• Fri. Mar 24th, 2023

The 18 greatest smaller sized cruise ships sailing the globe


Mar 18, 2023

In a globe specifically exactly where gigantic megaships draw all the consideration, I’ve consistently found smaller sized ships to be the greatest.

I’ve sailed on added than 125 cruise ships of all sizes, but my favorites have by no means ever been the enormous “floating resorts.”

I’m drawn to the intimacy and instant neighborhood that develops involving a smaller sized quantity of passengers and crew cruising collectively. I delight in the serenity of smaller sized-ship cruising, with no lines to wait in or crowds to contend with on board.

I also gravitate to the off-beat itineraries smaller sized ships give mostly since they concentrate on uncommon and remote places that only smaller sized vessels can access.

Who demands the bustling Caribbean when you can find out Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean lesser-identified Greek Islands like Skopelos and Skiathos French Polynesia or the Galapagos Islands?

For cruise news, testimonials and recommendations, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.

Guys and females generally ask me which are the greatest smaller sized ship cruises, and that query is challenging to answer.

The new larger-tech expedition ships, outfitted with the most up-to-date hardware and design and style and style touches, are exceptionally desirable. Nonetheless, I also adore specific older smaller sized ships for their heritage and atmosphere.

Of course, the greatest smaller sized ship for you could probably rely on specifically exactly where you want to sail and no matter if you are browsing for a relaxing yacht-like encounter or a rugged adventure.

If you occur to be like me and get that bigger is not consistently superior, this list is for you. Suitable right here are 18 of the world’s greatest ocean-going smaller sized cruise ships, every older and new. Each and every and each and every carries fewer than 400 passengers and all are greatest for your subsequent intimately sized travel adventure.

Lindblad Expeditions: National Geographic Resolution and National Geographic Endurance

National Geographic Resolution and Gentoo penguin colony on Cuverville Island, Antarctica. RALPH LEE HOPKINS/LINDBLAD EXPEDITIONS

How smaller sized? 128 passengers.
Finest for: Gadget-loving adventurers.

Lindblad Expeditions has been a leader in smaller sized-ship expedition cruising thinking about the reality that 1966 when organization founder Lars-Eric Lindblad pioneered expeditions to Antarctica, Easter Island and the Galapagos.

These days, the line’s fleet of smaller sized ships explores virtually the complete planet, consistently with an impressive lineup of specialists and photographers along for the ride.

Lindblad’s newest 128-passenger ships, National Geographic Resolution (2021) and National Geographic Endurance (2020), had been constructed for challenging-core exploration in the polar regions they speak to dwelling.

They sport a striking X-bow design and style and style (an inverted ship bow design and style and style for fuel efficiency), a polar class rating of Laptop 5 Category A (a notch above most Antarctica cruise ships), and a dynamic positioning approach that keeps the ships hovering quietly in spot.

Passengers can use each and every single ship’s fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks and stash of snowshoes and cross-nation skis that support in exploration.

Larger-tech toys, such as a remotely operated auto and underwater video camera, hydrophone, remote-controlled aerial camera and video microscope, allow guests to view footage of undersea life wherever the ships could probably be.

The ships also function a fitness center, yoga studio, spa, ocean-view saunas, library and two dining venues. On deck, two infinity hot tubs give amazing views.

All cabins are outward-facing (and 12 are single cabins, a rarity) with an “expedition command center” that incorporates a tablet, several electrical and USB outlets, a Tv, a barometer and a National Geographic Atlas.

Cruise fare covers wine and spirits, excursions and excursion gear.

Connected: These are the greatest Antarctica cruise ships

SeaDream Yacht Club: SeaDream I and II

SeaDream is identified for its meals, private service and beach parties. SEADREAM YACHT CLUB/FACEBOOK

How smaller sized? 112 passengers.
Finest for: Yacht enthusiasts in search of the sun.

SeaDream Yacht Club’s 40-year-old ships could probably not be new, but they’re nonetheless some of the prettiest classic luxury yachts afloat. Suites do not have balconies. Nonetheless, they’re spacious, not as well extended ago refurbished, and function wood data that evoke a classic nautical truly really feel.

What the ships lack in modern touches, they make up for in encounter and service. The meals is excellent and served every on the romantic outdoors decks and inside the cozy restaurant.

The line’s iconic weekly beach barbecue on a remote stretch of sand, extensive with Champagne and caviar in the surf, is a cruise highlight on all itineraries. An open bar contributes to the social atmosphere on board, and watersports from a stern marina when situations are right are a terrific perk for active travelers.

The SeaDream twins winter in the Caribbean and summer season season in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Connected: Why it is a lot a lot easier to meet new persons on a smaller sized sized cruise ship

Sea Cloud Cruises: Sea Cloud I

Sea Cloud I is a four-masted private luxury yacht. SEA CLOUD CRUISES/FACEBOOK

How smaller sized? 64 passengers.
Finest for: History buffs and sailing ship lovers.

The 1-of-a-sort, four-masted Sea Cloud was initially commissioned as a private luxury yacht by multi-millionaire Wall Street titan E. F. Hutton in 1931. Hutton’s extravagant heiress and businesswoman wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, oversaw the ship’s interior design and style and style, outfitting it in marble, mahogany and gold-plated fixtures.

Just following passing by way of various owners, Sea Cloud I has spent the final a quantity of decades giving casually sophisticated windjammer cruises to old-ship lovers from Europe and North America.

Passengers choose on from ten original cabins, which consists of Post’s private suite with its Louis XIV–style bed and nightstands, marble fireplace and bathroom, chandeliers and intricate moldings.

Sea Cloud winters in the Caribbean and summers in Mediterranean, going to the Greek Islands, Italy and the Canary Islands.

Connected: Significant vs smaller sized cruise ships: Which will I like superior?

UnCruise Adventures: Wilderness Legacy


How smaller sized? 90 passengers.
Finest for: Sporty cruisers who appreciate quirky ships.

Constructed in 1983, UnCruise Adventures’ Wilderness Legacy is essentially a 1-of-a-sort quirky ship. Its throw-back style exterior harkens back to a 20th-century steamboat.

The ship attracts a loyal fan base thanks to its roomy size and cabins that open onto covered promenade decks (rather than a central interior corridor). It even attributes a hot tub on deck and an elevator, a rarity on older smaller sized adventure ships like this.

The transportable, custom-developed “sea dragon” platform at the stern tends to make for effortless access to kayaking, paddleboarding and swimming, activities properly-identified with UnCruise’s sporty fans. The adventurous can also delight in hiking, bushwhacking and cycling in some ports.

Fares include something from wine, beer and spirits to day-to-day excursions.

The greatest ship in the UnCruise fleet and constructed for coastal cruising, Wilderness Legacy spends its time in Alaska’s Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park, as nicely as on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Connected: The greatest Alaska cruises for each and every single sort of traveler

Star Clippers: Royal Clipper

The Royal Clipper is a five-masted tall ship with a marina for effortless access to water sports. STAR CLIPPERS

How smaller sized? 227 passengers.
Finest for: Sailing enthusiasts with a penchant for the prior.

Star Clippers’ handsome five-masted tall ship Royal Clipper is regarded the greatest square rigger in service. Modeled right away following the terrific 1902 German clipper Preussen, the ship is a accurate throwback, with lots of wood and brass attributes and nautical-style elements.

Royal Clipper also has impressive modern niceties for a ship of its size, which consists of three smaller sized pools and an aft marina for effortless access to complimentary water sports. It also presents a smaller sized fitness center and spa.

In the winter, Royal Clipper island hops about the Caribbean, sailing round trip from Barbados to some of the lesser-identified islands. For the duration of the summer season season, it cruises the Mediterranean along the French and Italian rivieras and explores the coast of Croatia and the Canary Islands.

Windstar Cruises: Wind Star and Wind Spirit

Wind Spirit in Tahiti. WINDSTAR CRUISES

How smaller sized? 148 passengers.
Finest for: Romantics and foodies.

Windstar Cruises’ 148-passenger four-masted motorized yachts are beloved for their upscale but casual sailing vibe and terrific meals in partnership with the James Beard Foundation.

Standing on deck when the sails are unfurled is 1 of the added romantic moments you will most most likely encounter on any ship.

The expansive wooden sun decks on Wind Star and Wind Spirit make you want to be on topside as significantly as doable to delight in the yachting life. Each and every and each and every has several dining options, every indoor and on deck, which consists of a weekly barbecue on deck beneath the stars.

Each and every have a stern marina for effortless access to water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding.

The cozy cabins are not substantial, but they are nicely-appointed with wood data and nautical flair. Suites are a mixture of two cabins.

Windstar presents every cruise-only and all-inclusive fares. You can make an a la carte vacation or invest upfront for an effortless trip that incorporates an open bar, limitless Wi-Fi and incorporated crew gratuities.

Wind Spirit is stationed in the islands of French Polynesia, sailing year-round out of Tahiti by way of February 2024. Wind Star is its globe-trotting sister, focusing largely on the Greek Islands in the summer season season and Costa Rica and Panama in the winter.

Connected: The two classes of Windstar ships, explained

Ponant: L’Austral

L’Austral docked in Antartica. RAGNAR AXELSSON/PONANT

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­How smaller sized? 264 passengers (200 in Antarctica).
Finest for: Chic Francophile foodies.

Ponant has been busy launching six new ships in its impressive Explorers series. Nonetheless, L’Austral (with sister ships Le Boreal, Le Soleal and Le Lyrial) is my favourite ship in the fleet.

Why? L’Austral is the greatest size for a smaller sized ship — intimate but nonetheless enormous enough for amenities such as a fitness center, spa and show lounge.

Its wonderful tiered stern decks function a wonderful outdoors pool place at the back of Deck six with a fantastic stretch of deck for sunbathing and scenery watching and an open-air bar above for incredible views.

With Ponant’s French pedigree, it is not surprising that meals is a minimize above, in specific the desserts, cheeses and wine. I had the greatest chocolate mousse of my life on L’Austral. Dine outdoors on the pool deck or in the sophisticated indoor restaurant. Increase your evening with complimentary wine (largely French), Charles Heidsieck Champagne, beer and spirits.

L’Austral explores every polar regions and spends time in the Mediterranean, cruising along the coast of Croatia and about the smaller sized sized, considerably significantly less touristy Greek Islands like Amorgos, Milos and Delos.

Emerald Cruises: Emerald Azzurra

Emerald Azzurra is 1 of the smallest luxury cruise ships. EMERALD CRUISES/FACEBOOK

How smaller sized? ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­100 passengers.
Finest for: Travelers in search of intimate luxury.

Emerald Cruises’ new Emerald Azzurra (and swiftly-to-debut sister Emerald Sakara) is 1 of the smallest luxury cruise ships afloat and a amazing choice for travelers who want one particular point added intimate than what Silversea or Seabourn give.

The ship’s six gleaming white-tiered decks sport a futuristic pyramid-like profile that turns heads when it arrives in port.

Emerald Azzurra attributes a watersports platform at the stern for hassle-cost-free access to kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and riding SEABOBs (electric underwater scooter-like jet skis). Inside, you can avail of a smaller sized fitness center and spa.

Choose from open-air and indoor dining for your meals. Wine and spirits are incorporated, so take advantage of two impressive outdoors spots for a drink and incredible views — the Sky Bar at the big of the ship and the chic infinity pool at the stern of Deck 3, adjacent to a lounge and cafe.

Itineraries concentrate on the Mediterranean for the duration of the summer season season, with largely 1- to two-week cruises that speak to on ports along the coasts of Croatia, Albania, Italy, France, Turkey and the Greek Islands. It spends the winters in the Caribbean.

Find out these destinations in depth with incorporated excursions.

Scenic Cruises: Scenic Eclipse

A cabin on Scenic Eclipse. ULLI SEER/SCENIC CRUISES

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­How smaller sized? 228 passengers (200 in polar regions).
Finest for: Style and style fans with wanderlust.

An impressively kitted-out expedition ship, Scenic Eclipse has an ice-strengthened hull with a C6 rating suited for polar cruising, which consists of navigating the Northwest Passage. Larger-tech attributes include a GPS dynamic positioning approach to sustain a spot with no the want of dropping anchor.

The Australia-mainly primarily based line’s debut into ocean cruising had Scenic Eclipse drawing consideration with impressive additions like a pair of six-passenger helicopters and a five-passenger submarine (every supplied at an a lot more expense), as nicely as kayaks, zodiacs and e-bikes. (Sister Scenic Eclipse II is set to debut swiftly.)

The ship’s sleek angled silhouette tends to make for a handsome profile. The eye-catching interior is sophisticated, with a stark black, gray and beige colour palette, wonderful wood data, white Carrara marble surfaces and bold art.

Passengers can delight in a reasonably enormous spa and fitness place, plus several dining venues, which consists of Asian, Japanese, French and Continental restaurants. Wine and spirits are incorporated in the fare.

While smaller sized luxury ships frequently have fancy owners’ suites, the pair of big accommodations on Scenic Eclipse is on a additional level. Each and every and each and every measures a lot more than two,000 square feet with a substantial forward-facing teak-lined terrace, extensive with a enormous whirlpool tub.

Scenic Eclipse cruises to virtually each and every single corner of the globe, which consists of French Polynesia and the Pacific Islands, Australia, the Indonesian archipelago and Antarctica. The cruise fare incorporates excursions.

Connected: These cruises expense $30,000 and have no set itinerary. Here’s what to count on

Silversea Cruises: Silver Endeavour

Veranda Suite, Silver Endeavour. MATTEO IMBRIANI/SILVERSEA

How smaller sized? ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­200 passengers.
Finest for: Intrepid travelers who demand the utmost luxury.

Silversea Cruises is a pro at luxury smaller sized-ship cruising — the line has been at it for added than 30 years. With Silver Endeavour, it achieves the fantastic mix of ultra-luxury surroundings with tricky-as-nails expedition hardware for its concentrate on polar cruising.

On board, various rooms are veranda suites measuring 356 square feet (which consists of a private balcony), all with marble baths. The greatest Grand and Owner’s suites are massive multi-region affairs with substantial private verandas. The passenger-to-crew ratio is 1-to-1 service is excellent.

For dining, there are four big restaurants, which consists of an Italian and a French-inspired venue. The Grill is an eatery enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass for the greatest views in the residence.

There’s an impressive spa, salon and fitness center with panoramic ocean views and a quantity of lounges for drinks (consistently incorporated) and lectures.

Close to the nicely-stocked library is the Expedition Study, specifically exactly where the 20-member expedition group is accessible for issues. Outdoors deck space incorporates the forward-facing bow place with an outdoors hot tub.

With its PC6 ice-class rating, Silver Endeavour spends November by way of April in Antarctica and the rest of the year in the Arctic, which consists of Greenland, Arctic Canada, Iceland and Norway. Excursions are consistently complimentary.

Connected: The greatest luxury cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity

Seabourn: Seabourn Venture

Veranda Suite on Seabourn Venture. SEABOURN

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­How smaller sized? 264 passengers.
Finest for: Travelers with larger needs for luxury and precise itineraries.

Seabourn’s new Seabourn Venture (and upcoming sister Seabourn Pursuit) are on par with Silver Endeavour and Scenic Eclipse when it comes to pairing big-of-the-line luxury and pampering with incredible itineraries.

Sophisticated interiors include a big restaurant, a quantity of lounges and bars specifically exactly where drinks are all incorporated, a plush lecture hall, a cafe for coffee and snacks, and spacious balcony suites that begin off from 355 square feet (which consists of the balcony).

The windowed fitness center and spa place incorporates an ocean-view sauna and the infinity pool at the back of Deck 5 boasts killer views.

Not just a rather ship, Seabourn Venture is tricky, constructed to PC6 Polar Class needs for a concentrate on expedition cruising in the polar regions. The ship carries two submarines, as nicely as a fleet of double sea kayaks and 24 Zodiacs that can accommodate all guests at when.

Seabourn’s enormous expedition group leads day-to-day complimentary excursions, such as Zodiac sightseeing tours, shore walks, hikes, snorkeling and kayak outings. Also, accomplished guest lecturers give onboard talks.

Like Silver Endeavour, Seabourn Venture will commit the year in the polar regions, with extended repositioning cruises in involving, such as a 51-day Antarctica, Atlantic and Northwest Africa voyage from Buenos Aires to Malaga, Spain.

Connected: The 5 greatest destinations you can go to on a Seabourn cruise ship

Atlas Ocean Voyages: Globe Navigator

While Globe Navigator’s itineraries largely concentrate on polar regions, it also visits Europe and the Canary Islands. MICHEL VERDURE/ATLAS OCEAN VOYAGES

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­How smaller sized? 196 passengers.
Finest for: Travelers craving luxury and lots of open deck space.

Globe Navigator is a deluxe expedition ship sporting a 1B Ice Class-certified hull and the most up-to-date technologies, such as a GPS-mainly primarily based dynamic position approach to lessen movement and noise.

A quantity of dining options include the big restaurant with indoor and outdoors seating overlooking the ship’s wake and a steakhouse on the Lido Deck. For cocktails, head to either of two piano bars, the Dome Observation Lounge or the Atlas Lounge, just outdoors the lecture theatre.

The Atlas Ocean Voyages ship has terrific outdoors spots for outstanding views (not hogged by a helipad or stern and aft suite balconies), which consists of a close-to-the-water spot on Deck 5 forward and a “secret” arc of deck on Deck six aft.

You can also take in the scenery from the ship’s shallow pool and two adjacent hot tubs.

Do not miss the spa, even if you do not book a massage. It attributes an desirable seating place facing the sea and an ocean-view sauna. Walkers and joggers retain match on the big-of-ship track.

Globe Navigator’s itineraries concentrate on the polar regions, but the ship visits Europe and the Canary Islands when repositioning.

Landings and Zodiac safaris are incorporated on Antarctica cruises, but excursions are not incorporated on other itineraries. All non-polar cruises supplied from April by way of October are identified as Epicurean Expeditions (with 1 complimentary wine- or meals-focused encounter per cruise).

American Queen Voyages: Ocean Victory

Cabin with French balcony on Ocean Victory. MICHEL VERDURE/AMERICAN QUEEN VOYAGES

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­How smaller sized? 186 passengers.
Finest for: In-depth Alaska cruises for nature lovers.

Newcomer Ocean Victory is enormous for a smaller sized cruise ship, which permits it to give added on its Alaska expeditions.

Its sizable expedition group, which can quantity 18 on decide on voyages, comprises seasoned authorities in a wide range of fields, such as geology, whale communications and photography. Group members lead complimentary excursions on sea kayaks and 18 Zodiacs so passengers can encounter glaciers, icebergs and wildlife up close.

In spot of an observation bow with direct views of the water, as various equivalent ships give, Victory has a pair of viewing platforms on each and every single side of the ship, thanks to its distinctive X-bow design and style and style. These platforms are cantilevered straight a lot more than the water for terrific views of bergy bits and attainable marine life.

The American Queen Voyages ship presents three dining venues, plus several bars and lounges (drinks are incorporated in your fare).

Like any amazing expedition ship, Ocean Victory has 1 lounge committed to lectures with enormous flat screens to view presentations. You will get an ocean-view fitness center, a smaller sized spa and an outdoors pool with two hot tubs.

Ocean Victory’s 11- and 12-evening Alaska cruises depart involving Could and September. The ship sails involving Vancouver, British Columbia, and Sitka, Alaska. It visits destinations such as Frederick Sound, Endicott Arm, Tracy Arm, the Waterfall Coast (Gut Bay), Misty Fjords National Monument and Fiordland (Kynoch Inlet) in Canada’s Inside Passage.

Your fare incorporates a 1-evening pre-cruise hotel hold.

In winter, Ocean Victory sails in Antarctica for Albatros Expeditions.

Connected: Looking for nature and adventure on an Alaska cruise? Choose a smaller sized sized ship

Swan Hellenic: SH Vega

Wildlife lecture onboard Swan Hellenic’s SH Vega. SWAN HELLENIC

How smaller sized? 152 passengers.
Finest for: Cruisers browsing for one particular of a type itineraries which consists of Africa and South America.

Swan Hellenic’s compact, nicely-laid-out SH Vega is constructed for expedition cruising with a PC5 ice-strengthened hull.

The interior has a modern day, Scandinavian-inspired low-important design and style and style ethos. SH Vega is virtually identical to its younger sister, Minerva. The third, slightly larger sibling Diana is set to debut in Could.

When returning from a frigid Antarctica excursion, you will appreciate the fireplaces (yes, that is right) constructed into the walls of all cabins. They’re electric but truly realistic, with flames and crackling sounds.

When the weather’s amazing, skip the big restaurant and consume at the buffet, which is set up at the back of Deck 7, adjacent to the eye-catching (and heated) infinity swimming pool. Vega also has a smaller sized fitness center and a spa with an ocean-view sauna.

The expansive Observation Lounge demands up most of Deck 7 and is the spot for expedition lectures. Thirteen Zodiacs and eight kayaks take guests on water adventures and ashore.

Do not miss the tiny observation point identified as the Swan’s Nest all the way forward on Deck six. You play out your Jack and Rose fantasies there.

SH Vega cruises the Arctic region (going to Greenland, Iceland and northern Canada), South America, the coast of Africa (which consists of South Africa, Namibia and Angola) and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Cruise fare incorporates a 1-evening pre-cruise hotel hold and 1 excursion in each and every single port.

Viking Cruises: Viking Octantis

Cabin on Viking Octantis. ERIC LAIGNEL/VIKING

How smaller sized? 378 passengers.
Finest for: Expedition cruisers with an academic bent.

Amongst the larger ships on our list, Viking’s new 378-passenger Viking Octantis (along with sister Viking Polaris) was created to find out the polar regions with some rather cool attributes, which consists of a enormous two-level garage identified as the Hangar.

Inside are not only Zodiacs and kayaks but a pair of six-passenger submarines and military-grade speed employed to shuttle cruisers on excursions.

The ship is equipped for scientific inquiry with a remote-controlled underwater robot, baited underwater camera and a FerryBox approach for collecting water samples, which you can view beneath a microscope in the ship’s science lab. Climate balloons are released on each and every single cruise to capture data on temperature, humidity and wind speed.

For decidedly considerably significantly less academic pursuits, Viking Octantis has a fitness center and a spa that incorporates a wonderful indoor pool with sea views, plus a sauna, snow grotto (with snowflakes descending gently from the ceiling by way of chilled air) and outdoors spa tub.

four dining options include Manfredi’s Italian and a quantity of eye-catching lounges, such as the windowed Aula auditorium for lectures.

Viking Octantis spends portion of the year in Antarctica and the rest of the year cruising the Excellent Lakes and Canada, with a handful of repositioning cruises in involving.

Arranging a cruise? Start off out with these stories: