Child on shore of beach with cruise ship off .width .jpg

I Just Took a 3-Night Royal Caribbean Cruise — Here’s What I Loved, and What I Didn’t

Child on shore of beach with cruise ship off in the distance.

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I’m an avid cruiser. I love being on the ocean, spending time in the sun, and exploring several new places in a single trip without having to take multiple flights. Over the past two years alone, I’ve cruised seven times, sometimes with my wife, sometimes with my wife and children, and sometimes with friends.

Until recently, the cruises I’ve taken all had one thing in common — they were five nights or longer in duration.

However, my wife and I just got back from a short, three-night sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, a massive cruise ship that typically sails three- and four-night itineraries out of Port Canaveral in Florida (it’s moving to Miami in a couple months). Here’s a rundown of our likes and dislikes from the experience, and whether we’d take a three-night cruise again.

Things I loved about our three-night cruise

For starters, since the cruise was Friday through Monday, and we were off the ship by 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, I only had to miss one day of work to take the trip. It was essentially a long weekend trip, so it was very convenient. In contrast, we took a five-night cruise last summer and had to miss an entire week for the Monday through Saturday sailing.

There were a few other things we loved. Because it was a shorter duration than other cruises we’ve taken, the charge on our credit card was significantly less expensive. A three-night cruise can be a budget-friendly way to try your first cruise, or to be able to cruise more often, without spending a ton of money.

We also never had any trouble finding things to do. We’ve taken longer cruises, and by the end, it sometimes felt as if we’d experienced everything we wanted to do on the ship. On this trip, we didn’t even come close to checking all the items off our to-do list. This can be a positive or negative.

Finally, the vast majority of Royal Caribbean’s three-night itineraries from Florida’s east coast stop at the cruise line’s private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay. We absolutely loved the day at the private island and having seen the private islands of a couple of other cruise lines, it was definitely a step above. To be sure, you don’t need to take a three-night cruise to get a stop at the island. But it’s a great way to see it over a weekend.

What I wasn’t a fan of

Our three-night cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, which is a big cruise ship. It is a member of the cruise line’s Oasis class. Until the recent launch of the Icon of the Seas, these were the largest class of cruise ship in the world. The ship has 17 decks (floors), over a dozen restaurants, several shows, four pools, and many activities to do. To put it mildly, three days simply wasn’t enough to see it all.

Because we had a relatively limited time on such a massive cruise ship, it was literally impossible to do everything we wanted to. We certainly tried. We dined at three different specialty restaurants, saw a different show every night, explored all the pool areas, and more. But there’s a lot we didn’t get to do. There were another two restaurants we would have loved to try, we never saw the ice show (this ship actually has an ice skating rink on board), and we never tried the Flow Riders (surfing simulators) that are on the ship.

To be fair, a week wouldn’t have been enough either. And this could be a genius marketing strategy by Royal Caribbean that could entice people to travel back to the port for multiple weekend sailings.

We also would have liked one day at sea (as opposed to being at a port all day). Because of the short duration and two ports on the agenda, we didn’t have much time out at sea when it was sunny and warm outside. One of our favorite parts of most cruises is having a day at sea for a relaxing day to wind down from the busy times when we’re sightseeing and doing other things ashore.

Would we do a three-night cruise again?

Yes. We had an excellent three-night trip on the Allure of the Seas, and actually have already booked another three-night cruise for later this year on its sister ship, the Utopia of the Seas, which will be Royal Caribbean’s newest ship when it sets sail in July. It might be worth it for you to consider a shorter duration cruise if you’re new to this type of travel or just want a long weekend getaway — for us, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

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