Why a Repositioning Cruise is a Good Alternative to Economy Airfare

Our Trans-Atlantic Transportation – Costa Fascinosa

This time last year, we just got off our trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise – a comfortable (and long) 18 night transit from Savona Italy to Buenos Aires Argentina.

The cruise comes up often. Most recently as a reminder from Facebook that this is what we were doing on December 7th, one year ago.

It was our first cruise. Consensus is that we would not cruise for a vacation. Even though we didn’t care for the cruise part of the cruise, it likely won’t be our last… mostly because it is a comfortable means of transportation.

We booked the cruise as an alternative to flying a comparable route in economy class.

Hannah & Dad – after a bit of experimentation we ate all our meals in the dining room (way more relaxing than the budding and line-ups at other venues)

Over dinner, my kids came up with these reasons why we would use a Repositioning Cruise for travel in the future:

The cost is comparable to economy fares on the major airlines.

Seriously. Repositioning cruises can be an excellent value. In some cases, they’re even cheaper than airfare.

I did quite a bit of research into itineraries for our transatlantic crossing. My favourite go-to site was vacationstogo.com. It made browsing a breeze. And you can even sort based on cost per night.  During my research, I saw cheaper trans-Atlantic cruises – as low as $329 USD plus the taxes/fees.

Our itinerary on the Costa cruise-line, was at the low side of mid-range for pricing.  Royal Caribbean and Carnival had crossings for a comparable price. But I really liked the Costa Ports-of-Call. I also surmised that travelling south down to Casablanca in Morocco before heading across the Atlantic put us in a more temperate area. Some itineraries crossed from England to New York – brhh, cold. As it was, we had a smooth crossing with many days of beautiful and warm weather.

Maceio, Brazil – one of several cities that would not have been on our itinerary if not for the cruise.
It’s unlikely we would have been able to see this huge mosque in Casablanca Morocco without the cruise.
We replaced some shoes and shirts on Black Friday in the Canary Islands. Fun fact: We saw H&M all around the world.
Things that make you go ‘hmm’ – Barcelona Spain

Our total cruise cost was $6,311.89 Canadian for the five of us. This includes $1,100 in Visa and Reciprocity fees for both Brazil and Argentina, all taxes and port fees and the mandatory tips. I hesitate to lump the Visa fees together with cruise for this post, but I entered the Visa fees on my spreadsheet as a cruise cost. I must have had some rationale at the time. Brazil was not on my list of destinations. Argentina was though. All the fees were mandatory from the cruise line perspective in that if you didn’t have the Visas, you could not board the ship. Regardless,  the crossing from Italy to Argentina was $1,262 Cdn for each person. Less if you take out the Visas. This is more than we would have paid for flights but not by much. And there were considerably cheaper cruise itineraries at the time.

And one of the great conversations that Rob would have missed otherwise.

Not a bit of Jet-Lag.

Time change is a gentle thing on a trans-Atlantic cruise. You go to bed when you’re tired and when you wake up in the morning some days there is an hour time difference. A twelve-hour time change is spread over the duration of the cruise. Real gentle-like.

And jet-lag sucks. I used to (silently) scoff at his weakness when back in the day Rob returned from overseas work trips and was sluggish for 24 hours or so. Personally, it took me a good three days to recover from our flight from Boston to Tokyo. And we were in fully lie-flat business class seats.

No jet-lag. He’s just being dramatic – lots of walking, as usual.

Cruising is way more comfortable than flying – even when you’re in the premium seats.

I guess I forgot to mention that the five of us were in two cabins. They were smaller than a hotel room but there was still plenty of room for all of us to spread out. Not to mention, the endless areas to relax on the rest of the ship.

Way more relaxing than lie-flat airplane seats.

Speaking of resting.

It was an excellent opportunity to rest after four months of travel.

It’s funny. Lots of people ask about our travels. And when I give a quick overview, I see we had lots of rests built into our itinerary. We took a one-week vacation on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam after the first five weeks of travel. We unpacked our bags for 18 nights on this cruise. We took a full month of rest in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. And we enjoyed ten days or so in an apartment in Athens Greece before heading off on a road trip in the Peloponnese peninsula. Of course, during all those ‘rests’ we were exploring the local area.

Travelling is tiring. Even at our pretty slow pace, a month in Vietnam and another month in South Africa is not enough time to see anywhere close to everything that needs to be seen. Regular bouts of lots of rest is needed to keep everyone happy.

Emma and Hannah shared a cabin. I love Emma’s expression.

It was a perfect opportunity to get some work done.

Not that we did much work. Like I said, it was an excellent opportunity to rest. And we took advantage of that. Though, I imagined that we would get everyone caught up on our travels while we were on board with nothing much to do on the many sea days.

And as much as we tried, even the kids didn’t get as much school work done as we’d anticipated.

Of course, like almost anything there is a downside to Repositioning Cruises:

We didn’t actually care for the cruise ship life.

We’ve discussed this from time to time. It perplexes me a bit. I thought we were up for pretty much anything. But this cruise ship thing as a vacation – meh! Not for any of us.

There were lots of enjoyable moments on the ship.

People are pushy. Some people are kind of really big. And pushy. People over-eat like crazy. I’m talking – loading the entire contents of the huge tray of deep-fried calamari into a giant mound on their plate kind of crazy.

The swimming pools!? We never did get into one. The appeal just wasn’t there despite some quite nice weather. Dozens of people bobbing around in the pool. They’re bobbing around because there is standing room only. Meh!

This is more our style.

Exorbitant costs of ‘extra’ onboard activities, dining and drinks.

I’m thinking we could have chosen a better cruise line. Or maybe they’re all like this. Lots and lots of extras $$. Ice cream! Seriously, I don’t know why they should have to charge extra for ice cream. Isn’t that something that should be included?

Ice cream in the Canaries.

No wi-fi.

Well, I’m not complaining about no wi-fi. But I’m certain many people would feel strongly about this. And this was a big reason why the kids did not get as much school work done. There is not much available to work on when you’re taking an online course with no wi-fi. Go figure!

There was not much ‘To Do’ on the ship.

This is another thing I’m not quite complaining about. After all, I was looking forward to some down time during the transit. Though I continually read about how much there was ‘to do’ on a cruise.

Sure – You could eat. Drink. Bob in the pool. Rinse and repeat. Oh, you could also get in a line-up. Line-ups were everywhere. Though, you could skip the line and just bud. Lots of people were doing that.

There was a lame teen club. There was a basketball net – with no basketball. There was a library crowded with noisy people. There was a shopping mall. A casino. Some pay per use video games. There was a gym. We used the gym almost every day. And there were lots of places to eat and drink, many of which cost extra. Aside from our cabins, there really wasn’t any quiet area to sit down comfortably and read.

Some cruise ports kind of suck.

Honest, we did not have to strategically choose the shot.

This was a bit of a surprise to me. Naive first-time cruiser.

Maybe it was these particular ports of call that sucked. The ports were in pretty seedy areas of town. They’re a fair hike to the central area worth seeing.  And that hike isn’t particularly scenic.

This walk was worth it.

How much can you see in five hours?

Ah yes. The whirlwind tour.

Christ the Redeemer: We made it just in time. The clouds moving in completely obscured the view.
Rio de Janeiro was on my bucket list. We used a taxi tour to maximize our short visit.
And somehow we still had time for Copacabana Beach!

Repositioning Cruises – Simply Excellent from a Transportation Point of View

We were happy to get off. Even with seven ports-of-call, 18 nights was way too long. I would so do this again though. If you have the time, this is an awesome way to get from one place to another.

Next time, I’d choose a shorter itinerary. I’d likely consider the less expensive option more closely. And really… I’m now prepared for the line-ups. And the speedos.

Even divine booty should avoid the speedo.

Have you considered a repositioning cruise?

2 Replies to “Why a Repositioning Cruise is a Good Alternative to Economy Airfare”

  1. Well, I glad you had some good times on the cruise. I think NCL or Royal Caribbean would have been better. Mind you, it is what you make of it. A lot of people do what you did, just relax. As far as line ups, huge people cramming their plates and pushy people I have seen that at all the resorts I have been in. Just part of life while on vacation. Just don’t give a Da–

    1. I think you’re right about NCL and Royal. I’d look there for a vacation (if we were so inclined). For transport, Costa was perfectly serviceable. Next time, I’d just opt for the less expensive ones and pay less attention to the itinerary. Maybe.

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