If “the longest journey begins with a single step,” then it may also be said that “a lifetime of cruising begins with a three-day trip.” Member lines of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) enjoy some of the highest repeat customer rates in the travel industry and many of those millions of vacationers began with a short cruise of less than a week. They loved what they experienced and have kept coming back for more.
“Over 12 million people cruised last year on CLIA member line ships,” said Terry Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. “For the majority, it was a second, third, even 10th vacation at sea but for millions it was a first experience, typically on a short cruise. They got a taste of shipboard life, including in many cases fabulous entertainment, onboard spas and other recreational facilities, and a dazzling variety of dining experiences. They visited, perhaps for the first time, foreign countries or tropical islands. And, because consumers tell us that cruising offers outstanding value and a unique vacation lifestyle, those first-timers will be back, if not this year then in the years to come.”
CLIA member lines offer cruises of less than a week in all parts of the world, from the Bahamas, the Caribbean and the West Coast, to Europe, Scandinavia, even Australia. Many are on the newest, largest ships among CLIA’s fleet of 170 vessels; others offer a more intimate exploration of world on luxury, yacht-sized ships or restored vintage vessels. Many of the short cruises are offered from a rapidly growing list of American port cities ranging the entire lengths of the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast. There is even one cruise line that enables passengers to plan their own length of cruise.
Here is a sampling of short cruises (less than seven days) offered by CLIA’s member lines:
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
Carnival operates the cruise industry’s largest short cruise program, offering voyages from two- to five days on 12 ships from 12 different North American home ports on a year-round or seasonal basis. These include year-round cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Miami, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston, and Tampa; voyages to Mexico from San Diego; and Baja cruises from Long Beach. Carnival also has seasonal cruises to Canada from New York, to the Bahamas from Charleston and Fort Lauderdale, and special two-day voyages from Fort Lauderdale and New York.
Celebrity Century, which received a $55-million makeover in 2006, is returning from a summer season in Europe this year, with itineraries departing from Miami in 2009. These include a two-night roundtrip to the Bahamas; four-night roundtrips to Key West and Cozumel; and five-night voyages to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. An alternate five-night itinerary combines Key West with Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The voyages are offered from January through mid-April. Celebrity Mercury is sailing three- and four-night Pacific Northwest itineraries roundtrip from Seattle this fall, as well as in the fall of 2009. Ports of call include Victoria and Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Costa offers a variety of short cruises in Europe, ranging from three to five nights. These “samplers” provide the opportunity for travelers to not only sample the Costa brand but combine a cruise with a land vacation on the Continent. In 2009, itineraries will include a three-night Italy/Spain/Corsica cruise from Savona on the Costa Serena with stops in Barcelona and Ajaccio. Another option is that five-night Italy/France/Spain sailing, also from Savona, on the Costa Atlantica, with stops in Porto Torres, Ibiza (two days), Alicante and Villefranche.
A 19th century pioneer of transatlantic travel, Cunard Line continues to be the only cruise line to offer regularly scheduled, six-day Transatlantic Crossings on the Queen Mary 2. In addition, Queen Mary 2 will offer two special short cruises, roundtrip from New York in 2009: a five-day “Fourth of July Getaway” to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Boston July 1-6; and a four-day “Labor Day Getaway” to St. John, New Brunswick over the Labor Day weekend. The new Queen Victoria will offer 4 four-day trips in Europe in 2009, all roundtrips from Southampton: the “Spring Adventure” featuring Cherbourg, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge departing May 2; and the “Gallic Getaway” featuring the same ports and departing August 29, October 22 and December 5.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE
The Disney Wonder offers three- and four-night itineraries from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas featuring stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay, the company’s private island. The four-night itinerary also includes a day at sea or, during the summer of 2008, features two stops at Castaway Cay. Highlights of the cruises include a Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party and original Disney musicals every night. New this year is “Toy Story – The Musical.” These itineraries can be bundled with a Walt Disney World vacation, providing an opportunity for vacationers to sample both experiences for the first time.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
The West Coast, Caribbean and Australia/New Zealand are star attractions for HAL’s short cruise program in the coming year. Five ships will offer one- to five-day sailings from Vancouver in September as the vessels are repositioned to other parts of the world. Destinations include San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. The Oosterdam also will make a three-day trip the other direction on September 27, from Seattle to Vancouver. The Eurodam offers a three-day roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale October 15 to the Bahamas. On March 16, 2009, the Volendam will feature a three-day sailing between Auckland and Sydney for a sample of Australia and New Zealand.
Formerly known as Norwegian Coastal Voyage, Hurtigruten’s short cruise program focuses on Sweden’s premier waterway – the Gota Canal. Three fully restored vintage vessels – the MS Diana, Juno and Wilhelm Tham – make two-, four- and six-day traverses of the Canal in spring and summer between Gothenburg and Stockholm. The full six-day itinerary encompasses one river, three canals, eight lakes, 66 locks and two seas. The cruises feature the history of the canal, the culture and attractions of surrounding cities and towns and Sweden’s stunning natural beauty.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Norwegian Sky is the newest and highest quality ship offering three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Miami. Featuring all of NCL’s new Freestyle 2.0 enhancements, the ship departs on Mondays on four-day sailings to Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, the company’s private island. On Fridays, the ship sails three-day weekend getaways with all-day stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, returning Monday morning. NCL also offers a number of weekend cruises on Norwegian Spirit from New York, Norwegian Jade in Europe and Norwegian Pearl in Miami this fall.
Princess Cruises offers a series of “West Coast Sampler” cruises on several ships. These include three-night getaways between Los Angeles and Vancouver on Coral Princess, Golden Princess and Island Princess in September; a four-night itinerary on Island Princess May 7, 2009 featuring Los Angeles, Victoria and Vancouver; a two-day journey between San Francisco and Vancouver on the Star Princess, May 7, 2009; and overnight sailings between Seattle and Vancouver. Golden Princess also offers a four-day Alaskan Sampler cruise between Vancouver and Seattle featuring Ketchikan departing May 5, 2009.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Known for roaming the world, Regent currently has one itinerary that is less than one week in length. On May 10, 2009, the Seven Seas Navigator will depart from Funchal on the island of Madeira and arrive, six nights later, in Monte Carlo on the European Riviera. After a day at sea, the ship will call at Malaga, Valencia, Barcelona, and St. Tropez. The cruise is part of the ship’s longer voyage that originates in Fort Lauderdale and begins with a transatlantic crossing. Seven Seas Navigator carries only 490 guests, offering all-suite, all-oceanview accommodations with marble baths, signature Regent cuisine and an attentive staff.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
Six ships of Royal Caribbean offer short cruises. Enchantment of the Seas features Western Caribbean itineraries of three- to six-nights roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Grandeur of the Seas sails on five-night Western Caribbean trips from Tampa as well as five-night Bermuda itineraries from Baltimore and Norfolk. Jewel of the Seas offers a five-night journey to Canada/New England from Boston. Majesty of the Seas sails on three- and four-night voyages to the Bahamas from Miami. Monarch of the Seas features Baja Mexico, from Los Angeles, or the Bahamas, from Port Canaveral, and Navigator of the Seas travels to the Caribbean and the Bahamas on two- to five-night trips from Fort Lauderdale. Sovereign of the Seas also sails to the Bahamas on short cruises from Port Canaveral.
Silversea’s unique Personalized Voyages program enables vacationers to check in and check out from their voyage according to their own needs and wishes. Instead of being locked into a fixed number of days aboard ship, Silversea guests are able to customize their voyage by selecting their ports of embarkation and disembarkation, creating a journey as short as five days. This could mean a few days on the French or Italian rivieras or a luxurious honeymoon experience completely tailored to individual interests and time commitments. All that is required is fitting into the sailing schedules of Silversea ships wherever they may be traveling throughout the world.