IMHO I am afraid that a short break would not give you a very good impression of cruising as they tend to be full of people, like yourselves, trying it out and not the true cruisers, other wise they tend to attract the Stag/Hen night parties. A week cruise would give you the full experience and would attract those who know how to cruise, how to behave and how to dress (in the majority). As for line, I would go with the newer modern ships - more stable, better facilities and more 'wow' factor in their appearance.
An interesting question. Our love of cruising began with a wonderful mini-cruise on the Braemar a few years ago. The cruise was nothing like 'Aldrich' describes - there were very few first-timers. However, we took my father on a mini-cruise on the Black Watch last year and it was very much as 'Aldrich' describes (although still very enjoyable)! As for suggestions, well it depends on your priorities. We like Fred Olsen's smaller, friendly, traditional, relatively child-free ships that go where the giants can't. It may sound strange, but we just love the experience of being on a 'real' ship - being on one that resembles a cross between Butlin's and a shopping mall just doesn't appeal at all! Anyway, just grab a bunch of brochures and have fun choosing...
I agree whole heartedly. I like the house party atmosphere of a small ship and the fact that booking in, embarkation, de-embarkation etc. take mainutes rather than hours ( 8 minutes on Ocean Majesty last year, from leaving departures to sitting with first beer!). Also you tend to be berthed nearer to the settlements you are visiting in stead of the container terminal or anchored off shore and waiting ages for tenders and shuttle buses. It also depends on your age. If you are under 50 you'll be the babies on a small ship, but you'll still have a good time.
We too had this idea and regretted it! 4 days was just not long enough and we could have cruised for a week for not much more money. During the 4 days we went ashore on two, so not much time left for using the ship's facilities We went with Royal Caribbean and liked it so much we are going for 2 weeks next year!
I agree, these short cruises tend to be 'party' cruises with a different clientele from that which would usually be on a ship.
I wenton a 2 night cruise and decided overall I loved cruising but I am very much looking forward to a longer cruise where I have more chance to relax and enjoy the facilities and experiences on offer.