you are.
And if you choose a cabin at the front of the ship there is less passenger movement late at night.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our cabin #3003. As it was an older ship we had presumed that the décor would be dated, but never presume, we were pleasantly surprised.
Hot tip for cruise cabin upgrades
You can ask for an upgrade and may just get one! Wait till you set sail from the last port, in this case it was Lisbon, Portugal.
Monarch could carry up to 2,744 passengers, 800 boarded in Bilbao and a further 800 boarded in Lisbon. After dinner, we approached Reception and asked for an upgrade on the same floor, same location, but an outside cabin and the next morning our wish was granted!
The outside cabins are larger and it was nice to have the window but as you really don’t spend that much time in your cabin we could have happily enjoyed our inside cabin.
How was the food on the repositioning cruise?
Breakfast was a buffet that had all that you would want from cereals, pastries, fruit, cold meats and cheeses, to hot breakfast dishes as well as suitable vegetarian options.
Lunch was also a buffet, where the menu changed daily for the hot dishes.
We were very impressed with the range of vegetarian options at lunch. There was a selection of red, white, rose and sparkling wine for lunch.
Over the summer season, Monarch had approached a top Michelin Chef in Europe to devise a new dinner menu. We were the ‘guinea pigs’ for the first menu. The menu had many options to choose from and had catered well for vegetarians.
We enjoyed the selection of wines that were on offer for dinner.
What type of cruise traveler was on board?
To be honest, we thought repositioning cruises would be full of passengers of mature age. In fact, there were many types of cruise travelers; solo travelers, young families, teenage families, millennials, baby boomers and older.
What types of cruise activities were on offer?
It is not all bingo, believe it or not! Bingo was set up every day at lunchtime but ended up being canceled due to lack of interest.
After dinner, Bingo was held in the Broadway room prior to the evening show performances and it was great to see the millennia’s really getting into it!
- Monarch had a small gym with exercise classes available for a small fee.
- The Spa catered for all types of beauty treatments as well as hairdressing services.
- A morning exercise walking class was held on the pool level as well as Zumba, Salsa, and Latin dancing.
- In the evening the bars had live music playing at certain times, an evening show every night and the disco started at 11 pm.
There was plenty to keep everyone entertained throughout the cruise.
9 nights on the Atlantic Ocean without land in sight
We had imagined we would be stuck inside the ship with bad weather and had planned to catch up on all of our article writing.
It could not have been more different. With perfect weather every day we set into a daily rhythm; breakfast, gym, sun bathing, cocktails, lunch, sunbathing, cocktails, dinner, and a show!
Hurricane Matthew preceded us as we arrived into the Caribbean and we had to forgo our visit to Aruba as the Port was closed due to the strong winds.
Is there a downside to repositioning cruises?
As far as we were concerned there was no downside.
Our only problem was choosing our daily cocktails and our evening meal. We would definitely use a reposition cruise to transport us from one continent to another again.
Now that you have read this, would you take repositioning cruises as a form of travel?