How do they do it? The cost per day on a cruise ship in an entry-level interior cabin is so low, it’s almost as inexpensive as staying at home when you deduct the cost of groceries and energy you would have spent.

Sure, you may get nickeled and dimed on other expenses along the way. No doubt, a hefty chunk of a cruise ship’s profits come from alcohol, souvenirs, excursions, sodas, photography, casinos, cabin upgrades, and restaurant upcharges. But, no matter how you slice it, a cruise is a big-bang-for-the-buck vacation.

How do you get an even better deal? Consider a repositioning cruise.

Cruise lines move their ships around seasonally, and as a way to adjust to market demands. Holland America has half of its fleet on the Alaskan coast from late May through August, and then repositions the ships in other locations such as the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, or Europe.

Getting the ship to its new location can take from a few days to several weeks, depending on distance.

The deals on these repositioning cruises are simply incredible. Typically, no matter what cabin level you wish, the cost per night is the least expensive you’ll find on that ship at any point in the year.

Why they’re a bargain

Why are these cruises such a bargain? Frankly, like any business, the cruise lines wish to make a profit.

They make great money on the ships at each location because they’ve analyzed the ships, ports, length of cruise, and other factors for each itinerary. But, that pesky issue of getting the ship from one long-term venue to the next is a necessity for the cruise lines that yields an opportunity for a bargain for you.

These repositioning cruises pose many booking challenges. Some people simply cannot book a cruise that takes as long as many repositioning ones do. Others are troubled by the logistics of a cruise where the departure is at one location and the return location is another.

Marketing is much easier when you are doing the same routine every week or two. A family that loves a ship and itinerary can usually find a week that works for their schedule.

A once- or twice-a-year date can be harder to match.

One way or another, the ship has to be repositioned, and the cruise line is stuck with the cost of fuel and crew no matter what. The line will lose money on this trip. But, if a lot of the cabins are filled at rates to just cover the extra food consumed, the loss can be minimized. Even better, the folks that often take these cruises tend to have a more flexible and comfortable lifestyle, which just may translate into more money spent at the casino, the spa, the shops, and other profit centers.

Taking advantage of these bargains requires some legwork. Check with your travel agent; there are also several listed in these pages. Pull out the laptop or smartphone and do this bargain hunt from the comfort of your bed, or turn that time wasted at the doctor’s office waiting room or license renewal into a fun-filled adventure.

You never know what you’ll find. Perhaps you’ll save enough money to enjoy a second cruise.

Bon voyage!

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