A shorter cruise is a great way to introduce yourself to cruising. Royal Caribbean offers three-night cruises to Ensenada from Los Angeles and several three-night options going to the Bahamas from both Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Disney Cruise Line offers similar routes from both the West Coast, Miami, and Port Canaveral as well as a two-night option from San Diego to Ensenada. Both Norwegian and Carnival offer three-night Bahamian cruises from Miami. Carnival even has a couple of two-night cruises from Miami.
I could go on and list various options for all the cruise lines out there but you get the gist. Short cruises are a thing, so let’s talk about why you’d want to take one.
I’ve been on three three-night cruises and three two-night cruises. I have a four-night cruise coming up, which almost counts, right? Here are what I think are great reasons to get in on those shorter cruises.
I was recently hosted by Royal Caribbean on a media cruise.
1. It’s Your First Time Cruising
Shorter cruises are great options for travelers who are on the fence about cruising. While I think cruises are a great way to vacation, they’re not for everyone. If the idea of being “trapped” on a ship for seven days when you’re not sure if that’s your thing is what’s stopping you from booking a cruise, look at one of the shorter sailings.
If you’re prone to motion sickness and you’re worried about booking a weeklong trip where you’ll be sick, book a shorter cruise. Modern cruise ships have stabilizers and although motion varies by location and is influenced by the weather, most cruise passengers can manage seasickness. During fair weather, most cruises to the Bahamas, and the Caribbean in general, tend to be pretty calm. Open ocean sailing tends to see more rocking and rolling.
2. You Are Traveling With Young Kids
For parents or grandparents taking a child on a cruise for the first time, the idea can sometimes be a little daunting. There seems to be a universal fear among parents of young children that their child is going to fall overboard or try to climb over the railing. While that’s extremely unlikely to happen, it is a valid fear for a parent who has never cruised or has never cruised with a lively child.
Most cruise ships have excellent kid’s programming — and if you have kids, you’ll want to ensure you’re picking a cruise line that caters to families, like Royal Caribbean or Disney. The rails on deck are too high for someone to accidentally fall overboard. If you’re truly worried about a child trying to climb over the railings, it’s easy enough to stay in more enclosed areas and choose a stateroom that offers a portal versus a balcony.
3. You Are Short On Time
One of the things I enjoy most about being a freelancer is that my vacation days are when I say they are. Not true for my husband, though. He gets a certain number of days per year and we have to be strategic about how we use those days. The idea is to enjoy our leisure time and save a few days of his leave time for “just in case” situations.
There are plenty of short cruises that sail over a weekend, which can minimize the number of vacation days you take. If you’ve got school-age kids, short cruises cut down on the number of days of instruction they’ll miss. You might not be able to take a week off but taking three days off is usually considerably less complicated.
4. You Live Close To The Port
If you live close to the port your cruise ship departs from you can save time and money on your cruise travel. One of my hard and fast rules for cruising is to be at the port the day before my ship sails. In most cases, that means a flight and a hotel room but if you live close to the port, you may be able to comfortably arrive at the port on the day of your sailing.
I live about 250 miles from the Port of Galveston, which is roughly a three-and-a-half-hour drive. While my personal preference is to be at the port the day before I sail no matter what, I could set out early in the morning and probably have no trouble making my arrival time. Minimal travel to the port makes it logistically easier to take a shorter cruise.
5. You’re Chasing Cruise Line Status
Whether it is your first cruise or your twentieth cruise, make sure to sign up for the cruise line’s loyalty status when you sign up for a cruise. Each cruise line works this differently, but in general, signing up keeps track of your cruises and you’ll earn points or levels for each cruise or for each night you sail. These benefits add up in various ways, from perks like earlier boarding times to freebies on board to credit toward future cruises. If a cruise line rewards you for the number of cruises taken, taking multiple short cruises or even back-to-back cruises can elevate your status faster. It’s important to weigh the benefits of building your vacation around getting a better status so make sure you look at things from all angles when deciding to take a short cruise solely on getting points or moving up a tier.
6. Be The First To See A New Ship
Disney’s latest ship, the Disney Wish, was met with a lot of excitement and fanfare. It had been many years since a new vessel had joined what had been a four-ship fleet for a very long time and Disney Cruise loyalists wanted to get a look inside at the earliest opportunity. Right now, the Disney Wish is exclusively doing three and four-night sailings from Port Canaveral and these short cruises allow fans of the line to get a look at what’s on board, although the reviews have been rather mixed.
Even for a line that regularly adds new (and usually bigger and more luxuriously appointed) ships, such as Royal Caribbean, frequent customers sometimes want the latest and greatest experience first. I sailed on a special sailing of Royal Caribbean’s newest, largest cruise ship (actually the world’s largest) Wonder of the Seas, and we were ported at Coco Cay, the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas with the Anthem of the Seas. While enjoying the beach, I struck up a conversation with a family who was sailing on Anthem who asked a ton of questions about what the newer, larger Wonder was like, and said that they were going to ask their travel agent to look at cruises on the Wonder of the Seas.
7. Extend A Week Long Vacation
It’s no secret that Orlando is the world’s theme park capital. If you’re traveling with kids or have a multigenerational travel group, big theme parks like Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort have big appeal. However, unless you’re a mega theme park fan, most adults don’t find these types of vacations relaxing.
If the idea of spending three or four days relaxing on a cruise ship after a marathon rope drop to fireworks park days appeals to you, consider combining your theme park trip with a short cruise out of Port Canaveral. Port Canaveral is 45 minutes from Orlando and most major cruise lines offer bus service from Orlando International Airport. Car rentals and rideshare are also options to get from Orlando to Port Canaveral.
8. Splurging Is Easier
If getting one of the larger, more luxurious suites on a cruise ship is a travel goal, it is kinder to your pocketbook to book one for a shorter cruise. Concierge staterooms or suites have more space and come with other amenities such as a private lounge or sundeck access, elevated toiletries and linens, priority boarding, and more.
The price of all cruises increases with the number of nights you sail, so what would be way over budget for a seven-night cruise might be doable for a three-night cruise. Only you can decide if the extra luxury is worth a shorter trip but one of the factors above will likely be in play and help influence your decision.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of A Short Cruise
The temptation to do it all and see it all can be incredibly daunting. When you’re doing a short cruise, you’re probably not going to be able to see all the shows and taste all the food. If your goal is to relax and unwind, you might have to make some loose plans on what you want to do on board or vow to keep reminding yourself to not put pressure on yourself to do all the things.
- Consider skipping shore excursions
- Be okay with leaving some stones unturned
- Download the app and check-in online
- Get in the earliest possible boarding group you can to maximize your time on board
For more information on cruising, check out these articles: