If you want to get intimate with a destination, consider small ship sailing. Waterways have always played a critical role in the history of cities and towns around the world. The most important towns were built around ports where all trade happened. Whether it is by river or by sea, you can visit many historical and important cities and towns by small ship, while only unpacking once along the way.
One of the benefits of sailing into your vacation destination on a small ship is that you can realize exceptional value. Your meals will be included, and small ships typically source their food from the ports they visit, hence local flavor and extraordinary freshness. When you select a small ship over a mega ship, you are typically getting an even more inclusive cruise fare that will provide specialty drinks and alcohol with lunch and dinner (sometimes all day long), and many include some or all of your land excursions. Catch it at the right time and you may even book during a promotion that includes things like round trip airfare to get you to the ship.
Small ships are focused on getting up close and personal with the destinations you visit. They have local experts on board that give complimentary seminars about local wildlife, culture or other themed topics like food and wine or literature. These experts will offer excursions to get you out into the destination and share their expertise, while providing an insider’s perspective. On the water, you can take advantage of watersports platforms that many small ships have on the back. These platforms open into the water and allow you to launch a kayak, snorkel, paddle board and more right off the back of the ship.
If you are anything like me and you care deeply about your impact on the destination, you’ll be happy to learn that small ships place an emphasis on keeping the environment clean and providing a benefit to the people that live there. Uncruise, for example, uses refillable dispensers in the bathrooms that are filled with shampoo that won’t hurt the wildlife, and makes arrangements at each port for recycling and proper disposal of waste. Hurtigruten removed all single-use plastic from it’s ships in 2018. AmaWaterways modern river cruise ships boast fuel efficient engines, LED lighting and insulated windows that reduce energy needs. The Paul Gauguin, which operates in the South Pacific, allows you to experience the local traditions which helps preserve the culture of the people, and visit local marketplaces to allow the Polynesians to sell authentic souvenirs. The small ship cruise lines are all about the destination, and they are very aware, and proud, that their business comes from the authentic experiences and natural beauty of the places they visit.
Amazing destinations are the heart and soul of a small ship experience. Think Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, a circumnavigation of Iceland, the Chobe River, French Polynesia. Enticed? Add a touch of luxury, some amazing cuisine and truly authentic experiences, and you’ll start to understand the allure of small ship cruising.
Have a true passion? Consider a themed cruise. A culinary cruise will bring guest chefs on board to teach cooking classes and take the guests to local markets to buy local, fresh foods to prepare on ship. Birding cruises host ornithology experts to help spot and discuss the birds you’ll see on the trip, and take guided walks to discover birds of all sorts. Music themed cruises host private concerts with well-known musicians and provide opportunities for guests to spend time with the musicians. Themed sailings are no more expensive than non-themed cruises, so if you have a passion and want to pursue it on your vacation, this is a great way to do it.
The only question left is …what are you still doing at home??