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Want a cheap way to travel to Europe? Check out a "positioning" cruise
A friend of mine is writing a memoir about her mother's life. Part of it includes details about her mother's work as a "ladies maid/companion" of sorts for an alcoholic, wealthy woman. My friend is British-- and her mother died when she was well into her 80s living an ordinary life through a world rife with change.
Sprinkled throughout the memoir are historical details to set the place and time. I find it a fascinating read, particularly the details about her mother's travels on a cruise ship. If it weren't for her job, my friend's mother would have never taken a cruise--or seen the world past her working class roots. Cruises were not part of her station in life.
These days, of course, cruises are such great deals that you don't have to hire on as a companion to someone to make a trip across the ocean. Ed Perkins, travel writer commentator suggests another way to score the cheapest option. According to Perkins, "positioning cruises" can get you to Europe in 13 nights for $599 if you don't mind a non-ocean view cabin. If you want to see the ocean, the cost is $900 more. These are the prices he found from Miami to Barcelona from Hotwire.com. There are many, many options.
If you are flexible, prices go down the closest you get to the time the ship pulls away for shore. If you run with your suitcases flying behind you yelling "Wait for me! I can leap across" as the ship is starting to pull away, the price is almost free. Just kidding. I made that part up.
It is true that prices go down the closer to the departure day, though. These cruises aren't the type that go from port to port to port. This is a trip across the ocean with the amenities on board. There may be a Bahamas stop, but, that's it. The scope of the amenities depend on what sort of cruise ship you are on--mass market vs boutique.
As Perkins points out, since this is a one-way trip, you eventually need to have a one-way flight back to the U.S. if that's where you are heading. One-way flights can be arranged, and are often cheaper if tacked onto your cruise deal. I wonder if you waited long enough, you could find a similiar deal for the return trip?
If I were having a "gap year" that Neil writes about, I think this would be an excellent way to start it off. While you're staring out across the waters, pondering, letting your mind wander, you can imagine all the places you could go with days, weeks, months of exploring the world and meeting folks before you.
The article I read was in yesterday's Columbus Dispatch, but there isn't a link to it. Here is another article, also by Perkins from last September. He makes the same suggestions, although, the prices are lower this time of year.
In another article I found, this one by Arthur Frommer, Frommer suggests contacting major cruise lines to find out about this type of cruise deal, although, I think the deals he is referring to are on the ships that are coming back the other way. He calls them "repositioning" cruises.
Here's a link to AffordableTours.com which may be a place to start whether you are "positioning" or "re-positioning". The major cruise lines are listed.