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Sorting cruises by price is a dangerous thing.  After all, some cruises are priced low for a reason.

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After getting an itch to take a cruise for as cheap as possible, I found myself looking at a screen of cruise sailings that were cheaper than hotel rooms. 

Holland America’s Eurodam cruise ship in Vancouver after a 1-day cruise from Seattle. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Yes, I booked a 1-day cruise.  Although, to be fair, I spent slightly less than 24 hours on the ship.

But since cruise durations don’t work in fractions, we’ll just stick with the 1-day sailing.

For this cruise I took a flight to Seattle, just so I could enjoy this single-day sailing to Vancouver.  By 1pm the ship was pushing away from the dock, and by 10am the next morning I was parting ways with the vessel.

“But isn’t it pointless to be on a cruise ship for just a day?”, you might be asking.

Or maybe you’re saying, “Isn’t a one-day cruise kind of like speed dating — awkward, rushed, and over before you know what happened?”.

Ok, valid points.  But before I explain the 5 reasons I booked this cruise, let me tell you a little about the cruise itself.

Vancouver’s cruise port with a couple ships ready for sailing. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Types of 1-day sailings

You can find several single day sailings online.   There are currently 22 1-day cruises available for booking on icruise.com.

Australia offers some of these short cruises, which are often cruises to nowhere out of Cairns. 

Also, you can find several Mediterranean sailings with MSC Cruises that are basically just a portion of a longer cruise but with advertised prices of around $59 (without taxes, fees, and everything else of course).

Some of these 1-day cruises sail from Genoa, Italy to Marseille, France or from Marseille to Barcelona, for instance.

For travelers wanting to cross the English Channel on the cheap, MSC Virtuosa offers a Southampton to Paris 1-day sailing in November and the reverse of that in April of the next spring.

Row of cruise ships in Barcelona, Spain. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

My favorite type of 1-day cruise

But at least twice a year, Holland America offers 1-day sailings as a sort of repositioning cruise at both the beginning and end of the Alaska cruise season. 

These micro-cruises are one-way sailings from Seattle to Vancouver or from Vancouver to Seattle. April and October are the months to look for here.

These cruises often are part of a longer cruise, so not everyone on board is there for a sub-24-hour getaway.

In fact, on my 1-day sailing on Holland America, half the passengers were sailing to Hawaii after I got off the ship in Vancouver. 

Despite my jealousy and missing out on wearing a colorful lei, I actually enjoyed this short cruise and would absolutely do it again.

Reasons I booked this 1-day cruise

It might seem crazy to only spend one night on a cruise ship.   It’s really not even time to unpack.  And isn’t that one of the biggest draws of cruising?  You only unpack once and see several amazing places in the world?

Although the trip went way faster than I had anticipated, here are a few reasons I booked a 1-day sailing and why you might want to consider the same.

1. A chance to check out a new ship

By “new ship” I mean a ship I’ve never been on before.  So, for me, the ship itself was the destination. 

While it was a short-lived experience, it gave me the opportunity to try out a new cruise line and a new ship, since this was the first time I had sailed with Holland America.

Think of it like an appetizer.  I had a taste of what the ship was like so I could plan a longer voyage on the vessel at another time.  And all for the price of a nice hotel.

I went to a show, listened to some karaoke, enjoyed a classical string trio, played some shuffleboard and learned my way around the ship in short order.  This was on Holland America’s Eurodam, by the way.

2. Getting amazing food all included

Let’s be honest, most cruise passengers have “food” at the top of their priority list when planning a vacation at sea.  And it’s hard to argue against that reasoning. 

Some of the best steak, French cuisine, and Italian dishes I’ve ever had were on a cruise ship. 

So, the opportunity to eat like a king, even for a day, was hard to pass up.  Forget just three meals a day, though.  I was determined to get my money’s worth.  It was like one meal, actually – a progressive dinner that lasted from the time I walked onto the ship until the wee hours of the night.

3. Being able to afford an upgraded cabin

One of the most overlooked reasons for booking a shorter cruise is the ability to afford a suite or more luxurious cabin category.

On a recent cruise on Celebrity Silhouette, I booked a fantastic suite on the lido deck for a 2-day cruise.  This same suite would have been well out of reach financially if I had booked a full week cruise. 

So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to have a suite or more posh balcony cabin, take an appetizer cruise before you see if it’s worth it.

On my 1-day cruise, however, I didn’t book anything too crazy.  I did get a nicer balcony in a good location just because the cost difference was negligible.  With taxes and fees, the total ended up being around $150.

4. Chance to explore a great cruise port

Another reason I booked this cruise was based on the destination.  Vancouver is such a fantastic destination to explore.  Sure, if I was a local resident of Seattle this cruise would have made more sense.  After all, just for the cost of transportation this cruise was a great deal. 

But as I mentioned in my article on repositioning cruises, these are best booked when you really want to focus on the final destination.  I had been wanting to check out Vancouver for a while, so this presented the perfect opportunity.

5. Not much off-time needed

We would all take 2-week cruises and month-long cruises if we could, right?  Even if we had the money, that allotment of time is too much for someone working full time or with other obligations back home. 

This 1-day cruise was over the weekend.   I was able to be back home by Monday and get right back to work.  Even though much of my work involves writing about cruising and traveling, some people book these shorter cruises just so they can give in to the Cruise Fever a little and then get back to reality without getting too back up with responsibilities.

Seattle and its cruise port

It isn’t for everyone

Not everyone should even consider a one-day cruise.  One of the biggest things to consider is the transportation to and from the cruise ports. 

Since these cruises are typically one-way trips you will have to find your way back home and the cost of that will probably offset any savings on a low-cost sailing.

It’s also not a good idea if you feel you would be rushed the whole time.  I didn’t mind this because I love cruising and I love ships.  I spent most of the time –when I wasn’t eating – exploring all around the ship, checking out the entertainment, seeing the lounges, and taking a dip in thermal suite pool.

I wouldn’t recommend this to a first-time cruiser.  You could consider it a sampling, but it’s not a good sampling of cruising per se.  It’s more a sampling of what the ship is like.

To truly know what it’s like to take a cruise, you need to experience sea days, spending all day in port and getting back to the ship for dinner, having a couple lazy days where you do nothing but soak in the sun or read a book on your balcony etc.

The weirdest part

Walking into my cruise cabin for the first time is always pure excitement – unpacking, admiring the view… then WHAM! Disembarkation instructions. Talk about a mood shift!

I saw those notices on my bed right after I walked into the cabin.

I didn’t want to even think about disembarkation.  I mean, I just walked onto this ship a few minutes ago.  But that’s the reality of a 1-day sailing. 

It was kind of like saying hello and goodbye at the same time.

I took this picture from a seaplane in Vancouver after arriving on my 1-day cruise. It’s such a great city to visit with both natural beauty and things to do. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

If you try a one day cruise…

To make the most of your cruise, I recommend two things: first, make sure you don’t have to travel too far to get to the cruise port of embarkation, and second, spending an extra day or two at your final destination.

Also, this is probably a better idea for a solo traveler or a couple who don’t mind something more whimsical.  I wouldn’t recommend a family try this.  Yikes, that actually feels like a nightmare the more I think about it.

Bottom Line

Let’s face it, one-day cruises are the cruise world’s answer to tapas: bite-sized portions of luxury that leave you wanting more. You get a taste of the good life – fancy meals, dazzling entertainment, maybe even a swanky balcony cabin (for way less than usual).

But these mini-vacays aren’t for everyone. If you need a vacation from your vacation, this might not be it. And forget about spending all day lounging by the pool – it’s more of a whirlwind adventure than a chill escape.

The final verdict? If you’re a solo adventurer, a couple craving a quick escape, or someone who already knows the ropes, a one-day cruise is a way to test the waters. Just don’t be surprised if you’re left wanting a full seven-course cruise meal after this delicious appetizer.

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