Aside from the fact that you’ll avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport, stress of transfers and lugging your bags behind you, a mini cruise boasts an array of surprising benefits. Perfect for a long weekend, guests are invited to relax and unwind from the minute they step onboard, meaning you’re sure to feel fresh and rejuvenated as you arrive at your first port of call. Read on to find out why booking a mini cruise could be your best holiday decision yet.

1. A quick break

If you’re running low on annual leave but are desperate to explore more of the world, mini cruises fit perfectly into a long weekend and can easily work around your schedule. These short voyages can be anywhere from one to five nights long and pack in lots of exciting experiences – from learning new skills to dining in Michelin star restaurants onboard, and all before you’ve even docked in your first port.

2. Try before you buy

If you’ve always been curious about embarking on a cruise but have felt on the fence about committing to a substantial length of time at sea, a mini cruise is the perfect introduction to a cruising holiday. Relax on the sun deck and tuck into gourmet food in the ship’s restaurant, or enjoy evening entertainment in the lounge bar before bedding down in your elegant stateroom. Experiences can also vary greatly between cruise lines, so mini cruises are the perfect way to test out a new liner before signing up to a long-haul holiday package.

3. Less people onboard

Mini cruise ships are generally smaller, meaning you’ll enjoy a more intimate experience onboard with personalised service. With less faces to remember, you’ll also find it easier when it comes to making new travel friends. These smaller vessels are able to access many of the smaller ports too, so you can expect a unique itinerary including ports which are often skipped by larger ships.

4. See more of the world

A major misconception with mini cruises is that you’ll be wasting precious time on the water when you could be off exploring the places you want to visit. However, these short trips have been carefully mapped out to offer guests maximum time in their chosen ports with less time at sea.

Most short cruises have multiple stops on the itinerary, meaning you can explore a handful of cities during your trip. Royal Caribbean® is just one of the major cruise lines that offer short breaks, with holiday packages that give passengers a compact but full itinerary during their short break cruise.

5. Explore destinations from your doorstep

The UK is the ideal place to cruise from as it benefits from close proximity to so many incredible European destinations. Mini cruises give you the opportunity to discover the roots, architecture, culture and food of our neighbouring nations, all packed full of amazing history. Explore France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, The Channel Islands and many more on your next mini cruise.

5. Children welcome

Mini cruises are packed with just as many activities, facilities and daily entertainment programmes as a month-long cruise. You’ll find services for children like kids’ clubs, arts and crafts sessions, musical and dramatic professional shows and, of course, ever-popular swimming pools. If you only have a few days of the summer holidays left or you want to take a short trip over half term, a mini cruise is a great way for your family to get away and enjoy some time together.

6. Save some money

A major benefit of taking a short break is the amount of money you’ll save. With a mini cruise, you can spend less cash whilst still seeing lots of sights. Many mini cruises from some of the most popular cruise lines including P&O Cruises Cunard and Norwegian Cruise Lines, have offers starting at less than £300 per person.

7. Sea sickness is a thing of the past

With only half the amount of the time on the water as a normal cruise, you won’t have to worry about sea sickness striking. For most mini cruises you’ll be reaching your first destination in less than a day, and won’t be spending more than one or two days on the water between ports.

8. Luxury – without the price tag

If you love to travel in style and enjoy being pampered from head-to-toe, a mini cruise is a great way to experience all that at a fraction of the cost. Several cruise lines offer luxury mini cruises that include all the perks of their normal cruises, simply at more affordable prices. Celebrity Cruises® offer unbeatable service on all of their mini cruises, no matter how short the distance.

10. Avoid airport security

If arriving up to three hours in advance of your flight and having to wait patiently in queue after queue wasn’t enough, prospective airplane passengers then have to set about emptying their bags of liquids, separating electronics and emptying pockets before repacking on the other side.

Although guests are still required to have their luggage scanned, the process is much quicker and simpler when travelling by ship. After check in, guests are handed their cruise cards and invited to begin their holiday straight away – we like the sound of that.

11. Fun themes

Mini cruises make a wonderful choice for those special celebrations such as birthdays or hen parties, taking much of the stress of organising off your shoulders. From the end of November through to the beginning of January, you’ll find many liners offering festive-themed mini breaks to explore the Christmas markets in Germany and Belgium – perfect for picking up unique gifts and getting you in the festive spirit.

12. Mini cruise and stay

Your cruise experience doesn’t have to start in the UK – many people are now choosing to spend time in their holiday destination before hopping on a mini cruise to round off their trip. Enjoy a few days in Barcelona before cruising around the Mediterranean, or if you’re visiting the sunshine state of Florida and fancy checking out the Caribbean, jump on a four-night cruise with Carnival.

13. Last minute bargains

Some of the best mini cruise deals are to be had last minute, offering would-be cruisers bargain prices without sacrificing any of the little luxuries. Most of the major cruise lines advertise great last minute deals, which can be booked as little as a week before departure or up to three months in advance. For the best deals, try to be flexible with your dates and open to the variety of itineraries on offer.

14. Your holiday starts the moment you step onboard

The main difference between flying and cruising is that your holiday begins from the moment you step onboard your cruise ship. There’s no waiting around at the airport or suffering overcooked plane food before waiting for your luggage at the other end. Guests simply unpack and begin to take advantage of all the vessel has to offer, from gourmet dining to stunning sun decks and onboard entertainment. All you need to worry about is arriving at your chosen port, unpacking in your comfortable cabin and deciding which sights you’d like to see when you disembark at your ports of call.

15. Action-packed enrichment

From luxury spas and fitness centres to serene pools and activities as diverse as climbing, not to mention informative talks, rest assured there’ll be no time to get bored between shore excursions. Evening entertainment comes in the form of live music and stage performances, cinemas and casinos – or simply kicking back in the lounge bar and drinking cocktails with new friends.

Take a look at the major cruise lines offering a wide selection of mini cruises with regular departures from the UK and destinations further afield – including New York and Barcelona.

If we’ve piqued your interest and you have a few days spare, take a look at our Mini Cruise Deals page to find out more about the offers available.

Photo credit – Belyay

* Terms & Conditions apply

We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.