Every fall and spring, one of cruising’s best values takes place on the West Coast. We’re talking, of course, about Pacific Coastal Cruises that typically sail between Vancouver, Canada and Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, or reverse during the spring.

Passengers say goodbye to Vancouver's Canada Place from the deck of Holland America's Zuiderdam. Many Pacific Coastal Cruises start or end in the Canadian city.  Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Passengers say goodbye to Vancouver’s Canada Place from the deck of Holland America’s Zuiderdam. Many Pacific Coastal Cruises start or end in the Canadian city. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Of course, you won’t want to fly across the country for one of these, just as those of us who reside on the West Coast aren’t likely to fly to Florida just for a three-day jaunt to the Bahamas. But for those who are close, or who are planning a longer trip to the Pacific Northwest, there’s a lot to like about these special, unique and shockingly affordable voyages.

As a resident of Vancouver, I’ve been taking Pacific Coastal cruises for a decade now. In fact, my very first voyage back in 2005 was a three-day departure from Vancouver to Seattle aboard Holland America Line’s Oosterdam that I liked so much that I got home and immediately booked a five-night voyage aboard Veendam to Los Angeles for that fall.

Here are five things I like most about these twice-yearly Pacific Coastal cruises:

1. Pacific Coastal Cruises Are Quick

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl sails out of Seattle.  Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl sails out of Seattle. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Pacific Coastal cruises, by definition, are typically shorter than one week (though weeklong repositioning voyages do exist). The average length of a Pacific Coastal cruise is between one and four days, with plenty of two and three day options in between. Some leave on a weekend, while others depart mid-week. They’re a great way to rest up and feel like you’ve been somewhere (on a cruise, no less!) without having to give up your precious vacation days. And it also doesn’t hurt that …

2. Pacific Coastal Cruises Are Inexpensive

Royal Princess will feature 40 suites with private balconies. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Have you always wanted to try a suite? Pacific Coastal cruises can let you – without breaking the bank. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

It’s like they’re giving them away. Per night, a Pacific Coastal voyage on a nice mainstream ship can set you back less than a night in the not-so-good hotel. You know the one I mean: the grubby one, out by the airport, next to that place that got raided. That kind of hotel.

Because of the reduced price of these voyages (pricing depends, of course, on the cruise line and the number of days), these can be a great way to get that “cruise fix” without spending a ton of cash. But we also know people that see it as a great way to splurge for a special occasion. Always wanted to book the Penthouse Suite onboard your favorite ship? Do it for a night or two – at a fraction of the cost.

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