It’s no secret that we’re madly in love with small ship cruising. It was only a little while back that we waxed lyrical about the 5 ways small ship cruising beats ocean liner cruising. Well, guess what? There are more than five reasons why travelling on a small ship cruise is better, more rewarding and offers a greater value for money than large liner cruising.
Aside from not dealing with overcrowding, having the chance to explore more remote corners of your chosen destinations, enjoying greater privacy, having more time for activities and, finally, indulging in a more intense experience, there are a few more pros you ought to consider before booking your next cruise to somewhere magical.
So skip that bigger-than-Ben-Hur liner and reward yourself with an incomparable cruising experience you will never, ever forget.
1. On small ship cruises, the emphasis is placed firmly on the destination
If you love the idea of having half a dozen restaurants to choose from, five swimming pools, a cinema, several retail outlets and evening Moulin Rouge-style entertainment, perhaps a holiday in a luxury resort will be more to your liking. Small ship cruising – as opposed to luxury cruise liners – place the emphasis firmly on the destination and this is even more evident in very special destinations like Antarctica, the Galapagos, the Amazon or the Arctic. Nighttime glamour shows are replaced with really enthralling talks and presentations on the wildlife and wilderness you’ll encounter, on the history of your chosen destination and all the activities on offer.
On a small ship cruise, and expedition cruise ships in particular, you can totally immerse yourself in your destination. And, let’s be honest, isn’t that 90% of the reason you’re cruising in the first place? Choose to travel on a small ship cruise and all the incredible wildlife and breathtaking landscapes will not have to fight for your attention with the 1001 other things you could be doing on board the ship.
2. ALL destinations deal better with smaller crowds
Whether it be some remote landing spot in Patagonia, an uninhabited island in the Galapagos or an indigenous village perched along the shores of the Amazon River, all cruising destinations deal better with smaller crowds. Both in logistics and hospitality, sea and riverside hubs are simply more enjoyable if you’re stopping with a small group of visitors rather than assaulting them with a colony of 2000. In places like Antarctica, large cruise liners aren’t even allowed to stop and their passengers must content themselves with simply imagining what it’s like to walk among penguins. Going to a remote part of the world and wish to get the most out of your visit? Then choose a small ship cruise for your benefit and that of your hosts.
3. You get a much more intimate cruising experience
Objectively speaking, we guess luxury liner cruises could well suit some traveller’s idea of a good time. But for others, the intimacy of a small ship cruise far outranks the glitz of an oversized resort at sea. The cosy atmosphere of smaller vessels means you can always find a welcoming little nook in which to retreat, with an engrossing book in one hand and delicious drink in the other. Smaller saloons, bars, libraries and drawing rooms are inherently more peaceful and intimate, so the relaxing aspect of cruising extends well beyond your private cabin. Yes, you may be out to explore and experience a place you’ve been dreaming of visiting for years, but you’ll also want to relax, to unwind and unplug. Less, in the case of small ship cruising, is definitely more. More enjoyable, more indulgent and definitely more rewarding.
4. The food & service on board are far superior
If planning to take a cruise to the Arctic Circle, it’s fair to say that food and service may not be the be-all-end-all of your magical experience. But why not ensure they actually are? After all, when you’re visiting a destination devoid of local services, it’s nice to know that your floating ‘home away from home’ does offer superlative service and gastronomy. Aboard a smaller ship, you’re treated as a valuable guest of the Captain instead of being seen as a faceless number among the masses. Moreover, the better overall service won’t include having to queue up for 45 minutes at the buffet dinner table and tucking into a dish that’s been prepared in industrial quantities. Exclusive experiences, complemented by gastronomic indulgences and world-class service: small ship cruises deliver BIG time.
5. You have more flexibility on a small ship cruise
I vividly remember cruising the Galapagos on a 16-guest small ship cruise a few years ago. It was heavenly for more reasons than I could ever list here. But the most important aspect for me, and the one which actually trumped all others, was that it offered priceless flexibility. One blissful afternoon, just after an outstanding seafood lunch (freshly caught by the chef – imagine that happening on a cruise liner?!) and as we were readying to move on, a pod of playful sea lions started splashing right behind our yacht, as if begging us to join them for a frolic. We did. We could. With only 16 people on board, the unanimous decision to stay put for another hour was taken in about 2.3 seconds.
The Captain beamed, lowered the ladder and into the blue we dived, indulging on what has gone down as one of my most memorable travel experiences ever. A large cruise liner just can’t compete with that. By the time the vote of 1500 people had been counted, and tenders lowered, those sea lions would have been long gone.
Wondering where small ship cruises can take you? Then check out the best spots in South America to explore by small ship, get way off the beaten path and, if you do nothing else, make your amazing adventure memorable for all the right reasons. Contact us for more info.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”