Mini cruises: Brief encounters

Mini cruises: Brief encounters

Mini cruises are a great way to introduce customers to holidays at sea. Jane Archer takes a look at what's available in 2013

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Mini cruises are all the rage as cruise lines step up efforts to grow the market by persuading more newcomers to sample a holiday at sea.

Next year, Royal Caribbean International has more short cruises from Southampton, and is visiting Zeebrugge, for excursions to Bruges, for the first time, while Disney Cruise Line has new four-night cruises in the Mediterranean.

Hurtigruten has expanded its selection of winter short breaks along Norway’s coast and Princess Cruises is looking to tap into the new-to-cruise market with mini Caribbean cruises.

Typically three or four nights in duration, short cruises allow folk who have never cruised to see what it’s all about without investing too much time or money.

Royal Caribbean International head of sales Steve Williams said: “Short cruises are great value and a fantastic opportunity to showcase our ships to first-timers reluctant to spend on a 14-night cruise, and also to people who have cruised but have never tried Royal Caribbean.

“They tend to attract younger people, which gives the cruises quite a buzz. Our future cruise agents are always incredibly busy as passengers invariably want to book a longer cruise once on board.”

There is plenty of choice for customers interested in sampling a cruise, with lots mini cruises from the UK – so there’s no need to fly – and in the Med and Norway.

Agents with clients holidaying in Florida or California can offer to package a mini cruise to the Caribbean within a land-based vacation.

Hurtigruten UK managing director Kathryn Beadle said the prospect of seeing the Northern Lights attracts new-to-cruise and past passengers to its short cruises.

“The chance to see this natural phenomenon creates the interest. They take a section of the coastal voyage route, which can be combined with winter activities such as snowmobiling and dog-sledding.”

Some 52,000 British cruise passengers took a cruise of between one and three nights in 2011, and 67,000 took a cruise of four to six nights, Passenger Shipping Association figures show.

Mini cruises 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines

What’s on offer? A huge selection of short cruises from ports across the US, but most appealing to UK clients are two to four-day hops to the Bahamas, and Western and Eastern Caribbean from Miami and Port Canaveral.

Sell to: Clients taking a landbased holiday in Florida.

Sample: From £215 cruiseonly for a four-night Western Caribbean cruise from Miami on Carnival Imagination on April 8.


What’s on offer? Two-night mini cruises from Southampton to Hamburg on Queen Mary 2, with a one-way flight out or back. Queen Elizabeth is sailing a two-night mini cruise to Zeebrugge and a four-night spring getaway in May.

Sell to: Clients who’d like to try Cunard’s transatlantic sailings but can’t spare the time.

Sample: From £396 for a two-night mini cruise from Southampton to Hamburg including one-way flight on August 22.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages

What’s on offer? One or threenight taster cruises from Tilbury, Leith, Newcastle and Hull.

Sell to: Clients aged 65-plus who want a cheap night out.

Sample: From £79 cruise-only for a one-night cruise from Newcastle to Tilbury on August 31. A coach transfer back to Newcastle costs £25.

Disney Cruise Line

What’s on offer? New fournight mini cruises in the Med that visit Villefranche and Palma de Majorca, and four-night breaks from Miami to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Long-established three and four-night mini cruises from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay.

Sell to: Mickey lovers keen to sample the Disney experience at sea.

Sample: From £545 cruise-only for a four-night cruise on Disney Magic from Barcelona on August 6.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

What’s on offer? Nine two to five-night no-fly mini cruises to France, Belgium, Guernsey and Ireland from ports around the UK including Southampton, Harwich, Greenock, Dover, Liverpool and Belfast.

Sell to: Older clients looking for a good-value few days at sea.

Sample: From £319 cruiseonly for three nights from Southampton to St Peter Port and back to Harwich on May 4.


What’s on offer? Five-day winter cruises in Norway, either north from Tromsø to Kirkenes and back, or a new Taste of the Arctic voyage south from Tromsø to Bergen with activities such as dog-sledding, snowmobiling and northern lights safaris.

Sell to: Clients in search of a cool winter adventure.

Sample: From £995 for a five-day cruise north from Tromsø from January to March, including flights, transfers, three nights’ half-board on board and one night bed and breakfast in Tromsø.

Norwegian Cruise Line

What’s on offer? Three and four-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas that include a day at Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay plus a couple of three and four-night Med cruises from Barcelona on Norwegian Epic.

Sell to: Families who want a lively American cruise.

Sample: From £605 for a threenight cruise from Barcelona on May 5 including flights and transfers.

P&O Cruises

What’s on offer? Two, three and four-night mini cruises from Southampton to France, Guernsey, Belgium and Holland on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana and Ventura.

Sell to: First-timers and past passengers who can’t wait until their next cruise.

Sample: From £249 for a threenight cruise from Southampton to Amsterdam and back on January 7.

Princess Cruises

What’s on offer? Three and four-night cruises in June and September on the new Royal Princess and Crown Princess, plus new three and five-day Caribbean taster cruises from Fort Lauderdale on Ruby Princess and three and four-day short cruises on Golden Princess from Los Angeles.

Sell to: Princess fans keen to try the new ship.

Sample: From £399 cruiseonly for a four-night Weekend Sampler from Southampton to Rotterdam and St Peter Port, Guernsey, on September 26.

Royal Caribbean International

What’s on offer? Mini cruises in the Caribbean and Asia, plus more cruise breaks from Southampton, visiting Le Havre and Zeebrugge, and five-night Western Mediterranean breaks from Barcelona on Liberty of the Seas.

Sell to: Non-cruisers who think a holiday at sea will be boring.

Sample: From £179 cruiseonly for a two-night mini cruise from Southampton to Le Havre (for Paris) and back on Independence of the Seas on May 2.


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