Why You Should take a 3-Day Cruise

Blue pathway leading to the beach surrounded by palm trees.
Take a quick step into the world of short cruises - weekend will never be the same again. | Author: Juan Rojas

They say all the best things come in small packages. It is certainly true if you crave a vacation but don’t have the time or expense to commit to a full week away from the daily grind. A short cruise could just be the ideal solution. Shorter duration sailings have grown massively in popularity in recent years as working patterns continue to evolve, leaving more people with less free time than ever.  Still, the long weekend remains a precious time to unwind and have fun. If the prospect of yet another weekend strolling around the strip mall or a BBQ with the neighbors seems like purgatory, it’s time to seek fun and far-off shores to go seafaring. A short ocean-going escape will have you feeling fresh and rejuvenated in no time. Best of all, it is kind on the wallet with awesome discounted cruise deals often up for grabs. Read on for the full lowdown on the benefits of taking a short cruise.

Advantages of taking a short 3 day cruise

At first, you might think that 3 days is not enough to enjoy all that a cruise has to offer, but you'd be extremely surprised to know that sometimes 3 days is just what you need. There can be many benefits when choosing a 3-day cruise, and here we will list a few of them:

1. A weekend getaway is extremely budget-friendly

First up, you’ll be saving a packet. It is arguably the most cost effective vacation option there is. There is plenty of cruise market competition with all the mainstream big ship lines vying for your dollars. Based on double occupancy, fares are under $100 a day on average and there are often great late deals to be had for much less. Cruise lines ensure short 3 day cruises are priced to lure new curious travelers with the promise of an exciting weekend getaway at sea. It helps to foster loyalty as a great first experience often leads to them booking a more expensive longer cruise in the future on their top-rated cruise ships. For many travelers it’s a no-brainer. Once you factor in flights and accommodations for a conventional weekend getaway, the price can run into thousands, and that’s even before meals, activities and entertainment. It’s a simple case of doing the math.

The cruise ship Jewel of the Seas from Royal Caribbean in the water at port next to the Liberty of the Seas.
Looking for your perfect short cruise, you can find real cruise bargains. | Author: lovelights

2. An awesome quick getaway without losing precious vacation days

The average American only gets about two weeks of vacation time a year, so days off work are a very precious commodity. With a weekend cruise you can get by without eating into your vacation days, and be back around the office water cooler on Monday making all your colleagues envious. At worst, you need only take just one or two days off to really kick back and relax. Also a mid-semester weekend away is an awesome way for kids and college students to unwind without waiting for the school holidays when cruise fares and other travel prices skyrocket. Once you step on the ship, everything is taken care of – double occupancy accommodations, meals, entertainment and a host of immersive activities, so it’s about as worry-free a vacation as you can possibly get.

3. A mini cruise is ideal for a first taste of cruising

Dipping a toe into the world of cruising can seem a little daunting. A mini cruise over a long weekend is the ideal introduction, offering a bite-size taster of what the cruising life is really all about. Sample the cruise line hospitality, try out the amazing food, watch a live show, lounge by the pool and explore sunny shores, all in a short space of time. These short but sweet cruise vacations offer a good representation of what the cruising life is all about. It’s the perfect length of time to get a feel for the overall cruise ship experience. Before you disembark after a 3 day cruise filled with happy memories, you’ll likely already know whether the cruising life is for you.

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4. Cruise ships have great amenities for short cruises

Even the biggest, most comprehensive all-inclusive resort can’t really compare to the facilities laid on for cruisers, even on older ships which tend to operate short weekend cruises. There is little chance of boredom setting in during a long weekend cruise. Expect food for every conceivable palate – both for self-service and specialty dining, nightclubs, a casino, duty free shopping, kid-friendly pursuits, and other premium perks like pampering spa sessions. If you crave an action-packed animated vibe with an endless array of things to do, a short cruise is definitely for you.

5. And most cruise ships are perfect for a quick trip

In contrast to longer itineraries, short cruise voyages are mostly operated by a cruise line’s older ships. This is no bad thing. These ships still have all the frills, comforts and amenities you could ever need for a quick getaway. While these are still sizable ships, they are much more manageable compared to the newer mega ocean liners where you will be vacationing with 5,000 other cruisers. This is particularly pertinent for new cruisers. The largest vessels can seem overwhelming for a first timer. Test the waters with a 3 night cruise on a smaller ship and you’ll be ready to take on a longer voyage aboard one of the big vessels.

6. How about a quick getaway to a private island?

Some 3 night cruises and slightly longer sailings include stops at cruise lines’ very own private islands reserved for you and your fellow cruisemates. For many cruisers this is the big selling point of a short sailing, offering a ‘hybrid’ experience. It is basically an extension of the shipboard experience but on dry land with added space amid pristine tropical nature. These diminutive tropical islands have all the trappings of an island resort hideaway with pools, bars and lounges, beachfront cabanas, water sports and picture perfect white sands. Guests who come ashore can enjoy a day of snorkelling, kayaking or basking in the sunshine, as well as a vibrant beach BBQ and free-flowing cocktails on the sand.

The beach of a private island with palm trees in the front, white sand and clear water
Stopping at a cruise lines' private island will give you the opportunity to relax in pristine tropical nature. | Author: olivia hutcherson

7. In only 3 days, your short cruise becomes a lively floating vacation

Short cruises over the weekend differ from longer voyages in that they attract a more diverse range of guests. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with a smattering of mature couples, young families, groups and a sizable number of younger (often first-timer) cruisers keen to make the most of every moment of their limited free time. Weekend cruises tend to be more vibrant affairs with an animated social scene and action-packed activities filling up each day at sea. It is often made up of groups of young revelers with the sole purpose of having a fun time. For travelers keen to really let loose after a taxing working week, a 3 day cruise perfectly fits the bill.

8. Turn your 3 day cruise into a 3 day celebration!

The short duration means a 3 night cruise is an ideal option to gather up a group of friends or the whole family for a special celebration weekend at sea. Rather than get overwhelmed with the planning of a birthday celebration or an anniversary party at home, simply enjoy the moment hassle-free with meals and entertainment on tap. These celebrations at sea are extremely popular for both an intimate family affair, or perhaps a more lively girls’ getaway or bachelor party.

Where can I explore on a 3 day cruise?

For obvious reasons a 3 night cruise is limited in the distance it can travel but there is still a variety of sunny shores and intriguing port cities to explore over the course of a long weekend. Gateway ports for short getaway cruises include Miami, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale. Sunshine State ports offer by far the widest variety of 3 day itineraries, mostly to the Bahamas and Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Slightly longer sailings depart from Galveston and New Orleans. On the West Coast Long Beach unlocks the culture and fine sandy beaches of Baja Mexico. As your time is limited during such a short time at sea, there is a tendency to skip time ashore and turn it into your own cruise to nowhere vacation. This way you can take full advantage of a much quieter ship and grab a prime sun lounger by the pool, however travel is all about new discoveries and shore excursions (even for half a day) are an essential part of the full cruise ship experience.

1. Nassau, Bahamas

Lying just 180 miles east of Miami, Nassau is the top short cruise destination and serves up a diverse array of on-land experiences for a steady stream of weekend cruisers, many of which are repeat visitors. The downtown area is dotted with Instagram-worthy remnants of its colonial past including Fort Fincastle, and browsing the wares of bustling Straw Market is a must for souvenir hunters. Nassau is the gateway to a series of fine beaches to kick back on and simply soak up the rays, or for a range of enriching ocean experiences. Take to the water with a catamaran sailing and snorkelling cruise, or get up close and personal with an organized dolphin encounter a more daring diving experience with sharks. Close by, the huge Atlantis resort is a destination in its own right. It features an epic water park complex sure to keep kids enthralled for hours.

A white bungalow at the end of a footbridge in clear blue water on Nassau in the Bahamas
With its many activities Nassau is the top destination for short cruises. | Author: Gregory Culmer

2. Cozumel, Mexico

Located just off the Yucatan coastline, Cozumel is one of the region’s busiest cruise ports. It arguably offers the best bite-sized introduction to Mexican culture and modern lifestyle in a day, with a host of compelling attractions, all within easy reach of the ship. The laidback downtown waterfront is tailor-made for sampling tacos and tequila, as well as its legendary chocolate, or venture back in time at the San Gervasio Maya ruins. The island is fringed by pristine coral reefs offering excellent diving and snorkelling. For a more comprehensive full-day exploration, a short ferry crossing to the mainland opens up the upmarket resort of Playa del Carmen and world-class attractions like the Rio Secreto underground river and canyon, and the Tulum Mayan Ruins.

3. Ensenada, Baja Mexico

Once the capital of old Baja California, Ensenada exudes rich Mexican history with quintessential old world architecture, and is noted for its fabulous regional cuisine and wine growing heritage. It’s a bustling port city with an array of intriguing natural attractions with easy reach. Hemmed in by windswept beaches and rugged mountains, visitors looking for adventure will get their fix with jeep and horseback cross-country tours, kayaking and legendary surf spots. Most Ensenada short cruises also call at Catalina Island.

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Take a seamless short cruise vacation

There is a cruise perfect for everyone, and a weekend mini cruise is well-suited to a wide range of travelers with diverse interests. Younger travelers enjoy the chance to party hard over a wild weekend, while for families it is an ideal opportunity to unwind as the kids are engaged in a host of organized activities each day. There is no other long weekend vacation option quite like it where you can enjoy perhaps a dozen different dining venues, take in a different show each night and lounge by a pool while the ship chases the ocean sunset over the horizon. 

While a greater choice of dates will be available by booking ahead, last minute deals are possible if you are flexible. Be spontaneous and book a surprise short cruise for the family. In fact with eye-catching late cruise deals at as low as $60 a night, quick getaways at sea are almost as cheap as staying at home.

There is no doubt cruises are a unique style of travel. If you live close to a cruise port gateway you’ll be refreshed, relaxed and well-fed even before you reach your destination. Long airport lines and seemingly endless traffic jams virtually become a thing of the past for seasoned cruisers. Travel is all about escaping the stresses of daily life and even for a short 3 day vacation, a cruise ship does it best. It’s difficult to appreciate just how convenient, worry-free and inspiring travel really can be until you’ve sampled a short weekend getaway on the seas.

Check out these articles for more information on short cruises: