It seems a very large number of first time cruisers take their first dip in the pool by booking a cruise that's either 2,3,4 or 5 day cruises. They'll book the shorter cruises to get their feet wet; to give cruising a test drive. There's a variety of reasons for doing so.
Like me, when I booked our first cruise, some are willing to give it a short try to see if they are going to feel locked in (island fever). I remember thinking what if I'm trapped on this ship for 5 days, and really don't like it. Well, we know how that turned out for me.
Whatever the reason, when first timers get onboard for their first attempt at cruising, on these shorter trips, they truly are not experiencing the real cruise experience. They get glimpses of what things may be like, but on cruises less than seven days, other than first timers, the majority of passengers onboard are trying to fit a week's worth of fun into a cruise of shorter duration. These short cruises, on all the cruise lines which operate them, normally have a real get at it, and give it atmosphere onboard. And all the cruise lines seem to attempt to create that atmosphere, by scheduling a week's worth of activities into their shorter itineraries.
That does mean the short cruises can be very busy, and a whole lot of fun, but as result of it, they also aren't really representative of the full cruise experience. Those who enjoy the busy, always something happening scenarios, have a greater chance of being disappointed when they venture forth to take a longer cruise.
And those who board looking for the cruise to offer them a quieter, more relaxed vacation, may also get an unrepresentative view of the cruise experience. They may think: This is just much too busy; no chance to just relax.
Of course, there's others like me, who will just fall in love with cruising, and see past what is actually going gone, and understand just how good things can be, even if some of what they're experiencing does not meet their preconceived expectations.
My own recommendation is to leave the short cruises to the experienced cruisers. They're prefect for those want a quick, generally inexpensive escape, but also go understanding that's what they've bought. From my own experiences I know I return home from short cruises needing a vacation from the cruise.
Cruises seven nights in duration are the standard for the vast majority of cruise ships. Most often they'll sail on a Saturday or Sunday, which requires passengers to only use one week of vacation time from their jobs. While you can still stay as busy as you like, with all variety of scheduled activities, there is still down time built into the cruise, where you can sleep in, relax out on deck, or grow two pant sizes at the buffet.
Also, with seven day cruises, the ships have more time to cover greater distances, so you're ports of call are going to offer more variety, than the shorter cruises. You'll not only get more ports of call to visit during your cruise, you'll get a choice of several destinations that aren't available on shorter cruise itineraries.
8 and 9 night cruises are becoming slightly more common of late. Generally cruises doing this length of trip are designed so you can have a longer cruise, perhaps visit more ports, but still only have to take one week of vacation time from your job. They'll leave early on one weekend, and return late the following weekend.
Once you step out of the routine seven day cruise you are going to notice a slight up tick in the average age demographic. And it will increase slightly as you go from an 8 night cruise to a 9 night cruise.
Cruises over 10 day in length will find you on ships, with significantly less children and families onboard. You'll also find a yet again older average demographic. There's several causes. 1. A 10 - 15 day cruise requires using a full two weeks of vacation time. 2. Longer cruises are more costly, simply because you are paying for the services for extra days. 3. The older people are at a stage in their life where they can afford the time for longer cruises. For them, it's the money, not the time that might be an issue..
Planned ship's activities on the longer cruises are adjusted and targeted to the demographic the cruise lines have learned to expect on cruises of this length.
The next step up for lengthier cruises would be repositioning cruises, which quite commonly run from 16-18 nights. Cruise lines offer these when repositioning ships from distant global points, such as in the fall when they bring ships which summer in Europe back to the Caribbean.
On these cruises you're once again going to likely find a more senior demographic, and once again, the activities and entertainment geared towards them.
There are no hard and fast rules which are always true, with no variation, within any of the classifications I've discussed here. However I believe what I've described here is close enough to accurate to be qualified as general rules, which should prove true, and therefore reliable.
The last category would be World Cruises, which can run anywhere from 90 days and up. I have no experience withworld cruise, though I'm assuming those require you to be old and rich. I'm approaching qualifying for the first criteria, but sadly very far from qualifying for the latter.
- A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising -