If when you think of a cruise you imagine crossing the great oceans of the world spending months at sea, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, much like the fact that you can go on a short city break as opposed to a fortnight’s holiday, mini cruises are perfect for a few days at sea if you’re short of time or just want to squeeze an extra holiday into your year. They are also great for anyone embarking on cruising for the first time and want to try it out.

Mini cruises generally last from two nights to five nights and are available throughout the UK, northern Europe and the Mediterranean. It’s important to establish what you’re looking for if you’re considering a few days at sea. Are you looking for a luxury break where the focus is on relaxation or are you looking for a great way to see more than one city or port in the space of a few days?

If you’re looking for luxury, you won’t be disappointed as most ships nowadays have gym, leisure and spa facilities and multiple dining options – perfect if you’re looking to spend most of your time on board. Remember that a mini cruise does not necessarily mean a smaller ship. For example, P&O offers a four-night mini cruise aboard the impressive Oriana from Southampton to Belgium, taking in the beautiful cities of Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges along the way. The ship carries nearly 2,000 passengers and its elegant interior boasts a theatre, a panoramic bar, Oasis spa and salon along with plenty of sports facilities. As a bonus, the ship is adults-only and so ideal for a relaxing, luxury break while taking in some European culture.

Fred Olsen also cruises to Belgium and the likes of Paris and Amsterdam on its three and four-night mini cruises. Four nights aboard its 929-passenger Braemar will see you visit three nations on your break: Le Havre in France; Ostendein in Belgium; and Amsterdam in the Netherlands – the perfect way to boost your country count in a matter of days.

A little bit further afield, Royal Caribbean offers five-night cruises of the western Mediterranean aboard its 2,000-passenger Legend of the Seas, taking in Marseilles, Barcelona, Palma, Valencia and Rome.

Staying closer to home, Cruise and Maritime Voyages offers a four-night Celtic Explorer voyage around the British Isles on its newly-refurbished and more intimate MV Discovery, sailing from Liverpool and calling at Cobh in Ireland, St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly and Milford Haven in Wales.

For something a little bit different, you might also consider a European Christmas mini cruise. The atmospheric Christmas markets of Bremen and Bruges are among the stops on a five-night pre-Christmas cruise aboard the Boudicca from Fred Olsen.

In terms of price, for a couple of nights, you can find mini cruises for £200 per person while four-night cruises are available for less than £350. Five-night cruises of the western Mediterranean start at around £650 and the five-night Christmas market cruise could set you back less than £350 per person. When compared to a weekend city break, by the time you add together flights, hotels and eating out, mini cruises are very affordable and offer a bonus of more than one destination for your money.

Pics credits Amsterdam, Oriana and Bremen all used under creative commons licence
Featured image by Raging Wire 

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