Amongst the many misconceptions about cruise holidays is the notion that they have be a huge investment – of both time and money.
The truth is that many operators offer two- and three-night cruises, which enable passengers to enjoy short and inexpensive trips to nearby countries.
With aiport taxes, luggage fees and transfers – before one even considers the cost of hotels and dining out – the cheap weekend city break is becoming a thing of the past.
That why, here at Cruise Adviser, we are huge advocates of the mini-cruise, which allows guests the chance to sample a cruise without committing to a longer sailing – while also getting away without having to break the bank.
Here are some of our picks for short ex-UK cruises coming up in late 2014 and 2015…
Dublin before Christmas
Fred Olsen’s two-night cruise on the Boudicca offers guests the chance to take in the historic sights of Dublin just weeks before the Christmas holidays.
Departing from Liverpool on 10 December, the cruise gives passengers the opportunity to see the Republic’s capital preparing for the festivities.
In addition to the Temple Bar district and the gorgeous gardens and squares of Trinity College, there are also the Christmas markets of St Stephen’s Green and Docklands.
Arriving in Dublin early on Thursday 11 December, the ship will depart again that evening, arriving back in Liverpool on Friday morning.
For more information, see fredolsencruises.com
New Year break
What better way to welcome in the New Year – and blast away those January blues – than with a two-night trip to the delightful city of Amsterdam.
Cruise & Maritime Voyage’s cruise, which departs from Tilbury in Essex on 5 January on the historic Marco Polo, offers the best of both worlds: a night at sea and a night in a hotel.
According to the operator, the cruise offers “sumptuous dining, a glittering show and late night cabaret with a disco” on the first night, before guests disembark in the Dutch capital.
After the overnight stay (including bed and breakfast), passengers fly back to London.
Prices start at £259pp. For more information see cruiseandmaritime.com
Royal Caribbean is billing its latest vessel, Anthem of the Seas, as the “ship that changes everything” – and this is a chance to experience it.
Sailing from Southampton on 29 August 2015, the cruise will take in Belgium and France on the groundbreaking Quantum-class ship.
The innovative second of three 167,800-ton, 4,180-passenger next-generation cruise ships will feature bumper cars and simulated sky-diving.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are the delights of neo-gothic Bruges and romantic Paris to enjoy.
For more information, see royalcaribbean.co.uk
P&O’s newest ship, the majestic 3,647-passenger Britannia, launches next year – and this is a chance to try it out.
From £339pp, the line’s two-night cruise departs from Southampton on 12 September, taking in Guernsey, before returning to the south coast.
Decked out with 13 bars and 13 restaurants – including an offering from Marco Pierre White – and a 936-seat theatre, the Britannia is a holiday destination in itself.
P&O promises guests will be “wowed by [the ship’s] size and stylish interiors… before the isle of Guernsey tempts you ashore,” with the Havelet Bay beach just five minutes from the port.
For more information see pocruises.com.