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ON A BUDGET

Skip cruise ports and snag a deal

May 04, 2003|Arthur Frommer | Special to The Times

THE "repositioning" cruise is regarded by some Americans as the finest bargain in travel and by others as a week or two in a seaborne jail. I belong to the first group and recommend this classic vacation that's frequently priced at the lowest levels in travel today.

Repositioning cruises are designed to transfer cruise ships from waters where the season has ended (the Caribbean in early spring) to places where they will now be needed (Alaska at the start of warm weather). Because those transfers require several days of sailing, far from ports, they can be unpopular.

If you, like me, prefer long, lazy days at sea, you'll want to consider the prices that cruise lines and cruise brokers are already offering in their effort to fill the repositioning cruises scheduled for later this year:

* Canada to L.A.: $229 for five nights, Vancouver, B.C., to Los Angeles, one way -- $46 a day. Norwegian Cruise Line's Wind will depart Sept. 21, stopping in Astoria, Ore., and San Francisco on the way, and will spend two full days at sea. For an outside cabin you'll pay $229 per person if you book with GalaxSea, (800) 662-5450, www.cruisestar.com.

* Europe to U.S.: $299 for seven nights, Amsterdam to Boston, one way -- $43 a day. Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas rolls off the assembly line this summer, and you can be the first to experience this state-of-the-art vessel -- newest in the world -- on its maiden "positioning" voyage, departing Aug. 4. The price is for inside cabins, double occupancy, from Cruise Brothers, (800) 827-7779, www.cruisebrothers.com.

* Europe to U.S.: $1,195 for 17 nights, Genoa, Italy, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., one way -- $70 a day. This one's on Mediterranean Shipping Company's Lirica, repositioning to spend winter in the Caribbean. It will leave Genoa on Dec. 27 and stop at Gibraltar; Funchal, Madeira; Grenada; Barbados; Antigua; Tortola (British Virgin Islands) and Nassau (Bahamas), spending the rest of the time at sea. The vessel is a fine cruise ship, but the price is offered by Freighter World Cruises, (626) 449-3106, www.freighterworld.com.

* Europe to U.S.: $2,299 for 26 nights, Rome to Tampa, Fla. -- $88 a day. This year's longest repositioning cruise is Holland America's Noordam, leaving Nov. 11 from near Rome and arriving in Tampa Dec. 7, after a leisurely crossing of the Mediterranean and South Atlantic. Stops include Livorno, Italy; Villefranche, France; Cadiz, Barcelona and Alicante, Spain; Casablanca, Morocco; Lisbon, Portugal; and the Bahamas. YMT Vacations, (800) 922-9000, is offering the sailing for $2,299 per person in inside cabins, plus $549 in port charges and $89 tax.

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