The Good, Bad and Ugly of Short Starter Cruises
PHOTO: The wake behind Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista. (photo by Mark Leppert)
For anyone who has never taken a cruise before, a short sailing is potentially ideal as an initial taste, but it’s not without its own shortcomings.
Hesitation might be understandable from Americans who average around two weeks of vacation time annually. Spending half of that time or more on a first cruise is always a gamble if dedicating days off to something that’s not a sure thing in their eyes.
Certainly, the cruise industry wants to prove to newcomers that it is worthy of your time, and that’s where quick getaway voyages come in.
They can be as short as two nights in length, but three and four-day trips are the most common as they perfectly alternate week in and week out.
Such sampler sailings are easy for guests to book over extended weekends and provide a great overview of what cruising is all about. They present a quick escape while also briefly showcasing a ship’s accommodations, activities, dining and entertainment.
Best of all, they almost always do so inexpensively.
Pricing hinges on supply and demand; Brands with larger fleets are ever in need of filling their ships with competitive rates.
A rare exception is Disney Cruise Line with its current four vessels. The company knows how greatly fans desire to experience its relatively few ships. It can sometimes command fares for a rare two-night cruise on the west coast comparable with more common weeklong ones on the east coast.
Others, however, remain far cheaper albeit usually available on older and smaller ships. That means they will likely not have all of the latest and greatest features aboard, but there often wouldn’t be enough time on abbreviated sailings to experience it all anyway.
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Companies like Carnival Cruise Line still do a great job applying their branded amenities to offer an experience that’s consistent with the rest of the fleet. Its Taste Bar, for instance, specifically serves up dishes from restaurants on other ships to preview what else could be available on a future voyage.
The single greatest caveat of a shorter sailing is its potential to become a booze cruise.
All cruise lines have done a fine job distancing themselves from any former stereotypes, but a rowdy element can still rear its ugly head from time to time. The fact is that quick, convenient and cheap cruises closest to covering the days of a weekend are more likely to attract drinkers. A more boisterous crowd often also comes with noisier, rambunctious children in tow.
Thankfully, a cruise is a safe environment for such behavior, within reason, even if it’s not everyone’s preferred scene.
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For those looking to escape such clientele, cruises scheduled in between the weekends are likely to be better. Or you could take a chance on a longer cruise with a money-back guarantee.
In fact, Carnival offers its Great Vacation Guarantee so there is zero concern for any possible disappointment. The line will refund passengers 110 percent of their cruise fare and pay to get them back home if they are not satisfied within 24 hours of departure. This applies to 3-14 day cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Bermuda, Canada/New England or Alaska.
Guest Services will arrange return travel from the ship as soon as possible so that your vacation days are not wasted. Plus, if you decide to try a Carnival cruise again in the future, the line will even provide a $100 onboard credit per cabin.
This post first appeared on TravelPulse.