10 Affordable Last-Minute Cruise Vacations

Want to set sail on a whim? Now is the time to score a spur-of-the-moment deal.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Affordable Last-Minute Cruise Vacations

Woman looking out to sea on a cruise ship
Credit

(Getty Images)

Plan a short jaunt without breaking the bank.

With summer coming to a close, kids heading back to school and the stresses of everyday life beginning to set in, it's a great time to hit the open seas for one last hurrah before autumn arrives. And now, with two-for-one fare offers, a last-minute cruise vacation is easily within reach. Whether you're dreaming of sailing to vibrant New England locales as the leaves start to turn, alongside the ancient temples of Asia or through Europe's picturesque towns, these deals take you to pristine coastlines and are too good not to snatch up. So, if you're ready to set sail, book these bargains fast – before it's too late.
Harbor in Shanghai, China.
Credit

(Getty Images)

A six-night cruise across China, Japan and South Korea

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International

If you've only got a week and want to go big, Royal Caribbean's six-night cruise aboard the Mariner of the Seas is a great bet. Starting in Shanghai, the itinerary includes stops in Kochi, Japan, where you can explore pristine beaches, temples and castles before continuing on to Nagasaki, Japan, to take in inspiring temples and Peace Park. Afterward, the cruise makes stops in Busan and Jeju Island in South Korea, which is known for its striking landscapes. Fares for this Sept. 26, 2016, sailing start at $838, so act quickly.
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Plan a short jaunt without breaking the bank.

With summer coming to a close, kids heading back to school and the stresses of everyday life beginning to set in, it's a great time to hit the open seas for one last hurrah before autumn arrives. And now, with two-for-one fare offers, a last-minute cruise vacation is easily within reach. Whether you're dreaming of sailing to vibrant New England locales as the leaves start to turn, alongside the ancient temples of Asia or through Europe's picturesque towns, these deals take you to pristine coastlines and are too good not to snatch up. So, if you're ready to set sail, book these bargains fast – before it's too late.

A six-night cruise across China, Japan and South Korea

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International

If you've only got a week and want to go big, Royal Caribbean's six-night cruise aboard the Mariner of the Seas is a great bet. Starting in Shanghai, the itinerary includes stops in Kochi, Japan, where you can explore pristine beaches, temples and castles before continuing on to Nagasaki, Japan, to take in inspiring temples and Peace Park. Afterward, the cruise makes stops in Busan and Jeju Island in South Korea, which is known for its striking landscapes. Fares for this Sept. 26, 2016, sailing start at $838, so act quickly.

A seven-night cruise from Seattle to Alaska

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line

Soak up Alaska's jaw-dropping scenery with a seven-night, round-trip sailing departing from Seattle. Admire the area's natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes as you pass through the Inside Passage, and marvel at wildlife sightings (think bears and eagles) and Alaska's staggering mountain ridges, complete with snow-capped peaks and cascading waterfalls. You'll visit iconic Alaskan ports such as Juneau, where you can mush on a dogsled adventure, and Ketchikan, where you'll sail through glacial waters in search of humpback whales. Prices start at $974 for the sailing aboard the Norwegian Jewel departing on Sept. 10, 2016.

A seven-night cruise across Canada and New England

Cruise Line: Holland American Line

September is one of Canada and New England's often-overlooked shoulder seasons. This seven-night voyage with Holland America will take you from Boston to Montreal, stopping at some iconic ports along the way. A highlight is Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island. Here, you'll witness fishermen catching fresh lobster and even get the chance to sample these prized crustaceans at any of the island's seafood restaurants. This cruise will also take you to Quebec City, whose historic district has earned UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its sites and churches that date back to the 17th century. This sailing aboard the ms Veendam departs on Sept. 10, 2016, with fares starting at $499.

A seven-night cruise through Europe

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Few places offer the enchantment of northern Europe – from Amsterdam's charming canals to London's famous mix of modern and historic architecture. See the best of Europe on the MSC Splendida's seven-night cruise, which departs and returns in Hamburg, Germany. You'll sail to famous cities such as Zeebrugge, Belgium – home to Flemish art, Georgian-style mansions and world-renowned chocolate. You'll also visit Amsterdam, where you'll find acclaimed art collections, eclectic galleries and lively pubs and cafes. The cruise departs on Sept. 18, 2016, and fares start at $699.

A four-day cruise to the Bahamas

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines

If you've got only a few days to spend, book this short four-day sailing to the Bahamas with Carnival Cruise Lines. Departing from Orlando, Florida, the fun-loving Carnival Valor takes you to two bustling ports: Freeport and Nassau. In Freeport, you'll have a diverse range of excursions to choose from, whether it's kayaking through the area's preserved nature trails or swimming with dolphins. Meanwhile, in Nassau, most visitors prefer to wander around the brightly colored buildings of downtown to shop for souvenirs or sample rum. This cruise departs on Sept. 29, 2016; prices start at $229.

A five-night cruise from Baltimore to Bermuda

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International

Escape chilly autumn temperatures in Maryland with a quick five-night cruise to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. After soaking up the ship's onboard amenities during a day at sea, you'll arrive in King's Wharf, Bermuda, where you can enjoy two full days exploring this beautiful port. There are a variety of things to do in Bermuda, from glass-bottom boat tours around Bermuda's rainbow-colored fish and coral to shopping at the Royal Naval Dockyard and sport fishing for marlin. This cruise departs on Oct. 8, 2016; prices start at $499.

A seven-night cruise from China to Japan

Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises

Explore northern Asia on this seven-night sailing aboard the Celebrity Millennium. The cruise departs from bustling Shanghai and takes you to the stunning port of Busan, South Korea – a seaside town home to the staggering Busan Tower and the tranquil Beomeosa Temple. Afterward, you'll visit the famed Otaru, Japan, nicknamed "the town of hills," and Hakodate, the gateway to Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island that's also flanked by the dramatic Mount Hakodate. The cruise ends in Tokyo, where you can spend a day (or more) wandering through the city's many districts in search of excellent restaurants and shops. The cruise departs on Oct. 9, 2016, with fares starting at $349.

A seven-night Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Athens

Cruise Line: Costa Cruises

Departing from Venice, this Mediterranean sailing aboard the Costa neoRiviera takes visitors from Athens to Split, Croatia, a stunning town on the Dalmatian coast that offers the views and charms of Dubrovnik without the crowds. Afterward, you'll sail to the enchanting Greek islands of Corfu and Santorini. In Corfu, you can take a panoramic tour of the town and admire 360-degree sea views or tour Achilleion Palace. And in Santorini, your time is best spent wandering along the cobalt-blue domed homes in search of the perfect place to enjoy a postcard-worthy sunset. The cruise ends in Athens and departs on Oct. 17, 2016. Fares start at $445.

A 14-night Panama Canal cruise

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line

The Panama Canal, one of the most incredible feats of engineering in the world, is also one of the most coveted cruise itineraries. This 14-night voyage aboard the Norwegian Sun takes you from Miami through lively ports – including Cartagena, Colombia; Corinto, Nicaragua; and Acapulco, Mexico – before sailing through the awe-inspiring canal. Afterward, you'll stop in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where you'll find mouthwatering cuisine and pristine beaches, before disembarking in sunny San Diego. The sailing departs on Oct. 14, 2016 and offers fares starting at $949.

An eight-day eastern Caribbean cruise from New York City

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line

Escape New York City's hustle and bustle for a short, eight-day voyage to the sunny and historical island of Puerto Rico. Your sailing will take you along some of the eastern Caribbean's most picturesque islands, such as Antigua and St. Kitts. You'll also stop in St. Thomas, home to the best duty-free shopping, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, a dual-governed French and Dutch island home to incredible architecture and amazing beaches. The cruise ends in San Juan, a city steeped in history, so give yourself at least a day to explore the areas storied sites. The cruise aboard the Norwegian Gem departs on Oct. 15, 2016, with fares starting at $949.
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