Weekend cruises are the perfect getaway after a hard week of work. With all the luxuries of a longer cruise, these mini-voyages are restful, exciting, and rejuvenating all at once.
Choosing Weekend Cruises
The key to choosing a short cruise is to find one that works with both your schedule and your budget. Depending on which port you leave from, you may still need to take an extra day off work to accommodate traveling to the port, and the cruise length may vary or extend slightly into the work week. If, however, you can adapt your schedule slightly, you will find an abundant selection of cruises extending from just one night to luxurious four-night weekend voyages. Other vacation options are also available for passengers interested in cruise packages that combine a land-based resort with a weekend voyage, and though the total length of time may be longer than just a weekend, the short cruise coupled with a resort stay and additional tours will make the entire getaway seem much longer.
Years ago, most short cruises departed only from Miami, the undisputed cruise headquarters of the world. Today, prospective passengers have their choice of departure ports as well as destinations, including:
- Nassau, Bahamas: Just a quick overnight sailing from most Florida ports, this Bahamian capital offers dozens of attractions and shore excursions typical of many Caribbean ports.
- Cruise to Nowhere: A popular option for the shortest cruises (usually only 1-2 nights), these voyages have no ports of call, but instead passengers are free to enjoy all the ship's amenities for the entire length of the voyage.
- Ensenada, Mexico: This Mexican Riviera destination is one of the most popular ports featured on sailings from California, giving passengers a taste of Mexican culture with the exotic appeal of a cruise.
- Coastal River Cruises: Many river cruises offer short getaways for popular destinations such as the lower Mississippi River or California's Napa Valley.
- Bahamas Cruises: Slightly longer itineraries (4 nights) often include both Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas, giving passengers a sampling of different ports that shorter voyages cannot accommodate.
- Key West, Florida: At the tip of the Florida Keys, Key West is a logical choice for short weekend cruises. Because it is still a U.S. port, many passengers adjust more quickly to their new surroundings and enjoy the unique destination thoroughly even in a short time frame.
- Cozumel, Mexico: Available as a port on different voyages from New Orleans, Galveston, Mobile, and several Florida ports, Cozumel is a popular choice for weekend voyages that frequently include a day at sea as well.
- Private Islands: Many cruise lines incorporate their private islands into short itineraries to give passengers another port of call without traveling between distant islands. These private islands still offer great amenities and activities, however, making them a welcome addition to short cruises.
Many cruise lines recognize the need for more short itinerary options for travelers who can't miss more than a few days of work, and weekend selections are available from most cruise lines. As the largest cruise line fleet in the world, Carnival offers the most weekend cruises, though Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean also offer a wide selection of short cruises perfect for weekend travelers. Luxury lines do not offer as many weekend itineraries, though many new vessels will offer one-time short options during their initial sailings to help spread publicity or while transitioning to new ports when there are just a few days that need to be filled with other sailing options.
Cost of Weekend Cruises
Short cruises are often less expensive than longer voyages simply because they offer fewer days on board the ship. It is easy to find short cruises retailing for less than $500 per passenger, though interested travelers should note that airfare is not included in the ticket price. Interior cabins, typically the least expensive on the ship, can even be found for under $300 per passenger on many voyages, making a weekend getaway even more attractive. Before booking a cruise solely based on what appears to be a great deal, however, prospective passengers should investigate what fees are not included such as tips, port charges, and other costs that can make a weekend getaway suddenly more expensive. Travel agents can help interested passengers decipher what their final fare will be.
A number of discounts are available on weekend cruises for savvy travelers to take advantage of. Last minute cruises frequently offer discounted fares, and many weekend sailings offer quick getaway bargains for passengers who didn't plan on traveling right away. Other discounts may apply as well, such as past-passenger cruise line loyalty fares, military discounts, and cabin upgrades, all of which help make the voyages more affordable.
Enjoying Your Weekend Getaway
The key to enjoying a weekend cruise is to thoroughly get into all the cruise ship's activities and options right away - with only a few nights at sea, missing one event or opportunity may mean missing it for good. Every vacation is better when you make the most of it, and even a short weekend sailing can be as refreshing and rejuvenating as a two-week voyage if you abandon yourself to the enjoyment of a luxurious getaway.
'By Melissa Mayntz.'