I’ll tell you where to go … TRANSATLANTIC CRUISE

It’s getting on to repositioning time, when cruise lines move their ships from the Caribbean to Europe for the summer. That means a bunch of one-way trips across the Atlantic, and some truly astonishing deals.

I’ve seen great prices out there for about a dozen transatlantic repositioning cruises, many of them leaving from Florida during April. In many cases, the fancier cabins have sold out, so the best availability – and best bargains – are for inside cabins. That may be a little claustrophobic for some, especially with five or more days at sea. But you can balance the cramped quarters against the swanky public spaces, and try to spend most of your waking time outside the cabin.

Rule of thumb: cruise fares that comes out to $100 a day per person are generally considered  good deals. These ones are more like $50 a day – for a cabin and three squares a day, plus access to pools, hot tubs, entertainment and ports of call. Here are a few samples, with all prices quoted per person for two people in an inside cabin:

$499. Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas sails April 23 for 13 days from Galveston, Texas, to Barcelona. This is not a new ship – it’s about 10 years old – but I’ve been on this class of ship and it’s plenty nice. This cruise fare comes out to less than $40 per day. I can’t go, and that is breaking my heart.

$649. The Celebrity Century sails April 26 for 13 days from Miami to Amsterdam. This 11-year-old ship got a major overhaul last year. And Amsterdam is a pretty cool destination.

$679. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas sails April 16 for 13 days from Miami to Barcelona. This ship, launched in 2002, is a bit smaller than the very newest mega-ships and is known for an emphasis on glass and views.

$1,099. Grand Princess sails April 28 for 16 days from Galveston to Italy. This cruise is more expensive than the others, but it’s longer and has more port calls in Europe. (Princess notes that it can also be booked from the first port of call, Fort Lauderdale, for 13 days to Italy, but I can’t find a price for that.)

There are plenty of other repositioning cruises. Just search any of the big cruise websites for transatlantic cruises. I saw a bunch on Cruise 411 and cruise.com.

So if you book one of these, how do you get home? Good question. If you have a lot of frequent flier miles, you might try for an open jaw flight, outbound to Florida or Texas and back from Europe right into Bradley. You’ll probably have to pay the equivalent in miles of a round-trip European flight. (The husband and I did something like that for a one-way repositioner from New Orleans to San Juan.)

Or shell out for the one-way fare. I’m seeing some midweek one-ways in the range of $400 from major European cities to JFK in May. Try SideStep. (I couldn’t turn up anything reasonable for Bradley, but you’re welcome to try. These prices tend to slide around a bit.)

And keep in mind that you can skip around Europe, while you’re in the neighborhood, on some pretty cheap fares. Try europebyair.com.

If this is all too much to manage for April, remember that these ships will be coming back across the Atlantic for one-way trips in the fall. And if you’re thinking way ahead, Carnival is planning to send its newest ship, Carnival Freedom, on a one-way from Miami to Italy in April 2008. Price for an inside cabin at this point: $699

Any questions? Leave a comment.


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