Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Fri May 15 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | May 15, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    7 Memorable Memorial Day Cruises

    7 Memorable Memorial Day Cruises

    PHOTO: The Norwegian Breakaway will sail May 24 for Bermuda. (Photos courtesy those featured unless otherwise indicated)

    Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching, marking the unofficial start to summer. For those who are still considering a quick Memorial weekend vacation, these cruises promise a no-stress getaway with convenient departures from homeport cities in the United States. From family-friendly cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico, to longer New England voyages and classic river ships sailing the mighty Mississippi, these seven last-minute cruises are great options for the holiday weekend. 

    New England and Canada on the Pearl Mist

    The Pearl Mist, a new small ship from Pearl Seas Cruises, sets sail on May 23 for a "Canadian Maritimes” cruise that includes three ports of call in Maine: Portland, Bar Harbor, and Eastport. The trip begins in Boston and hugs the coastline for some spectacular scenery such as the iconic lighthouses of Maine, red sandstone cliffs of Prince Edward Island, and colorful, charming cottages on the îles de la Madeleine. Onboard, expect luxurious accommodations, informative lectures, and an inmate feel – the ship carries just 210 passengers.

    Bermuda on the Norwegian Breakaway

    One of NCL's latest ships, the Norwegian Breakaway, will be sailing from New York City on May 24 for a seven-night getaway to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda. The ship will stay in the Royal Navy Dockyard for three days (instead of a few hours), allowing ample time for visitors to explore. During days at sea, passengers have no shortage of entertainment including three Broadway shows: Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy, Rock of Ages, and Burn the Floor. There's also a massive ropes course, five watersides, and a quarter-mile promenade lined with restaurants and lounge areas. 

    Mississippi River with American Queen Steamboat Company

    As the largest steamboat ever built, the American Queen channels a bygone era when steamboats plied the Mississippi River. The eight-night journey from New Orleans includes visits to iconic plantation homes such as Oak Valley as well as villages in the Louisiana Bayou. While cruisers are in New Orleans on May 22, the food and wine festival will be taking place in the French Quarter for even more ways to experience the city. The cruise also visits the Civil War city of Vicksburg, Miss. and the emerging southern town of Helena, Ark., before reaching the final destination of Memphis.

    Disney Dream to the Bahamas

    Family-friendly Disney Cruise Line has a quick, three-night weekend getaway that embarks from Port Canaveral (near Orlando) on May 22 and heads to the Bahamas. The Disney Dream debuted in 2011 with fun extras like the Aqua Duck (a water coaster at sea), magical porthole windows for interior cabins (with digital views of the water), three pools, a special splash zone, and favorite costumed characters. The ship visits Nassau and Castaway Cay – the cruise line's private island – for some rest and relaxation on beautiful white-sand beaches.  

    Carnival Paradise to Mexico

    Photo by Theresa Norton Masek

    For first time-cruisers or anyone in need of some much needed rest and relaxation, the Carnival Paradise offers an affordable four-night getaway from Tampa to Mexico departing May 22. Although Paradise is an older ship, it is well maintained and Carnival has even added new touches like an elegant specialty restaurant, adults-only sun deck, and new teen and tween clubs. The island port of call, Cozumel, is well known for its stunning coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, or there's plenty of cervezas to celebrate the holiday weekend on land. 

    Columbia and Snake Rivers with American Cruise Lines

    Follow in the footsteps of Louis and Clark on a seven-night themed voyage that retraces the famous expedition. The Queen of the West paddle wheeler embarks from Portland, Ore., on May 23 and travels to Clarkston, Wash. Highlights include Hells Canyon (the deepest canyon in North America), the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, and Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

    Royal Caribbean to Central America

    For an extended week-long getaway, Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas sets sail from Galveston, Texas on May 24 and calls on Cozumel, Mexico before stopping in Belize and Honduras. Although Navigator is not one of the cruise line's newest giants, it is one of the most beloved. It recently experienced a refurbishment so that interior cabins now include the trendy virtual balconies (with digital water views), as well as new specialty restaurants. During days at sea, passengers can relax in three pools including the adults-only solarium, or go ice skating, rock climbing, and mini golfing.


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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