Cruise lines understand that different guests look for different types of onboard experiences, and the onboard experience on any ship is largely driven by its size.
Larger ships amaze guests with expansive dining options, activities and performance spaces, while small ships excel at providing a more intimate, even cozy, atmosphere.
If your ideal cruise features lots of on-board activities, Vegas-style shows, multiple dining venues, and special programs for children and teens, a small ship may not be for you.
If you want a cruise experience full of learning about the ports you’ll visit, gliding into docks in the heart of town, and good conversation over cocktails and dinner, you should find out more about small ship cruises.
You may be surprised by all that small ship cruises can offer:
You’ll go where large ships can’t.
A major advantage of small-ship cruising is that the ships sail to places that aren’t accessible to larger ships. A small ship can right up to docks that passengers of larger ships would need to reach by tender, if the ship could get close to the port at all.
You can pick from a variety of ships and styles.
The variety of small ships is wider than you may think. You can choose among elegant yachts; expedition ships equipped for adventure; low-profile river cruise ships designed to slip under bridges and through locks; and masted schooners and clippers.
You’ll have lots of social opportunities.
In the more intimate atmosphere of a small ship, it can be easier to get to know other passengers. With fewer people on board, there’s less chance that you’ll lose a new friend in the crowd, and more opportunity to plan on-shore activities together.
You can expect a high level of service.
Small ships tend to have very good guest-to-crew ratios and a high level of personalized service. With fewer guests, it’s easier for crew members to learn your name and your preferences in food, drink and activities.
You’ll enjoy the enrichment programs.
On small ships, onboard activities tend to be based on the destination and designed to enrich your experience there. These programs often include fascinating presentations about the history and culture of the ports you’ll visit, opportunities to sample local foods and beverages, and previews of hosted shore excursions.
Small ship options?
Following are some of the providers with links to featured sailings:
- Paul Gauguin Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Star Clippers
What will you give up by selecting a small ship?
There won’t be as many dining or entertainment venues; amenities such as spas, pools and gyms will be fewer and smaller; and there may not be special programs for children. That’s one reason why smaller ships are often favored by more mature travelers (although there are exceptions to that rule on every small-ship cruise).
Be sure to take a close look at everything that’s included. You may be pleasantly surprised! Items that cost extra on larger ships – such as beverages, spa treatments, premium dining, shore excursions and the use of sports equipment – may be included in your small-ship fare, depending on the cruise line.
If you’re still not sure that a small-ship cruise is for you, let Cruise Specialists help you sort through the options.
Our consultants can help you decide what you really want from your vacation, and guide you toward the best choice for you; whether that’s a bustling, action-packed mega-ship or an intimate, low-key small ship.