A mini-cruise is a great way of dipping your toe tentatively into the water if you're new cruising. It's also a wonderful way to spend a few short indulgent days at sea if you're short on time or budget and can't stretch to far-flung cruises.
P&O Cruises, Cunard, Saga Cruises, Ambassador Cruise Line and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are among the lines you could sail with on a short-break cruise. You can find mini cruises as brief as just one night or longer voyages of up to five nights -- so there's bound to be an itinerary available to inspire you.
Here are our top 10 reasons to take a mini-cruise.
If you're brand new to the world of cruising, a mini-cruise is a fantastic way to "try before you buy" -- or, at least, try before you buy an expensive longer cruise. So investing in a mini-cruise before you book a transatlantic trip, for example, is a sensible move. Hopefully, any concerns you might have about feeling seasick or claustrophobic, the food and accommodation options, being bored onboard or simply not enjoying cruising for any other reason will be dealt with and you'll join the ranks of cruising converts.
And if you're really unsure, you can even pick up one-night taster cruises within the UK (which usually coincide with the ship repositioning from one port to another). Fred. Olsen, for example, is offering one-nighters from Newcastle to Edinburgh and from Liverpool to Southampton. Ambassador Cruise Line is offering two-night tasters to Amsterdam from London Tilbury on new ship, Ambition.
Even if you're not completely new to cruising, a mini cruise offers the chance to test a new ship, cruise line or destination before you make the switch. Experiences can vary wildly between the different cruise lines -- from stylish Celebrity Cruises to more formal cruising on Cunard, Saga and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and family-friendly lines such as P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean -- so loving one doesn't necessarily mean you'll love another. Booking a few nights onboard is a brilliant way to test the waters.
Forget camping or holiday parks. If you're looking for a budget holiday that still offers a little luxury (and a proper bed) a mini cruise is the perfect purse-friendly option. For example, you could sail away on Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth to a number of nearby destinations including Bruges, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Guernsey, for as little as £199 per person for two nights (based on an inside cabin). You'll feel like royalty as you enjoy luxurious amenities including 24-hour room service, traditional afternoon tea and nightly turndown and the renowned White Star Service -- which sets out to go above and beyond passengers' expectations -- without having to pay a king's ransom for the privilege.
If it's time rather than money you're short of, a mini-cruise is the ideal choice for a quick holiday fix. Even a three-night cruise can take you to another country, making it easy to squeeze an adventure into a weekend -- and fantastic cruise ship facilities make getting there all part of the holiday. On P&O Cruises Ventura dine at multiple restaurants and take in extravagant shows, enjoy a swim, relax in the spa and even learn circus skills at Cirque Ventura while sailing to Guernsey, Bruges and Amsterdam.
A mini-cruise is a great way to discover destinations on your doorstep. New cruise line Ambassador Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and P&O Cruises are three UK cruise lines to consider for exploring the British Isles and nearby destinations like the Channel Islands, Scotland and Ireland. You can pack much more into a few days when you leave the car at home and cruise between destinations.
For example, a four-night cruise from Southampton allows you an overnight stay in port in Amsterdam or a day in Bruges for a culture-filled short break.
If experiencing four or five-star luxury is your kind of holiday, it's possible to taste the high life without breaking the bank when you scale down your cruise holiday duration. You can sail between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway or round-trip from Barcelona on the beautiful Azamara Pursuit on a five-night luxury mini-cruise. Or spend five nights on a Star Clippers masted tall ship cruising from Rome to Cannes on a five-night short cruise or, a three-night sailing round trip from Venice visiting Croatia and Slovenia on a three-night mini-cruise from £750 per person.
When you choose a no-fly mini-cruise you cut out the airport hassles that usually come with an overseas holiday, which you don't want to deal with when holiday time is short. Although Southampton is the UK's largest cruise port, many lines sail from other ports, too, so it's possible to choose an on-the-doorstep departure. For example, Fred. Olsen sails from a mix of Southampton, Dover, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow (Greenock), Edinburgh (Rosyth) and Belfast and Saga Cruises sails from Dover and Ambassador Cruise Line sails from Tilbury, Essex.
If you've only got the time and money for a short break, a cruise allows you to cram as much as possible into what time you have available. Instead of trekking across a city to find the best bars and restaurants, you'll have them just steps from your cabin door. The bigger ships have other attractions, with everything from waterparks, cinemas, rock climbing walls, skydiving, ziplines and more. On Royal Caribbean's UK-based Anthem of the Seas ships you can surf, skydive or ice skate, then stroll back to your cabin for a quick change before heading out to dinner and a West End show -- with no worries about getting a taxi at the end of the night.
If you've got a group holiday like a hen party or a birthday celebration to plan, a themed mini-cruise will take all the hassle out of the organisation. Christmas market cruises are popular, combining shopping with festive fun. Choose from a long list of possible destinations including Dublin, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Bruges and Hamburg.
For those who like holidays to last as long as possible, adding a mini-cruise to the end of a break can make a getaway extra special. Wherever you jet off to, tagging on a cruise is usually easy and will add a whole new element to your experience. Many travel agents and cruise lines offer cruise and stay options, where they'll organise the package for you. Two nights in Barcelona followed by a five-night cruise around the Mediterranean on Disney Magic might be a front-runner for families with young children. Or maybe you fancy adding a Caribbean cruise onto a long-haul escape? Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises have lots of three or four-night island-hop cruises to choose from.