One route to great cruise deals: say 'repositioning'

If you like cruises, but don't like the cost, consider a "repositioning cruise." Cruise lines offer these one-way trips in the spring and fall, moving ships to new ports to take advantage of peak vacation seasons around the world.

Common repositionings include the Caribbean to Europe, or Alaska to the California or Mexican coast. Generally cruise lines offer deep discounts on these trips to encourage bookings. Fares typically run about half the cost of a similar cruise of the same length. Repositioning cruises are not for landlubbers since they spend more time at sea than traditional cruises, and less time calling at ports along the way. The attentive service and plentiful food choices, however, remain the same.

One drawback: Travelers may need to buy a one-way airfare ticket to return home from the ship's final destination. Check to see if air travel is included in the fare. If not, try negotiation. The cruise line may pay for the ticket if you book the cruise immediately.

With fall approaching, the following are repositioning cruises offered by some major lines:

Norwegian Cruise Line - Norwegian Majesty

Oct. 22, 2000, 15 nights. From $1,579 per person (inside) and $1,629 pp (ocean view). Depart Boston to Bermuda - Tortuga - St. Thomas - Aruba - Ochos Rios - Key West - disembark in Miami and fly back to Boston.

Crystal Cruises - Crystal Harmony Nov. 16, 2000, 11 days. From $2,280 Depart Caldera, Costa Rica through the Panama Canal to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Celebrity Cruises - Zenith Nov. 12, 2000, 5 nights). From $474 per person (inside) and $624 per person (outside). Depart San Juan, Puerto Rico to Catalina Island (Dominican Republic), Tortola/Virgin Gorda, Nassau, and Ft. Lauderdale.

Crystal Cruises - Crystal Harmony

Oct. 26, 2000, 21 nights. From $3,995 per person. Departs Sydney, Australia, to Caldera, Costa Rica, with stops in Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Tahiti, and the Marquesas Islands.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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