Mini cruises: the best short cruises between 2 and 4 nights

Best cruises in world

Whether you’ve got two, three, four or five nights to spare, these are the best mini cruises around the world.

Cruises don’t have to be long-haul jaunts for weeks on end. There are plenty of short cruises around the world that take up as little as two nights. These are the best mini cruises to book if you’re short on time but want lots of culture.

Overnight weekend cruises

If you’re not sure if cruising is for you, try a one-night weekend cruise to test the waters.

Fred. Olsen one-night cruise from Newcastle

This extremely mini cruise is ideal for those who just want to see what it’s like to stay overnight on a ship and experience hospitality at sea. Guests on the Fred. Olsen one-night cruise will step aboard the Balmoral in Newcastle and enjoy the line’s famously friendly service, brilliant food and glorious views of the northern English coastline before crossing into Scotland and heading towards Rosyth for an overnight stay.

Book it from £139pp >

Cruise & Maritime Voyages mini-cruise from Portsmouth

Set sail from Portsmouth on the Marco Polo on this one-night cruise and you’ll enjoy a five-course dinner at The Waldorf restaurant, a cabaret show and a late night disco to top it all off. You won’t be travelling as far as Marco Polo himself, arriving in Tilbury in the following morning, but it’s still a lovely way to escape the everyday.

Book it from £59pp >

3-day cruises

A two-night, three-day cruise can make the perfect weekend break.

More like this: The best European river cruises for 2019

Cunard’s Hamburg cruise from Southampton

Spend two nights on board Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria as you sail from Southampton to Hamburg, Germany. The ship itself exudes refinement and luxury, with its bard and lounges decorated in Victorian and Edwardian styles. There’s a traditional pub on board, a classic afternoon tea available and a delightful sun deck for when the weather’s on your side. But it’s not just all about the boat – disembark in Hamburg for a fantastic cultural day or two before flying home. The Elbphilharmonie concert hall has great shows, but is spectacular to see even just from the outside.

Book it from £193pp >

Planet Cruise’s Bruges getaway from Southampton

Head to the stunning medieval city of Bruges, Belgium, for a seriously romantic break. You’ll set sail from Southampton, then cruise the North Sea to reach Bruges the following day. The ship, Britannia, has 13 different restaurants and bars, a gorgeous library and a theatre. You’ll have a day in pretty Bruges before departing that evening and heading back to Southampton.

Book it from £264pp >

P&O’s two-night Guernsey cruise from Southampton

This short break to St Peter Port on Guernsey is a lovely way to spend a weekend. Depart Southampton on one of P&O’s many well-equipped ships and you’ll want for nothing. There’s a spa, fitness classes, a bar and plenty of shore excursions to enjoy when you arrive. Guernsey is a gorgeous little isle in the Channel, with sweeping sandy beaches and some fantastic walks.

Book it from £305pp >

4-day cruises

Ideal for a long weekend away, three-night, four-day cruises are a brilliant little mini break. These are our favourites.

More like this: This year's best cruises

DFDS Amsterdam mini-cruise from Newcastle

If you’re after a weekend away in Europe, try the DFDS Amsterdam mini cruises – you’ll sail from Newcastle to the Netherlands overnight, then have the option to stay one, two or three nights in Amsterdam at a hotel (to be booked separately), before sailing back again overnight. There’s entertainment on board and a restaurant for a la carte meals, and when you get to the Dutch capital, there’s a wealth of museums and parks to explore.

Book it from £84pp >

Royal Caribbean’s Bahamas cruise

If you don’t mind the long-haul flight to Florida, this wonderful three-night cruise from Port Canaveral is a brilliant short break in the Caribbean. On board the Mariner of the Seas you’ll find an inline skating rink, a basketball court, climbing wall, a 3D cinema and more. You’ll stop off at Nassau, on the Bahamas, with its blue lagoons and pods of dolphins, then Perfect Day CocoCay, an enormous waterpark the kids will love.

Book it from £364pp >

5-day cruises

Five-day cruises give you just enough time to relax and recharge before getting back to everyday life. Here are our favourites.

More like this: A cruise expert's view: 11 things learned after 1,100 cruises

Riviera Travel’s Rhine and Yuletide markets cruise from Cologne

A Christmas markets cruise has never looked so good. This wonderful, five-day river cruise takes in Cologne, the Rhine Gorge and the historic city of Koblenz, among others – all at the most beautiful time of year. You can either take the Eurostar to mainland Europe or fly into Cologne, then board the lovely Riviera Travel river cruise boat for four nights on the Rhine. Warm up at night with a mulled wine on deck – how dreamy. Sound right up your street? Request the brochure here.

Book it from £579pp >

Riviera’s Dutch bulb fields cruise from Amsterdam

This mini cruise leaves Amsterdam to explore the famous Dutch bulb fields, where come springtime they erupt into a geometric delight of colour. Spend a day in Amsterdam’s many museums (the city has the most per square mile in the world), before setting sail for the pretty ports and towns of the Netherlands. You’ll visit Rotterdam – Amsterdam’s underrated cousin – and Enkhuizen, a gorgeous port with many historic buildings. The Keukenhof Gardens are the main event, though, with thousand of tulips on display – a floral technicolour carpet. Intrigued? Request the brochure here.

Book it from £749pp >