When it comes to cruise ships, the conventional thinking is that bigger is better. If out-of-this-world amenities like water parks and Broadway shows are what you want in a cruise, then the conventional thinking holds true. However, if you’re looking to have a cruising experience that’s unique, luxurious and intimate, then you may want to buck convention and embrace the idea that great things often come in small packages.
In addition to all of the enormous cruise ships that you’re no doubt familiar with, there are smaller cruise ships traversing the seven seas right this very moment. These smaller cruise ships may not have Olympic-sized pools and tens of restaurant and bars, but what they lack in these departments they more than make up for in others. Many offer passengers the chance to get up close with the natural wonders of the world, to experience the life of luxury, and even to enjoy exotic locations that larger cruise ships simply can’t reach. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So, come take a look at these 39 amazing pictures that prove why you should consider travelling on smaller cruise lines. In this gallery, you’ll get a glimpse of some of the finest small cruise ships in the world, as well as an explanation of the tremendous benefits that small cruise ships afford. And, if you’re looking for what’s considered to be the best small cruise ship in the world, you’ll find it at #34.
1. Silver Explorer
Silversea’s Explorer can get itself and its 132 guests to places where larger cruise ships can’t. The ship’s strengthened hull allows it to effortlessly traverse ice-filled waters.
2. Wind Spirit
Operated by Windstar Cruises, this tall ship offers a luxurious sailing experience as it travels to dramatic coves and harbors all over the world.
Aboard Arethusa, which is operated by Grand Circle Cruise Line, you can get up close and personal with the Mediterranean coastlines of Europe’s southern countries.
4. Grab More Quality Time with the People You Care About
With fewer onboard distractions to garner the attention of you and the people you came with, you’ll have more opportunities to enjoy intimate quality time with one another.
5. Star Pride
Windstar Cruises operates this small cruise ship that’s capable of carrying 212 passengers. It boasts luxurious accommodations and unfettered access to a bounty of water sports equipment.
6. Locally Sourced Fare Aboard Moana
Aboard the Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Moana, which carries only 90 passengers, you can enjoy cuisine that features the local ingredients of the ports that you visit.
7. Get the Yachting Experience
While large cruise ships tend to offer the amusement park experience, small cruises offer an experience that’s more akin to one enjoyed by the rich and famous.
8. Silver Wind
Carrying a maximum of 296 passengers, Silversea’s Silver Wind places a premium on offering its guests a luxurious and breathtaking trip.
9. SeaDream II
Getting off the boat is never a problem aboard, which is universally regarded as one of the finest small cruise ships in the world.
10. Get More Romance
Aboard a large cruise ship, it can be hard to truly feel as if you’re ‘alone’ with your partner. This is a problem not faced by those who travel aboard the world’s small cruise ships.
11. Wind Star
Adventure is never far away when you’re a passenger on the Wind Star, which sails its 148 guests to destinations around the globe and even includes its own onboard casino.
12. Uniworld River Cruises
Small cruise ships don’t just travel the oceans; they travel the world’s rivers too. And, Uniworld’s River Cruises ferry their passengers up and down the rivers of Europe, stopping for sightseeing in many historic cities along the way.
13. Fewer Crowds
When you’re aboard a small cruise ship, you’ll seldom have to worry about competing with other passengers for prime real estate up on deck.
14. Seabourn Legend
Talk about threading the needle! Here you can see the Seabourn Legend as it traverses the Corinth Canal, which connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf.
15. See and Explore the Greek Isles in Peace
Speaking of Greece, Variety Cruises offers stunning and intimate experiences of the Greek Isles aboard its mega yacht cruise ships, in addition to similar experiences at other locations around the world.
16. Not Your Average Cruise Ship
Let’s face it. You pretty much know what you’re going to get aboard a large cruise ship. But on a small one, you’ll get a unique experience unlike any other.
17. Wind Surf
This sailing yacht operated by Windstar Cruises has 156 cabins, which makes it one of the larger small cruise ships out there. However, you wouldn’t guess that given its spacious accommodations.
18. InnerSea Discoveries
Eschewing garden-variety amenities, this cruise line offers its passengers the chance to discover the natural world in an entirely new way.
19. Galapagos Explorer II
You’ll feel like Charles Darwin as you cruise the Galapagos Islands aboard this luxury small cruise ship that’s operated by Silversea Cruises.
20. Seabourn Odyssey
Seen here peeking over Lover’s Beach in Cabo San Lucas, this luxurious small cruise ship is capable of taking you places that larger cruise ships simply cannot.
21. Better on the Budget
This isn’t always the case, but generally speaking fewer onboard amenities means less expenses for the ship, which means lower prices for you. Use the money you save at all the places that you’ll travel to!
22. Un-Cruise Adventures
Based in Seattle, this cruise line offers amazing trips from the Pacific Northwest to the pristine coastlines and inlets of Alaska.
Unparalleled luxury and refinement are the name of the game aboard the Europa, which is operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
24. Seabourn Sojourn
If you want the small cruise ship experience with many of the amenities of a larger cruise ship, then you’ll feel right at home aboard the Sojourn.
25. National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic’s fleet of small cruise ships is capable of taking their passengers to the most beautiful and exotic locations in the world, from a circumnavigation of Iceland to cruise up the Mekong River.
26. More Authentic Experiences
The smaller cruise ships put you closer to the waterways that you’re travelling on and closer to the ports you stop at. This all serves to give you a more authentic ‘cruising experience’ than you’re likely to get on a big boat.
27. Silver Shadow
The luxurious amenities of Silversea’s Shadow will ensure that you don’t miss the glitz and glamour of a larger cruise ship.
28. Lindblad Expeditions
In partnership with National Geographic, the small cruise ships of Lindblad Expeditions allow their passengers to have a one-of-a-kind adventure.
29. Get to Those Hard-to-Reach Places
Without a doubt, one of the primary benefits of travelling on a small cruise ship is this: They can get to places that large cruise aren’t able to, allowing their passengers to explore more off-the-beaten-path locations.
Celebrity Cruises’ Xpedition offers all of the amenities people have come to expect from their larger cruise ships with all the benefits of a smaller cruise ship.
31. Seabourn Spirit
This small cruise ship, which is operated by Seabourn, is capable of carrying just over 200 passengers and offers amenities like a casino and a spa.
32. Royal Clipper
Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper offers one of the most unique small cruise experiences money can buy as it sails to unique destinations all around the world.
33. Silver Whisper
Aboard Silversea’s Silver Whisper, every one of the 382 passengers is able to enjoy individual attention from the ship’s crew of approximately 300.
Condé Nast ranked this cruise ship, which is operated by Grand Circle Cruise Line, as the best in the world for 2014. Capable of taking up to 50 passengers, you can be assured of an intimate experience while you’re aboard.
35. Personal Attention
With fewer guests to monopolize the attention of the crew, you and those that you travel with will enjoy a level of service that’s typically only reserved for the rich and the famous.
36. SeaDream I
From the teak upper deck to the luxuriously appointed staterooms and suites, the SeaDream I offers its passengers a full taste of the luxury yachting experience.
37. Seabourn Quest
If it’s adventure that you and your cruising companions are after, then the Seabourn Quest is the ship that you’ve been looking for.
38. Get Off of the Boat Faster
Cruising is half about the boat and half about the places to which you cruise. On a smaller cruise boat, you’re able to get faster and more direct access to each destination.
39. Viking River Cruises
The historic beauty of Europe’s old world cities is only a dock away when you’re aboard one of Viking River Cruises’ small ships.