You need bucket loads of cash and two weeks off to go cruising right? Nope, here are six great mini cruises, from just £99pp...
The QE2 parked up by Sydney's Circular Quay. Photo My Bathroom Wall
If you already love cruising, a mini cruise is a great way of sneaking in another voyage onto your holiday calendar. You can take a short no-fly sea break on a fine liner, enjoy an overnight ferry crossing, or build a short cruise your next big holiday by sailing from Miami to the Bahamas, from Sydney to Melbourne, or from Durban to Cape town. And it won’t break the bank either, with two-night full board cruises with a cabin from £happened.
If you have yet to be convinced about a life on the ocean waves, with it’s tons of shipboard activities, fantastic food, and all aboard bonhomie, then the mini cruise is an ideal taster. You can find your sea legs without fear of cabin fever, and with a small outlay in time and money, suss to see if a longer cruise might just float your boat.
Here is my selection of the six best mini cruises around. All of the prices are based on two people sharing an inside cabin and don’t include international flights.
Weekend Cruise from the UK to Honfleur: the venerable Marco Polo is a small 22,000 tonne ocean liner built in 1965 and refitted since to carry around 100% passengers in comfort, but in a distinctly old world and somewhat worn style. But it is great value, is 'child free', has restaurants and a bar spread across five lounge areas. Anyone with a certain type of brain - like me - will be curious to know that the ship was built in East Germany and operated cheap cruises for largely Western passengers, before a British entrepreneur bought what was then the Alexander Pushkin and refitted it along neo-Art Deco lines.
The MV Marco Polo, still going strong after 53 years. Photo Cruise & Maritime
As an example of one of the short cruises, she leaves Cardiff, Wales at 7.30pm on the 1st of June and steams overnight to the 17th-century harbour town of Honfleur for a day sightseeing, before returning to Harwich for disembarkation at 7am. There is 70% off right now and so it's a steal at just £129pp, with Cruise & Maritime.
Cruise the coasts of Australia: think of Princess Cruises and you’ll probably conjure big luxury ships on grand multi-port journeys, but there are several overnight positioning cruises along the coasts of Australia. For example, with four swimming pools, eight restaurants, and carrying almost 2,000 passengers, the Golden Princess glides overnight from Sydney to Melbourne, from £179pp, or the Majestic Princess sails from Sydney to Melbourne in three nights, stopping in Hobart on the way, from £319pp.
Sample a huge Princess vessel from just £179pp (plastic paraphanelia not included). Photo Princess Cruises
There are several overnight cruises from Seattle to Vancouver too (from £90pp), a two night Pacific Coast sail from Los Angeles to Vancouver (from £230pp), and two night sails between Tokyo and Taipei (from £260pp). See Princess Cruises
Sample Cunard’s classic liners: here’s your chance to experience a life of luxury under the iconic red and black funnels of Cunard’s iconic liners. The Queen Mary 2 is the largest passenger ship ever built, carry around 3,000 passengers and 148,500 tonnes, while the newest ship on the line, the Queen Elizabeth carries around 2,000 passengers and was launched last year.
There are two-night Southampton to Hamburg short break sailings in 2018, aboard the Queen Victoria or the Queen May 2, from £319pp, a two-night sailing from Southampton to Bruges on the Queen Elizabeth from £273pp, and a three-night Kiel to Southampton (via Gothenburg), from £387pp. Cunard has other short cruises from Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. See Cunard.
Down Mexico Way: how about a break from driving with a glorious little three nights cruise to Baja California? The 70,000 ton Carnival Inspiration pull out of Long Beach, Los Angeles in the early evening and steam south past San Diego and into Mexican waters off Baja, with nine-hour calls at Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. Catalina Island is a pretty little playground off the coast of California, while Ensenada is a popular beach resort centred on the country’s best wine region.
An outdoor sunset screening. Photo Carnival Cruises
Optional shore excursions include La Bufadora (a nearby marine geyser), a winery tour, the Baja Bandidos horse riding trail, or some salsa and tequila tasting, You’ll be back in LA at 8am on day five. Cruise only prices are from £194pp. See Carnival Cruises.
This could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome: well nearly, but Fred Olsen Cruise Lines had 31 mini cruises scheduled for 2018, departing from several UK ports. The 34,000 tonne MV Balmoral has one-night cruises from Newcastle, Rosyth (for Edinburgh) from 99pp.
The MV Balmoral. Photo Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
Or there’s a three-night trip from Southampton calling at Amsterdam and Rotterdam, from £299pp, and a 'Cruise to Nowhere' on the MV Black Watch, which takes two nights to cruise from Southampton to - it turns out rather unflatteringly - Liverpool. See Fred Olsen Cruises.
Florida to Bahamas: this is mini cruise central , as many cruise companies cater the Floridian's and foreigner's demand for a short spell on board ship to visit the Bahamas. As an example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s vessel Norwegian Sky makes several three-night sailings a year from Miami and Port Canaveral (for Orlando) to the Bahamas.
Big enough for you? Norwegian's huge vessels run many short trips from Miami/Orlando. Photo Norwegian Cruise Lines
This luxurious brightly coloured ship has two pools, large decking, and an eight-story atrium, and berths for nine hours off miniscule Great Stirrup Cay, and nine hours at the bustling capital of Nassau, from £419pp. See Norwegian Cruise Line. Or Royal Caribbean has four night year round sailings from Miami to Nassau, Coco Cay, Key West, and Miami.