It used to be that short cruise options boiled down to mini jaunts from Miami to the Bahamas on old ships attracting party animals and bargain hunters. These days, there are more short cruise options on ships old and new, and they don’t all leave from Florida.
So if you’re a first-time cruiser who wants to test the waters — or maybe you know you love to cruise but don’t have a lot time — check out these five great short cruise vacations that you can take in less a week:
Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line
3 nights round trip from Port Canaveral to Castaway Cay and Nassau
From $495 per person
A short cruise aboard the 2,500-passenger Disney Dream is an ideal family getaway. The ship is outfitted with playrooms for children of all ages, the production shows are some of the best at sea, and even the standard cabins are large. A full day at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, is the other reason these trips rule the waves: Kids get two water play areas — including slides and a floating platform — and free child care at the Scuttle’s Cove play area, while adults have a grown-ups-only beach area with seaside massage cabanas.
Queen Mary 2, Cunard Line
2 nights between Southampton and Hamburg
From $410 per person
These two-night jaunts between Southampton, England, and Hamburg, Germany, are a great addition to a European vacation. (From Southampton, London is just an hour by train, and Berlin is a few hours from medieval Hamburg.) Once onboard, sit back and soak up the old-world spirit of the elegant 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2, especially in the gorgeous art deco-style Chart Room, grand two-story Britannia restaurant, and two-story library. During the two days at sea, check out the ship’s planetarium and the line memorabilia displayed along the corridors and stairwells.
Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Cruises
5 nights round trip from Port Canaveral to Key West, and Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas
From $359 per person
Completely overhauled and renamed, the 3,002-passenger former Carnival Destiny — now called Carnival Sunshine — is outfitted with Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0 dining and entertainment enhancements. A full sea day leaves you lots of time to play and eat. Have a juicy hamburger at Guy’s Burger Joint and a plate of tacos from the Blue Iguana Cantina. Swing through the ropes course and splash around the water park.
Brilliance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
5 nights round trip from Tampa, Florida, to Key West and Cozumel
From $248 per person
The 2,112-passenger Brilliance of the Seas has a billiard room, an adults-only solarium, and lots of dining options, from Italian to Asian and Mexican. You can enjoy all that the ship has to offer on the two full sea days. This itinerary’s two ports — Key West and Cozumel — are bar towns full of quirky souvenir shops as well as touristy chain stores selling gemstones. Just don’t leave Key West without ordering a plate of conch fritters.
Golden Princess, Princess Cruises
3 nights round trip from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico
From $249 per person
This West Coast sailing heads to sunny Ensenada in Mexico’s Baja California, a region known for wineries. It’s also a fun city for shopping for Mexican crafts, from silver jewelry to blankets and pottery. On the sea day, you can hang out at one of the four pools, a mini-golf course, or the adults-only Sanctuary. In addition to this frequently offered itinerary, the ship also sails four-night cruises that include a call in San Diego.