If you love sea days rather than visiting a port every day, have time to take a cruise of 15 or more days and are looking for a bargain, a repositioning cruise could be just the thing.
Many ships cruise in the summer in different regions around the world, so they have to be repositioned as one summer ends and another begins. This necessitates a one-way cruise from one country or continent to another, which means the ships are harder to fill - so fares are often cheaper on a per-day cost than for regular cruises.
When the weather cools down in the Mediterranean autumn (usually October), ships start heading across the Atlantic to "winter" in the Caribbean; and when European spring comes around again (March, April), they cross back.
As more cruise lines are sending ships to India, Asia and Australasia, an increasingly popular repositioning route is from Europe through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea at the end of the Mediterranean summer.
Cruise lines repositioning ships from the US to Australia on the transpacific route for the 2013-14 season include Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. Most sail in October from Honolulu, Vancouver or a Californian port to Australia's east coast.
An 18-night transpacific Hawaii-to-Sydney voyage on-board Celebrity Solstice (from ecruising.travel) includes a one-way flight to Hawaii from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane plus a couple of nights' accommodation in the Hilton Waikiki Beach.
Port calls on this itinerary include Maui, Tahiti, Auckland and Bay of Islands; however, with 12 out of 18 days of the cruise at sea, it might be worth forking out the extra for a balcony state room to really enjoy the ocean-going experience.
Package of the week
Ecruising.travel is offering an 18-night cruise/stay/fly package from Sydney to Shanghai on P&O Cruises' (Britain) Aurora, departing on February 16, 2014. Ports of call include Brisbane, the Whitsundays and Manila.
Priced from $3399 a person, twin share, the package includes airfares from Shanghai to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, the 15-night cruise, and accommodation and sightseeing in Shanghai. 1300 369 848, ecruising.travel.
• Diamond Princess will operate two 28-night circumnavigation cruises of Australia, departing Sydney in November 2014 and February 2015. The 2670-passenger ship will visit all Australian capital cities as well as Airlie Beach, Port Douglas and Bunbury, and will also call in to Bali.
• In 2014 and 2015, Carnival Cruise Lines in Australia is doubling the number of its short cruises and will be taking Carnival Spirit to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup. Spirit's sister ship, Carnival Legend, arrives in Sydney in September 2014.
• At the same time that Royal Caribbean Cruises had to cancel five cruises on Grandeur of the Seas after a fire, it announced it had signed a contract with shipyard Meyer Werft to begin building its third Quantum-class ship. It is scheduled for delivery in 2016.
LAUNCHED 2003 PASSENGERS 106 REGULAR HAUNTS Australia/New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Antarctica BEST FOR Adventurous couples, singles, families with older children THE DETAILS The 10-night ‘‘Camp Leakey — Faces in the Forest’’ voyage from Bali to Singapore, via the Camp Leakey orang-utan sanctuary in Borneo, departs on September 28, 2014. Fares from $8420. 1300 361 012, orionexpeditions.com.
1. Orion was bought by Lindblad Expeditions in March and will be relaunched as National Geographic Orion in March 2014, after going into dry dock. The ship will be equipped with new kayaks and a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) reaching depths of 330 metres, as well as snorkelling and scuba-diving gear.
2. Accommodation ranges from suites with French balconies to ocean-view staterooms and solo suites. All have marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, DVD/CD player, wi-fi and a mini refrigerator.
3. Dining is a highlight — the menus are by Serge Dansereau of Bathers’ Pavilion fame and there’s an extensive wine list — but alcoholic drinks are not included in yourfare.
4. Highly qualified expedition leaders give excellent, in-depth lectures on board and when the ship is relaunched, National Geographic photographers will accompany most cruises.
5. After a tough day’s exploring, you can indulge in a variety of treatments in the spa. And if you need extra kit, the on-board boutique stocks clothing and equipment by Ship to Shore Traveler, a company that outfits professional expeditions.
Stop watch: Brisbane
Need to know Brisbane’s Portside Wharf cruise terminal in Hamilton is about five kilometres from the city centre, on the Brisbane River. It is Pacific Dawn’s home port and the ship sails out of Brisbane year-round. During the October-April cruise season, most major cruise lines call in here.
Do not miss Board a CityCat from the cruise terminal to get your bearings — the trip along the meandering Brisbane River takes you through the city’s main ‘‘urban villages’’. The city centre is compact and easy to get around on foot; visit the recently refurbished 1920s City Hall, which houses the new Museum of Brisbane. Just across the river in the vibrant South Bank district you’ll find GOMA (the Gallery of Modern Art) as well as numerous waterfront bars and restaurants. As Queensland’s capital, Brisbane hosts dozens of festivals and events. visitbrisbane.com.au.
Do I get a refund if a river cruise is stopped because the rivers are too high or low?
- R. Ellis, Balgowlah Heights.
According to a spokesman at Avalon Waterways, cruise companies’ terms and conditions clearly state they will not provide refunds for circumstances beyond their control, such as an ‘‘act of god’’ or ‘‘forcemajeure’’.
It is worth bearing in mind that if water levels are too high because of excessive rainfall, some ships can’t fit under the bridges; and if levels are low, ships with a deep draft can be affected.
‘‘If weather disrupts a cruise, we will always do our best to deliver the holiday itinerary to our passengers,’’ the spokesman says. ‘‘For instance, we may use the ship as a base and organise transfers by road to the various destinations.’’
Bottom line: read the fine print.
Offer of the week
Cruise 1st Can you afford not to go? This eight-night Sydney-Brisbane-Sydney cruise on Radiance of the Seas departs on January 19, 2014, and calls at Newcastle and Airlie Beach. From $881 a person (website bookings). 1800 331 506, www.cruise1st.com.au.
Clean Cruising Book quickly to join P&O Cruises’ new PNG itinerary on Pacific Dawn, departing Brisbane on September 10, 2014, and receive $200 on-board cabin credit. 1800 121 187, cleancruising.com.au.
Creative Cruising Visit 10 ports in 12 days on Norwegian Jade’s Western Mediterranean (Rome round trip). Departs on March 22, 2014, fares from $1359. 1300 362 599, creativecruising.com.au.
Uniworld Save $400 to $600 a couple on 2013 Europe holiday season river cruises when you make a deposit at the time of booking. Valid until June 28. uniworldcruises.com.au or contact your travel agent.