Everything You Need to Know About Long Cruises
Most cruisers’ sailing addictions start with short, three to four night journeys or standard seven-night voyages. We certainly recommend those sailings for newbies testing the waters, but if you’ve already decided that cruising is your go-to vacation, a longer cruise can take you to new, exciting destinations, often for a lower per-day cost than a shorter itinerary.
Now, we should mention that no one can exactly agree on what a long cruise is. Some cruisers think anything longer than a seven-night itinerary is long, while the most seasoned sailors will think a voyage less than a 60-night world cruise is a short sailing. We tend to consider anything longer than a 10-night cruise to be “long”, although we know that many European travelers consider a 14-night sailing to be fairly standard. (We’re jealous, for the record.)
Why You Should Consider a Long Cruise
They say the higher the hair, the closer to God you are. Well, we think similarly about cruising. The longer the cruise, the better it is! There are several reasons to consider taking a longer voyage if you want the best possible vacation.
- Unique Ports: If you’re looking to call in rarely visited destinations such as St. Vincent, the Azores, or Malta, you’ll have a better chance of finding an itinerary that stops there on a longer cruise. Weekend getaway and weeklong cruises tend to call in the more popular ports not only because they’re well-known, but also because they are the most accessible in terms of distance from the homeport. These ports also have much larger docks capable of handling multiple cruise ships per day.
- Cheaper Per Night Cost: On a cost per night basis, longer cruises are often less expensive when compared to shorter itineraries. On many lines, the per-day price is much lower for extended voyages because the target market of people who have the time to sail on longer voyages is usually smaller than those who want to sail for 7 days or less. For example, retirees and international travelers are usually the vast majority because they have the time to take long cruises.
- More Time On Board: Longer voyages will potentially have more sea days depending on how packed the port schedule is, which means you get extra time to relax and enjoy the ship. This is especially the case on transoceanic cruises, which people generally take for one of two reasons: they want to get from continent to continent without flying, or their vacation priority is the ship itself and not the ports it visits.
Drawbacks of a Long Cruise
If you tend to enjoy spending money onboard on things like alcoholic drinks, playing in the casino, or indulging in the spa, a longer cruise could very likely spell a much bigger bill once the voyage comes to an end. Also, more ports mean more shore excursions for those that like to take organized tours or do other activities ashore, which means additional budget needs to be allotted for that, too. It’s also worth noting that many extended voyages are actually repositioning cruises to relocate the ship to a different homeport, meaning you’ll have to pay for one-way airfare on one or both ends. Lastly, if you don’t have a lot of vacation time or aren’t retired, additional days off work aren’t always an option.
What are some common long cruise itineraries?
These sailings can come from a number of homeports, including New York, New Orleans, and those in Florida. Whether you choose a 10+ night sailing or custom create your own by taking two voyages back-to-back, there are plenty of options if you want to spend extra time on a ship sailing around the Caribbean. Long Caribbean voyages often go to ports that are further away, such as the ABC islands, Martinique, and Grenada. To review all of the options for extended Caribbean cruises, use our Find a Cruise feature.
The Panama Canal is a man-made engineering marvel that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and many travelers have put a cruise through these locks on their bucket list, whether cruising is their preferred vacation or not! Panama Canal cruises operate both roundtrip partial transits from Florida and other ports, as well as full transits of the canal from the east to west coast or vice versa. Full transits typically occur when the ships are in the process of repositioning to/from Alaska, Asia, and the South Pacific, and offer the full experience of passing through all of the locks. Take a look at the available Panama Canal cruises here.
The playgrounds of the rich and famous can be found at various calls throughout the Mediterranean. Many sailings in this region are 10+ nights and offer a variety of stops from Barcelona to the South of France, Italy, the Croatian coast, and the Greek Isles. You’ll find a plethora of homeports and cruise lengths to choose from, as well as both one-way and roundtrip itineraries. See longer Mediterranean cruises here.
When ships leave the Caribbean to head to Europe in the springtime, or when they return in the fall, the transatlantic crossing cruises are an exceptionally good deal. To get an idea, some interior cabins on these voyages go for as low as $25 per night — it might be even cheaper than your rent or mortgage! Transatlantic cruises are a great way to transverse continents without flying, and really relax and enjoy the ship on the consecutive sea days. Use our Find a Cruise feature to find transatlantic cruises.
Typically, transpacific sailings are when the ship repositions between Australia, Asia and the South Pacific over to America, whether just for the season or indefinitely. Not only do they offer a tremendous value like transatlantics do, but they also offer a far more relaxing and fun way to travel the great distance across the Pacific while avoiding insufferably long flights to these regions. In the early part of the year, these sailings could also be a part of a longer world cruise that you can book as a shorter segment. The best part: world cruises come with lots of extra perks you won’t find on a normal sailing like free laundry and alcoholic drinks, and that goes for segment sailors, too. We’ve rounded up transpacific sailings, which you can browse through here.
For the ultimate long voyage, there’s no better way to check destinations off your bucket list and pamper yourself at the same time than on a world cruise. These are the creme de la creme of cruising, and there are several options to choose from including complete circumnavigation (roughly 100+ days) and shorter world cruises around South America and Antarctica that sail roundtrip from Florida. Within most world cruises, cruise lines offer shorter segments. You can pick just one segment or combine a couple segments if the entire voyage is out of your budget, or exceeds the amount of time you have available for traveling. More and more lines are joining the world cruise market with a large variety of destinations and cruise lengths available. See a complete list of world cruises to consider here.
How to Find the Best Deal on a Long Cruise
“Finding the best deal” isn’t a one-size-fits-all matter, it can mean different things to different people. For some, a deal is strictly price-driven; you’re looking for the lowest price on the longest cruise, period. For others, the best deal considers more factors like onboard amenities, such as specialty dining, beverages, and wifi. Here at Cruiseline.com, our “Find a Cruise” page allows you to search using a variety of criteria to find the perfect cruise for your time frame and budget.
Once you find your cruise, be sure to set a price alert to stay up to date on how/whether the fare you paid is fluctuating as the sail date gets closer. As long as you haven’t paid off the cruise in full, you may be able to get some money back in the form of either cash or (more commonly) onboard credit if you notice a significant price drop. The price alert feature can also be helpful to monitor pricing prior to booking, so that when you see a price drop that better fits your budget, you can snag a booking at that price.
Tip: If you’d rather have us do the research for you, sign up for our emails to stay up to date on cruise line offers, promotional offers, tips, news, and other cruise-related information. Be sure to follow us on social media, too! Here are links to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
How to Pack for a Long Cruise
The key to a longer cruise is having a good strategy for packing. Be sure to check to see if the ship has self-service laundry facilities ahead of time. If it does, you’re golden. This will allow you to do a load or two during the voyage to minimize the amount of things you need to pack. While all ships offer a laundry service, it’s usually expensive and rates vary depending on what type of clothing you need washed. However, many cruise lines offer a discount on their laundry service as part of their loyalty program, so if you have a high status be sure to check and see if you have any laundry perks.
If the ship doesn’t have self-service laundry or you just want to avoid bringing extra suitcases, mixing and matching items of clothing is a great way to minimize your luggage space. Remember the kids’ clothing line back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Garanimals? You matched the zebra shirt with the zebra tagged pants for an instant outfit. The same theory holds here, although unfortunately your adult clothes probably aren’t pre-coordinated. Look at your tops and bottoms and see how many combinations you can make with them, and then pack the items that will work well with multiple other things. Also bring a travel-sized bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser which not only removes wrinkles, but also freshens up clothes to wear again. And if you’re prone to staining your shirt, throw a Tide To Go stick in your suitcase, too.
Join the discussion
Do you enjoy long cruises? Or if you've never been on one, would you consider it?