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Originally published Monday, July 26, 2010 at 3:08 PM

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Repositioning cruises bring bargains at sea

Repositioning cruises can bring bargains for travelers when cruise lines move their ships to warmer places each spring and fall.

The Dallas Morning News

Travelers looking for a bargain at sea should consider repositioning cruises.

Each fall and spring, cruise lines move their fleets to ports in warmer climates so that their ships will be ready to sail for the next cruise season and because people don't want to cruise when it's chilly outside. Travelers who book these repositioning sailings can enjoy cruising for less money. You may have more days at sea and fewer ports of call, but you'll still have the same access to cruise-ship amenities, including ample food, swimming pools and on-board entertainment.

In the fall, we see cruise lines move their fleets from Europe to the U.S., Caribbean and South America and from Alaska and Vancouver to California. In the spring, they move them in reverse.

The nice thing about these cruises is that the cost per day is lower than it is on typical cruises. You could do a quick cruise, such as Holland America's three-night voyage from Vancouver to San Francisco for as low as $66 per day (per person based on double occupancy). Rates start at $199 per person for an inside cabin, $249 for an ocean view, $299 for a balcony and $499 for a suite. The cruise departs Vancouver on Sept. 25 and has no stops. The line also has a four-night cruise departing Vancouver for San Diego on Sept. 26, with a stop in Victoria. Rates start at $249 per person.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a 14-night cruise from Venice, Italy, to New York, departing Oct. 30, with rates starting at $45 per day. The ship stops in Granada and Cadiz, Spain, Lisbon, Portugal, and Ponta Delgada (Azores). Rates start at $629 for an inside cabin, $949 for an ocean view, $1,289 for a balcony and $1,499 for a suite.

Carnival is offering a 16-night cruise from Barcelona to Galveston, departing Oct. 28, with rates starting at $50 per day. The ship stops in Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Las Palmas and Grand Turk. Rates start at $799 for an inside cabin, $1,099 for an ocean view, $1,289 for a balcony and $2,439 for a suite.

Rates on Celebrity's 17-night Panama Canal cruise from San Diego to Baltimore start at $65 per day. The ship departs Oct. 1 and makes stops in Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Huatulco, Puntarenas, Cartagena and Coco Cay (Bahamas). Rates start at $1,099 for an inside cabin, $1,399 for an ocean view, $2,499 for a balcony and $2,699 for a suite.

The sample rates listed are per person based on double occupancy, and are subject to change.

In regard to these cruises, keep in mind that one-way airfare to Europe can be more expensive than round-trip fares, so be sure to compare prices before purchasing tickets.

Get to your cruise departure city a few days early. This will allow you to explore the port city before departing, and it will give you a cushion of time in the event that your departing flight is delayed. (They aren't going to hold the ship if you're running late.)

Typically, the cabins that sell out first on these cruises are the balcony cabins. On some sailings, you could go two or three days without stopping in a port, so you may want to spend more money and enjoy your days at sea relaxing on the balcony.

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