Make the most out of a short period of time on a mini cruise.

The best mini cruises to book in 2022 and 2023

Author: Kaye Holland

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Ready to get back to school? Us neither. If you’re also at your desk, dreaming of getting away but short on annual leave, or worried about the rising cost of living, then a mini cruise for 2022/2023 is the solution.

Mini cruises, be they river cruises or ocean cruises, tend to be between two to four nights in length - meaning they’re much more affordable than a full-blown cruise while also great for those short on holiday time or looking to try cruising for the very first time. Here are six of the best to book…

Explore the delightful Dutch capital of Amsterdam on an Avalon Waterways' cruise. Credit: Shutterstock

Antwerp and Amsterdam
Family-owned Fred Olsen, famed for its small ship experience, is offering a mini-cruise to Amsterdam and Antwerp this October. Departing from Dover on October 21, 2022, onboard Bolette – which has just 690 carefully designed cabins – you’ll have ample time in Amsterdam to explore attractions such as the Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum as well as the UNESCO-listed Canal Ring.

Then it’s on to Belgium, and the historic city of Antwerp to discover treasures such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, traditional Belgian chocolate shops, and the world-famous Diamond district.

The fun continues back on board too. Enjoy a meal in Bolette’s rich mix of restaurants and lounges, take in a cooking demonstration in The Auditorium, or simply relax with a drink and a good book in hand, in one of the public spaces.
Fred Olsen’s five-night 'Antwerp & Amsterdam city break' departs from Dover on October 21, 2022, onboard Bolette and costs from £349 per person.

MSC Cruises sails to Marseille, France's picturesque but edgy port city. Credit: Shutterstock

Marvellous Marseille
Swiss-based MSC Cruises – the world's largest privately-owned cruise line – has a whole host of mini cruises to choose from but their sailing to Marseille, France's pretty yet gritty port city with an edge, caught our eye.

Departing on May 25, 2022 onboard MSC Orchestra – who counts Hollywood siren, Sophia Loren, as godmother, the four-night cruise also calls at Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, as well as Genoa, easily one of Italy’s most underrated cities.

The mini cruise includes a day at sea ensuring you have plenty of time to pose on the family-owned line’s signature Swarovski-studded staircases for the Gram.
MSC Cruises’ four-night 'Mediterranean from Marseille' cruise onboard MSC Orchestra departs on May 25, 2023, from Marseille and costs from £329 per person (excluding flights).

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Miami Nice
Sir Richard Branson’s edgy, adults-only line has also embraced the mini cruise concept. We like the sound of the four-night Fire & Sunset Soirées itinerary onboard Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages' first cruise ship.

Departing from always lively Miami on November 2, 2022, you’ll sail to the pastel-hued streets of Key West, with a day at The Beach Club at Bimini, Bahamas – complete with Virgin Voyages’ signature bonfire bash under the stars where passengers are encouraged to wear (what else?) red.
Departing on November 2, 2022, prices for Virgin Voyages’ four-night 'Fire & Sunset Soirées' mini cruise start at £783 per person.

There's always something to do in Miamia, aka America's Magic City. Credit: Shutterstock

Caribbean Queen
If you’re not averse to folding yourself into a plane for 10 hours and you’re craving some Caribbean sunshine, then Royal Caribbean’s three-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise onboard Independence of the Seas has your name on it.

Departing from Orlando, Florida, on February 24, 2023, the itinerary takes in Nassau, the vibrant hub of The Bahamas, as well as Coco Cay island – the first of Royal Caribbean’s five 'Perfect Day' islands to be unveiled around the world.

The cruise giant has spent £150 million creating the perfect Caribbean private island: Expect ​​powder-perfect beaches, bars, a hot air balloon, water park, restaurants and more set over 125 idyllic acres.
Royal Caribbean’s three-night 'Bahamas & Perfect Day' cruise onboard Independence of the Seas departs on February 24, 2023, and costs from £303 per person (excluding flights).


Cruise through some of Europe's most cultural cities on a Dabube river cruise.

Majestic capitals of the Danube
If a river cruise is more your bag, look to AmaWaterways. The luxury river cruise line will offer five-night cruises from 2023 courtesy of their new Majestic Capitals of the Danube itinerary.

Delight in the Old-World grandeur of Europe’s most spectacular capital cities including Budapest and Vienna and take advantage of up to five included excursions each day. Choose from guided hikes to hilltop castles such as Bratislava’s gleaming fortress, bike tours to beautiful sites like Klosterneuburg Abbey, and samplings of sachertorte – the cake that started a national holiday in Austria.

Whether you are sailing the Danube River for the very first time or returning to venture deeper into favourite cities, AmaWaterways’ new mini cruise ticks all the boxes.
Departing from Budapest on April 17, 2023, onboard AmaLea, AmaWaterways’ five-night 'Majestic Capitals of the Danube' cruise costs from £1,623 per person.

Travel through the heart of Europe on a scenic Rhine river cruise. Credit: Shutterstock

Christmas on the Rhine
Make Christmas 2023 the merriest one of them all on a special festive cruise along the Rhine with small ship expert, Emerald Cruises.

Sailing from Mainz on November 28, 2023, through Germany’s beloved wine region aboard an Emerald Cruises’ Star-Ship, you’ll get to visit the spa town of Baden Baden, stroll the fairytale streets of Strasbourg, with its cobbled streets and timber-framed houses, and explore the enchanting Black Forest region – as well as enjoying traditional Christmas carols with an onboard performance by a local choir and much, much more.
Emerald Cruises’ five-day 'Christmas time on the Rhine' cruise departs on November 28, 2023 from Mainz with prices starting from £1,027 per person.

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About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]