If you've ever wanted to get a great deal on a cruise, now is the time. The big cruise agencies are quoting rates as low as $32 a person a day on trans-Atlantic "repositioning" cruises. That translates to as low as $419 a person for a 13-night trip. Cruising doesn't get any cheaper than that.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Cruise lines run repositioning cruises twice a year: in the spring, when ships move from the Caribbean and Mexico to the Mediterranean for the summer, and again in the fall, when the ships return to warm-weather regions for the winter. Spring cruises generally run from Florida to Spain or Italy, taking anywhere from 11 to 17 days, with a few longer options. A few also depart from Galveston, Texas; New Orleans; or the New York area.
Daily rates often are as little as half summer or winter rates, and total prices for two weeks are about the same as -- or less than -- prices for peak-season one-week trips. Just remember: You'll need a flight home from overseas, and maybe one to meet the ship.
The experience on a repositioning cruise is not the same as on a typical one-week peak season cruise, however. One-week itineraries in the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska or the Mediterranean typically call for stopping at a different port every day, for most of the day. Although repositioning cruises do make intermediate port calls, they also entail several consecutive days on the open sea.
Cruise agencies list spring repositioning cruises departing from the United States March 10 through May 8, with the largest number of options in April.
Among the top deals: A 13-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, leaves Miami for Malaga, Spain, on April 18, with calls at San Juan, St. Maarten and Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. Inside cabins start at $449 ($35 a person a night); ocean-view cabins start at $649.
Other ships where you can get an inside cabin for less than $50 a person a night are the Adventure of the Seas, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sun, Serenade of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas; Holland America has several, with rates starting at about $50 a night per person. More upscale lines also run repositioning cruises, but rates are higher, starting at about $80 a person a night on some lines and at more than $200 a night on Seabourn and Crystal.