Mini Cruises: For People Who Don’t ‘Do’ Cruises

For many people, the idea of cruising around the Mediterranean for a fortnight or more onboard a luxurious ship is their idea of paradise; but these types of luxury cruises are certainly not for everyone. Some people think cruises are too long, or find the idea of spending so long at sea a little claustrophobic.

The Mini Cruise is fast becoming a popular choice among those new to cruises who don’t yet want to take the plunge into a longer cruise. j0j0 / Pixabay

For a lot of people, long cruises are also simply out of their budget. However, the excitement of a cruise is something which we think everybody should experience in their lifetimes. The combination of transport and entertainment is something that is just not found on any other type of holiday. So what can be done for people who want the fun of a cruise but without the big price tag and lengthy time on the waves? The answer is simple: the mini cruise.

A mini cruise typically involves boarding during the later afternoon, and spending your evening onboard the cruise ship. After an evening full of entertainment and fun, you spend the night on the ship and awake not far from your European destination. You then spend a day or two in the town or city, soaking up the sun and culture, and travel back to the UK in the evening on the same vessel.

The Best
Enjoy a romantic dinner before your return

Mini cruises are the perfect choice for people just looking for a break for a couple of days. They’re a great alternative for those looking for a romantic cruise which doesn’t involve such long distance travelling. The few nights of partying combined with shopping and sightseeing also makes them ideal for stag and hen parties, as well as people celebrating a birthday.

Here is our ultimate guide to where you can go on your cruise and what fabulous entertainment is available on board.

Popular Destinations

European cruises are a popular choice for people who don’t want to travel too far on longer cruises, but because of the close proximity to the UK, a European country is the ideal destination for a mini cruise. Many of the locations take around 12 hours to get to, meaning that you can enjoy an evening of entertainment as well as an overnight stay on the ship.

Mini River Cruise in  Europe
Enjoy a Mini River Cruise in Europe


Hull – Amsterdam

This is one of the most popular routes for those booking a mini cruise. You can usually choose between two night and three night options. The two night option involves spending both nights on the ship with the day in the middle spent exploring the city, while those wishing to spend a night in the infamous city can choose to have a three night break instead. There is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam, so you are guaranteed to have a jam-packed day. A wide selection of galleries and museums – catering for all tastes – await those eager to learn, while the stunning architecture and picturesque canals make the perfect backdrop for a day of eating, drinking and shopping. The Anne Frank museum, where you can visit the annexe that she and her family hid in during World War II, is extremely moving and a must-see when visiting the city. If you have longer to spend in the city, then there are river cruises which regularly depart from the city’s port and take you through Hoorn and Antwerp.


Hull – Bruges

Just as with the Amsterdam trip, this mini cruise is available for either two nights or three nights. You are guaranteed to have a wonderful day or two exploring the city of Bruges in Belgium. The city is rich in history and has a wide selection of bars, restaurants, shops and exciting things to do. However, you might need a strong coffee or two to get you through the day after spending the night on board the cruise ship! Several bars, restaurants and even a casino await you on your overnight crossing, meaning that you have a great night out before you even reach your destination.

Cruise ship
A beautiful sunset onboard a cruise ship

Portsmouth – Spain

Those wishing to travel from Portsmouth have the options of taking a cruise to slightly warmer climates. Cruises to the Canary Islands are a popular choice for holiday-makers going on longer cruises, but Spain is an alternative hot option for a shorter trip. Imagine departing from overcast England and then arriving the following morning in sunny Spain for a day of sunbathing and Sangria-sipping.

Portsmouth – France

A trip to France is a great option for those who are on a budget or can’t get much time off work. Crossing the Channel doesn’t take long, but still gives you time to enjoy the luxury of a cruise with three-course meals and quality shopping (at significantly lower prices than on the high street). You can choose a two day option in which you stay overnight in France, or make the journey in just one day on an especially-mini mini cruise. A popular choice is to drive your car onto the ship, meaning that you can stock up on the cheap goods available across the sea.

Themed Cruises

For those celebrating special occasions or just looking for something a little different, a number of cruise companies such as P&O offer themed cruises. You may think you would need to take a trip on a luxury cruise ship for something out of the ordinary, but themed mini cruises can be a very affordable option.  These often involve the same routes and schedule as the other mini cruises covered, but whilst on board there is much more on offer.

Murder Mystery

If you love detective stories and the thrill of a good mystery, then a murder mystery mini cruise could be the perfect weekend break for you! This cruise departs from Hull, but arrives at Bruges with one less passenger. The drama takes place during the dinner of the first evening, after which passengers can enjoy all the usual eating, drinking and shopping opportunities of the other cruises – but they can do so while mulling over the events that have just taken place. The following day is spent exploring the city of Bruges, before getting onboard the vessel again for the concluding evening of eerie entertainment.

70s Disco Cruise

Pack your flared trousers and blue eyeliner for a night of shameless, cheesy 1970s fun! Aboard this cruise, guests can party the night away to a selection of their favourite disco songs. It’s like going to a fancy dress party, but one which lasts for two evenings instead of one. This is the perfect party ship for passengers of all ages, whether you were there to enjoy the 70s first time around or just love dressing up and boogying.

Luxury Cruising has its benefits
Party time on board a cruise ship


What Next?

If after reading this list you decide that a cruise is the perfect choice for your next mini break, research all of the popular cruise companies to find which one suits you the best. There are also other articles on the web that can help you pick the  best mini cruise option for you Whether you want to party the night away, enjoy fine dining or even solve a crime, mini cruises guarantee that you have heaps of fun before you even arrive at your destination. After experiencing a mini cruise, you may even find that you are a ‘cruise person’ after all, in which case you might be interested to find out where the top 10 cruise destinations for this year are.

Top cruise for this year
Top cruise for this year


Cruise guide written by Claire Cavanagh

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