Celebrity Cruises' ship Millennium in Arica, Chile's port city.
By Cruise columnist
updated 11/3/2006 4:23:14 PM ET 2006-11-03T21:23:14

Recent polls indicate that Americans are taking less vacation time than in the past, and some are taking no vacation at all. Why do people give back their vacation days? It’s hard to fathom, but millions of people are doing it. What’s more, the Travel Industry Association, the industry’s largest trade group, has found that the average American expects to spend no more than six nights away from home at a time.

Cruise lines have taken note of this clock-watching trend, and they now offer short cruises that range from one to five nights. These short cruises are ideal for people who want a quick, relatively inexpensive getaway.

Here are some highlights from the major cruise lines.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival offers year-round three-day cruises from Miami to the Bahamas aboard the Fascination and the Sensation. Four-day Bahamas cruises depart year-round from Port Canaveral and Jacksonville, Fla., aboard the Celebration, Elation and Fantasy. There are four- and five-day cruises to the Western Caribbean from Miami aboard the Fascination; from Tampa aboard the Inspiration; from Mobile, Ala., aboard the Holiday; from Galveston, Texas; aboard both the Elation and the Ecstasy; and, starting in October, from New Orleans aboard the Sensation. On the West Coast, Carnival offers year-round four-day Baja Mexico cruises aboard the Paradise from Long Beach, Calif.

Celebrity Cruises

In September and October, Celebrity Cruises offers three- and four-night cruises from Seattle to ports in British Columbia aboard the Mercury. In November and December, four- and five-night cruises aboard the just-refurbished Century will be offered from Miami to the Western Caribbean.

Costa Cruises

Europe’s largest cruise line, Costa Cruises, offers a wide-ranging selection of four- and five-night Mediterranean cruises and one short Caribbean sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. European itineraries offer ports in Italy, Tunisia, Malta, Greece and Croatia. In September, four- or five-night cruises are available aboard two ships, the Costa Marina and the Costa Magica. In spring 2007, many more four- and five-night sailings open up, including itineraries in Europe and the Western Caribbean, aboard seven of Costa’s 11 ships.

Cunard Line

In October, Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth 2 has a two-day “Autumn Getaway” round-trip cruise from Southampton, England, to Belgium. On July 2, 2007, the Queen Mary 2 has an “Independence Day” four-day round-trip sailing from New York to Eleuthera Island, in the Bahamas. On July 24 and August 21, 2007, Queen Mary 2 has two four-day “Summer Getaway” sailings from Southampton to Hamburg, Germany.

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Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder sails year-round on three- and four-night cruises out of Port Canaveral calling at Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

Holland America Line

In September and October, Holland America Line features sailings of one to four days to ports from California to Vancouver. These shorter itineraries, which are segments of longer repositioning cruises, enable travelers to sample premium cruising. They depart from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver aboard the Veendam, Westerdam, Volendam, Statendam and Zuiderdam. The itineraries repeat in April and May 2007.

Norwegian Cruise Line

This fall, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) offers several one-night dinner cruises out of Vancouver and New York; in December the one-night cruises move south to Miami, on inaugural sailings of the Norwegian Pearl. (Real new-ship enthusiasts can try out the Norwegian Pearl on five-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami beginning in January and running through April 2007.) In late September 2006, NCL offers two cruises between Los Angeles and Vancouver, one each way: a three-day sailing south aboard the Norwegian Star and a four-day sailing north aboard the Norwegian Sun. A five-day Western Caribbean itinerary departs from New Orleans in January 2007 aboard the Norwegian Sun.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises’ Island Princess sails on a three-day Vancouver-to-Los Angeles itinerary in September 2006 and 2007. The Dawn Princess offers a one-day sailing between Seattle and Vancouver on September 23 and a three-day San Francisco-to-Vancouver cruise on September 24. In May 2007, the Golden Princess offers a two-day sailing from San Francisco to Vancouver and a one-day sailing from Seattle to Vancouver, and the Sapphire Princess has a four-day sailing from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Voyager departs November 30 on a four-night itinerary round-trip from Fort Lauderdale with calls at Nassau and Key West.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International offers many quickie cruises all year round, including three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas or the Western Caribbean from four East Coast ports: Miami, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale and Galveston. On the West Coast, Royal Caribbean offers three- and four-night sailings year-round from Los Angeles to Baja Mexico; two- and five-night sailings on this same route are added in December and January. The quickie cruises are available on eight ships, representing four of Royal Caribbean’s six ship categories; four of the ships – the Majesty of the Seas, Sovereign of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas – offer quickie cruises year-round.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises offers a “Personalized Voyages” program that allows travelers to customize their sailings. The minimum number of days required is five, and the program is available on all Silversea itineraries.

Don’t lose your valuable vacation time. Sign up for a quick cruise getaway, and tell your boss you’ll be back soon.

Anita Dunham-Potter is a Pittsburgh-based travel journalist specializing in cruise travel. Anita's columns have appeared in major newspapers and many Internet outlets, and she is a contributor to Fodor's "Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises 2006."E-mail Anitaor visit her Web site anitavacation.com.


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