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I took my first short cruise. Here's 7 things I liked and didn't like about my 3-night sailing

17 Oct 2023
Calista Kiper

How much of a difference is there between a week-long cruise versus a short cruise?


As a new cruiser, I wanted to try cruises of different lengths to see how different they are and which I like best.

For my first cruise, I chose a 7-night sailing on Wonder of the Seas that stopped at a total of 3 ports: Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and Sint Maarten.

After that week, I was ready to move forward with my newfound wisdom from my maiden voyage, so I went ahead and planned a second cruise on Freedom of the Seas

This time, I selected a much shorter 3-night sailing. The ship traveled from Miami, Florida, to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas over a weekend, embarking on Friday and disembarking on Monday.  

There were pros and cons to choosing a shorter sailing. Here are the 7 things I liked and didn’t like about my first short cruise.

Read more: What’s a good amount of days for a first cruise?

👍 What I liked about a short cruise


I'll start with the things that I enjoyed about trying a shorter cruise.

It had no long sea days

On my first cruise, day five and six were sea days and it left me feeling a little claustrophobic when surrounded by the ocean. I started to miss my own house and bed.

Despite the fact that Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world, I felt stuck onboard during these sea days.

I was able to mitigate the cabin fever by investigating new areas onboard.

I was very thankful that I chose the shorter cruise for my experience on a smaller ship: Freedom of the Seas was the perfect size to explore over 3 days. 

On this short cruise, we had no distinct sea days and instead spent each day at a port. I enjoyed the speed of travel and the fact that we spent less time on the open water.

Based on these experiences, I definitely recommend limiting cruises on smaller ships to no more than 5 days—but I look forward to testing this theory for myself.

I preferred visiting fewer ports


I also liked that we visited two ports instead of the three we stopped at on my first cruise.

Although I love to travel and appreciate seeing as many new places as possible, this allowed me more time to focus on the ports we did stop at.

I was able to prioritize those two locations—Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas—in my research and planning beforehand.

Because of that, I had a much better experience at Perfect Day at CocoCay, and I arrived at Nassau with more knowledge and background about the island. 

On my first cruise, I did enjoy getting to see the multiple ports—Perfect Day at CocoCay, Saint Thomas, and Sint Maarten—but I wasn’t able to do as much research beforehand or feel quite as knowledgeable before the trip.

Having fewer parts allowed me to focus in on each one and make the most of that time.

Shorter travel time made things simple


My cruise itself was only three days, and even with our policy of arriving at the port city the night before, my total travel time was only four days, from Thursday night to Monday afternoon.

This made it easier to schedule the shorter cruise and brought me back home quickly.

Although I love to travel, this overall eased my mind and made things much simpler.

A shorter cruise is a great option for younger or working adults who only have time for a weekend trip.

It was the perfect small getaway in the middle of September.

👎 What I disliked about a short cruise


Like everything in life, there are some downsides to a shorter cruise.

It was difficult to fit in all the events


Because of the limited amount of time on my Freedom of the Seas cruise, I had to carefully pick and choose which events I attended.

If this had been my first cruise, I would have had a lot of trouble distinguishing between which events I wanted to attend and which could fall by the wayside.

Thankfully, I came with a little more experience and was able to select the most important events I wanted to go to.

However, I still didn’t have enough time to see everything. It would have been fun to attend even more of the game shows or performances offered onboard.

We had less time to try different venues 


Similar to the previous point, a shorter cruise gave me much less time to try different dining venues.

I wrote on my must-do list to eat at the Windjammer, the main dining room, El Loco Fresh, Cafe Promenade, Sorrento's Pizza, and the specialty Ben and Jerry’s location.

I ended up having time to try Cafe Promenade, Sorrento's Pizza, and the specialty Chops Grille restaurant.

However, I mainly dined at Windjammer for the length of this cruise because of the ease of dining and the ability to choose all my own meals. 

When you’re in a rush, the Windjammer is one of the best places to grab a meal.

In the end, I completely missed the opportunity to try El Loco Fresh and Ben and Jerry’s! 

Read more: Here's the one must-eat place on every Royal Caribbean ship

People seemed less friendly 


I noticed that people were a little less friendly on my second cruise than on my first cruise. 

My theory is that for shorter cruises, passengers are focused on the groups or friends they came with and on enjoying their time together.

While I had passing conversations with people on Freedom of the Seas, I found nothing close near to the close-knit friendships I’d made on Wonder of the Seas. 

On my longer cruise, I found that people were much more willing to make friends and hang out multiple times over the week of travel.

Neither is a bad perspective to have, but I was looking forward to meeting some new people, and I didn’t quite do that on my second cruise.

The time really flew by


Despite the benefits of a shorter cruise, a major disadvantage is just how quickly it seems to fly by. Three nights and barely three full days pass by swiftly!

While it was a fun experience, and I did get to try many different things on this cruise, the time period was so short that I can hardly remember what happened.

If you’re planning to spend a lot of money on your cruise and get the most out of a longer vacation, a short cruise is definitely a disadvantage in this way.

A short vs long cruise


Overall, I learned that seven nights was too long for me.

However, a seven night cruise did allow for plenty of time to explore the ship and experience countless events and four shows.

In contrast, my short Freedom of the Seas cruise was only three nights. We stopped at just two ports, had fewer events to go on, and only attended two shows. 

Although it was a smaller ship, and there was less of it to explore, I wished I had more time to attend events and shows onboard. 

Where my first cruise had dragged a little long, my second one flew by in a flash. 

There are benefits to choosing a short cruise, but I think my personal sweet spot would be somewhere between three and seven days, such as a 5-night sailing. 

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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