Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Small Ship Cruising Leaves the Crowds Behind

If you've been on one of the big resort ships that carry thousands of passengers and you weren't that crazy about the crowded ports and the masses of people waiting to disembark, then maybe it's time to experience another form of sea vacation: small ship cruising.

Small-ship or "niche" cruising can take you into the small ports, hidden coves, and narrow channels that the big boys can't access. The focus is often on destinations and in-depth itineraries rather than 24/7 entertainment on board the ship. Instead of being encouraged to gamble at the casino, you'll be invited to attend lectures offered by history, geography, culture, and wildlife experts who will give you insight into the destinations you're visiting.

Who cruises on small ships?

If you're wondering who you might meet on board, here's a look at some of the typical small-ship cruising passengers:
  • They are generally well-traveled and well-educated.
  • They want to immerse themselves in the history and lore of the destinations.
  • They are often baby boomers or folks in early retirement.
  • The passengers tend to be somewhat active and adventurous (to enjoy the variety of available shore excursions, trips that often eschew shopping for adventure and sightseeing).
  • They enjoy the relaxed, informal environment aboard most small ships.
If this sounds like you, some of the small-ship cruise lines you can look into are Star Clipper, Windjammer, Clipper Cruise Line, and Discovery World Cruises.

Make sure to book early, especially if you're traveling during peak season, as these smaller ships have fewer cabins and may fill up early.

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