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Why You Should Look at Small-Ship Cruising

by Susan Finch

Jul 19, 2018

© Elena Elisseeva | Dreamstime.com


Cruising has long been a favorite pastime for family travelers looking for a new adventure. And, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, 25.8 million passengers were expected to cruise during 2017 alone. But if you’re like many travelers, you love the idea of cruising on the water, but are underwhelmed by the enormity of big-ship cruising. From dozens of restaurants to activities, it’s not always easy to unwind when it comes to a traditional cruise.

That’s why small-ship cruising could give you the best of both worlds where you can embrace the water and an intimate vacation at the same time. Here’s why you should book that small-ship cruise for your next trip and skip the big guys.

See Unusual Places

Big ships may come with stops in major ports from the Caribbean to Europe, but they aren’t known for going to off-the-beaten path and unusual destinations. Meanwhile, small ships go places you probably never thought of exploring. Peregrine Adventures offers handpicked tours from the coast of Iceland to island-hopping through Thailand and cruising safaris in West Africa.

Feel Like You’re Actually on a Boat

Despite being on a ship, cruises are more reminiscent of a floating hotel or waterside casino than an actual boat. However, small ships give the feeling you’re right there sailing through the water and some even allow for swimming and snorkeling right off the boat. Small ships like Ama Waterways even offer on-deck swimming pools and the chance to feel like you’re soaking up the essence of the water, and not just observing it all from 10 stories up on a cruise ship balcony.

friends diving in the water

© Fabio Formaggio | Dreamstime.com

Get More Personalized Service

One of the many benefits of small-ship cruising is the personalized service from a small and intimate staff. Although a large cruise ship offers plenty of service in the dining room or tidying up your room every day, it’s doubtful the staff actually knows your name. Meanwhile, small-ship cruises can customize fresh food and ingredients to your preferences, learn all about you and your family and become like an extended member of the family by the time your boat docks for the last time.

Relax and Spread Out

A cruise has endless space on its multi-hundred room ship, but the quarters are typically tight unless you pay a premium for space. Small-ship cruising is usually the opposite. For example, the American Queen paddlewheeler offers cabins ranging from 350 to 500 square feet complete with seating areas, queen-sized beds and private bathrooms with bathtubs and showers.

Get Intimate

It’s not difficult to meet people on a huge cruise ship in the dining hall, poolside or through kids’ clubs. But it’s different than forming intimate and close-knit relationships with a few dozen to a few hundred people on board. Small river cruising offers the chance to engage in authentic and organic conversations and make a date for an off-shore excursion.

There’s nothing wrong with those big, epic, traditional cruises. But for some family travelers, the small ship cruise is the intimate waterside trip they’ve always been dreaming about. So, for your next vacation, try skipping the cruise liner and see what the small-ship cruise fuss is all about.


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