Have a long weekend away? A four-day cruise can be an affordable option — with fares ranging from about $199 to $499 per person for an inside cabin. Or, if you have a full week to vacation, this not-too-short, not-too-long getaway is the perfect addition to three in your city of embarkation. Here's what you need to know before you book:
Ships tend to be older and smaller.
While it varies by line, Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean offer four-day itineraries on their oldest vessels. However, some newer mega ships, such as Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Reflection, as well as Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Joy (purpose-built for the Asian market and sailing from Shanghai) occasionally sail four-day cruises, too.
Your “long weekend” might have to start on a Tuesday.
While the ideal four-day cruise would start on a Thursday or Friday, cruise lines tend to run three-day and four-day itineraries back to back, so some sailings begin midweek.
There are plenty of choices close to home.
Sailing from Florida? Most major lines — including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Disney — have four-day sailings to the Bahamas and Caribbean from the Sunshine State's most popular ports — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Port Canaveral. You can get to one of cruising's hottest destinations — Cuba — from Miami on Norwegian Sky which just started sailing 4-day cruises to Havana.
If you're seeking big-city sophistication paired with British-colonial charm, you can book a four-day sailing from New York to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean or Carnival. Or try hopping aboard Carnival's four-day cruises from Galveston or New Orleans for a few days at the beach and some stellar snorkeling in Cozumel.
For cruisers near the Pacific Coast, a four-day cruise from Long Beach can be a great option. Princess, Holland America, and Carnival all have itineraries that head north to Vancouver or south to sunnier ports, such as Catalina and Ensenada.
There are a few options further afield.
In Europe, the four-day cruise is usually offered as a roundtrip sailing. For example, MSC and Costa both offer itineraries that sail to and from Barcelona and Marseille while Cunard offers round-trips from Southampton, a convenient choice if you want to check out northern European cities such as Hamburg and Rotterdam. Another option is to book the cruise as a transit from one city to another, boarding, say, in Rome and disembarking in Barcelona.
Looking for something further away still? Royal Caribbean and Norwegian also offer a range of four-day itineraries from Shanghai and Beijing.
Look for "four-night" cruises, not "four-day" cruises.
Because passengers board ships in the afternoon, that first day on board is actually less than 12 hours. That means cruises advertised as "four days" only give you 3.5 days on board. It’s more accurate to refer to cruises by the number of nights — which is how you'll always see these cruises listed on ShermansCruise.
A four-day cruise can feature one, two, or zero sea days.
Your number of sea days depends on your sailing. Many four-day itineraries, especially those in Europe and Asia, feature two port calls and one sea day. A few, such as MSC, visit ports on all three days, which is great for travelers eager to explore, but less appealing to those who want to relax. On the other hand, many Western Caribbean itineraries and some Bahamas sailings feature two sea days and call on one port, such as Cozumel or Nassau.
Don't ignore the value of a sea day, even on these shorter trips, since this is your opportunity to sleep in (no early morning lines for shore excursions!) and spend the day relaxing blissfully by the pool or in the spa.