By Marcia Raffel Levin
The cruise industry keeps growing. New ships, new itineraries, new entertainment offerings, kids’ programs, dining venues, shore excursions, etc. are announced daily.
Yet many travelers have yet to set foot aboard a cruise ship. Maybe it has to do with them being unfamiliar with cruising, or knowing what one can experience on a cruise, or, believing cruising is expensive, looking for a cheaper cruise.
Perhaps a mini-cruise is the answer – a kind of appetizer before the main course.
Just look at the offerings from Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Bahamas Paradise Cruises on two- and three-day cruises.
Enjoyable 2- or 3-Day Mini-Cruises
“Mini-cruises are a great way for first-time cruisers to test the water so to speak,” says Vance Gullickson, senior public relations manager at Carnival Cruise Lines.”
“At Carnival, roughly half of our itineraries are five days or less with voyages departing from convenient homeports along the East and West Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve recently deployed newer and larger ships on short cruises and these ships have undergone extensive refurbishments that added exciting food, beverage and entertainment concepts.”
Short, relatively cheap cruises – sailings of two- or three-days in length – are an easy way to get to know what vacations on the water are all about.
These mini-cruises introduce novices to the lifeboat drill, cabin service, fine (and plentiful) food and entertainment, and the opportunity to enjoy the pool, fitness spa, casino and all the lovely public areas on today’s crop of cruise vessels.
These are all the facets of cruising that keeps aficionados coming back on board time and time and again. Often these fans opt for a week, a 10-day sailing, or even a transatlantic experience for their next ocean adventure.
Mini-Cruise Sailings From Florida, Texas and California
Carnival Cruise Line offers three- and four-day sailings from various Florida, Texas and California ports of call to both the Bahamas and the Caribbean or Mexican ports.
These cruises allow plenty of time for sightseeing, shopping and sampling local foods to further get a taste of what cruise passengers do in port.
Carnival Victory sails three- and four-day itineraries from PortMiami to the Bahamas and to the Bahamas and Key West. The ship spent 17 days in drydock earlier this year where many new dining venues were added. Consider Blue Iguana Cantina and Tequila Bar, Bonsai Sushi and Red Frog Rum Bar. New categories of cabins were also added.
Shorter, Cheaper Cruises Perfect for Families on Carnival, Royal Caribbean
There are activities for children across many fleets on many three-day mini-cruises. Carnival’s signature Seuss at Sea program for children, for example. Is quite popular. In June and July alone kids read 213 million Dr. Seuss words while in the ships’ programs. The Seuss deal also includes a parade of Seuss characters (including the Cat in the Hat,) and a Seuss breakfast.
Herby Camy has been Guest Services Manager on Carnival vessel for 10 years and says he enjoys the challenge of new programs and finds it especially challenging on shorter sailings.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Mariner of the Seas is part of the boat parade of shorter, cheaper cruises, with three- and four -night sailings to the Bahamas from PortMiami. The ship recently enjoyed a $90 million makeover including programs that offer Sky Pad, a virtual reality experience and a duo of water slides.
“Weekend Like They Really Mean It” On a Mini-Cruise
Michal Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International said, “With the new Mariner of the Seas we invite travelers to weekend like they really mean it, and make the most of a quick getaway than they even thought possible.”
The ship had added some new features on short Royal Caribbean sailings. Enchantment of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will do four- and five- night sailings from Galveston to the Caribbean next year.
Norwegian Cruise Lines also offers three- and four-day cruises from PortMiami or Port Canaveral, and varied five-day offerings to the western Caribbean from PortMiami or Port of Tampa. Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun offer a free open bar.
Five-day Pacific Coastal cruises sailing from Vancouver, calling at San Francisco, Victoria, and Los Angeles and other five-day offerings from Port Miami or Tampa to the Western Caribbean including to Costa Maya, Mexico.
When in Rome or Barcelona Norwegian offers short sailings where ports of call might include Florence and Naples or the French Riviera.
And if a three-day cruise is too much for first-timers, consider a two-night mini-cruise from Palm Beach to Bimini in the Bahamas on Bahamas Paradise Cruises.
As a famous tag line from long ago goes, “try it…you’ll like it.”