Not everybody is a candidate for big-ship, mass-market cruising, and not every big-ship cruiser wants to go that route every single voyage.

For something different, our clients can choose from an array of small-ship, niche cruise lines that offer more intimate experiences at sea. Some suggestions are  Windstar, SeaDream Yacht Club, Cruise West, Galapagos Explorer II, Glacier Bay Cruiseline, Norwegian Coastal Voyage, Peter Deilmann Cruises, RiverBarge Excursion Line, Star Clippers.

Small-ship cruises range from no-frills expeditions to river cruises through the heart of Europe, from paddlewheel voyages on American waterways to ultra-luxury, yacht-like experiences.

As different as these experiences are, however, they share many traits. They are essentially small, which implies intimate and personal. For example, at SeaDream Yacht Club, high-end cruise line, the advantages are better space ratio, service levels that are generally exceedingly higher because of better crew-to-passenger ratios, and special, unique ports that the big guys can’t get into. Plus, small lines tend to be more inclusive products, so while the rate tends to be higher, the passengers are getting so much more. And the passengers aren’t likely to be nickel-and-dimed on the ship.”

At River cruises smaller ships usually put more emphasis on the destination. The idea is that ships should be a facilitator of great memories of cultural, historical, and destination experiences. No casino on a ship is ever going to beat the experience of walking by the cathedral in Cologne or being in Vienna or Budapest and sitting in a café by the river and going into the local shops. There are cruise companies that focus more on the ship, but Vikin'g primary focus is on the destination. They make a great ship experience, but not trying to make the ship the whole experience.

Because the experiences offered by small ships do differ–from those of the big vessels and among each other, the clients must be aware that these ships are not for everybody.

Who go on small ships cruises? People who cruise on small ships have cruised on large ships before. They may really enjoy the large ships but want to do something different or put a notch in their belt.

However, the travelers must be aware about the differences in small ships. People who like glitzy, glamorous cruises need to know that these small ships a little more Gore-Tex and denim than sequins and black chiffon.

We personally tried both large ships and prefer small ones. Please see our trip reports below. We would be happy to help you to make a right decision, please contact us with questions.