Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas will become the largest cruise ship in the world when it debuts in May, but what is out there for those who still seek the smaller ship experience? Not only does small ship cruising put you in the company of like-minded travellers in a more intimate setting, it can also take you to parts of the world that larger ships simply cannot reach. Think they can only take you to Caribbean beaches and Mediterranean cities? Think again; there’s a small ship to suit everyone, from adventurers to luxury lovers and everyone in between, and they’re venturing further than you think.
For an ever-increasing number of travellers, cruising is all about experiencing more of the world in less of the time. If you fall into this category, AzAmara Club Cruises is the perfect match. Carrying just 690 passengers, AzAmara’s ships venture where larger ships can’t and promise more time in port than any other cruise line. In fact, 100% of AzAmara voyages incorporate a late evening (8.00pm departure or later) or an overnight stay in over half of their port stops. Once you’re in your destination, the cruise line’s ‘Destination Immersion’ programme ensures you experience the local culture in all of its facets, with private tours and exclusive access to ancestral homes and historic estates.
The beauty of cruising is that it can take you to places that are beyond the reach of most. If you travel to experience a world beyond the beaches, expedition cruising aboard smaller ships in the Celebrity Cruises and Silversea fleets will take you there. Whilst still comfortable, expedition ships focus on what is outside rather than in; plush lounges and glitzy atriums are suddenly unimportant when the vast and spectacular wildernesses of Antarctica and the Galápagos Islands are visible from deck. If you’re looking for a reminder of how tiny we are in the grand scheme of things, an expedition cruise will show you a whole new perspective that won’t be quickly forgotten.
The Luxury Lover
When Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer launches in July, it will reportedly become the ‘most luxurious ship ever built’ but don’t expect swags, tails and gilded ceilings. The ultra-luxury of today is understated, elegant rather than opulent and with a focus on those finer details. It’s about feeling like part of an exclusive members club, where a personal concierge takes care of every dinner and spa reservation, your private butler knows what you want even before you do and your private driver will show you the sights away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist masses. All-suite accommodation is the most luxurious at sea and a high crew to guest ratio promises unparalleled service.
The Classic Cruiser
Swan Hellenic’s small ship Minerva is perfect for those who still appreciate the traditional cruising experience. The 350-passenger ship’s quaint country house elegance appeals to those who long for the classic cruising of yesteryear and not only can Minerva access ports of call larger ships cannot, she is also small enough to traverse some of Europe’s most stunning rivers, including the Rhine and the Rhone.
Imagining navigating the seas around the Caribbean from beneath billowing canvas sails, strapping on your harness and climbing the rigging to see the world from atop the crow’s nest. Star Clippers’ seafaring heritage means you’ll experience life on the seas as it was in centuries gone by, complete with polished teak decks, port holes and even knot tying and navigation classes. There’s a camaraderie that comes with sailing the seas on such a small vessel and the sense of nostalgia will leave a lasting impression.
Which small ships have you sailed on in the past and which destinations will they take you to in the future? Let us know!