Did you know that you only need five nights in order to enjoy an amazing cruise? I certainly have always assumed you required at least a couple of weeks off work, as well as the hassle of catching a flight. There is another solution - cruises from the port of Southampton.
All you need to do is get yourself to the south coast and step onboard the ship, and your holiday will begin as soon as you set sail. No airports, no fuss.
Here are five of the best short breaks I think you can do from Southampton.
1. Hit the Netherlands and Spain
Should you only have five nights to spare, you can still have a big adventure. Sailing from Southampton, your first stop will be at Ijmuiden, a Dutch port that is close to major cities like Amsterdam. This means you can take a daytrip to the city to soak up its canals, pancakes and amazing museums, such as Anne Frank House. Next up is the Guernsey capital of St Peter Port, followed by the Spanish destinations of La Coruna and Bilbao, which boasts the impressive Guggenheim Museum.
2. Set sail to the Netherlands and Norway
Following a similar itinerary to the first cruise, this week-long holiday will also see you explore Ijmuiden and its surroundings, which include its old wooden windmills. Next up is Norway's Flaam, which is home to one of the most beautiful railway routes in Europe. From here, you will travel to the charming Norwegian town of Stavanger, which is filled with whitewashed houses dating from the 18th century and cobbled streets. You will then set sail back to Southampton, relaxing at sea.
3. UK, Netherlands, Spain and France in eight nights
This cruise might seem like a long way with so many stop-offs, but all you need is eight nights to see the highlights of the UK, Netherlands, Spain and France. Ijmuiden will once again be your first destination after setting sail from UK shores, before you make your way to St Peter Port. This is the capital of Guernsey and is a fairly chic place - think waterside cafes and top restaurants. Spain will be next up, with La Coruna and Bilbao on the cards. La Coruna will enable you to visit Santiago de Compostela, which boasts a cathedral that has been a popular Catholic pilgrimage destination for centuries. La Rochelle will round off this jam-packed break.
4. Got 12 nights to spare?
While a little bit longer than the other cruises, 12 nights is still relatively short compared to some of the holidays available. Ijmuiden will once again feature, before your ship sails to Cherbourg, and then it will make its way to Vigo in Spain and Lisbon in Portugal. You will then enjoy an overnight stay in Palma de Mallorca. The capital of Mallorca boasts spectacular beaches, piles of tapas and plenty of culture, such as its cathedral. Valletta, Dubrovnik and Venice will round off this getaway.
5. Perfect ten
My final choice for the ideal short cruise from Southampton is one that requires ten nights of your time. Ijmuiden, St Peter Port, Vigo and Lisbon will be your first four stop-offs, followed by Spain's Bilbao. Le Havre in France is the last destination on the itinerary and boasts a huge stretch of sand that is perfect for enjoying a picnic on to celebrate the end of your trip.
What are your thoughts on choosing a cruise for a short holiday?