Crown Princess pool deck

Savvy cruisers who yearn for days at sea, as well as great deals, look forward to spring and autumn more than any other time of year. This is when repositioning cruises feature as an unsung element of cruise lines' rosters.

Though some ships spend the entire year sailing the same itineraries, many relocate to follow the sun. Few ships stay in Europe when the weather turns, so between September and November there is a veritable armada of ships crossing from Britain to the U.S. and Caribbean, calling at Iceland and the Canadian Maritimes en route. Likewise, in spring many ships, having spent winter in the Caribbean and South America, head back to Britain via the Azores, Canary Islands and Iberian Peninsula.

These one-way voyages are often sold at discount prices as they are not part of regular sailing schedules. To attract passengers, cruise lines may theme them with topics ranging from food and wine, to theatre, and big band music. Enhanced enrichment programmes also make these voyages appealing.

How do I find a repositioning cruise?

Some cruise lines' websites have a transatlantic or oceanic voyages category in their search options. For those that don't, entering March, April and May in the sailing months search box usually reveals springtime sailings from North American ports as well as hubs in the Caribbean and sometimes cities in Latin America. Similarly, searching for cruises between September and November will show westbound repositioning voyages.

Why should I take a repositioning cruise?

With unbelievably low rates per day, these voyages offer great value for money. Cruise companies occasionally take delivery of a new vessel from a European shipyard before it sails in U.S. waters and these trips are snapped up by those who want to be the first to sail on new ships.

Plus you get to make a Transatlantic crossing – which for more many years was offered by just one cruise line, Cunard, as a formal voyage from Southampton to New York with no port stops. The definable difference between a repositioning cruise and a regular scheduled voyage is the added advantage of ports of call. There is the chance to visit off-the-beaten-track ports -- the bragging rights of places such as Qaqortoq, Greenland; Trois-Rivieres, Canada; or Ponta Delgada, the Azores are legion. These blended with restful sea days as you cross a vast expanse of ocean.

What are the downsides?

The Atlantic can be tempestuous and ships have to navigate many nautical miles of open sea. Fortunately, eastbound courses call for a southerly track -- avoiding the storms -- while westbound sailings hug the Eastern Seaboard after calling at the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland and Canadian Maritimes. Repositioning cruises are one-way voyages. Nearly all cruise companies include the outbound or return flight as part of the package -- but it does mean a transatlantic flight of around eight hours.

Read on for details of repositioning cruises to and from UK ports coming this autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Editor's note: Contact your favourite cruise line or travel agency for other options to and from European ports.


Autumn 2018

The Ship: Celebrity Silhouette (Celebrity Cruises)

The Trip: "Boston, Broadway & Bermuda" 15-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 3 November 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, Boston, New York (overnight), Bermuda (overnight), Nassau, Fort Lauderdale.

The Highlights: Celebrity Cruises' mantra may be modern luxury, but the main attraction is plenty of choice for passengers. Celebrity Silhouette offers an environment with an emphasis on space and style -- plus world class dining, accommodation and entertainment. The "wow-factor" is everywhere -- from the Lawn Club high above the ocean on Deck 15 with half an acre of real grass, to the Celebrity iLounge with cutting-edge Apple products.

Who Should Go: Foodies who want to head across the Atlantic, with the added bonus of overnight stays in New York and Bermuda plus a day to explore Nassau in the Bahamas. It's hard to beat the Grand Cuvee Dining Room with its shimmering metallic wine tower containing 1,800 bottles, but for a special treat head to the Lawn Club Grill, Murano, Blu, QSine or Tuscan Grille.


The Ship: Britannia (P&O Cruises)

The Trip: Caribbean Transatlantic 15-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 26 October 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, Madeira, Antigua, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Barbados (overnight).

The Highlights: Always a favourite with Cruise Critic contributors and members, Britannia boldly goes where no British cruise ship has gone before -- certainly in terms of design and facilities. One of the ship's stand-out features is the U.K.'s first onboard cookery school run by celebrity chef James Martin. Speciality restaurants range from the sublime Epicurean to the authentic Indian Sindhu.

Who Should Go: P&O Cruises' flagship is perfect for this southerly Atlantic crossing which chases the sun to idyllic Caribbean ports, plus there's the added attraction of direct flights home from Barbados to London (Gatwick), Birmingham and Manchester.


The Ship: Azura (P&O Cruises)

The Trip: Caribbean Transatlantic 15-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 19 October 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, Ponta Delgada, St Maarten, Antigua, St Lucia, St Vincent, Barbados (overnight).

The Highlights: Azura is the line's second-youngest and second-largest ship, launched in 2010 and carrying 3,100 passengers. It has a number of P&O Cruises' favourites such as the Glass House and Sindhu. Following a refit in 2015 the ship has been retrofitted with the gastronomic Epicurean restaurant offering a molecular gourmet twist on classic British fare.

Who Should Go: Families, first time cruisers and those who like big ships with a variety of bars, pubs, lounges and restaurants. Azura has everything from a relaxed pizza bar to an extended kids' club -- plenty for everyone to enjoy.


The Ship: Royal Princess (Princess Cruises)

The Trip: "Norway & Atlantic Passage" 15-night repositioning cruise.

Departs: 10 September 2018

Itinerary: Southampton Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bergen, Belfast, St John's, New York.

The Highlights: Those seeking indulgence at sea can head to the adults-only Sanctuary which has cabanas equipped with a TV, sofa, robes, mini-bar and snacks. The Lotus Spa is also perfect for some serious pampering. There's also the largest screen on any Princess ship, and with so many sea days there are unlimited opportunities to enjoy Movies Under the Stars.

Who Should Go: The vibe onboard is one of relaxed sophistication while the service, food, and entertainment are all well-executed and offer a host of choices. There's the chance to enjoy cuisine created by celebrity chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone. Discover Crafted by Curtis menu items in the main dining rooms where you can sign up for the Chef's Table by Curtis Stone -- including a galley tour and special tasting menu.


The Ship: Braemar (Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines)

The Trip: "Voyage to the Islands of the Caribbean" 17-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 3 December 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, Lisbon, Madeira, Antigua, St Maarten, Tortola, St Kitts, Barbados.

The Highlights: This is a perfect pre-Christmas getaway with the added benefit of an overnight stay in Barbados to get the last of the sun's warmth.

Who Should Go: Anyone who likes to kick-back on sea days and those who appreciate British tradition and understated decor. The sun decks at the stern and expansive Marquee Deck around the swimming pool will be popular haunts during this cruise. The ship also looks spick and span following a refurbishment in late 2017.


The Ship: Black Watch (Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines)

The Trip: "Sailing to the Caribbean" 14-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 12 November 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, Lisbon, Madeira, Antigua, Roseau (Dominica), Barbados.

The Highlights: Keeping up with the company's traditional approach to cruising, spacious public rooms look out onto teak decks with generous promenades. Looking better than ever following a refit in 2016, the Glentannar Restaurant, Orchid Room and Garden Cafe serve cuisine to suit British tastes.

Who Should Go: Anyone who yearns for sea days, especially solo cruisers who will appreciate the wide variety of single cabins which include balcony suites and outside single cabins.


The Ship: Independence of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

The Trip: "Caribbean Transatlantic" 14-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 28 October 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, St Maarten, St Thomas, San Juan, Labadee, Fort Lauderdale.

The Highlights: You're guaranteed never to get bored on this ship. In the Royal Promenade the nightly street parties with music, lasers, and lights, are a cavalcade of fun -- never more so than the Dreamworks Parade when characters from "Madagascar" and "How to Train Your Dragon" are the main attractions. It's easy to while away the day by popping into the Dog & Badger Pub, Vintages Wine Bar and Sorrento's pizzeria.

Who Should Go: This transatlantic voyage has eight days at sea to enjoy every facet of this fun-packed ship. Then there's the chance to flex the credit card in excellent duty-free shops in San Juan and St Maarten. The colonial charm of San Juan is the stuff of cruising; while a beach day on Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee in Hispaniola is always action-packed.


The Ship: Silver Spirit (Silversea Cruises)

The Trip: London (Tilbury) to New York, 15-night transatlantic cruise.

Departs: 10 September 2018

Itinerary: Tilbury, Falmouth, Cobh, St John's, Saint Pierre et Miguelon, Sydney, Halifax, Boston, Newport, New York.

The Highlights: This 540-passenger ship has a lively and congenial onboard atmosphere and never feels crowded even when it's full. Foodies will love the Japanese and Asian treats at Seishin, the gourmet experience of the Relais & Chateaux Le Champagne, and the fresh-made pastas at the slow food-inspired La Terrazza.

Who Should Go: Those who want to travel in style and enjoy the combination of quaint English and Irish ports with a myriad of autumn colours.


The Ship: Norwegian Jade (Norwegian Cruise Line)

The Trip: "Transatlantic from Southampton" 13-night repositioning cruise.

Departs: 29 September 2018

Itinerary: Southampton, Lerwick, Reykjavik, St John's, Halifax, Portland, New York.

The Highlights: The 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade entered service in 2006 but has just emerged from a makeover and looks better than ever with a more refined decor. The specialty restaurant Moderno now has sea views and the ever-popular Cagney's Steakhouse has been expanded. The fun never stops -- from sundowners at the Sugarcane Mojito Bar to dancing the night away at Bliss Lounge.

Who Should Go: The line's signature Freestyle Cruising concept allows you to dine when you want, where you want. With such great deals on this Atlantic crossing why not sign up for the Haven -- a "ship-within-a-ship" that comes with indulgent villas? You'll be pampered by a team of private concierges and butlers, and enjoy access to the exclusive Courtyard with private pool, sun deck, fitness area and hot tub.


Spring 2019

The Ship: Azura (P&O Cruises)

The Trip: Caribbean Transatlantic 14-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 8 March 2019

Itinerary: Barbados (overnight), St Lucia, St Kitts, Antigua, Ponta Delgada, Southampton.

The Highlights: Azura offers a swanky vision of a traditional P&O Cruises' ship where the ambiance is very social. This 3,100-passenger ship has a number of P&O Cruises' favourites such as wine guru Olly Smith's The Glass House; superb Indian cuisine at Atul Kochhar's Sindhu, and the gastronomic Epicurean restaurant offering a molecular gourmet twist on classic British fare.

Who Should Go: Sociable types: You can meet up with friends in Brodie's pub, which offers a variety of entertainment including quizzes and football matches, as well as live music and karaoke in the evening. There's also the adults-only enclave -- The Retreat -- within the Oasis Spa; as well as the Oasis Villa, an exclusive-use area with private whirlpool spa.


The Ship: Britannia (P&O Cruises)

The Trip: Caribbean Transatlantic 14-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 15 March 2019

Itinerary: Barbados (overnight), St Lucia, St Kitts, Antigua, Ponta Delgada, Southampton.

The Highlights: Always a favourite with Cruise Critic contributors and members, Britannia is the line's flagship. The 3,600-passenger vessel was christened by Her Majesty, The Queen in 2015. There is a strong emphasis on food, with a number of "Food Heroes" lending their name to the cuisine including James Martin, Atul Kochhar and Eric Lanlard. Specialty restaurants range from the sublime Epicurean with its molecular gastronomy cooking to pan-Asian Sindhu. There's a superb selection of wines on offer in the Glass House and cheese curated by Alex James at the Market Café.

Who Should Go: P&O Cruises' flagship is perfect for this springtime voyage which fuses four Caribbean ports with the unhurried lifestyle of an Atlantic crossing, plus there's the added attraction of direct flights to Barbados from London (Gatwick), Birmingham and Manchester.


The Ship: Crown Princess (Princess Cruises)

The Trip: Western European Passage 15-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 16 April 2019

Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Ponta Delgada, Lisbon, Bilbao, Zeebrugge, Portland, Southampton.

The Highlights: Part of the same series of ships as Ruby and Emerald Princess, the 3,082-passenger Crown Princess entered service in 2006. This may be one of the larger ships in the Princess Cruises' fleet, but it never really feels crowded and has something to appeal to all ages. The depth and breadth of programming has something going on every minute of the day and night, whether it's lectures, karaoke, yoga classes, wine tastings -- or signing up for the Chef's Table by Curtis Stone which includes a galley tour and special tasting menu.

Who Should Go: Foodies will love all the options -- from the three main dining rooms, to Sabatini's for Italian treats, or Crown Grill for succulent steaks and seafood. More casual choices range from Vines Wine Bar for evening tapas to the Salty Dog Gastropub developed in collaboration with Ernesto Uchimura, a founding chef of the original Umami Burger. 


The Ship: Pacific Princess (Princess Cruises)

The Trip: Fire & Ice Explorer 18-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 12 June 2019

Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, New York, Halifax, Reykjavik, Isafjordur, Akureyri, Torshavn, Lerwick, Dover.

The Highlights: Rather clubby in character and with just 670 passengers, Pacific Princess offers an experience on a more personal scale. Despite its smaller size there's still a good selection of places to eat ranging from a main dining room plus two intimate, alternative restaurants: Sabatini's trattoria and Sterling Steakhouse. Most of the accommodation is standard outside cabins; there's also a deck of mini-suites plus ten Owner's Suites located above the bow and the stern.

Who Should Go: This voyage is a cruise unto itself. Apart from the Transatlantic element there are three ports in Iceland which will alllow you to savour the landscape in all its glory -- craggy lava fields and ice-dappled mountains. Here there's a range of excursions to see the island's geothermal activity in all its glory. There's also a rare call at the capital of the Faroe Islands as well as a visit to the main settlement in the Shetland Islands.


The Ship: Braemar (Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines)

The Trip: Caribbean Return 16-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 14 March 2019

Itinerary: Barbados (overnight), Antigua, Tortola, St Kitts, Ponta Delgada, La Coruna, Southampton.

The Highlights: A timeless style flows throughout Braemar's interiors which were refurbished in late 2017. One of the focal points of this 929-passenger vessel is the painted, five-deck-high atrium; while the cascading outside decks at the stern enhances the ship's elegant profile and offer stunning vistas.

Who Should Go: Repeat passengers are impressed with the delicious buffets on offer in the Palms Café whether it's a quick lunch or a late-night snack. In the main Thistle and Grampian restaurants, formal á la carte dinners are served every evening; or there's the chance to book a table at the Grill or the Poolside for an alfresco dining experience. 


The Ship: Celebrity Silhouette (Celebrity Cruises)

The Trip: Trade Winds Transatlantic 13-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 14 April 2019

Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Nassau, Bermuda (overnight), Lisbon, Southampton.

The Highlights: Aboard Celebrity Silhouette the “wow-factor” is everywhere; from the Lawn Club high above the ocean on Deck 15 which features half an acre of real grass for lawn bowling or putting, as well as an open-air restaurant, the Lawn Club Grill; to the Celebrity iLounge Internet café with cutting-edge Apple products and the real tree hanging in the Atrium. Dining options include the Grand Cuvee Dining Room plus speciality restaurants ranging from fine French cuisine in Murano, lighter dishes in Blu, playful dishes in QSine and Italian food in Tuscan Grille. There's also the AquaSpa Café, Sushi on Five and Café al Bacio.

Who Should Go: Foodies who want time to indulge in the speciality dining venues as well as those looking for an overnight stay in Bermuda, not forgetting the chance to explore Nassau in the Bahamas. Quirky on-board retreats include: the Hideaway -- designed to be like a tree-house for adults; the Porch beside the Lawn Club; and the intimate Ensemble Lounge which offers after-dinner jazz.


The Ship: Independence of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

The Trip: Caribbean Transatlantic 14-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 4 May 2019

Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Labadee, San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten, Southampton.

The Highlights: Though in its 10th year now, Independence of the Seas underwent a multi-million dollar makeover in 2018, which has seen a whole host of new features added, including a virtual reality bungee trampoline experience; Laser-Tag; a puzzle break room called Observatorium; a new water park for kids, Splashaway Bay; a sports bar, Playmakers Sports Bar; plus Fish and Ships -- a kiosk serving battered cod, haddock, saveloys, chip butties and deep-fried chocolate bars.

Who Should Go: This transatlantic voyage includes an action-packed beach day on Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee in Hispaniola followed by the colonial charms of San Juan. After two days flexing the credit card in St Thomas and St Maarten, there are eight days at sea to enjoy every facet of this fun-packed ship or just relax on deck and soak up some rays.


The Ship: Marina (Oceania)

The Trip: Atlantic Encounters 14-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 5 April 2019

Itinerary: New York, Saint John (New Brunswick), Halifax, St John’s (Newfoundland), Cork, Dublin, St Malo, Le Havre, Southampton.

The Highlights: Billed as a "premium luxury" line, Oceania is best known for its culinary program and foodie shore excursions, as well as luxury-level service, just with fewer inclusions in its base fares than the classic luxury lines. Marina was the line's first new-build ship back in 2011, and highlights include four speciality restaurants, Afternoon Tea with white-glove service and suites designed by Dakota Jackson and Ralph Lauren.

Who Should Go: This cruise is perfect for foodies who revel in long, leisurely meals, as well as those who want to enjoy the best of the Canadian Maritimes at a most unusual time of year -- there will certainly be no other cruise ships around. Add to this enticing proposition two calls in Ireland as well as in France and it all adds up to a rather special voyage.


The Ship: Silver Wind (Silversea Cruises)

The Trip: Fort Lauderdale to London (Tower Bridge), 16-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 30 April 2019

Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, New York, Halifax, St John’s, Waterford, London.

The Highlights: Timelessly elegant yet luxuriously relaxed; Silver Wind is a perfect illustration of how complete a small-sized ship can be. With just 296 passengers, beautiful suites and spacious public rooms, Silver Wind is one of the cosiest and most intimate ships afloat today and is a perfect balance of yacht-like intimacy combined with the space, amenities and diversions typically found on larger vessels. 

Who Should Go: Those who want to travel in style and enjoy the bucolic ports in the Canadian Maritimes that overflow with nautical heritage combined with the quaint attractions on offer in the Irish port of Waterford.


The Ship: Marella Explorer (Marella Cruises)

The Trip: Transatlantic Homecoming 19-night repositioning fly/cruise..

Departs: 28 April 2019

Itinerary: Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, Antigua, St Maarten, Road Town (BVI), Horta and Ponta Delgada (Azores), Brest, St Malo, Le Havre, Zeebrugge, Southampton.

The Highlights: With a capacity for 1,924 passengers, Marella Explorer has recently undergone an intensive transformation. The ship now features Indigo -- a bar, club and casino with wraparound sea views –- as well as ten restaurants and ten bars, not to mention an indoor cinema plus a sports and family deck. A new innovation is the first Champneys Spa at sea which offers a full-service thermal suite, treatment suites with their own showers and mini saunas, a Finnish sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows, plus spa cabanas on the adults-only Veranda that come complete with thermal suite access. 

Who Should Go: This is possibly one of the most relaxing repositioning cruises on offer in 2019. In addition to a wealth of contrasting Caribbean ports which are ideal for sun worshippers and shopaholics alike, there are visits to two islands in the Azores.

Want to know more about Marella Explorer? Check out the member reviews.


The Ship: Magellan (Cruise & Maritime Voyages)

The Trip: Mexico, Caribbean & Azores 22-night repositioning fly/cruise.

Departs: 10 April 2019

Itinerary: Cozumel (Mexico), George Town (Grand Cayman), Ocho Rios (Jamaica), La Romana (Dominican Republic), Road Town (BVI), St Kitts, Antigua, Barbados, Horta and Ponta Delgada (Azores), Tilbury.

The Highlights: The 1,250-passenger Magellan is an extremely cosy and finely-tuned cruise experience. There are two classic dining rooms: the Waldorf and the Kensington, both offer open seating at breakfast and lunch and traditional first and second sitting for dinner. Menus are the same in both restaurants and food is well presented. True to cruise tradition, afternoon tea and late-night snacks are also featured. The informal Raffles Buffet Bistro extends out onto the deck beside the Lido bar. For a supplement you can dine in Fusion -- which offers superb Indian gastronomy.

Who Should Go: Undoubtedly the most leisurely voyage on the spring 2019 reposition cruise roster, there's the chance to indulge in a host of Caribbean destinations that would rarely feature together on a scheduled sailing, plus there's the added attraction of two calls at the dramatic islands of the Azores.