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What’s The Right Length For Your Cruise?

Written by: Kuki

It seems a very large number of first time cruisers take their first “dip in the pool” by booking a cruise that’s either 2,3,4 or 5 day cruises. They book the shorter cruises to “get their feet wet”; to give cruising a test drive. There’s a variety of reasons for doing so.
 
 
Like me, when I booked our first cruise, some are willing to give it a short try to see if they are going to feel locked in (ship fever). I remember thinking “what if I’m trapped on this ship for 5 days, and really don’t like it?” Well, we know how that turned out for me.
 
Whatever the reason, when first timers get onboard for their first attempt at cruising, on these shorter trips, they truly are not experiencing the real cruise experience. They get glimpses of what things may be like, but on cruises less than seven days, other than first timers, the majority of passengers onboard are trying to fit a week’s worth of fun into a cruise of shorter duration.
 
 
These short cruises, on all the cruise lines which operate them, normally have a real “get at it, and give it” atmosphere onboard. And all the cruise lines seem to attempt to create that atmosphere, by scheduling a week’s worth of activities into their shorter itineraries.

 

That does mean the short cruises can be very busy, and a whole lot of fun, but as result of it, they also aren’t really representative of the “full cruise experience”. Those who first try the busy, always something happening scenarios of shorter cruises, may hve the wrong idea when they venture forth to take a longer cruise.

And those who board looking for the cruise to offer them a quieter, more relaxed vacation, may also get an unrepresentative view of the cruise experience. They may think: “This is just much too busy; no chance to just relax”.

Of course, there’s others like me, who will just fall in love with cruising, and see past what is actually going on, and understand just how good things can be, even if some of what they’re experiencing does not meet their preconceived expectations.

My own recommendation is to leave the short cruises to the experienced cruisers. They’re prefect for those want a quick, generally inexpensive escape, but who also understand that’s what they’ve bought. From my own experiences I know I return home from short cruises needing a vacation from the cruise.

Cruises seven nights in duration are the standard for the vast majority of cruise ships. Most often they’ll sail on a Saturday or Sunday, which requires passengers to only use one week of vacation time from their jobs. While you can still stay as busy as you like, with all variety of scheduled activities, there is still down time built into the cruise, where you can sleep in, relax out on deck, or grow two pant sizes at the buffet.

Also, with seven day cruises, the ships have more time to cover greater distances, so you’re ports of call are going to offer more variety, than the shorter cruises. You’ll not only get more ports of call to visit during your cruise, you’ll get a choice of several destinations that aren’t available on shorter cruise itineraries.

8 and 9 night cruises are becoming slightly more common of late. Generally cruises doing this length of trip are designed so you can visit more ports, but still only have to take one week of vacation time from your job. They’ll leave early on one weekend, and return late the following weekend.

Once you step out of the routine seven day cruise you are going to notice a slight uptick in the average age demographic. And that will increase slightly as you go from an 8 night cruise to a 9 night cruise.

Cruises over 10 days in length will find you on ships with significantly less children and families onboard. You’ll also find a yet again older average demographic. There’s several causes. 1. A 10 – 15 day cruise requires using a full two weeks of vacation time. 2. Longer cruises are more costly, simply because you are paying for the services for extra days. 3. The older people are at a stage in their life where they can afford the time for longer cruises. For them, it’s the money, not the time that might be an issue..

Planned ship’s activities on the longer cruises are adjusted and targeted to the demographic the cruise lines have learned to expect on cruises of this length.

The next step up for lengthier cruises would be repositioning cruises, which quite commonly run from 16-18 nights. Cruise lines offer these when repositioning ships from distant global points, such as in the fall when they bring ships which summer in Europe back to the Caribbean.

On these cruises you’re once again going to likely find a more senior demographic, and once again, the activities and entertainment are geared towards them.

There are no hard and fast rules which are always true, with no variation, within any of the classifications I’ve discussed here. However I believe what I’ve described here is close enough to accurate to be qualified as general rules, which should prove true, and therefore reliable.

The last category would be World Cruises, which can run anywhere from 90 days and up. I have no experience with world cruise, though I’m assuming those require you to be old and rich. I’m approaching qualifying for the first criteria, but sadly very far from qualifying for the latter.

- A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Comment from donna
Time December 9, 2009 at 10:36 am

Right now, a 7 night cruise just works best. I supposed there will be a day when working isn’t an issue and I can take longer ones. After a week cruising, I’m usually ready to be home again.

Comment from MARIANNE GILMORE
Time December 9, 2009 at 11:31 am

We are new to cruising. Our first was 14 days to Hawaii and I loved the sea days more than shore days. We have tried a four day, and had we not been visiting friends who live near the port, I would not ever consider a short cruise. It would have been not worth the packing and airfare.
Ideally, I would like to find 2 14 day cruises (not necessarily on the same cruise line or itinerary) with a couple of days between them to do laundry and repack for the second cruise. For us, it is the cruise, not the destination, which we enjoy.
Marianne

Comment from Dave Beers
Time December 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm

7 nights is the best fit for us. We’ve done some 8 night cruises too which are fine. That extra day makes it special. I am not a big fan of shorter cruises although I just finished one. Given the hassles of getting to a port, I am not going to waste air fare for a 3 or 4 night cruise. 3 night cruises are a total waste of time to me and I simply won’t do them. If I lived near the port I might have a different opinion though. As it is, the closest port is Mobile and that is still a 6 hour trek by car.

I’d say 11 nights would probably be my high water mark before I was ready to be home again. 14 days would be the maximum. I absolutely do not have the personality or patience to go on cruises which are 21 days or longer. While the thought of a world cruise is enticing, I know I’d be ready for a padded room before the first month was finished!

Comment from bigapple
Time December 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Like the cruises of 10 days or more as the fellow cruisers are seasoned and are more in the know as to dress codes etc.Very few children running around the ship which makes a more relaxing atmosphere.

Comment from Kuki
Time December 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Last winter/spring we did a 4 day, 5day, and 18 day back to back to back, and I have to say I could have stayed on… of course the 18 day was on SilverSea, so we were in the lap of luxury! And what a GREAT time it was!

Comment from floridanamaw
Time December 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm

We’ve only been on 3 cruises so far. Our first one was a 5 night cruise. We wanted to see our we would like it. We loved it. Our last 2 have been 7 nights which I think will be what we do for a while. If we ever get to have more time off I would like to try a longer one. I think that for anything shorter than 7 night it’s just not worth the trouble of packing, driving, etc, at least for us anyway.

Comment from Mike Lawson
Time December 9, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Kuki, interesting topic. We normally have to fly to the port and for that reason seven days never seems like enough. We have been on many ten and twelve day trips. Twelve seems like the right amount of time you still don’t want to get off the ship but are starting to miss home. Take care, Mike

Comment from Master Chief
Time December 10, 2009 at 8:07 am

Kuki, we like the 7-8 days cruises. Actually I like the 14 day ones more than my wife so we compromise. We have cruised 12 times all 7-8 days with one 14 day cruise. We are destination cruisers and are constantly looking for new itineries. I just completed a 3 day cruise by myself as wife was off to baby showers with the kids. Way to short for me. As someone said 7 days and longer gives you more time to relax (I really like sea days) and being retired the demographics are more to my taste. I also would recommend a 5-7 day cruise for 1st timers. It will give you more of a feel as to what a cruise is about. Tha being said if I was offered a 3 day cruise for free I sure wouldn’t turn it down!! Smooth sailing.

Comment from Mike M
Time December 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm

My wife and I are at the point where seven day cruises are too short. We enjoy port intensive cruises to parts of the world we haven’t visited. My wife always loves saying on day six of a cruise “If this was seven days I’d be packing now”.

We have found that ten to twelve days are the best. It allows us a day or two pre and/or post cruise stay in a port of departure so we can experience it more than just getting off the plane and going to the ship. Those extra days in a port can really enhance the cruise experience. The downside is that it does significantly add to the cruise budget.

A three-five day cruise isn’t something we would no longer consider. We did one five day cruise and it seemed like it was over as soon as it began.

Take care,
Mike

Comment from Marc
Time December 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Seven days is just too short. I think 14 days is really are minimum with 21 being the maximum while working. Most of my friends that I cruise with are working folks in their 40s and 50s so I don’t find the age that much higher on two week versus one week cruises. Although never having had the opportunity to take a World Cruise, I do know of children who are on World Cruises.

Marc

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