Looking to escape for a long weekend or a mini vacation this summer? Want to cruise, but don’t have the budget to fly? We found seven great three- to five-night cruises sailing from mid-June to mid-September that you can still book—and if you live anywhere but the upper Midwest, you should be able to drive to your embarkation port in a day or less. Read on to find the quick and affordable last-minute cruise that’s right for you.
Carnival Horizon 4-Night Cruise to Bermuda from New York
Carnival’s newest ship, the 3,960-passenger Carnival Horizon, has a solution for couples and families looking to escape from the big city (or suburbs) to a remote island retreat. Cruises depart on Thursday evening and return Monday morning, with two days spent at sea and one day in port at King’s Wharf, making it an ideal sun-lovers’ escape. Onboard amenities include 16 restaurants (including Guy Fieri’s new Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse/Brewhouse), Dr. Seuss WaterWorks slides and splash zone, and the Havana Lounge pool and bar. From approximately $624 per person.
Norwegian Sky 3-Night Cruise to the Bahamas from Miami
Get ready for the ultimate long-weekend party cruise: All Norwegian Sky sailings to the Bahamas this summer feature an open bar—and they all depart on Fridays. The itinerary calls on Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian’s private island) and Nassau, both in the Bahamas. Amenities onboard the 2,004-passenger ship, which was refurbished in 2013, include six restaurants, 12 bars and lounges, and three pools. From approximately $319 per person.
Carnival Ecstasy 4-Night Cruise to the Bahamas from Charleston
The 2,056-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will depart on Thursday from Charleston, SC; it'll spend two days at sea and call on Nassau, Bahamas, before returning on Sunday. With fun entertainment (including the new Lip Sync Battle) and complimentary specialty dining at Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina (in addition to the Dining Room, the Lido Buffet, and Pizza Pirate), you’ll keep costs to a minimum—unless you go overboard at the seven bars. From approximately $479 per person.
Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas 5-Night Cruise to Cuba from Miami
Departing on Saturdays from Miami, this cruise onboard the 1,602-passenger Empress of the Seas overnights in Havana and calls on Cozumel, Mexico, with two sea days to enjoy the ship. While hardly the new kid on the block (in fact Empress is the oldest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet), this vessel has plenty of lively ambience for a fun-in-the-sun escape that will require just three days off from work if you live close to Miami. From approximately $495 per person.
Carnival Triumph 4-Night Cruise to the Caribbean from New Orleans
This four-night cruise—departing from New Orleans on Thursday and returning on Monday morning—lets guests party poolside for two days at sea, and spend a day exploring sunny Cozumel, Mexico. Onboard the 2,754-passenger Carnival Triumph, you can chow down at Guy’s Burger Joint, Seafood Shack, and five additional eateries; quench your thirst at the Alchemy Bar and the SkyBox Sports Bar; or enjoy a nightly Dive-In Movie on the pool deck. From approximately $504 per person.
Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas 3-Night Pacific Coastal Cruise from Seattle
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and you’re looking for a cheap weekend getaway in mid-September, the 3,286-passenger Explorer of the Seas is offering an itinerary you won’t want to miss. The cruise departs on a Friday and returns on Monday morning, after spending a day at sea and a port call in Victoria, BC. Onboard, you’ll enjoy all kinds of dining and entertainment options—from the FlowRider surf simulator and rock climbing wall, to ice skating shows, six bars, and eight restaurants. From approximately $229 per person.
Carnival Imagination or Carnival Inspiration 3-Night Cruise to Mexico from Long Beach
If you live in Southern California, take a half-day on a Thursday or Friday to board the 2,054-passenger Carnival Inspiration or Carnival Imagination for a three-night cruise with a call on Ensenada, Mexico. The ships have been updated with Carnival’s most popular eateries and lounges (such as BlueIguana Cantina for tacos and burritos and RedFrog Rum Bar for tasty cocktails), as well as the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat for poolside relaxation. From approximately $354 person.