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'Party Cruise' Proliferation

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    'Party Cruise' Proliferation

    It may be my imagination but so called 'party cruises' seem to be growing in number, perhaps as a result of cruise lines struggling to fill longer cruises. Having recently returned from a three night cruise to Amsterdam on P&O Azura I'm taking more notice of what people think of these short cruises.

    Most of what I read is negative and a lot of this negativity seems to be from people who have never tried a short 'taster' cruise. I have submitted a review of my short cruise, but alas, several hours later it has still not materialised on the review pages. My last review took about four days to show itself so here is a transcript of my 'party cruise' experience................

    Most people by now will probably appreciate that mini cruises are not necessarily a true reflection of what a longer cruise on the same ship would be like. I’m sure this would be the case on this 3 night Azura cruise to Amsterdam. Before I start, it’s fair to say that we were probably going to enjoy this cruise at all costs as we had just got married about 4 hours before we boarded. The cruise wasn’t booked as a honeymoon as at the time of booking we had no idea we would be getting married in Southampton immediately prior to boarding. It was all done on a bit of a whim.

    Embarkation at Ocean Terminal was the worst I had experienced to date. The valet parking went smoothly enough although we waited longer than normal for our keys to be taken from us. I thought the £57 charge for three nights parking was extortionate. I was surprised that our large case was taken care of by the stevedores as I had read that we would have to take our own cases on board. That was a bonus for us. We arrived at check-in at about 3pm and only waited a few minutes before we were called forward. The security screening was the worst yet as the queue snaked its way to the back of the terminal and it took an age to get on board.

    Once on board we made our way straight to our cabin where our case was waiting for us. We chose the cheapest inside grade of cabin for this three-nighter and I must say it was perfectly fine. I would probably want at least an outside for a cruise of 7 nights or more though.

    Having quickly unpacked, I made my way to Sindhu to book speciality restaurants Seventeen (or should it be XVII) for our ‘wedding dinner’ and Sindhu for the second night. I had intended to try-out our freedom dining in the MDR on the third night but once I had tried XVII, well I had to book it for night three as well.

    Whilst on my way to book these restaurants I was struck by the number of people in the bars. They were absolutely buzzing……and this was before the safety drill had even taken place. A sign of things to come?

    Safety drill completed, it was time for a shower and off to have a drink and a look around. Having cruised on Ventura a couple of times I was completely familiar with the layout of the ship. In fact I kept thinking I was on Ventura except I missed the Mediterranean feel of Ramblas. In its place was Olly Smith’s Glass House, a venue I thought would appeal to me. In actual fact I found it a sterile, soul-less place and couldn’t envisage having a drink there (although I did try it once) let alone eating there. Sadly, I believe that Ventura is going to lose Ramblas in favour of a Glass House.

    The Blue Bar was a nice place for a drink and was just the same as The Red Bar on Ventura…..except it was blue of course. Whilst in the atrium I could have just been on Ventura as I couldn’t tell the difference. Mind you, it did look a bit different as all the Christmas trees and decorations were still up……..and this was 7th January. They remained up for the duration of the cruise and added to the party atmosphere on board.

    We favoured The Planet Bar mainly, and like Metropolis, high at the stern of Ventura, it became our favourite pre-dinner venue. I have to say that on the first night particularly, it was extremely busy with groups of young men and women and was absolutely buzzing. I didn’t witness any bad behaviour there, but of course the night was still young.

    Dinner in XVII was a lovely, quiet and sophisticated experience, far from the madding crowd, in spite of actually being very busy. The cover charge of £27 a head was plenty to pay but worth it in my opinion in order to have the kind of evening we cherish.

    Back to our cabin. Knowing the possible nature of P&O mini-cruises, particularly ones which docked overnight in Amsterdam, I was careful in my choice of cabin. I picked D107 as it was up at the front with little or no chance of having revellers passing by in the small hours. I also made sure there were cabins above, below and to each side so that I insulated us from anything other than noisy neighbours, which thankfully we didn’t have. I would like to say that we had a wonderful cabin steward by the name of Nilesh who couldn’t do enough for us. I was also careful to avoid booking a cabin in a similar position on E Deck as this was a thoroughfare to go outside on to the ‘Clam Shell’ for a look over the bow of the ship and the doors slammed a lot. We had three quiet nights in our lovely little cabin and it did the job a treat.

    For us it was strange to dock in Amsterdam overnight as it meant having an afternoon and a morning to do our exploring. We just walked along to the Central Station and took a canal boat trip for an hour then walked up to Dam Square. By this time it was dark so we walked back to the ship. We stayed on board in the evening and indeed the next morning. The cruise was about having three nights on Azura for us rather than a trip to Amsterdam.

    On night two we dined in Sindhu for a cover charge of £20 each. I was really looking forward to this but found it no more enjoyable than our local Indian restaurant. I also hear that on Azura they are going to change ‘East’ to ‘East by Atol Kocher’. I’m starting to go off Ventura a bit as I really liked Ramblas and East as they were. We were seated at the front of the restaurant and I looked out on to the thoroughfare that was the photo gallery. Alright if you’re a people watcher but I’m not. This is when my evening was spoiled by the sight of a young man walking past dressed from head to toe in a giant inflatable orange phallus costume, complete with spherical appendages like two footballs at his feet. We later saw him in the Manhattan venue and quickly left for a nightcap elsewhere. I was told by a member of staff that he had been to dinner dressed like this. It was really odd as most party people were ashore for the evening and the ship was quite quiet. In fact HE was quiet and looked a complete…………..well, he was dressed as one!

    Poor show, P&O for allowing this dress on any ship on any evening, let alone a family ship. He should have been made to change into the appropriate dress for the evening. How I wish I had booked XVII that night.

    Anyway, not to worry, back in XVII for our last night and another lovely experience. It was at full capacity so service was slower than previously, but we were in no rush and I finished off with a crepe suzette cooked at the table.

    Disembarkation was very slow and we waited for an hour in the theatre prior to being called forward. Not a big problem, just a bit boring.

    All in all, for under £200 this was a very enjoyable cruise. If you know what you’re likely to expect you can plan ahead accordingly…..even if that means not booking the cruise in the first place. With a careful choice of cabin, drinks venues and speciality restaurants, we had as good a time as we would have had on a longer cruise. There was just the one instance of the inappropriately dressed young man……….but that was a fleeting incident.

    These cruises are not bad……….just different.

    Just research and think about things………oh, and enjoy.

    Thanks for reading my review…………….Bob

    So, would you dare to try one of these short cruises?


    Well clearly someone out there likes them or cruise companies wouldn't do them. It's a competative consumer driven market nowdays so if the company struggles to sell something they don't repeat it or cancel voyages.


      I've been to the adult weekends at Butlins where you can choose different levels of rooms and food packages. The highest level which is still not on par with a cruise ship is over £200 for 3 nights. With the added benefit of going over to Amsterdam (a well known place to go for stag weekends) £200 on a cruise ship is amazing value.

      I think as word gets around the mini-cruises will get even more popular with Stags, Hens birthdays etc. and make an awful lot of money in drinks alone. It wouldn't surprise me if the family ships went adult only for the mini-cruises and the trips would become even more raucous........................................... .......................Carol


        The main problem with these mini cruises is that I have recommended to friends and family alike to try before they buy in the form of a mini rather than a 7 plus nighter.
        If some of the alleged behaviour we're hearing about from various sources is true then they'd be put off for life.
        And what happens when these boozecruisers then want to try a longer cruise?
        Are we already seeing them bring this behaviour to longer cruises....especially with the proliferation of the alleged "free drinks" packages.
        Is this the reason for Carnival restricting the number of drinks per person per day on their AI?
        Will certain cruise lines become off limits of those of us.who just want a relaxing cruise?
        Time will tell

        Last edited by Garfield, Waterlooville; 19th January 2013, 10:22 AM.


          Thanks for the balanced review.

          I've only tried one three-night cruise, and that was on Queen Elizabeth. I did notice a few people who looked like they may have been booze-cruisers while on deck sailing along the Solent. I didn't see anyone who appeared to have been drinking too much.

          We joined a group from CC the first night, and one of the others was getting slowly well-oiled - but not in a bad behaviour kind of way!

          I had booked the trip as I was celebrating a significant birthday, but the price had dropped after my booking, which is probably why the ship was full.
          Queen Victoria - Mediterranean Explorer

          2019 -
          NCL Getaway - Norway and Iceland
          Adventure of the Seas - Fall Foliage

          2020 -
          Jewel of the Seas - Abu Dhabi & Dubai
          Magellan - Panama Canal


            I was unfortunate enough to take a DFDS mini-cruise to Haarlem on a Friday night. DFDS kept the bars open until they finally emptied at 5am. As a result we were kept awake by drunken youths rampaging the corridors until "security" men temporally stopped them. They just restarted their rampages a few minutes later. Even my friend, who is nearly deaf, was kept awake.
            DFDS response to our complaint during the night was that we should have known better than to travel on a Friday night.
            For some odd reason there was no disturbance on the Saturday night return which was just as well as our whole visit to Haaarlem had been spoilt by lack of sleep.

            Never, never, never will I ever go on anything that looks like a booze cruise again.


              Originally posted by bobbybuoy, peterborough View Post
              So, would you dare to try one of these short cruises?

              Bob [/COLOR]
              Hi Bob.
              Yes I would if it was a 'party cruise' but then like you, as a member of this forum and having a bit of cruise experience, I'd go having a good idea what I might be letting myself in for. An extra long party.

              I'd go for the cheapest cabin I could too [the price you paid was a steal].

              I agree with you completely re the 'fancy dress' but also appreciate that reading some reports, a three nighter like that might occasionally have an anything goes policy.

              Our four nighter on Victoria definitely had a different 'feel' to it [still very 'civilised'] but we went knowing it might be so and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
              I would never advocate a short cruise as a taster unless qualified by 'it's the ship you're tasting, not the actual cruise experience'. Go knowing that and ...sorted.
              Last edited by Mrs M; 19th January 2013, 12:27 PM. Reason: added 'like you'


                Good review Bob,
                Are you sure it has not been put on the review section, I'm sure Richard has quoted from it in a thread he started!

                Oh and congratulations to you and you other half too


                  On the same 4 nighter on QV we passed a couple on their way to bed who asked us were they supposed to put their cases out in the corridor as well. They were having a lovely time.. you could tell!.. but hadn't bothered reading anything about disembarkation. The woman then rushed ahead shutting him out of the cabin. It was all just banter between them, no trouble at all, but clearly their first cruise.

                  There was nothing on that cruise that would stop me booking another short one..Carol


                    Originally posted by Guy, Ormskirk View Post
                    On the same 4 nighter on QV we passed a couple on their way to bed who asked us were they supposed to put their cases out in the corridor as well. They were having a lovely time.. you could tell!.. but hadn't bothered reading anything about disembarkation. The woman then rushed ahead shutting him out of the cabin. It was all just banter between them, no trouble at all, but clearly their first cruise.

                    There was nothing on that cruise that would stop me booking another short one..Carol
                    We had a great time didn't we Carol.


                      Cunard and Fred Olsen mini-cruisers do not seem to attract 'Booze' cruisers.

                      Bob, nice review, but you say "These cruises are not bad……….just different". It all depends how tolerant one is of other people's behaviour one is.

                      To me being dressed as a 'giant inflatable orange phallus' and being served dinner is TOTALLY unacceptable to me. It clearly demonstrates the lack of respect (brains?) from the passenger and lack of rule enforcement by the cruise line for those guests who prefer to dine Phallus-fee. To me that's not different, it's bad!
                      See my cruise blog: HERE


                        What happens when these boozecruisers then want to try a longer cruise .... especially with the proliferation of the alleged "free drinks" packages

                        The same thought occurred to me, Garfield If they were advertised mainly as a "booze cruise" that would be fair enough, but they're not; the usual "elegant experience" images are bandied about to maximise bookings

                        We wouldn't do a 3 nighter for this reason, but if a longer cruise was overtaken by stags and hens we'd expect a refund on the grounds of misrepresentation. In the meantime I think we'll stick to Cunard, which doesn't seem to attract them, and Princess which, with no "all in drinks packages", probably wouldn't appeal either



                          These booze cruises are definately more a P and O phenomenon than other brands. We have done many with P and O, Fred Olsen, RCI, Celebrity and one with Cruise and Maritime and have only encountered this raucous behaviour on P and O. I don't know if it is their cheap pricing (our deluxe balcony on the Azura 3 nighter was £229 pp) or their marketing but all the P and O ones have been the same with the behaviour being worse the shorter the trip.

                          We treat these as a chance to have a break from work and tend to put our feet up in the cabin and relax for a few days. For hat reason we like to choose ones that are likely to have good views like long river transits. You cannot choose these cruises thinking you are going to relax on the decks or in the bars - we tend not to use either of these during the P and O mini cruises.

                          If you don't know what you are letting yourself in for they can be a shock and a disappointment.
                          Cruising my way through life!



                            We did a 4 night taster cruise on QM2 back in December and this was, as you would expect, very civilised!

                            I never cruise on P & O!



                              I really enjoyed you review especially the fact that it was very comprehensive. We have been on a couple of 3 nighters aboard the Marco polo taking in Amsterdam and Antwerp. We chose the cruise purely for the ports it visited and were not disappointed. This is not a glamorous ship, does not have the WOW factor of some but we enjoyed it non the less. The food was o.k., the service great as with most others, the DJ better than most including P&O and everyone seemed to join in on the dance floor. We had no rowdies or inappropriately dressed passengers so I would say this was a great little ship for a long weekend. It did on the other hand serve to say we prefer the larger ships for the choice of evening entertainment etc although I would love to go through the Panama Canal on her.


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