Why A Small Cruise Ship May Just Float Your Boat

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Cruising…Just the suggestion of taking a cruise conjures up preconceived notions in most travelers’ minds. You have people who absolutely love “one-stop shopping” so to speak. Then there are those who abhor being on vacation with 3,000 other people. There is generally little emotion in between. But, not all cruises are created equal. If you’re ready to give being on the open seas a go, it just might be time to explore the world of a small cruise ship and discover the many advantages of small ship cruising.

Small cruise ship advantages include getting to see the scenery up close.
Getting up close and personal with an iceberg in Alaska. Photo credit Sherry Wernicke, Luxe Traveling Mom.

I’ve only been on one big cruise in my life. About 20 years ago, I did one of those popular ocean liner cruises to the Caribbean. It truly was not my idea of a vacation. Being confined in a small space with limitations on everything, including food, activities, and entertainment, just didn’t appeal me. Plus, I’m not a “Let’s travel with 3,000 other people” type of person. Until I went on a small cruise with Lindblad Expeditions to Antartica, I was firmly ensconced in the “I hate cruises” camp. Taking a cruise for me now means only one thing – small cruise ship.

I recently had the chance to do another small cruise with a company called UnCruise Adventures. We’re talking 74 passengers here. I jumped at the opportunity. It helped that it was an adventure cruise, traveling through the northern passage of Alaska where I had never been before. Plus, we were going with friends and family.

Considering a cruise? Have you thought about going small? There are advantages to small ship cruising, like getting up close and personal with the scenery.

After we got home, I started thinking about the differences between taking a cruise on a small ship vs cruising on a large ocean liner and why for me, there’s no comparison. I’m not here to tell you all about my Alaskan adventure, but to discuss the many advantages of small ship cruising and what might make taking to the seas on a small cruise ship the way to go. Besides, it’s not only great for adults, but for kids, too. There are tons of activities and they can get more individual attention; not to mention it’s an amazing educational opportunity.


Discover The Advantages of Small Ship Cruising…

The People on a Small Cruise Ship

I’m talking about both your fellow travelers and the crew here.

  • You are traveling with like-minded people and so many activities including meals are done together. This makes the potential for camaraderie great and socialization easy. People really don’t go on a small cruise if they are anti-social. You get to know many of your fellow passengers, so you have the opportunity to make life long friends. And, since most times these cruises have passengers from around the world, the chance to make a new friend from Australia just got easier.

    is it easy to meet people on a small cruise ship, one of the advantages of small ship cruising.
    Family and new friends on an Alaskan small curise ship. Photo credit Sherry Wernicke, Luxe Traveling Mom.
  • The crew actually get to know who you are and call you by your name. They ask about you and don’t just carry on small talk.
  • You fill out a questionnaire ahead of time, so the crew knows all about your preferences, allergies, and dietary restrictions. It’s obvious through your interactions that they’ve actually read it and paid attention!
  • Hugs and kisses are handed out from all the crew as you disembark.

The Adventure on a Small Cruise Ship

  • You can cruise to and get in and out of places that you just can’t do with a large ship. Which means you get to see so much more up close and personal. For instance, on both cruises I took, we were out having penguins jump over our kayak and seeing icebergs calving before our eyes. The big cruise ships were far away seeing it all through binoculars.
  • The captain has flexibility in the schedule. So, if he/she finds something amazing, he can cruise on over or stay longer in one place. You never know when you will encounter “whale soup,” a stunning sunset, or a mamma grizzly and her cubs fishing for food!

    do you see bears cruising alaska on a small cruise ship and what are advantages of small ship cruising
    Up close and too personal with brown bears. Photo credit Sherry Wernicke, Luxe Traveling Mom.
  • You can swim, kayak, paddle board, etc. right off the boat, which means you get to spend more time adventuring and less time waiting.
  • The focus of the trip is more on adventure and education, so you can be active and learn something at the same time. This is great for the kids.
  • Very little shopping is involved, because that’s not the focus. There are few, if any, stops at tourist traps for you to shop for souvenirs. It’s just fun and adventure.

The Ease of a Small Cruise Ship

  • There’s no waiting in lines for anything, you don’t need reservations, and you won’t be told some activity is fully booked.
  • Dining is easy. There’s no decision on what you are going to do. Everyone goes to the one dining room at the same time and choices are limited, but still accommodating.
  • There’s very little chance you will gain weight. There’s not an endless buffet and you actually get in a bunch of exercise.
  • Everything is pretty much taken care for you and you have few decisions to make. On this last trip, it was which entree for dinner and whether we wanted to kayak, bushwhack, or do a shoreline hike.

    what are some family activities to do on a small cruise ship and advantages to small ship cruising
    Out for a little hike in Alaska. Photo credit Sherry Wernicke, Luxe Traveling Mom.
  • You can embark and disembark quickly.
  • Oh, and if something happened to the ship out on the open seas, you’d be much easier to rescue than in an ocean liner.

Besides all of these advantages, a small cruise ship is also better for the environment. This is very important to me when I travel. Seriously, I can’t think of any negatives about being on a small cruise ship, unless of course you just hate all cruises. In that case, I doubt I’ve convinced you to give it a try. But, if you want to feel a part of a family, not stress over any part of the trip, and have tons of fun, then it might be time for you to think about taking an adventure on small cruise ship .

Which cruise experience do you prefer?

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About The Author

Dana Zucker is queen of doing things her way! She is the mother of millennials who inherited her travel bug. Dana travels solo often and also loves to travel with her husband to fly fish around the world. She believes travel should always be in luxury and full of adventure. Dana is an avid cook and food traveler. She cooks whole, real food, using local ingredients. When on the road, she finds local hotspots, celebrated chefs, cooking classes and cocktails.

Sherry Wernicke and her triathlete husband travel extensively in style, not only for races, but for their love of adventure, new experiences, fine wine and cuisine, and luxury resorts. In addition to traveling whenever she gets the chance, she lives a healthy lifestyle, loves to run, has been a vegetarian for 27 years, and is very active in animal welfare activities. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News. She and her husband and two four-legged pups live in Connecticut.

Dana is the founder of MomsGoodEats and Sherry is the Editor, Publisher, and Contributor. The site is based on a life done well, a love of food, and luxury travel. They are also co-founders of the TriWivesClub for triathlon families and WineLoversVillage, where wine, food, travel, and conversation meet. In addition, they are freelance writers for print and on-line media for US and international magazines.

4 Replies to “Why A Small Cruise Ship May Just Float Your Boat”

  1. Love this story – my small ship cruising experience is a match.
    First I did Alaska on the behemoth ship. Then I returned on a 32-passenger ship.
    Astonishing differences, including up close and personal wit glaciers, wildlife, waterfalls, peaceful coves – so much.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. My favorite part of the small ship cruising remains the close friends we’ve made after spending a week together in tight quarters and simply being together everyday. From both trips I’ve been on, we now have lifelong friends that we keep in touch with and see on a regular basis.

  2. I think I would LOVE the flexibility you speak of – because I think of myself as more of an adventurer/explore than a “trip/vacation- taker”. I think that’s why cruises have never grown on me. This sounds like something I would sign up to try out! Thanks for sharing the info!

    1. You really should, Teronya. I don’t think you’d be disappointed at all. While probably not as luxurious as the larger cruise ships, the small cruise adventure makes up for it in so many ways. Let me know when you book your trip!

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