Wondering if a small-ship cruise is for you? Perhaps you’ve considered cruising before, but you’re not thrilled by the massive size of the large ocean ships and the crowds that come with it. Perhaps you’re hoping for a more off-the-radar destination, like the Galapagos or Antarctica. This is where small-ship cruising shines, providing intimate, expertly curated voyages that are more sustainable and deeply rooted in the chosen destination. Small-ship cruise vacations allow you not only to see a new place, but to truly experience it. Let’s find out if small-ship cruising is for you. 

You’ll Enjoy Small-Ship Cruise Vacations If …

You’d Like to Sail with Like-Minded Passengers

A smaller vessel allows for a more private, self-contained cruise with folks who have thoughtfully and pointedly chosen to travel this way. Small-ship cruising tends to really dive deep into the destination, so you’ll be in the company of passengers with similar interests to yours, whether that’s birding, sea kayaking or wildlife. It’s easy to get to know the other passengers on small-group excursions on land and at sea, while listening to interesting talks by naturalists and regional experts and enjoying a cocktail on the deck after dinner, swapping stories about the day's adventures. 

You Seek Up-Close Encounters with Nature and Culture

If you daydream about meeting penguins up close or kayaking next to a calving glacier, a small-ship expedition is right for you. If you relish the thought of getting to know the local residents in a storybook European village or circumnavigating Iceland, docking at ports few travelers ever see, small-ship cruising is right for you. You can expect wilderness activities, authentic cultural experiences, self guided (or local-expert-led) cycling and walking tours. From the Arctic to Antarctica, Costa Rica to Newfoundland, small-ship cruises have the ability to take you off the tourist track and into the heart of your destination. 

You Want a Meaningful Vacation with Your Partner, Friends or Family

A small-ship cruise vacation allows you to unpack just once and experience several new places in one go. This is a fantastic option for couples who simply want to relish their time together, multigenerational families and groups of like-minded friends. Activities can be chosen based on individual interest, allowing everyone to do whatever sounds good to them, then coming back together at day’s end to share experiences. There’s always the option for quiet time onboard, too, simply soaking up your surroundings. And while you’re connecting with your favorite people, you can be disconnecting from the world around you as there is often no cell service or WiFi if you’re in a remote destination.

You Wish to Travel Solo

Solo travel is on the rise and small-ship cruise companies are an excellent choice for those looking for time on their own while exploring the world. Small, social cruise or expedition ships allow solo travelers to expand their horizons, knowing they’ll be surrounded by like-minded passengers and in the company of expert guides. Many small-ship cruise companies offer cabin-share programs, matching you with a same-gender roommate (and if no roommate is found, oftentimes your single supplement will be waived). Some ships also have several cabins available with no single supplement fee. We've written an article on solo-friendly small ship cruises if you're interested.

You Want to Travel Sustainably 

Small ships are a responsible alternative to the massive ocean cruise ships, thanks to their smaller size and their commitment to limited environmental impact wherever possible. If you’re hoping to escape mass tourism and looking for something more sustainable, small-ship cruising is a safe choice. The smaller ships carry significantly fewer people, use less fuel, and, in some expedition cruise cases, actually benefit climate change research with climate-related scientists onboard. Small-ship cruise lines are typically supporters of waste-removal efforts like Clean Up Svalbard and the Clean Seas campaign. 

Are you actively seeking engaging, meaningful, up-close encounters with the wonders of nature and culture? Let’s talk small-ship cruise vacations.