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Small Ship Adventures: an intimate cruising experience

The cruise industry today has much to offer—from 6,700 passenger mega-ships offering tours for families, singles, and adventure seekers, to midsize ships that provide every conceivable luxury, and even small ships, that offer a more customizable and intimate experience. Each option has its loyal fan base, but many travelers are not familiar with the various benefits of the least known of the three—small ship cruising.

If experiencing a destination up close at a relaxing pace is what you prefer while traveling, then small ships are for you! The group size (anywhere between 36-200 passengers) allows small vessels access to places larger ships cannot go—from ports and rivers, to secluded areas of natural beauty and unspoiled wildlife.

And while smaller ships may not have the endless variety of onboard amenities that larger ships do, they more than make up for it with the extraordinary opportunities and experiences they provide. Small ship cruising means charming cabins close to the water (and wildlife), an intimate environment of fellow travelers and dedicated crew members, and special activities that can only be offered in smaller groups: take a skiff ride into a secluded cove to watch flocks of exotic birds, kayak or snorkel among sea lions, or visit a remote protected archeological site with an expert local guide.

Small ships have access to places and experiences that bigger ships do not, like overnight access to Glacier Bay in Alaska's Inside Passage (where larger ships only spend a couple of hours). Small ships pull into smaller ports, where they tie up to the pier and disembark all guests—in five minutes. They provide outstanding comfort and cuisine, with a personal touch. The chef remembers how you like your eggs and that you prefer smaller portions at dinner, and onboard naturalists know what indigenous birds you have on your "must-see list" and helps you spot them. Activities and events are planned in advance, but are flexible based on the group, the weather, and other potential opportunities that arise. Small ship captains don't think twice about changing course to follow a whale or to get closer to a flock of birds the passengers want to see. Try getting a big ship captain to do that!

Traveling by small ship means truly discovering an area or country, with a small group of friends, and at your own pace. Check out the following small ship adventures offered by Orbridge:

Discover Southeast Alaska by Small Ship
The Galapagos Islands