Although some may deride them as something less than a true cruise, 3 day, 4 day cruises and 5 day sailings can offer the perfect getaway. Short cruises giving you a big bang for a few bucks. There are many ways in which these short outings provide so much to both the new and the experienced cruiser. Let's review:
Easy on the wallet - During off-peak cruising times (winter and fall, for example), one can pick up a three- to four-night cruise for a song. For example, on January 6th, we took off on a three-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas for $250 per person for an inside cabin. At little more than $150 per day for the two of us, this was cheaper than a standard weekend hotel or resort getaway plus all our meals were included, as well as entertainment.
Harry after some sight-seeing in Ensenada
- Each cruise counts - Most cruiselines do not care how many nights you were on board in order to count the cruise toward frequent sailing perks. I've been on one seven-night cruise with Royal Caribbean, but I'm already at Platinum level in its Crown and Anchor Society due to the shorter cruises I've taken. Now I enjoy a separate departure lounge, speedier check-in, a valuable coupon book and a free gift with every trip on Royal Caribbean. Another example: I took a two-day cruise on the Diamond Princess a sailing scheduled at the last minute because it arrived early for its inaugural voyage and again this counted toward my frequent sailing miles with the Captain's Circle club.
So much is the same - It doesn't matter if it's 15 nights or four: Each cruise will still provide the many benefits offered by this style of vacation. You will still be able to enjoy three-plus meals a day, cooked by someone else, served by someone else, and cleaned up by someone else. Your steward will still make up your cabin twice a day, and don't forget to just throw the used towels on the floor. The calypso-style music will still be played poolside as you sip on a tropical drink. And, finally, every evening, you'll be able to enjoy a show or a night out listening to a live band.
Sucking up local color at a Karoke bar in Catalina
- A cruise is a cruise - The thrill when you feel the engines start up at sailaway doesn't wane just because it's a short cruise. You still will be away from home, from work, and from your troubles. And don't forget all those duty-free shops will be open. I jokingly refer to the four-nighters as my vice cruises, where I stock up on liquor and cigarettes.
- Whip up a Beef Wellington lately? Let's face it, not even the most adventurous chef makes Beef Wellington on Friday, prime rib Saturday and lobster tails Sunday. You'll still be able to pick and choose among a number of taste-tempting entrees in the elegant dining room. Room service? Sure, no problem. A quick $2 tip, and someone will be setting up a snack-fest in front of you as you watch TV in your cabin.
Romance still lives - Even though it's a short cruise, you'll still be able to take a midnight stroll up on deck with your partner, enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail, perhaps some dancing after dinner, or just go back to the cabin for some togetherness.The romantic appeal of a cruise isn't any less with a shorter itinerary.
Monarch of the Seas in Catalina
- Enjoy a change of scenery - With one to three port stops, you will still be out of your realm, reveling in the sights and finding new adventures in a variety of stops. Sometimes, even the familiar is different when you are on a cruise. For example, on both the Monarch of the Seas and the Viking Serenade, we stopped in San Diego, where I was born and still live. But on the cruise, it was the first time I ever used the city's extensive trolley system, the first time I saw the Mission San Diego de Alcala and the first time in years I had been to Old Town. You, too, can be a tourist in your own hometown.
Short on vacation time? No problem Most three and four-night cruises leave late Monday and return early Friday, or leave late Friday, returning early Monday. This allows people short on vacation time to take a long weekend, or work two half-days before hitting the high seas.
Monarch in Ensenada
Try it, you'll like it - The easiest and cheapest way to see whether cruising is for you or a friend is to try one of the shorter trips to check out their ambience and appeal. Most likely, you will be a new convert to the cruising vacation lifestyle.
The surest cure for PCD It's been five days since you returned from that wonderful seven-night cruise, but now Post Cruise Depression (PCD) has set in. You long for those leisurely mornings sipping coffee in your cabin, or a relaxed dinner followed by a show. Nothing cures this ailment faster than stepping aboard another ship, even if it's only for three nights. For budget reasons, you may need to opt for the inside cabin rather than the balcony, but you now can look forward to another cruise fix.
So, the next time you have a few free days, check out the possibilities of a three or four-night cruise. Many are offered from a number of U.S. ports, so soon you can be saying bon voyage, as you set sail again.