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Why Cruise Samplers Are Good

Short cruises can be two, three, maybe four days long? Why bother, you ask?

It’s a question we’re often asked…probably in part because we generally go on cruises of a week or longer. Having said that, we did once take a three-day cruise to the Bahamas on the Norwegian Sky, just because we wanted a break from “working” cruises. And guess what we did on those three days?

We worked.

There are other, and several reasons, for the appeal of a short cruise.

For anyone who’s “anti-cruise”, it’s a good way to test the waters…no pun intended. Among the things that non-cruisers fear are seasickness, boredom, crowds, confinement. Three or four days is enough time to dispel the myths, or not.

Time off work. Taking a few days can work for people unable to take time off that’s measured in weeks. The cruise world recognizes that. Most lines now have short cruises, Carnival Breezewhile still offering all the amenities on board and even in port, not to mention plenty of relaxation time. The most popular destinations are Mexico, the Caribbean and, yes, the Bahamas. A short cruise can also be combined with a couple of days on land before or after cruising…if you can squeeze a couple more days out of the boss.

If cost is a factor (and isn’t it always?), three-or-four-day cruises are sometimes available for less than $200 per person. In addition to accommodation, that covers food and entertainment. A port or two may be in the mix, giving cruisers the opportunity to explore on their own or take a shore excursion. For $200, how can you lose?

There’s another reason, too.

Maybe you’ll become like the rest of us. The length doesn’t matter.

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise news in Canada

Emerald Princess
7 nights
November 30, 2014
Houston (return): Roatan, Belize, Cozumel
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

Is Europe Ready To Be A Short-Cruise Market?

Now here's a real test for whether the cruise public is interested in short cruises. You know, the 3-night and 4-night kind that cruise lines are test-marketing these days. Call in sick Friday, take Monday off and…boom, a 4-night cruise is yours.

The "real test" comes next spring in England, with Royal Caribbean's new (2015) Anthem of the Seas. The cruise line is billing it as a get-to-know-us strategy for Quantum Classpeople who are new to cruising or people who hate (yes, they do exist) the prospect of cruising, in the hope they'll change their minds.

It has been floated out by Princess and Carnival, to name two cruise lines, in North America. However, North America is a different animal than Europe, if you haven't noticed. In North America, people in the workforce get long weekends.

In Europe, they get long holidays. Have you ever seen a European country in August, when it appears to be asleep, or at least taking a nap?

So if 3-and-4-night cruises on Anthem of the Seas work in a climate where 3-and-4-night holidays aren't the norm, Royal Caribbean will adjust its European itineraries accordingly. For now, they're being called "taster cruises" and there are only five of them on Anthem. In six months. When there are also three 1-week cruises, three 2-week cruises, one of 10 nights, one of 12, three of 13 and one 16 nights long.

Maybe it's not a market test after all. Maybe it's just filling out the schedule before Anthem of the Seas sails west to America.

Pacific Princess
10 nights
April 1, 2014 
Papeete (return): HuahineRangiroaRaiateaBora BoraMoorea
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $99

News: Ruby Princess Takes 'Short' To New Heights

Ruby with Nieuw Amst copyShort has many meanings. When one of us asks the other why she is "short" (as in curt) she says she can't help it because her parents were short (as in height). Laugh. Short also applies to not having enough cash. Or distance, from A to B. And now, more than ever, it applies to cruises.

In response to public demand (or at least preference), Princess is adding more "short" cruises — moistly four days long. For example, the Ruby Princess is sailing four of them as Caribbean getaways in the month of December, and there is talk Princess will ramp up the number right into 2015.

We've been on a couple of shorties, three or four days, but they wouldn't be our choice. When we cruise, the idea of a "getaway" is a chance to relax, which usually takes most people more than a few days.

However, times have changed. Maybe the fast-food, quick-hit, short-clip world is starting to impact the cruise business.

Or maybe "short" was just looking for another definition.

Celebrity Equinox
14 nights
November 25, 2013
BarcelonaCartagenaMalagaCadizTenerifeFort Lauderdale
Balcony: $849
Cost per day: $70

Sampler Cruises on West Coast


Inside cabin or oceanview? Oceanview or balcony? These are always part of the decision-making process when going on a cruise.

And almost always, we opt for balcony.

On the other hand…the other hand is a one-night cruise. For people on or near the Pacific Northwest, this kind of "cruise sampler" or "two-day break" is part of re-positioning cruises and two cruise lines — Princess or Holland America — offer them.

You spend 22 hours or so on a cruise ship. You sail from Seattle to Vancouver. You can eat, be entertained and enjoy watching the water go by like all passengers on all cruise ships.

For $79, max.

If it's the Star Princess, the price is $69. The other two ships on this route — the Golden Princess (above) and Holland America's Oosterdam — are both $79. All three ships need to port in Canada (for different reasons) as they re-position south for the winter.

In all three cases, of course, you have to factor in the cost of getting to (or back to) Seattle. By train, that's about $65.

The prices are all for inside cabins. No balcony. No window. But really, in 22 hours all you're really going to do in your room is sleep. And if it was a hotel room and not a cabin on a cruise ship, what are the chances the hotel room would have a view?

Sapphire Princess
7 nights
July 21, 2012
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

The Short Version on Cruising

The little boy is sitting at the dinner table, adamant that he’s not going to eat the turnip his mother arbitrarily put on his plate, and accompanied it with this: “How do you know you don’t like it when you’ve never tried it?”

The teenage girl hears her parents slagging her choice of music and when she objects her that falls on mostly-deaf ears is: “How do you know what it’s like when you’ve never listened?”

There are people who say they don’t like cruising. To us, obviously, this is akin to saying you don’t like to eat lobster, golf, drink wine, read, fly, listen to music or do any of what we consider life’s pleasures. It happens. We all have different tastes.

Cruising? What’s not to like? And: “If you’ve never been on a cruise, how will you know?”

Find out. Try a 3-day cruise. And arm yourself with this knowledge in planning a test-run voyage:

• Such short cruises tend to attract younger, working types who need a little getaway. If you’re lucky enough to live near an embarkation port (Miami, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and New York are some), you may only need a few hours off work…and who minds skipping out a little early on Friday afternoon?
• The cost of a 3-day cruise is often less per day than longer cruises, so even if you happen to hate it, you haven’t made a huge investment of either money or time. But seriously, who would hate it? Good food, lots of entertainment, usually sunny weather, a spa, a casino, a gym or absolute relaxation if that’s what you need.
• Forget about taking a 3-day cruise on a mega-ship. They’re almost always a week or longer. That means you may be on a ship with a little more…character.
• And one more…weekend cruises are popular for bachelor/bachelorette events, so there could be a little partying on board.

Sold yet?

Okay, I’ve found a couple of appealing 3-day fares:

The recently-refurbished Norwegian Sky sails from Miami every Friday in September, at 5:00 p.m., stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, returning to Miami at 7:00 a.m. Monday. The boss won’t even know. Fares start at less less than $250 per person, based on double occupancy.

Carnival’s Paradise leaves Long Beach at 5:30 p.m. on Fridays, spends a day in Ensenada, a day at sea, and docks back in Long Beach at 8:00 a.m. Monday. Inside-cabin fare, per person, is $389, based on double occupancy.

Most  major cruise lines offer short cruises. Some are one-night, cruise-to-nowhere deals. That means setting sail for nowhere, and returning to the same port you left. And who wouldn’t like spending a little time going nowhere?

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