Not all cruise lines feature ships that are like floating mega-resorts with thousand-seat restaurants. In fact, a segment of cruise customers gravitates towards smaller ships with an intimate feel, more flexible schedules onboard, and the ability to visit ports otherwise not feasible for larger ships.
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If you think a cruise aboard a smaller vessel is more your speed, here are some small cruise lines to consider.
1. SeaDream — Not a fan of large ship crowds and amenities, Jim Dobson writes in Forbes that, while he has experienced many different cruise lines both large and small, the SeaDream Yacht Club is the very best small luxury ship of 2015. The ship’s 100 passengers are treated to impeccable service and attention to detail, often being greeted by name by the ship’s staff. Of the food served on board, Dobson describes it as “the finest cuisine available on any cruise line in the world.”
2. Australis — Named the No. 1 best small cruise company by Travel + Leisure readers, Australis is a small company that operates just one ship. The Stella Australis can accommodate 210 passengers, and it specializes in expedition cruises in Southern Patagonia. Wildlife observation cruises with informative lectures from experts are a highlight. The Travel + Leisure ranking is based on readers’ ratings of cruise lines’ cabins, facilities, food, service, amenities, and itineraries.
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3. Star Clippers — For a casual and unconventional cruise experience that focuses more on the joys of sailing than on typical cruise amenities, Cruise Critic recommends Star Clippers. Passengers can feel the sails catch the wind and even help raise the sails. Water sports like kayaking and snorkeling offered directly from the ship are a highlight. Schedules onboard the Clippers are far less rigid than on more traditional cruise lines and the vibe is decidedly more casual, too.
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