Miami to Panama for $99 plus tax per person is what we paid for a 3-night relocation cruise. Even when we included the cost of flying to Miami from Vancouver or Seattle it was still less expensive than flying direct to Panama, and we enjoyed sumptuous food, entertainment and 3 full days at sea. This is slow travel at its finest!
Many cruise lines change their itineraries on a seasonal basis and have to move their ships to the new departure points. As they have to have crew on board it makes economic sense for them to fill as many cabins as they can, which is why they offer the cabins at a steeply discounted rate.
Relocation cruises are fast gaining popularity amongst those in the know, we heard about this one when we were house sitting in Boquete, Panama. Many of Boquete’s residents use this trip to stock up on supplies in the States. They fly in on a one way ticket with empty suitcases and return fully laden. Some residents have so much luggage they can barely get it into their stateroom.
We booked our trip through Vacations To Go this site sells cruises from all the cruise lines worldwide. The choice can be overwhelming, be sure to specify exactly what you are looking for in the search tabs. They also have excellent customer service, invaluable when it came to choosing which stateroom we wanted.
What’s to love
You get all the benefits of a regular cruise for a fraction of the price, three full days at sea, a glimpse of Cuba’s coastline, sea breezes, deck top pool, saunas and fantastic food. Having an inside cabin meant we slept like logs, lulled by the boats motion and the complete darkness.
There are no luggage restrictions and excess baggage charges, unlike the airlines. If you are travelling light—carryon luggage only– disembarking and clearing customs is a breeze.
What’s not to love
Unlike most cruises, there are no shore excursions, you are at sea all the time. This also means that you will notice the ships motion more, especially if the weather is not co-operating. This was only a minor factor as these vessels are so large seasickness is rarely a problem, most people merely looked a little inebriated when walking.
Due to the high volume of luggage being checked in some guests did not receive their luggage until late in the evening.
Cruise lines are very skilled at extracting money from their passengers with their advanced money vacuuming technology, and the relocation cruises are no exception. Some of the restaurants and some menu items were only available at additional charge, as was the fresh squeezed orange juice at breakfast. Alcoholic beverages came with a hefty price tag and a built in 15% tip and purchasing all the shots the photographic team had snapped of your cruise would cost only $159.
Consider keeping a change of clothes with you especially if travelling with a lot of luggage.
Make sure you know what all the costs are, our $99 each room was subject to taxes and a $12 per day per person tip charged automatically to your bill. Total cost including taxes, tips and the odd glass of vino was approximately $500 for two, still cheaper than flying and a great slow travel experience.