There are many reasons to choose the small ship alternative for your next cruise vacation and the cruise lines are a waking up to the boutique alternative too. A record number of smaller cruise ships and advanced expedition vessels are launching right now, ready to explore the world in a way you never imagined - and never could aboard a conventional ‘big’ ship.
Here are some reasons why the small ship alternative may be just your ticket.
Small ships have no trouble accessing remote locations with little or no infrastructure. In fact, no facilities at all are not an obstacle to visiting tiny islands and distant tropical atolls. Expedition ships can navigate narrow, shallow channels and send their passengers ashore in Zodiac inflatable tenders right onto the beach so you can stroll straight into the native village or among the penguins in Antarctica.
APT’s pair of delightful expedition ships, Caledonian Sky and Caledonian Star, regularly venture to such places as Papua New Guinea and the remote Kimberley.
Privacy in Numbers
It stands to reason that because small ships carry less passengers, you can expect shorter (or no) queues when getting on and off - and a generally less crowded atmosphere on board that you will notice at meal times and when gathering for excursions. Similarly, when visiting small ports, you can wander around almost unnoticed because a few hundred (versus a few thousand) will dissolve into the surroundings very quickly.
Silversea Cruises has championed small ships since 1994. Recently rebuilt, Silver Cloud is now one of the largest expedition ships around but still takes less than 300 passengers.
Enrichment and learning
One of the great attractions of expedition cruising is the in-depth learning and enrichment you can enjoy while at sea and at the destination. Expedition vessels will always have a team of experienced leaders and guides aboard who will ensure you gain maximum benefit from your experience. Name every species of penguin, how to tell a seal from a sea lion or spot a Blue Whale from its blow pattern.
Viking Ocean Cruises raises the bar with enrichment with specialist guest lecturers and Viking Resident Historians as well as cooking classes in local dishes with the chef.
Tiny Carbon Footprint
Let’s face it, our world is feeling our weight and our environment is groaning in despair. Small ship and adventure cruising is one way of vastly reducing the impact the traveller can have on the vanishing world. Smaller groups require less supporting infrastructure - or none at all. Smaller ships burn cleaner fuel and less of it as well as lending themselves to alternative power like hybrid energy and even good old fashioned wind.
Fascinating new ships
It wasn’t so long ago that the choice of expedition vessel was limited to one of several from the former Soviet fleet of ice-hardened ‘oceanographic’ ships on leave from ‘scientific’ work.
Today the older Russian ships are fading away, making room for sleek and stylish modern ships with previously unheard of levels of luxury and hi-tech enhancements such as miniature submarines, helicopters, deep-diving remote vehicles and underwater viewing lounges.
Luxury small ship cruise line, Seabourn, have announced a 264-passenger ultra-luxe expedition vessel for delivery in 2021.
Want to know more about small ship cruises? Talk to a Travel Associates advisor to discuss our range of tailored small ship cruise packages and adventures.