Ocean-Going Small Ships
Quite often your first clue to size is that the ships maybe called “yachts” or ‘expedition.” Some are under sail (yes, real sails) such as those found with Star Clippers, and to some extent Windstar® and Ponant. Expedition cruises concentrate on intensive destination visits such as to the Galapagos or Antarctica and are for the adventurous cruiser. Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic, Uncruise Adventures, Hurtigruten and Scenic® immediately come to mind though there are many more. A third clue might be the descriptive word “luxury” applied to the brand or individual ship.
Because these ships are small in size, they don’t have the room for huge entertainment venues (sporting or cultural), numerous swimming pools, shopping arcades, or an endless variety of restaurant venues. Instead they tend to concentrate more on personal attention with lower crew to guest ratios, all-inclusive perks such as butlers, concierge services and premium drinks, guest lecturers, and so on. Ship size also dictates ports of call and these small ships can slip into harbours and ports that the bigger cruise ships can only dream about. Hence another plus for cruisers is that the onshore experiences tend to be more intense and of longer duration, often overnight or over several days. One can really get the flavour of a destination with small ship cruising.