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  • Lindsey Markwood

Open-jaw vs Closed Loop Cruise

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

You might have heard the terms open-jaw cruise and closed loop cruise? What does that mean and what is the difference? This article will explore the difference in these two types of cruises.



Sign for Port Miami
Miami is a popular port for closed loop cruises

A closed loop cruise means you start and end in the same port within the United States and travel within the Western hemisphere. These are the most common type of cruises for passengers from the United States. There are many advantages to a closed loop cruise. It is much easier getting to/from your cruise as you can fly roundtrip or drive and park at the port depending on where you are traveling from. Most closed loop cruises do not require you have a passport to board. Disclaimer: that is not true for all cruise lines – please work with me to find out the requirements for your cruise. Usually the same itinerary is repeated on a closed loop cruise which gives you more flexibility on when you want to cruise.


An open-jaw cruise is a cruise that begins in one port and ends in a different port. These are a lot less common than a closed-loop cruise. You will find the most number of open-jaw cruises in Alaska. For Alaska, northbound cruises the cruise typically starts in Vancouver, Canada and ends in near Anchorage, Alaska in Seward or Whitter. (A Southbound cruise would be the exact opposite). A repositioning cruise is another very popular type of open-jaw cruise. Lets go back to our Alaska example. During the summer months Alaska is very popular among cruise travelers. However as the days get shorter, and the temperatures get colder Alaska does not get as many cruise passengers. With less demand, cruise lines will reposition their ships to warmer waters such as cruises that go to the Caribbean. In order to get the ship from Vancouver to it new home port in Florida, the ship will need to reposition itself. It could make several stops before and after the Panama Canal before finally ending up in the new home port.


Seasoned cruisers typically love the repositioning cruises as they can be longer than a typical cruise and they can go to unique ports of call that are not frequently visited by that specific cruise line.


Both an open-jaw and closed loop cruises stop at a few different ports during the cruise. How many ports and see days will vary based on cruise length and itinerary. The ports can be in the same or different countries as well.


Which is better for you? That 100% depends on your family. Not sure which cruise line or cruise itinerary works best for your family? That is where I come in. Let me find the perfect cruise and take the stress of travel planning off your plate. Click here for a cruise quote.


Happy cruising travelers!


Lindsey Markwood

Travel Curator




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