Analysis: This Line Has the Cheapest of the Inexpensive “Micro” Cruises

Looking for an inexpensive short cruise? You’re not alone. These days more and more people are opting for shorter vacations.

Carnival ship whale tail

In fact, according to a survey from travel insurer Allianz, more than half of Americans didn’t take a trip longer than four nights in the past year. Three-fourths of people asked took at least one vacation of fewer than five nights.

There are a ton of reasons behind the popularity of shorter trips. Some people find it easier to take off of work for a shorter time compared to taking a week or more away from the office. Others enjoy that shorter vacations simply cost less money. Still others would rather take multiple short trips than one long vacation.

No matter the reason that someone would rather take a short trip, the cruise lines are happy to oblige. These days the major cruise lines have made a big push toward what we call “micro” cruises — sailings that last 3-4 days.

These cruises offer the ability to have a quick getaway without sacrificing a lot of money or time away from work. In fact, on many of these trips you can take off a Friday, sail over the weekend, and then be back home on Monday.

They have proven popular with passengers and cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean have quickly added more capacity. While not every major cruise line offers a ton of options in this cruise length (the traditional week-long cruise is still very popular), several lines do.

So which line should you sail? While there are a lot of factors that go into selecting the right cruise line for you, one of the big draws of taking a shorter cruise is that they can be amazingly affordable.

That’s why we set out to find the cheapest cruise line offering these micro trips. With this information you can get a better sense of what you might pay for your short cruise.

Micro Cruises For Less than $200 Per Night

When it comes to the cruise line with the cheapest of the inexpensive short cruises, our research found Carnival was the clear winner. Carnival’s cheapest cruise fares on micro cruises average just $194 per person for an interior cabin (before taxes, fees, and gratuities).

So how did we arrive at these figures?

The first step was narrowing down the cruise lines that offer cruises of three and four days. Truth be told while these trips are gaining in popularity, relatively few cruise lines offer a regular lineup of short sailings.

During our search, we found three major lines — Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian — offering the most trips. Other lines might have a few trips like this here or there, but nothing like what these lines offer.

Meanwhile, we sorted all of these three and four-day cruises by price, as found on From there we took the average price of the 100 cheapest departures in the United States for 3/4-day cruises in 2020 for each cruise line. Norwegian had a total of 75 departures that fit this category, so we used all of their trips to arrive at the average price.

All prices are per person before taxes and fees, and for the lowest-priced interior cabin.

Here’s what we found:

Chart of inexpensive short cruise prices

As you can see, there is a clear winner when it comes to the cheapest short cruises — Carnival. The average price of its 100 cheapest short cruises is about $130 less than Royal Caribbean and only about half the price of Norwegian.

Bottom line: If you’re simply looking for an inexpensive short cruise, it’s hard to beat Carnival on price.

But there are more reasons to be interested in the cruise line’s micro trips. In total we counted seven different ships in the cruise line’s 100 least expensive short cruises. That gives you a wide variety of options to choose from instead of just a couple of ships that sail short routes.

As well, these ships depart from four different ports, including Miami, Los Angeles, Port Canaveral, and Fort Lauderdale. In other words, you have a lot of options on where to sail from as well as the ship.

Micro Cruise Options Should Continue to Grow

When it comes to cruising, there is a lot to like about taking shorter micro cruises. You get all of the advantages of taking a cruise — including a chance to simply get away and have a fun time in a warm location — without having to spend a lot of money or take a lot of time off of work.

And while not every cruise line has a full line-up of short cruises (lines like Princess, Celebrity, and Disney offer few shorter trips), it does appear that these sailings are becoming more popular as more people take short vacations.

In other words, if you’re looking for a short trip, then you should be seeing more options in the years ahead.

To search for your own short micro-cruise, you can visit a site like They offer a search across all cruise lines to show you all the deals available.

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