Five Great Reasons To Try Small Ship Cruising

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It’s hard for today’s mega-liners not to grab the travel world’s headlines when they launch, captivating cruise fans with all manner of drama, unique facilities and innovation. These behemoth ships can carry anything from 2,000 guests to over 5,000, wowing cruise travellers of all types with 4-D cinemas, elegant shopping malls, multiple dining rooms and specialty restaurants, elaborate spas, and pools with retractable roofs. But if you’re not a fan of big crowds, what can you do? The answer is to consider small ship cruising, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune either. Here’s our top reasons to go small.

No Crowds 

You tend not to find big crowds or long queues on ships of around 500 guests or less, which makes everything from ordering a your morning cappuccino to disembarking to go ashore much easier. Without large numbers of other guests, people often find it’s also a more sociable way to travel; you can make lifelong friends easily, as well as finding quiet spots to call you own, whether you’re travelling on your own, or looking for some romance with your significant other.

Travel In Style 

Most smaller cruise ships fall into the luxury or premium category, with plenty of options for “red carpet” treatment, and higher crew to passenger ratios. Talking numbers, this means that there are more crew members for each guest travelling, which enables the waitstaff in the bar to not only know your name soon enough, but also your preferred pre-dinner drink. Your stateroom attendant will also organise your accommodation each day just the way you like it. On a smaller luxury ship more of the extras you usually pay for on a mass market cruise are included in the fare, which can include gratuities, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, specialty coffees and even alternative dining, which can add up to a tidy sum.

Cruise Affordably 

By choosing a small ship, particularly when travelling in some parts of the world, it can prove much more affordable, as well as more convenient, than travelling on land, with your transport, accommodation, and most meals included in the fare. Examples of this would be river cruises in Europe which sail from one country to another such as from Hungary to Holland, river cruising in remote locales such as the Amazon in Brazil, cruising to difficult-to-access reefs in the outer Great Barrier Reef, and island hopping in destinations such as the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. 

Unusual Ports And Itineraries 

Travelling to many destinations on a single trip can be hassle, especially if you’re doing it on land. When you cruise, however, especially on a smaller ship, you also get the benefit of visiting more offbeat ports of call which larger ships can’t access due to their size, and the number of people they’re carrying. Also, on smaller ships you may get to enjoy unique experiences such as beach barbecues and dining under the stars, and with fewer fellow guests shore excursions are often lighter in numbers too, making touring easier. 

It’s More About Cruising 

As one seasoned cruiser once told us, small ships are all about cruising and the destinations. While larger ships provide impressive lineups of distractions to woo new cruisers, small ships can often offer a more authentic feel of being at sea, with a more intimate atmosphere, more flexibility surrounding activities, more space on deck, and more unusual ports of call. Instead of heading inside to a cinema, art auction or to see a Broadway production, you can also read a good book, relax in a sun lounger watch the scenery slip by, or stay outside to enjoy the sea air.

Our Top Four Small Ship Cruise Lines 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises: All the ships in this fleet are small to mid-sized, and besides being fully all-inclusive, everyone gets to cruise in a suite with a balcony, with perks including open seating dining, and open bars and lounges.

Seabourn Cruise Line: Its fleet of luxury ships are also fully all-inclusive, and carry less than 700 guests in all-suite accommodations with ocean views or balconies, and those key perks including open seating dining and open bars. 

SeaDream Yacht Club: SeaDream I and II are more mega-yachts than traditional cruise ships, with a dress code of casually elegant. They’re also all-inclusive with only a few extras to pay for, and have unique watersports platforms at the rear. 

Silversea Cruises: This fleet of boutique, all-inclusive ships offer plenty of private verandahs and on board facilities, with extras including butlers, and complimentary shoreside events on some cruises.


Joanna Hall


  • 4
    Azamara Fans

    Posted by Jackie Streets on 17th Jun 2019

    We have cruised with Regent once before and loved it although it was incredibly expensive, so we then tried Azamara and loved it! They included so much in the fare, and we're not big drinkrs anyway so the prices felt more affordable. The bathrooms are super small though but then again you don't spend all your time in there on a cruise - ulness your seasick LOL

  • 5
    Won't Suit Everyone

    Posted by Marg And Jack on 10th Jun 2019

    We've done about 3 small ship cruises the rest on much bigger ships. We are very active seniors and love company so we perfer to book a suite on a big ship and have access to more places to eat and the entertainment. Love cruising!

  • 5
    Seabourn Is Best

    Posted by Marissa Gee on 10th Jun 2019

    We used to cruise mainstream then friends convinced us to try Seabourn and we never looked back. Love the smaller ships, fewer people, more personalised service and the food!

  • 5
    George D

    Posted by George D on 10th Jun 2019

    Small ships look great with less crowds but I worry about seasickness?