As the seasons change in the northern and southern hemispheres, flexible travellers can find bargains on a variety of unusual cruises in the “repositioning” season. From late October to early December, numerous ships head west from Europe across the Atlantic to spend the winter plying the warm waters of the Caribbean or South America. To help offset the cost of relocating the ships, cruise lines get paying passengers on these one-off journeys by offering discounted fares. On these longer voyages – usually about two weeks – the daily cost can work out at less than half that of a regular cruise.
For example, with US line Celebrity Cruises, a 15-night repositioning cruise from Southampton to Miami at the end of November works out at just over £60 (about R800) a person a day (including flight back to the UK), compared with £187 a person a day for a one-week fly-cruise in the eastern Caribbean in January.
Repositioning cruises are popular with regular passengers who want to spend more time on a favourite ship, and good for people who want to rest and enjoy looking out at the open sea. Some repositioning voyages have a theme, such as dance, or offer the chance to learn a language.
l A 15-night cruise from Southampton to Miami on the Celebrity Constellation (0844 493 2043 or www.celebritycruises.co.uk) calls in at Le Havre, Lisbon and Tenerife, departing on November 30. For the 11 days at sea you can sign up for Rosetta Stone language classes. The cost from £1 082 a person includes the return flight from Miami.
l Sail for 13 nights from Barcelona to Miami on mega-ship Norwegian Epic. Ports of call are Ponta Delgada in the Azores and the Caribbean island of Saint Thomas. Departure is on October 21 and the cost, from £999 a person, includes flights and two nights post-cruise at Sonasta Bayfront Hotel Coconut Grove when booked with Virgin Holidays (0844 573 4398; virginholidayscruises.co.uk).
l Mid-size Nieuw Amsterdam sails from Barcelona on October 29 for 13 nights, bound for Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ship calls at Cadiz, Lisbon and Madeira. The cost is from £499 a person, but it does not include flights (0843 374 2300; hollandamerica.co.uk).
l There will be a big band and ballroom dance theme on board luxury ship Crystal Serenity, which leaves Barcelona on December 9 for Miami, and calls in at Tenerife and St Maarten. There will be dance classes, from swing to salsa, and lectures on jazz singers and the history of big bands. The cost, from £2 290 a person in an outside cabin, includes flights, drinks and gratuities, with Crystal Cruises (020 7287 9040 or crystalcruises.co.uk). – The Independent on Sunday