Mini cruise, anyone? The best destinations for short cruises

Last light over Hanoix Lighthouse creating a misty, eery view of the coastline near Hanoix in Guernsey.Guernsey/Getty

New to cruising? Or fancy a long weekend away before your fortnight cruise holiday this summer? A short cruise to one of Britain's or Europe's iconic destinations might just be the trip for you.

Short cruise holidays, or mini-cruises, make for a perfect taster if you're a newbie to cruising and want to see if travelling by sea is for you. They're also ideal if you a frequent cruiser but want to fit in more time on the water between your Med and Caribbean cruise this year.

Mini cruises typically take place over two nights but three, four or up to five nights are not unusual, with some of the most popular destinations including Bruges, Amsterdam and the Channel Islands.

If you want to explore the wonders of Northern Europe and don't fancy travelling by plane or taking the Eurostar, a short cruise is the answer.

On a mini-cruise to Paris with Royal Caribbean, you'll have a day to explore the wonders of the French city and spend two nights on the ship, enjoying the on-board entertainment, the fully equipped gym and the relaxing spa.

You can even head further afield to Spain on a short cruise with Brittany Ferries and visit the lesser-known city of Santander, where amazing landscapes, charming beaches and nature reserves await you.

Whether you've got two nights to spare or four, take a look at our pick of the best short cruise destinations from the UK.

Best destinations for a short cruise
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Mini cruise, anyone? The best destinations for short cruises
See the delights of Paris when you arrive at Le Havre port on a short cruise from the UK. Stop and stare at the Notre Dame Cathedral with its gothic splendour, stroll along the Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe and marvel at the majestic views from the Eiffel Tower. Royal Caribbean offers a three-night cruise from Southampton to Bruges and Paris, with prices starting at £379 per person.
Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands, located off the coast of Normandy, France, boasts a warmer climate than Britain and is home to pretty beaches, bustling waterside cafes and scenic cliff paths. While the island may lie closer to France than Britain, it remains loyal to the British crown and British pounds can be used, even though it has its own stamps and currency. P&O Cruises offers a two-night mini cruise from Southampton to St Peter Port in Guernsey from £219 per person.
One of the greatest small cities in the world, Amsterdam is famous for its canals, museums and amazing architecture. Its friendly and relaxed environment makes it a unique place to visit and the best way to get around and see the city like a local is by bike. With the highest number of museums in the world, you won't want to leave without checking out the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Hermitage Amsterdam. DFDS Seaways offers two-night mini cruises from Newcastle to Amsterdam, with prices starting at £89 per person.

Immerse yourself in the peace, tranquillity and beauty of Norway's magnificent fjords on a short cruise along the glassy waters, taking in the majestic views of mountains and waterfalls along the way. Bergen, Eidfjord and Lysefjord are some of the wonderful places to experience an inspirational mini-cruise in Norway. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offers a five-night cruise to the fjords from Newcastle, with prices starting at £699 per person.

Head for Dublin on a mini cruise where you can experience a wealth of sights in the vibrant city. Soak up some true Irish hospitality and 'craic' in the pubs, bars and cafés, and take a stroll along the River Liffey, hopping on a bus tour or visiting the Guinness Factory to see how the black stuff is made. Cruise & Maritime Voyages offers a two-night cruise from Newport to Dublin, returning to Liverpool, with prices starting at £169 per person.
This coastal city in Northern Spain boasts good beaches, breathtaking landscapes and a lively bar and restaurant scene. Popular with Spanish tourists, Santander was also a hangout for politicians, aristocrats and the upper class in the 19th century. Today, you can soak up the sunshine on El Sardinero beach, marvel at the belle époque architecture along the seafront and explore the beautiful countryside of Cantabria. Brittany Ferries offers a three-day mini cruise to Santander from Portsmouth or Plymouth, with prices starting at £109 per person.
Water is Hamburg's best feature and no visit to the German city would be complete without a boat trip around the port, from the Landungsbrücken jetties through huge container vessels, majestic steam-powered ocean liners and elegant yachts. A stroll through the old town is a must to see the grand corner buildings from the 17th to 19th century, quaint restaurants and relaxed bars. In Hamburg, you can also witness some of the world's biggest and most spectacular cruise ships sailing in and out of the port. Cunard offers a two-night mini fly-cruise from Southampton to Hamburg and a flight back to the UK, with prices starting at £479 per person.
Discover the canals, cobbles and chocolate of Bruges on a mini cruise to the Belgian city. This ancient jewel boasts delightful market squares, willow-lined waterways and famed chocolatiers. It is often compared to Venice for its canals and like the Italian city, Bruges is famous for its high quality lace, which you can browse in the many lace shops and market stalls by the Burg main square. P&O Cruises offers two-night cruises from Southampton to Bruges with prices starting at £229 per person.
Everybody wants to visit Edinburgh but how many people do you know who travel to the city by water? With its series of rocky hills, winding streets and Georgian buildings, Edinburgh is a beautiful city to enjoy on a short cruise. Multrees Walk is where you'll find the designer boutiques, Edinburgh Castle sits at the top of Castle Rock and if you just fancy a spot to sit and people watch, head for Princes Street Gardens for a picnic or ice cream. Thomson Cruises offers a four-night cruise from Newcastle, calling at Edinburgh, Invergordon and Dundee, with prices starting at £410 per person.
Historic Haarlem has all the charm of Amsterdam but is quieter and more compact - making it perfect for a short cruise. Located on the banks of the Spaarne River, the medieval city in North Holland offers a lively cultural scene, excellent shopping and it's close to some great beaches. DFDS Seaways' two-night cruises from Newcastle to Haarlem cost from £61 per person.

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