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World Travel Bucket List: A Guide to Small Ship Cruising

In this guide, you will find helpful information on small ship cruising.

By Cruise Booking Team

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Small ships range from sailing vessels to mega yachts with ships weighing less than 25,000 tons. Generally, they tend to carry as few as 70 to 350 passengers and can are usually more upscale. Don’t let the ship’s small size fool you. Most have all the facilities and amenities the typical large ship offers, including spa with treatment rooms, fully equipped gym, intimate lounges, gracious services with fine dining, and luxury cabins with comfort and space. Smaller ships can take cruisers to remote places or ports where larger ships can’t dock. Review our guide about small ship cruising and book your adventure trip.

What is Small Ship Cruising?

Small cruise ships are not those the typical floating skyscrapers you see floating through the oceans. In simple words, a small ship cruise is one where guests can enjoy all the luxuries of cruising in a more intimate environment. Most ships carry less than 350 passengers and because of their smaller size, they can access ports of call that the larger ships can’t.

Why Opt For Small Ship Cruising?

Small cruise ships are focused outward, on the destinations and creating a special onboard experience. As the ships are smaller, they can visit those small hidden ports where big ships can’t see.

What’s Onboard?

Small cruise ships don’t have theme parks, zip lines, or waterparks, but they do have many amenities including bars, spa services, luxurious lounges and sometimes even a small casino. The highlighted part of small cruising is the cuisine. The chefs can use the freshest and finest ingredients and devote more time to each plate.

Where Do Small Ship Travel?

The small size of small ships makes them particularly suited to go to small coves and channels and dock in more intimate ports, making them fascinating for cruising. Their smaller size makes it easier to travel to remote areas like South Pacific or the Arctic or more smaller ports in regions such as the Caribbean or Europe.

Who Should Try Small Ship Cruising?

Also, Read: Beginner's guide to dining on a cruise

How to Choose Your Small Ship Cruise?

There are currently many small ship cruise lines available in the market, but the main question is which is right for me ? So we’ve compiled these below points as a primer for everyone considering a small ship cruise journey.

Select A Destination

Before planning a cruise select a destination and figure out what type of traveler you are? Whether you’re interested in culture, history, nature, wildlife, activity, or a specific sight? Where do you want to go, a warm climate destination or colder climate? With the help of small cruise ships, it is possible to reach all remote places. You need to decide where you want to travel, match your interest and timeframe with the perfect destination.

Choose A Date

When you choose a small cruise ship from among all cruise ship, consider your dates. If your travel dates are flexible, consider a region’s early season or shoulder season for the best prices or you can choose based on an interest like the best time to visit to see whales, baby penguins or more. There are well-defined seasons of a particular destination, such as Alaska – May to September, Antarctica – November to March, or the Mediterranean – April to October.

Also, Read: Top 12 Best Cruise Lines for weddings

Big Vs. Small Ship Cruising

Big or not big? That’s one of the most critical questions for many cruisers thinking of trying a different size ship, whether they are experienced or newbies. The mega-vessels feature several amenities, entertainment options, and dining choices, where small vessels offer a more intimate and often exclusive experience. Let’s go through a list of elements to consider before choosing which cruise you should try.


Small ships have lectures, guides, and guest hosts along with evening entertainment and some classes. On large cruises, there are activities including water parks, sports courts, and theme parks and many entertainment options.

Dining Options

On small ships, there is only one main dining room with limited alternative eateries. While on large vessels, there are dozens of dining venues serving up many choices.


People who like more entertainment, such as comedy shows, movies, nightclubs, casinos, and so on, should consider larger cruises. And people who want a little entertainment can opt for small cruises as it offers a limited number of entertainment options such as live musicians movies, and encourages your conversations with your fellow shipmates.


Small ships have fewer Guests and this is something to take into consideration when choosing the right ship for you.


Because small ship passengers love to explore the environment, culture, history, and destinations closer to ports, small ships can take you close to many exotic locations like Thailand and the British Virgin Islands.


Small ships tend to offer quality services, food, and leisure at higher-level and are focused on the destinations, but if you’re looking for non-stop entertainment, then opt for a big ship.

Wrapping Things Up

Small cruise ships have fewer people on board, and offer a more intimate cruising experience. They allow you to visit more exotic and less visited ports. Whether you travel alone or with other passengers, you'll have an unforgettable vacation experience when you choose small cruise ships.

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