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What Is The Best Length For A Cruise?

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’ll 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 (island 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 enjoy the busy, always something happening scenarios, have a greater chance of being disappointed 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 gone, 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 also go understanding 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 have a longer cruise, perhaps 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 up tick in the average age demographic. And it will increase slightly as you go from an 8 night cruise to a 9 night cruise.

Cruises over 10 day 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 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 –






Comment from Parrot Mom
Time February 13, 2010 at 5:59 am

Okay, put me in that “senior” category..we just love transitional cruises of 13-14 days…I feel cheated when we don’t have wonderful days at sea..Thinking about picking up a seven day cruise only because I’m in dire need of sun up here in the Northeast..At one port I just may stay on’s not an exciting spot for me.. As for the older/senior group.. please save us from the unruly kids on the cruise ships.. I might be old in body and young in heart, but I refuse to book a cruise when I know the ship maybe filled with tiny tots and teens out of control.. and cruisers know what I’m tallking about..

Comment from Robin Coe
Time May 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I am not old or rich. My Husband and I went on the first leg of a world cruise (30 days)on Royal Princess. It was funny about the “old” part of your comments, because my husband and I kept being called the “Youngsters”! We took the cruise because it went to alot of the places we had dreamed of going to all on one cruise! The down side of the cruise was the music and entertainment were not geared to our age taste. If we stayed out to go to a movie (ended at 12:00 Midnight) we pretty much had the ship to ourselves! The only people at the disco was the captains daughter and the DJ! In spite of these shortcomings for us, the other passengers were very personable and friendly and we found lots to talk about with them. There was one other couple on board that were younger than us and we didn’t see much of them (honeymoon!). We were in our mid fourties at the time of the cruise. We had a great time but we decided that if we were going to take a cruise that long again we needed to be a little older so we had more people in our own age group! It truly was a special time!

Comment from Kathy Lowe
Time May 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

My husband and I just completed 3 back-to-back RCI Australia and New Zealand cruises. It totaled 39 nights. It’s a 14-hour flight to Sydney from San Francisco…too far not to stay awhile! Too long? 39 nights was not long enough!

Comment from Bill
Time September 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The best length for a cruise is the longest I can pay for.

Comment from MIA
Time April 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

this will be like my 230 something cruise – for me it’s a mental health week – however since it is mental health, I travel alone. Speak if I want, don’t have to answer to anyone, do my own thing. But why since I cruise single do I have to pay double for an unused cabin. Eat for one, bed for one, tip for two> Who will offer me a better deal than paying double for a single? Please answer

Comment from Meera
Time August 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Thank you for your advice. I am in my 40s and I am planning on one of these long, 25 days to be more specific, cruises across the Pacific this year. I am nervous and a bit confused as to what I should expect. And how do I find cruise partners suitable for this long trip? Am I too young for these cruises? I enjoy younger men…would I find them on these cruises? Between 45 and 65 is okay.

Comment from Matt R
Time November 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I’d agree with Bill in all fairness. If you can afford it, stay as long as possible. And as Kathy Lowe pointed out, if your making a long flight to the other side of the world to embark on your cruise you want to make the most of the opportunity with regards to time. Once you’re there you want to stay for as long as possible. Just my thoughts.

Comment from Janna
Time December 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

I’m in my 30s and the longest yet has been 2 – 10 day. I’m planning a back to back next and will hopefully go on a world in the next few years. Any length is a good length to cruise in my opinion. With or without hubby!

Comment from ed the ted
Time December 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I agree with Bill. I’ve recently retired and doing a world sector on the Black Watch in Jan. 12.
31 days on ship + 4 in Singapore for $4000.
How’s that for value.

Comment from Amanda j
Time December 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

I agree with Mia, why do single people whom go cruising get screwed over with the price. i am 43 and undertook my 43rd cruise this year, for 10 days, though 10 weeks would have been fab! There is no reward from Princess Cruises , for being a loyal customer, this is saved only for American passengers!!

Comment from Marc
Time June 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I have found that 17 nights seems to be best; fits nicely into a three week vacation window. Curiously, I have three cruises in a row (two different lines) all 17 nights. Maybe the cruise industry has also figured out that this is a good length.

Comment from neville wigmore
Time May 6, 2014 at 11:22 pm

a friend and i went for a cruis on carnaval spirit for 5 days was very unhappy wityh it went 1 port instead of 2 was like old shiptoast hard @ coldeggs

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