A small, intimate cruise ship could be the perfect choice for your next vacation. While many cruise lines are building bigger ships every year, others are moving in the opposite direction, offering smaller, personalized cruises on luxury yachts to only a few hundred guests or fewer. There are itinerary options to just about anywhere in the world on these small ships, with luxury amenities, group excursions and plenty of quiet relaxation. Here are the intimate cruises to consider taking.
Dalmatian Coast, Adriatic Sea — Ponant
Ponant is an award-winning French luxury cruise company specializing in small-scale cruises. Ponant’s largest ships only have 132 staterooms, a far cry from the number of rooms on large ships — some have over 2,000. With so many itinerary options, it’s hard to choose just one, but you can’t go wrong with Ponant’s Dalmatian Shores itinerary through the Mediterranean and Adriatic from Athens, Greece, along the Dalmatian coast to Venice, Italy. See the best of Croatia, Montenegro and Greece, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, during this eight-day voyage.
This cruise is aboard Le Lyrial, a yacht with only 122 staterooms and a guest capacity of 260. This small ship does not lack amenities. It has everything you could need while underway including a fitness center, spa, salon, pool, kids’ club, theater and two restaurants.
Greater Antilles, Caribbean Sea — Windstar Cruises
Cruise the Caribbean from Cozumel, Mexico, to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, on Wind Surf, a Windstar Cruises 310-guest yacht. As Windstar’s flagship sailing vessel, Wind Surf is decked out with anything you could need during your journey, from bars and restaurants to a pool and water sports equipment. Windstar takes you off the beaten path to ports that are less traveled for an experience unlike any Caribbean cruise you’ve been on before. This means skipping the crowds at Montego Bay and heading to the picturesque Port Antonio instead, located on the eastern part of Jamaica.
Small ships also offer fantastic excursions, often with a small group guided tour option. Visit the botanical garden of Santo Domingo, see Mayan ruins, hand feed stingrays or go snorkeling in search of sea turtles during your trip to the Greater Antilles.
Malaga, Spain, to Nice, France — SeaDream Yacht Club
SeaDream Yacht Club offers guests intimate luxury on their 112-passenger yachts with various itineraries all over the world. For wine lovers, there are “SeaDream Wine Voyages” to top wine destinations around the globe. One popular choice is the Malaga, Spain, to Nice, France, wine voyage with seven Spanish and French ports to explore. Enjoy exclusive onboard wine tastings, a Winemaker’s dinner and excursions including winery visits, history tours, local wine tastings and more. Imagine sampling some of the world’s best wines while yachting in Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera. Thanks to SeaDream, this could be your next vacation.
Galapagos Islands — UnCruise Adventures
UnCruise Adventures strives to give guests a personalized experience using their fleet of small ships, with a capacity range of 90 to just 22 guests. UnCruise offers itineraries to Mexico, Hawaii, Panama and more. For nature lovers, there is a seven-night voyage to the Galapagos Islands, appropriately named “Darwin’s Discoveries."
Step aboard La Pinta, a 24-cabin luxury yacht with three public decks, a fitness center, an outdoor Sky Bar, a natural history library and more. Explore seven islands on your journey and spend time at the Charles Darwin Research Center, a dream of any nature enthusiast. See a variety of animals that are unique to the area, like the Galapagos penguins on Fernandina Island and sea lions and marine iguanas on Rabida Island. You’ll feel relaxed and in touch with nature on this small ship, with a capacity of 48 guests and private guided tours in groups of 12 or less. This is your opportunity for unforgettable encounters with captivating wildlife.
Reykjavik, Iceland, to Montreal, Canada — Silversea
Silversea is a luxury small ship cruise line that offers itineraries to over 900 locations on all seven continents — pretty impressive for small ships. Step aboard the Silver Wind, a 298-guest vessel, in gorgeous Reykjavik, Iceland, for a 12-day transoceanic cruise to Montreal, Canada. Guests will have a few days at sea on the way to Newfoundland, allowing time to explore all that Silver Wind has to offer. Enjoy a facial at Zagara Beauty Spa, take a dip in the whirlpool, catch live entertainment in The Show Lounge, or simply take in the view from the top at the observation deck. Once in Newfoundland, travel down along the coast, stopping at scenic ports in Quebec for wilderness hikes, river and bay boat cruises, a helicopter tour and more.