Proving that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to cruising, the best small cruise ships on the seven seas certainly have plenty to offer. From the small to the really small, here’s our rundown of just a handful of those worthy of your shortlist.
P&O Cruises | Aurora – 76,152 tons, 1,874 guests
First on our list of the best small cruise ships is passenger favourite P&O Cruises Aurora. At just shy of 2,000 passengers, she might be far from the smallest on our list; but given that the latest P&O Cruises ship Arvia weighs in at 184,700 tons with 5,200 guests on board, she’s certainly at the more petite end of the scale.
Aurora is one of two adult-only ships in the fleet, sailing to a host of destinations throughout Europe. Whether you’ve got your sights set on a short break, a foray through the Norwegian Fjords or the sun-kissed Mediterranean, P&O Cruises Aurora is sure to fit the bill.
Expect to find seven restaurants on board, including the ever-popular Sindhu and The Glass House. She’s also home to 11 bars and cafés, so filling your time on board this small ship won’t be an issue.
View the cruises on board P&O Cruises Aurora. >> CLICK HERE
Ambassador Cruise Line | Ambience – 70,285 tons, 1,400 guests
When Ambassador became the first British cruise line to launch in more than a decade, it also welcomed one of the best small cruise ships to the high seas. Ambience presents the best of no-fly cruising with departures from London Tilbury, delivering exceptional cuisine and some jaw-dropping entertainment that more than rivals what is possible on land.
Many of the spaces on board are reminiscent of British favourites, whether that’s the atrium that’s aptly been named Centre Court, or Borough Market where you can take your pick from an array of food outlets. Ambience is all about delivering the levels of service you come to expect from our home shores, served up by wide-smiled staff who just love to make passengers feel right at home.
The Mediterranean, Scandinavia and lesser-known locations throughout the British Isles are all within easy reach. A voyage on board this small cruise ship is one that’s not to be forgotten.
Find your next cruise on board Ambassador Ambience. >> CLICK HERE
Fred. Olsen | Balmoral – 45,537 tons, 1,325 guests
Next up is Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral, which has gained a legion of fans since launching in 2018. She’s one of the best small cruise ships for various reasons, not least for the range of fascinating itineraries she embarks on all over the world. Balmoral’s size means she is able to navigate some of Europe’s most picturesque waterways, including the Kiel Canal and River Seine.
Fred. Olsen has earnt a reputation for some of the finest dining at sea, so don’t be fooled into thinking your options for eating and drinking will be limited on this small cruise ship. Colours & Tastes and Vasco are the two speciality restaurants on board, serving up Asian and Indian cuisine, respectively.
As for the entertainment, catch an evening show in The Neptune Lounge or soak up the sun on the Marquee Deck or Lounge Deck. With plenty of pools and jacuzzis to enjoy, relaxation is never too far away.
Where will you sail on board Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral? Find your inspiration. >> CLICK HERE
Saga | Spirit of Adventure – 58,250 tons, 987 guests
There are many features that make Saga’s Spirit of Adventure worthy of its place on the list of the best small cruise ships. Not only does she boast a guest-to-crew ratio of 2:1, but the quality of the onboard offering sees many passengers return to the cruise line time and time again.
Saga prides itself on a truly all-inclusive offering. A private balcony comes as standard, while all-inclusive drinks, speciality dining, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a return travel service from your home to the ports are likewise included in the cruise fare.
Once on board, you will discover remarkable dining that includes Amalfi, Saga’s first Italian restaurant, and Khukuri House, the world’s first-ever Nepalese restaurant at sea. Head to The Playhouse Theatre for live matinee and evening shows, or The Britannia Lounge is where it’s at for music and dancing.
Embrace your spirit of adventure with Saga. Find out more about the cruise line. >> CLICK HERE
Regent Seven Seas | Splendor – 55,498 tons, 746 guests
Spacious suites are the order of the day on Regent Seven Seas Splendor, where the accommodation on board ranges from the 28 square metre Veranda Suite, right up to the Regent Suite, measuring in at an impressive 412 square metres. No matter which you choose, rest assured that luxurious bath amenities, snuggly robes and superior Elite Slumber beds are never far away.
While you could spend your days sipping champagne or watching the world go by, there’s also the opportunity to enjoy daytime enrichment activities. Try out your swing at the golf net or putting green, or challenge your fellow passengers to a game of shuffleboard- no matter what you choose, Regent Seven Seas will deliver it with style and sophistication.
Regent Seven Seas Splendor explores some of the world’s most incredible destinations. From Miami to Monte Carlo, Buenos Aires to Barcelona, there’s no finer way to explore the globe than on one of the best small cruise ships.
We’ve been on board! Discover what we thought of this small cruise ship. >> CLICK HERE
Silversea | Silver Dawn – 40,700 tons, 569 guests
Ultra-luxury sailing doesn’t come much better than Silver Dawn, which became the 10th ship to join the Silversea fleet in April 2022. There are several features that give Silver Dawn the title of one of the best small cruise ships, not least for the Sea and Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) programme and OTIVM wellness concept on board.
This ship is all about destination immersion, giving guests new and exceptional ways to better connect with the places they visit. S.A.L.T. delivers some of the most exquisite culinary expertise not only through the dishes served, but also via shore excursions. OTIVM is inspired by the traditions of Ancient Rome, where wellness treatments will leave guests looking good and feeling even better.
Silver Dawn, as with any ship in the Silversea fleet, promises a desiccated butler service in every suite. With a high crew-to-passenger ratio, this small luxury cruise ship showcases the best of what it’s like to live the high life.
We’ve been on board! Find out exactly what we thought of Silver Dawn by reading our blog. >> CLICK HERE
Seabourn | Pursuit – 23,000 tons, 264 guests
Although there may already be a hearty selection of the best small cruise ships, it doesn’t mean there aren’t more in the pipeline. Among them is Seabourn Pursuit, a brand-new expedition ship that will be headed for some of the world’s most intriguing locations.
This luxury ship has been built to PC6 Polar Class standards and is kitted out with modern hardware and technology. Aside from the stunning decor and luxe fixtures and fittings, Seabourn Pursuit promises guests much much more. She will carry two custom-built submarines, 24 Zodiacs, kayaks, and a 26-person expert expedition team, all of which are sure to create unforgettable holiday memories.
Seabourn Pursuit will set sail for the first time in 2023, beginning with a series of Mediterranean cruises ranging from seven to 19 days. She will be the sister ship to Seabourn Venture, which boasts many of the same features.
Discover more about Seabourn’s expedition ships. Read our interview with Robin West, Senior Vice-President of Expedition Operations at Seabourn. >> CLICK HERE