For those not yet ready to enter the world of ocean cruising, mini cruises offer a small foray into cruising with all the epic proportions of traditional cruise facilities, without having to commit to the time or cost. As a result, mini cruises are typically between two to six nights' long and offer a more relaxed atmosphere than their longer counterparts; expect the warm welcomes and sumptuous dining of a traditional cruise, but bars are often open for longer and there's more of a fun-filled, informal feel.
How long you opt for and which port you travel from affords a range of short-shop destinations in the UK or Europe, whether it be setting sail to Newcastle or further afield to Amsterdam, Ghent and Bilbao. Typical mini cruise packages include accommodation in your choice of cabin, full board arrangements, first-class on-board entertainment and calls at ports, with the same high levels of comfort and high class vessels that are standard to ocean cruising. Think open-air jacuzzis, plenty of deck space, pools, beauty salons and comfortable cabins with private facilities.
The MS Marco Polo and MV Discovery are popular vessels for mini cruises and include the following facilities:
With its 'classic lines' and amenable on-board ambience, the 20,000-tonne MV Discovery exudes an intimate atmosphere, calling itself a 'home from home'. There are eight passenger decks, two pools, lounges and bars, on-deck dining (the bar has a retractable roof), heated open-air jacuzzis, shop, beauty salon, gym, library, cinema and 24-hour medical centre. At night, the Carousel Lounge boasts first-class entertainment. All cabins include private facilities with shower or shower/bath, TV, hairdryer and personal safe.
View the Discovery deck plan
MS Marco Polo
Described as the 'epitome of sea-going elegance', the beautiful 22,000-tonne Marco Polo offers a classic, traditional cruising environment. Priding itself on its warm welcome and sumptuous dining, this child-free ship boasts eight passenger decks which between them ensure ample deck space on which to sunbathe, play deck games, take a promenade or even jog for those who are so inclined. This high-class vessel also has a pool and Pool Bar, desk-top jacuzzis, gym, hair and beauty salon as well as sauna and massage facilities. To wind down after a port of call or a night of dancing till dark, all cabins offer private facilities with bath/shower, TV with satellite and in-house channels, hairdryer and personal safe.
View the Marco Polo deck plan
Below are some popular stops for mini cruises around Europe, this is just an idea of where you may stop and what you can do. Please note that itineraries and timings will vary by date and company.
When on your mini cruise a possible stop is in Amsterdam, this allows you to experience this fascinating cosmopolitan city before returning back to your cabin. Why not visit Anne Frank’s House or one of the many museums? Explore the 165 canals which surround Amsterdam and stop for a beverage in a traditional coffee house whilst watching the world go by.
Located between Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp, Ghent is a medieval canal city in the heart of Belgium. Known to be a great stop on a Mini Cruise, Ghent has a wealth of attractions to explore from the Castle of the Counts, St Michael’s Bridge to St Bavos Cathedral. Then after exploring the city you can retire back to the ship to relax.
A popular stop for mini cruises Bilbao is a thriving city located in North Spain. Frequently visited tourist attractions include the Guggenheim Museum, the Dona Casilda Park and Plaza Nueva. If your cruise stops here you can spend the day exploring popular Old Town and then see the contrasting newer architecture like the Guggenheim Museum building.
Thought to be a regular stop when on a mini cruise you can explore Edinburgh, when your ship docks for the day. Visit Edinburgh Castle in all its glory towering over the city or spend a few hours browsing stores on Princes Street. Edinburgh is a great city for all ages to explore and will definitely add to your mini cruise experience.