While huge luxury vessels have their appeal (think glitzy shock and awe) and offer a huge amount of choice when it comes to activities, dining and amenities, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Cruising aboard a smaller ship offers unique opportunities that those monster cruise ships can’t offer, not in spite of their size, but because of it. You have the ability to have intimate experiences into lesser traveled waterways away from the highly trafficked ports that those mega ships frequent. Many of these ships can slide into small ports, scenic canals and waterways or even in to the heart of cities. Here are a few smaller ships and cruise lines that are big on quality.
The Windstar fleet features ships that hold anywhere from 148 to 310 passengers. Their flagship, the 310 guest Wind Surf is the largest sailing yacht in the world. With billowing sails and numerous bells and whistles, this ship offers some of the very best small ship experiences, many of which come down to the details. Suites range in size from 188 sq. ft. to 495 sq. ft. and have luxurious amenities like Egyptian cotton linens, granite counter tops and flat screen TVs. This ship was refurbished recently and is famous for itineraries that are a nice alternative to mainstream cruising, including adventures up and down the Mediterranean Coast and some smaller Caribbean ports. On-board activities include a large casino, pool, pool deck, spa, fitness center and several restaurants.
The identical 112 passenger yachts SeaDream I and SeaDream II from the SeaDream Yacht Club are famous for their attentive service, which is one of the great perks of traveling on a smaller ship. There is no formalized dress code, and this ship offers open seating for dining, continuing its casually elegant vibe. The rooms are spacious, but don’t have balconies (although there is an abundance of deck space elsewhere on the ship, which really negates the need for balconies). Sports platforms offer lots of places to play, with kayaks, sailboats and more. Itineraries vary widely for these ships, and offer a tremendous amount of variety for cruisers. It’s rare that you’d see the same cruise itinerary week-to-week.
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