When thinking of cruises, it's all too easy to imagine a behemoth of a vessel, sporting thousand-seater dining rooms and enormous balconies. There's no reason to be put off cruises entirely if this doesn't sound like your cup of tea – here at Seafarer, we prefer to offer a more personalised experience and our passenger lists are more likely to stand at around 200 than 2,000.
This already sounds more appealing, but what are the other benefits of opting for a smaller vessel? Read on and find out.
Access to smaller ports
The upside of going on a smaller vessel is that you can visit seaside cities and towns that don't have ports or harbours constructed with the enormous ships in mind. This allows you to get right to the heart of the culture of your chosen destination, and you won't find yourself hampered by all of the Duty Free outlets that characteristically dominate the larger ports. It's one thing to explore a busy and thriving metropolis. It's quite another to witness the extraordinary intimate atmosphere of a smaller destination. And the advantage is, with a smaller vessel, you need not rule out the larger harbours, so you can be sure of enjoying plenty of variety during your journey.
On board intimacy
The intimate atmosphere of the smaller places you'll be able to visit is replicated on board with a smaller-size cruise ship. As well as the increased diversity you can look forward to in the itinerary, there is a more relaxed atmosphere among the cruise goers, particularly with Seafarer as an informal dress code is always encouraged. Cruisers are invited to sit where they like at dinner, so forget about seating plans. You are more likely to see people regularly on a smaller vessel and so making friends becomes easier. This is the same among the crew members, who are far more likely to address you by name and remember how it is you take your martini or your coffee.
Get closer to the culture
With larger cruise ships featuring multiple bars, restaurants, casinos and entertainment rooms, there is a danger of distracting oneself from the culture of the destination. Tours in smaller ships tend to focus on what's outside, with educational films and lectures being much more commonplace. Instead of spending hours in the bar waiting for the next port, you can go up onto the deck and have a swim alongside the ship as it anchors in a little cove – an experience that just isn't offered on the larger vessels. There is a greater connection to the ocean and much more of that seafaring feeling. The ocean is ever present – a wonderful romantic companion to your trip, rather than being just a mere detail. Many of the cabins even open directly onto outdoor passages, meaning you'll be as close to the water as it is possible to be at all times.
Smaller doesn't have to mean less luxurious. You might be surprised by the level of luxury you can encounter on a smaller vessel cruise, and because everything is more personal, you'll only appreciate it even more. Expect comfortable beds, private bathrooms, televisions, lounges and much more besides – although you may have to pay extra for some of these, as you would on a larger cruise.
So to sum up – a cruise on a smaller vessel certainly offers a different experience, but it's certainly no less luxurious or comfortable. There is a greater focus on the destination and the journey, and much more of that feeling of being at sea. If you've never been on a cruise before – or if you think you'd enjoy a change from the larger ship cruises – you should definitely give it a try. With an intimate atmosphere and a varied itinerary awaiting you, it's likely you'll come away smiling.