When you’re short on time, squeezing in a satisfying escape can feel like a tall order. Happily, however, we’ve found a selection of weekend cruises leaving from several Floridian and Californian ports–each of which gets you on board by Friday afternoon, but back home in time for that Monday morning meeting. (Bonus: These mini-voyages are great options for new cruisers looking to get their feet wet.)
Miami touts the most weekend sailing options, each on offer year-round. Norwegian Cruise Line runs three-night itineraries to the Bahamas aboard the 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky. The ship embarks at 5 p.m. on Fridays, docks in Nassau on Saturdays, and then visits the line’s private isle Great Stirrup Cay on Sundays, before returning to Miami at 7 a.m. on Monday mornings. (Enhancements to Great Stirrup Cay include a soon-to-debut lagoon enclave, featuring 22 private villas and a Mandara Spa.) The Norwegian Sky—with its 11 bars, two swimming pools, and ten dining venues—is the sole Norwegian ship to offer all-inclusive beverage pricing, a concept that debuted in early 2016, which extends to complimentary and unlimited beer, wine, and premium spirits.
Look to Carnival, meanwhile, for weekend Bahamas sailings that embark from Miami aboard the 2,758-passenger Carnival Victory, featuring “Fun Ship” amenities like a 214-foot-long waterslide, Seuss at Sea kids’ programming, more than a dozen bars, a comedy club, and more. The cruises pull out of port at 4 p.m. on Fridays, with an overnight stay in Nassau (arriving 10 a.m. Saturday, leaving 7 a.m. on Sunday), before returning to Miami at 8 a.m. on Monday morning.
Royal Caribbean also runs three-night cruises to the Bahamas from Miami, aboard the 2,252-guest Enchantment of the Seas: look for the line’s signature active ship diversions like a rock-climbing wall, bungee trampolines, and a trio of pools. Embarking Fridays at 4 p.m. and returning back to port by 7 a.m. Monday morning, the ship calls on the line’s private isle, CocoCay, for a full day on Saturday, and on Nassau for another full day’s visit on Sunday.
Royal Caribbean makes similar three-night year-round runs to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral (leaving at 4 p.m. on Fridays and returning at 7 a.m. on Mondays), aboard the 2,350-passenger Majesty of the Seas (also offering a rock-climbing wall, and popular spots like a water park, and a basketball court). Guests get an extra-long call in Nassau on Saturday, with the ship arriving at noon but not pulling out of port till midnight; plus, a day to play in CocoCay.
A family favorite, Disney Cruise Line‘s 4,000-passenger Disney Dream (with offerings like an AquaDuck “water coaster” and a fireworks-at-sea spectacular) likewise makes three-night runs to the Bahamas on select dates year-round. Embarking at 3:45 p.m. on Fridays, and returning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday mornings, itineraries include a full-day stop at Nassau on Saturday, in addition to a Sunday call at the line’s private Bahamian isle, Castaway Cay.
From Long Beach, California to Baja, Mexico
Carnival runs three-night weekend cruises out of Long Beach, California, to Baja, Mexico (at Ensenada) year-round. Hop aboard the 2,052-guest Carnival Inspiration at 4 p.m. on Friday, spend Saturday at sea, have a full day in Ensenada on Sunday, before disembarking back in Long Beach at 8 a.m. Monday morning. The Inspiration is fresh off a major renovation that brought on a slew of new food-and-drink venues like Guy’s Burger Joint, Alchemy Bar, and the RedFrog Rum Bar/BlueIguana Tequila Bar.
From San Diego, California to Baja, Mexico
For a really short and sweet escape, look to Disney’s two-night Baja cruises from San Diego, aboard the 2,713-passenger Disney Wonder, with popular onboard spots like the Twist ‘n’ Spout water slide, Dory’s Reef splash zone, and the Wide World of Sports deck. Leaving at 4 p.m. on Fridays, and coming back by 7:45 a.m. on Sundays (embarking on select dates in May, September, and October in 2017), this sailing brings guests for a full Saturday of exploration in Ensenada. Bonus: Their cruises embarking in September and October also put forth a fun “Halloween on the High Seas” theme.