How to Maximize Your Fun and Adventure on a 3-Day Cruise

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Cruises have always been a popular vacation option. In fact, over 25 million people are expected to take a cruise before 2019 is over including a 3-day cruise!

If you’ve never gone on this type of vacation before, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. But with good food, nice views, and a wide variety of available activities, cruises appeal to many different types of people.

Plus, there are many different cruise lengths to ensure you can enjoy the open sea whether you have a few days or a few weeks off. However, trying to fit everything into a 3-day cruise can be difficult.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun! By following a few key tips, you can maximize your fun on any cruise, even one as short as 3 days. Do you want to know how? Keep reading to find out!

Make Friends

If you’re going on a 3-day cruise, chances are, you’ll be on a smaller cruise ship. This means that, although there will still be plenty of crowds, you’ll be able to recognize some of your fellow cruisers! Take advantage of this by making some new friends while on vacation.

People will typically fly from all over the country to arrive at the cruise’s departure port. However, when you’re on a short cruise, many passengers likely live closer to the port. So, those friends you make onboard could potentially become life-long friends!

Plus, making friends while on vacation has many benefits. If you want to try something new on the cruise but the rest of your family doesn’t, your new friends may want to join you! If you have kids that are the same age, they’ll love having a playmate to spend their weekend with.

Choose Your Dates Wisely

Cruises often have a reputation for being filled with older adults. But this isn’t necessarily true.

Shorter cruises, in general, attract a younger crowd. If you’re looking to cut loose and party on your vacation, consider booking during spring break!

The atmosphere during this time is vastly different than what you’ll experience at any other time of the year. Primarily, there is often a focus on night clubs and deck clubs to ensure you can party all weekend long.

Of course, there are ways to avoid this if it isn’t exactly your scene. Consider booking outside of spring break or focus on a cruise line that has a reputation for being more family-friendly.

Be Ready to Fight Seasickness

You may not think twice about being on a smaller cruise ship. But the smaller the ship, the more likely you are to feel seasick. Even those who haven’t experienced seasickness on larger cruises may suddenly feel nauseous during their 3-day cruise.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend the weekend feeling sick. Instead, be prepared for the worst by bringing seasickness relief, like pressurized wrist bands and Dramamine. If you are prone to motion sickness, consider bringing both, in case one method isn’t as effective as you’d like.

You can also avoid nausea by picking the right room. Even on small boats that are often used for 3-day cruises, picking a room on the lower deck, in the middle of the ship, and without a view of the water can help.

Research and Prioritize Activities

Cruise ships are absolutely packed with activities. The best thing you can do to prepare for your trip is to research what there is to do on your ship. Then, decide which of these activities is a must-do and which you can cut.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do everything the ship has to offer, especially on a short cruise. So, it’s best to pick the activities you know you really want to do. This way, you won’t waste time on subpar activities and miss out on the things you were excited for.

Most 3-day cruises only have one port of call. So, if getting off the ship and exploring is important to you, consider looking for a cruise with cool excursion options.

Some cruises to the Bahamas will even stop at the cruise line’s private island! You’ll get to enjoy the same awesome activities, like water sports, snorkeling, and shopping, without dealing with additional crowds from other cruises. This ensures you can thoroughly enjoy your experience, which is especially important when your cruise only stops at one port.

Plan Your Itinerary Ahead of Time

Picking your activities in advance is typically enough for longer cruises. But when you only have 3 days at your disposal, you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to do everything you want.

Plan your itinerary out before you set sail. Decide what time you’ll wake up and what time you’ll do every activity on your to-do list. Failing to do this may mean you end up sleeping in too late or accidentally show up for an activity after it already closed for the day.

While you’d likely have another day to do your chosen activity on a longer cruise, the same can’t be said for a weekend cruise. So, if you miss that activity on the day you wanted to do it, you may not have time in your schedule to do it another day.

Think About Your Sleep Schedule

When you’re only on vacation for 3 days, it may be tempting to have early mornings and late nights. After all, the less you sleep, the more time you have for activities!

However, this is only a good idea in theory. You’ll likely end up waking up still tired and spend your whole day feeling grumpy and wishing you could take a nap. If you’re tired enough, you may even spend your afternoon doing just that!

And let’s face it – is fitting in more activities really worth it if you’re tired and irritated while doing them?

Instead, make sure you take sleep into consideration when creating your itinerary. Decide if you’re a late-night or an early-morning person and don’t try to do both.

Consider DIY Excursions

Every cruise ship offers excursions. But when you’re on a weekend cruise, your options will be a bit more limited. So, you may find that none of the excursions really excite you—and that’s ok!

If you don’t like any of the available excursions or would prefer to take a private tour, consider going DIY. You can research things to do and book activities through local companies.

Not only does this give you the chance to do exactly what you want, but it’s also often cheaper.

The only downside is that you have to keep an eye on the time. The last thing you want is to run late because cruise ships do leave passengers behind.

So, if you want to go this route, plan enough time to get back to the ship with half an hour to spare. This gives you a nice window of time in case you get lost or the activity runs late.

Skip the Excursions Altogether

Many passengers choose to sign up for excursions. This means when the boat docks, a lot of the crowds will clear out.

If you’re not thrilled about any of the offered excursions and don’t want to go DIY, consider staying on the boat. You’ll be able to get the best lounge chair by the pool and lines for the lunch buffet will be much shorter. The spa also lowers its prices while docked, so you can enjoy a nice massage for the fraction of the price. 

This is a great way to help yourself enjoy everything your ship has to offer sans crowds. When you only have 3 days, it can be hard to feel fully relaxed at the end of your cruise. But staying onboard during the excursions is the best way to let you completely relax for a day.

Check Out the Spa

It’s no secret that spas get expensive. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it during your entire cruise.

Many ships have a few services for free, such as steam rooms and spa showers. While this doesn’t seem like much, opting for the spa shower can be a relaxing way to end a long day, especially since many ship cabins don’t have the roomiest showers.

You may also find that booking a shorter cruise instead of a longer one means you have more money to splurge. Getting a massage is the perfect way to unwind on your mini-vacation and maximize your relaxation, so you feel refreshed come Monday.

Bring Your Own Necessities

The beauty of taking a short cruise is that you don’t need a lot of toiletries. Bringing travel-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash will be more than enough to last you on your cruise. A small bottle of sunscreen is also a must as you’re packing your bag.

Bringing these with you can save valuable time and money. Instead of spending your first afternoon onboard shopping for sunscreen, you can hit the deck right away!


Rooms on cruise ships are small! Those on longer cruises often find that they have too much stuff to fully unpack.

Luckily, the same does not apply on shorter cruises. You’ll likely have enough room to hang up your clothes in the closet.

This is the best way to help you stay organized, so you don’t waste time in the mornings looking for a particular item of clothing. Unpacking can also help reduce stress as you’ll feel tidier and more comfortable in your small room. While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s important to reduce stress any way you can when you only have 3 days to relax and unwind.

Skip the Pool

That’s right – we said it! The pool is one of the most popular places to hang out on any cruise ship. But when you’re short on time, it’s just not worth it.

For one, you can relax by a pool anywhere. In fact, you probably have a community pool in your hometown.

But the real problem with cruise pools is that they are so crowded. Finding a lounge chair can be a real hassle, and you’ll have to constantly worry about bumping into people as you’re trying to cool off in the pool.

If you want a little R&R, consider signing up for a spa pass or relax on the beach when your boat docks. And if you absolutely must hit the pool, go early so you can snag a good lounge chair. 


Whether you’re on an exciting land excursion or you’re drinking a fancy cocktail on-board, you may feel the impulse to document your vacation on social media. Of course, this leads to scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and before you know it, you’ve spent an hour staring at your phone!

If you’ve always wanted to try a digital detox, a short cruise is the perfect time to do just that. The idea of going without social media for 3 days seems a lot less daunting than going without for, say, 10 days. Plus, when you put your phone down, you’ll have so much more time to focus on having fun and enjoying your mini-vacation!

Spend Extra Time at the Departure/Arrival City

You don’t have much time to unwind and relax on a 3-day cruise. In fact, the ideal length for a vacation is 8 days.

While you may not be able to turn a 3-day cruise into an entire 8-day vacation, you can get a little closer to that number. If you have a few extra days off of work, consider spending more time at the departure/arrival city.

This will give you extra time to explore a new city or relax at your hotel’s pool (which will likely be less crowded than the one on the cruise ship). This method also helps to reduce travel-related stress since you’ll have an extra window of time if your flight was delayed.

Getting the Most Out of Your 3-Day Cruise

A 3-day cruise may not be long, but it can still be a lot of fun! Just follow the guide above to learn how you can get the most out of your upcoming vacation.

Are you ready to book your cruise? Then check out these tips to get the best deal possible!

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