How Long Are Weekend Cruises
Most weekend cruises tend to be 3-nights, leaving port on Friday afternoon and returning early Monday morning. A 3-night cruise gives the perfect length for a true weekend getaway, allowing you to forget all the stress brought on by work or school and truly escape.
Occasionally you may find 2-night cruises over the weekend, which leave Friday afternoon and return Sunday morning, although these are much less common.
Cost Of Cruise Addons And Excursions
One of the biggest benefits to booking a weekend cruise is that booking a dining or beverage package comes with less of a sticker shock than on a longer sailing.
If a beverage package is priced at $75/day on a 7-night cruise, your total cost will be over $500 plus gratuities! If that same price is offered on a 3-night cruise, youll only be shelling out around $225 plus gratuities.
This can make purchasing a beverage package much more enticing. Plus, its unlikely you will get bored or tired of drinking on a short cruise. Its common for many passengers to order fewer drinks as the days go on during a longer cruise, thus not getting the full value of their drink package. 3-nights is a more reasonable amount of time to enjoy unlimited tropical cocktails, beer, wine, coffee drinks, and fresh juices without feeling like youve been drinking too much!
Another great thing about the majority of Royal Caribbeans weekend cruises is that they include a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay. Its extremely easy to spend an entire day at CocoCay without spending anything extra, as food, beaches, pools, hammocks, and more are included in your cruise fare. Drink packages work on the island, too, meaning you wont have to budget anything extra for drinks.
For more information on what to do and whats included at Perfect Day at CocoCay, check out our full tour on the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel:
Should I Pick Allure Of The Seas
Allure of the Seas stands apart from the other cruise ships offering weekend sailings in that she is an Oasis Class ship. The Oasis Class ships are the largest in Royal Caribbeans fleet and are famous for their Central Park neighborhood, open-air Boardwalk, countless dining venues, and unique onboard activities and entertainment.
A 3-night cruise on Allure of the Seas will almost certainly be the type of sailing where the ship is considered the destination. Whether dining outdoors in Central Park, watching impressive acrobatics and diving in the AquaTheater, or zip lining over the Boardwalk, its unlikely a weekend will be enough time to explore the entire ship!
One important distinction to note before booking a weekend cruise on Allure of the Seas is that she has a few differences compared to other Oasis Class cruise ships. While she was scheduled to be amplified in 2020, her amplification has been postponed. Therefore she does not have many features you will find on other ships offering weekend cruises, including water slides, an upgraded pool deck, and new restaurants and bars.
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Cruises From San Diego
Spring cruises departing out of SD go to Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, South America, through the Panama Canal, and up the Pacific Coast. In the fall, cruises go to Mexico, South America and Hawaii. Winter cruises go to the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii and through the Panama Canal.
Memorial Day Weekend Calls
Many of the best Memorial Day cruise destinations are interchangeable with places you might go over the Labor Day holiday. Memorial Day activities for the whole family, such as letting loose on CocoCay private in the Bahamas, are just as enticing in late May as they are in early September.
On the other hand, some important advantages present themselves to travelers who are able to cruise during the Memorial Day holiday, no matter who you’re traveling with or where you sail from. If you’re looking for Memorial Day weekend getaways for couples, keep in mind that school tends to be out during May. Therefore, while family-friendly destinations such as the Bahamas and Mexico will be on the crowded side, romantic escapes to St. Kitts and Nevis or even Bermuda might have more availability. Have a private, romantic moment at Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, widely considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Couples might also consider dipping into their paid time off hours, since extending a weekend cruise to include Thursday or Tuesday will reduce the number of other travelers able to take the trip.
As is the case for general long weekend travel or even trips you take over Labor Day, many of the best cruises are the most adventurous ones. Why not head beyond the comforts of Cancun to the lesser docked-at cruise ports of Belize? Whatever you do, allow your brainstorming and research to be fun. After all, Labor Day is meant to be a break from work, not create more of it.
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Will There Be A Sea Day
The majority of weekend cruises departing from Florida do not have a sea day, although you may occasionally run into an itinerary with one day at sea. Weekend cruises tend to be port-intensive, meaning they stop in a new port each day.
The exception is with cruises departing from the Port of Los Angeles on Navigator of the Seas. Weekend cruises on Navigator of the Seas have a full day at sea prior to a port day in Ensenada, Mexico. A sea day is perfect for trying the newly amplified ships upgraded features, including the longest waterslide at sea and The Lime & Coconut Bar.
If your weekend cruise itinerary does not include a sea day, that does not mean you have to disembark the ship in each port you visit. Many passengers opt to spend one of the port days onboard instead of in port so they can make the most of the cruise ships activities, dining, and amenities.
Carnival Cruise Ship Returns To Florida Port For 3 And 4 Day Cruises
Carnival Liberty is back in Port Canaveral where the cruise ship will homeport and sail three and four day cruises to the Bahamas.
The Carnival cruise ship arrived at Terminal 3 in Port Canaveral earlier this week after sailing the past several weeks from the Cruise Capital of the World, PortMiami. Carnival Liberty had been replacing Carnival Horizon after the cruise ship needed an emergency dry dock.
Were so excited to finally get Carnival Liberty back to her home at Port Canaveral. Shes an important part of our guest offering from an important port in our network, said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy. Our successful restart is possible thanks to the support of our loyal guests and valued business partners like the team at Port Canaveral.
Carnival Libertys four days cruises from Port Canaveral will visit Nassau and either Bimini, Freeport, or Princess Cays. The three day cruises will have one port stop in Nassau.
Both the three and four day cruises will have two sea days.
Carnival Liberty is scheduled to sail out of Port Canaveral through at least April 2024.
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Which Royal Caribbean Ships Offer Weekend Cruises
While all Royal Caribbean ships may offer a 3-night cruise here and there, there are several ships that almost exclusively run on the same schedule every week. These ships tend to offer 3-night cruises from Friday afternoon to Monday morning and 4-night cruises from Monday afternoon to Friday morning.
While most ships running weekend cruises are not the newest and largest in Royal Caribbeans fleet, the majority of these ships have recently been amplified in the cruise lines Royal Amplified program. Amplifications bring an impressive upgrade to Royal Caribbean ships, adding new onboard activities, stateroom options, and dining/lounge venues.
Freedom of the Seas, a Freedom Class ship, offers year-round 3-night weekend cruises departing from Miami, visiting both Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas. Freedom of the Seas was amplified in February 2020 and received a major upgrade, with additions including the Perfect Storm waterslides, a Caribbean resort-style pool deck, and the new Giovannis Italian Kitchen restaurant.
Liberty of the Seas is another Freedom Class cruise ship and she will offer 3-night cruises to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas starting in November 2022. Those booking a weekend getaway on Liberty of the Seas will depart from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Liberty of the Seas was revamped in 2016, which added the waterslides, Splashaway Bay kids aqua park, and the Sabor Mexican restaurant.
Pro: Less Vacation Time Needed
A great benefit of a weekend cruise is that far less vacation time is needed compared to a 7-night cruise, especially if you live close to the departure port. By departing on Friday afternoon and returning Monday morning, its possible to take just one or two days off of work.
If you have few vacation hours or youre saving them for a longer trip, a 3-night cruise offers the chance to have a mini-vacation without sacrificing your precious PTO time.
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Shorter Cruises Are Usually Cheaper
Want to save money? Pick a shorter cruise. Simply having fewer days on the ship will mean lower cruise fares . As well, youll spend less money on the ship if you arent there as long. Tabs for drinks, specialty restaurants, and shore excursions will all be less.
In other words, if you are concerned with affordability, then look for shorter trips. Just keep in mind that when it comes to value , longer trips can often beat shorter ones.
Thats because while shorter cruises will be cheaper overall, typically the extra days for a longer cruise only mean a small increase in the overall price of cruise fare. Its not always the case, but often holds true.
Longer Cruises Mean Newer Ships
If you want to sail on the newest and largest ships, then you typically will want to sail a longer cruise of a week. While you might find a few shorter trips here and there, the newest ships typically sail longer cruises.
That can actually be a good thing for passengers. With the bigger ships, there is a lot more to experience and do, so having the extra time on board can give you an opportunity to see everything.
Meanwhile, cruise lines tend to use older ships for shorter journeys. Thats not to say these ships arent nice many of them have updates costing hundreds of millions to keep them in line with what cruise passengers expect. However, in most cases they will still be smaller and have fewer amenities than the newer ships on longer cruises.
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Best Weekend Cruise Itineraries
If youre looking to hop a ship for a few nights, you cant just sail from anywhere to anywhere. Its not like booking a hotel. Thanks to the complicated Passenger Vessel Services Act, foreign-flagged cruise ships cannot leave port, sail in circles with their casinos, shops and spas open, then return back to port two nights later. Nor can they hop from one U.S. city to another. Ships need to call in another country before heading back which limits where you can sail on a weekend cruise.
The most popular weekend cruises sail from Miami, Port Canaveral or Palm Beach in Florida, to the Bahamas, with one or two stops in Nassau, Freeport or the cruise lines private island. Consider it a quick dash to the beach ironic because you have to get to a warm-weather, coastal area to meet your ship in the first place.
On the Pacific Coast, weekend cruises from Los Angeles, San Diego or Long Beach in California head to Ensenada, Mexico for a quick getaway. Farther north, you might find a short repositioning sailing between Seattle or San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia at the beginning or end of the Alaska cruise season.
Weekend cruises from New York or other East Coast ports like Boston or Baltimore dont really exist because two or three nights is not enough time to get to Canada, Bermuda or the Bahamas and back again.
Which Length Cruise Is Best
As you might have guessed, different length cruises have their pros and cons. Theres no set length that is perfect. If youre a younger passenger who wants to have a fun time that wont cost a fortune, then we think youd be better off with a shorter cruise. If, however, you want to relax and visit more exotic ports, then youll most likely be happier with a longer cruise.
Either way, there are some definite differences between what youll experience on a short cruise versus a longer one.
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Get Away This Labor Day
The good news is that while Labor Day is a popular time to travel, possibilities for Labor Day weekend cruises are practically unlimited. If you combine this built-in advantage with smart strategic moves, like booking early and leaving from a convenient departure port, you’ll manage to cruise stress-free at one of the busiest times of the year. Moreover, being open to a wide range of destinations from top choices like the Bahamas and Cancun to secondary options like Puerto Rico further sweetens the deal.
Assuming you can only take three days for your Labor Day cruise, most of the best cruises are going to be the ones closest to you. If you live in the Northeast, you might depart from New Jersey’s Cape Liberty Cruise Port for Bermuda, which is the closest major cruise destination to the New York City area. For a trip like this, the journey is the destination enjoy the cerulean horizon of the open Atlantic before frolicking on legendary Bermuda shores like Horseshoe Bay Beach.
There’s no better way to spend an extra day off than in beachside bliss. From once-in-a-lifetime thrills to the soothing sound of lapping, blue waves, setting sail to one of these beautiful destinations is sure to make your next travel vacation one for the books with a relaxing weekend getaway or one week cruise.
Perfect Day At Cococay
Perfect Day at CocoCay is Royal Caribbeans private destination in the Bahamas and is a favorite port among cruise fans. The island offers something for everyone, whether youre looking to spend the day relaxing at Chill Beach, join the party at the swim-up bar, reserve a private, floating cabana, or slide down the tallest waterslide in North America.
While its not necessary to have a plan for your day at CocoCay, its a good idea to be familiar with what is offered on the island to ensure you can book any excursions or addons in advance.
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Pro: Ability To Splurge
A shorter cruise can be a great time to splurge on things like drink packages, shore excursions, and specialty dining. Knowing you dont have to budget for a full weeks vacation might make you more willing to pay for a few extras to enhance the cruise experience.
Spending $100 for a shore excursion in Nassau may not seem as bad when you dont have 3 or 4 other ports to visit. Likewise, booking a specialty dinner at Chops, Izumi Hibachi, or Jamies Italian can be a nice way to splurge while still having a fantastic weekend getaway.
Con: Higher Cost Per Day
A major drawback to a weekend cruise is that the cost per day of a 3-night cruise is often more expensive than the cost per day of a longer cruise. To put this into perspective, I checked the prices of two cruises: a 3-night cruise on Freedom of the Seas and a 7-night cruise on Harmony of the Seas. Both sailings take place in September, just after the summer cruise season is over.
On the 3-night sailing on Freedom of the Seas, the cruise fare for 2 adults in a balcony stateroom is $1068. This makes the cost per day $356 per room, or $178 per person.
On the 7-night sailing on Harmony of the Seas, the cruise fare for 2 adults in a balcony stateroom is $1,960 total. This makes the cost per day $280 per room, or $140 per person.
While the cost per day may not seem too drastic, it becomes much different once the cost of airfare and a pre-cruise hotel stay are added to the total cruise cost.
Lets say you pay $300 roundtrip in airfare and $250 for a hotel the night before your cruise. This adds $850 to your total cruise cost.
The 3-night cruise now costs $1918, making the cost per day around $639 per room, or $319 per person. The 7-night cruise, on the other hand, now costs $2,810, making the cost per day $401 per room, or around $200 per person.
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Which Cruise Ship Should I Pick For A Weekend Cruise
Most of Royal Caribbeans ships offering weekend cruises are extremely similar to each other. The Voyager and Freedom Class cruise ships offering 3-night cruises are almost identical in layout and onboard features. While some dining venues, bars, and water slides may differ, passengers should expect a relatively similar experience no matter which Voyager or Freedom Class ship they choose.
There are a few differences between them that should be noted, though:
- Navigator of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas offer different style waterslides than the others
- There is an escape room available on Independence, Mariner, and Navigator of the Seas
- Freedom Class ships are longer than Voyager Class ships, giving more space for a Splashaway Bay area for kids on the pool deck and more venues and stores inside the ship
- Freedom of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas offer the revamped Adventure Ocean kids programming, which offers kids more flexibility in activities rather than a rigid activity schedule