When it comes to adventure holidays and cruises, bigger isn't necessarily better. For some, the best cruise ships are lavish, sprawling affairs teeming with planned activities, monstrous buffets and thousands of people.
But for those setting out on an adventure vacation in search of unique, once in a lifetime experiences, smaller ships offer a number of attractive benefits over their larger counterparts. Here are 6 reasons small ship cruises might be perfect for you:
You Like Surprises
Every day on board a small ship is different, and no two voyages are ever the same. Traveling by small ship means you can access remote areas larger ships simply can't, making landings that are impossible for large ships and huge crowds to manage.
Of course, itineraries can change according to weather and sea conditions. Adventure holidays require a measure of flexibility, so if you're comfortable taking each day as it comes, smaller ships might just be perfect for you.
You're an Explorer
Traveling with dozens of people rather than hundreds affords you more time at each landing site. Your group can visit attractions and participate in activities that accommodate smaller groups, often resulting in a more intimate and meaningful experience for passengers. You don't have to participate in a lengthy disembarkation process, which can be time consuming on even the most popular cruises.
You Expect Adventure Holidays to Come With Amenities
You crave adventure, but aren't into “roughing it.” Small ships mean you don't have to choose between excitement and creature comforts. You can hike a challenging volcanic rock outcropping, get up close and personal with penguins, or Zodiac cruise beneath stunning arctic bird cliffs during the day, then come back to your favorite drink in a fully stocked bar and a chef-prepared meal in a spacious dining room in the evening. And when the day is done, you can still retire to a comfortable cabin with closets, a desk, en suite and more amenities.
You're a People Person
Do you enjoy meeting like-minded travelers and sharing the wonder of traveling to amazing places with others? Small ship vacations provide plenty of time and opportunity for you to get to know your fellow passengers, expedition staff and even the ship's crew. Meals and excursions are more intimate experiences; passengers can learn a great deal about the regions they're visiting not only from expedition staff, but from one another.
You Crave Authentic Experiences
The best cruises try to weave local aspects into every part of your trip, with themed decor, local dishes at meals, entertainment and more. But the only way to really become a part of the area you're visiting, whether it's the Falkland Islands, the wild coasts of Greenland, the Galapagos or the frigid and stunning Antarctic Peninsula is to get out there and experience it.
Small ship cruises can take you to remote beaches, tiny traditional villages, or through narrow fjords and channels. You can leave the beaten path far behind, forget about those overcrowded, tourist trap ports of call, and take a deep dive into the places you're visiting in a far more authentic way.
You Value Educational Experiences
Cruise ships of all sizes can offer rich educational programming, but on more intimate cruises, you might find yourself taking an excursion or sharing a dinner table with an onboard expert. Small ships often have biologists, glaciologists, ornithologists and other experts in their respective fields on board. These experts will offer the cruise line lectures and tours in exchange for the opportunity to travel to remote locations to perform their research or field work. On a small ship, you get to meet and interact with these experts, learning from their formal presentations as well as your casual interactions with them.
If you recognize your own travel style above, a voyage on a small cruise ship just might be for you. At Quark Expeditions, we love the flexibility and atmosphere of small ships so much they're all we use! Contact an experienced Polar Travel Adviser to help plan your next adventure holiday, or sign up for our newsletter for more information.