10 Reasons We Love
Small Ship Cruises
Like most people, when I used to hear the word “cruise” I was flooded with images of huge ships overflowing with thousands of people. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the world of small ship cruising that I had a total paradigm shift.
I was living on the Big Island of Hawaii, relaxing at a local beach when I saw a small ship pull into the bay. Living there for four years, I’d never seen a ship come into this secluded area. I watched as a handful of people launched kayaks from the ship. A few others loaded into zodiacs and headed to a beautiful snorkeling spot. Who were these people? Needing an answer, I grabbed my fins and mask, dove into the water, and swam out to the ship.
As I approached the cluster of people in the water I could feel that everyone was having a good time and I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of the experience. I swam up to a zodiac and asked the driver about the ship. He told me a company that specialized in small ship cruises operated the ship and that these lucky people were guests on-board. I headed home and began researching these expedition cruises. A few years later, I now play a part in helping people book adventures with this same outfitter in Hawaii.
Just like me, you may have some ideas of what it means to take a cruise, and those ideas might not be very appealing. If you’re ready for adventure take a leap, forget everything you know, and open yourself to the possibility of a totally new experience at sea. To help you make the shift here are 10 reasons we love expedition cruising:
1. Less Is More
Expedition cruises are not about volume; they are about creating a quality experience for those on-board. There is a huge difference going to Alaska with 22 to 84 people versus with 3,000 of your closest friends. One of the secrets of small ship cruising is this: Fewer passengers on-board is a game changer. Expeditions can be tailored for guests wanting something less intense while still accommodating those ready to do something strenuous. Fewer passengers mean that the crew can devote more attention to their guests, increasing the level of service and care. Many also find that it’s a lot easier to make friends when you’re not in a crowd. The smaller group size creates more connection with others.
2. Small Ship Flexibility
Nature sets the stage for an expedition ship adventure. Flexibility is a must as conditions continually change and wildlife sightings are spontaneous. Big ships have no flexibility. They can’t stop for the humpback whale off to port. Departure cannot be delayed so guests can enjoy a magnificent sunset. Hundreds of passengers can’t get on and off the ship quickly. Flexibility means more freedom and ushers in the spirit of spontaneity that makes for a truly unique experience.
Small ship cruises give you entrée into areas of the world you would never experience on a bigger ship or by land. Bigger ships can’t go into these protected waterways, and they are often focused only on port experiences. If you want to really see the unspoiled wonders of nature, you have to go small and stay away from the crowds. Not only can you get to these remote places on an expedition ship, but the cherry on top is happens when you’re given a kayak and can get even closer!
4. Excursions Are Inclusive & Exclusive
Small Ship cruises are all about getting you out into the unspoiled wonders of nature. Every day you have the option to kayak, hike, snorkel, paddle board, or hang out on-board and enjoy the view. There is no hidden fee for these excursions; they are part of the experience. On a regular cruise ship you will pay anywhere from $50 – $300 per person to do something off the ship. In addition, you’ll be disembarking with hundreds or thousands of others, which can make these excursions feel rushed and crowded.
5. No Hidden Costs
There are many hidden costs on big cruise ships, which most people are unaware. Expedition cruises know that the quality of experience goes down greatly when everything is about making money off the guests. On an expedition cruise, there are no hidden costs. The higher end itineraries may include alcohol, a massage, and port fees/taxes in the base price. On a more economical itinerary the port fees/taxes are listed separately and alcohol is not included, but you can rest assured that the price for a beer is the same as going to a local pub. On an expedition ship even photographs taken by the crew are shared freely at the end of the journey; just another small detail that makes a big difference.
6. Adventure & Comfort
This experience is geared for people who love the outdoors; who want to be outside hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling. After a full day of adventure, returning to the comfort of the ship with its private rooms, soft beds, hot showers, and good food makes the going easy. There’s nothing like kicking back after a shower, a great meal, and telling stories about the day’s adventures
7. Local Experience
Some itineraries have culture exchanges built in and others have locals on-board, which creates a greater connection to the area you’re visiting. The chef often incorporates local flavors and food into the mix, giving your dining experience a local flair. These cruises are all about connection to the places you’re visiting, and on-board you’ll feel a sense of belonging rather than the feeling of being a tourist.
Depending on the itinerary, each cruise will have local experts, naturalists, and/or park rangers on-board mingling and sharing their knowledge and stories. Every evening there’s a presentation about the next day’s adventure offering guests the opportunity to sit back, relax and learn more about what makes these places so special.
Expedition ships are all about being out in nature and having fun in the outdoors, so they attract a specific type of person. Being around like-minded people who love nature as much as you do makes it easy to make new friends and enriches your time on-board.
10. Expedition Cruise Value
Our small ship cruises start at $1795 per person and go up from there depending on location and vessel. The base price for these cruises may be higher than a traditional cruise (not always!), but the places they visit, the smaller guest list, the focus on expeditions, the type of people they attract and the quality of experience is an unbeatable value. You will not get this type of experience on a tradition passenger cruise!
Try Something New!
I hope this has opened your eyes to a new world of possibilities for adventure and made you rethink cruises. If you’re ready for adventure, if you want to do it in comfort, if you’re looking to explore areas few ever get to see, if you want freedom and flexibility to play, if you want a life changing experience, then give expedition cruises a try and get ready for an unforgettable experience!