14 Smallest Cruise Ships in The World You Have To Sea (lol)

When you think about going on a cruise, you might picture gigantic ships packed with thousands of people. These big vessels are very popular and often run by well-known cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

But cruises aren’t all about size. Smaller cruise ships offer a unique and cozy experience that the bigger ships can’t match.

These intimate cruises provide a special way to explore destinations and enjoy your time at sea in a relaxed setting. Read on to discover why many people prefer smaller cruise ships and why you might want to book one for your next vacation.

What Is Considered A Small Cruise Ship?

A small cruise ship usually hosts 100 passengers or fewer. Average cruise ships carry around 3,000 guests, while the largest ones, like Icon of the Seas, can handle up to 7,600 people.

Smaller cruise lines focus on keeping the passenger count low, providing a more intimate experience on board.

What is the Smallest Cruise Ship in the World?

The Celebrity Xploration is the tiniest cruise ship, weighing just 320 gross tons. It can host up to 16 passengers.

Operated by Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Cruises, this little ship mainly explores the Galapagos Islands.

The World’s Smallest Cruise Ships

Celebrity Xploration (Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Xploration

Coming in first place with a crew of 12 and a max guest capacity of 16 is Celebrity Xploration.

With just eight cabins, it’s a small yet cozy way to explore the Galapagos Islands. Every cabin on Celebrity Xploration has a view, and some even come with a private veranda. Enjoy the lounge or the sun deck while sailing around amazing places like Los Lobos and Kicker Rock.

Safari Quest (UnCruise Adventures)

Safari Quest

If you crave an intimate Alaskan adventure, Safari Quest might be your dream ship. With room for just 22 guests and 11 cabins, you’ll get close to glaciers and hidden coves.

Get ready for kayaking and inflatable skiff adventures. There’s also an on-deck hot tub, fitness equipment, and underwater cameras.

MS Panorama II (Variety Cruises)

MS Panorama II (Variety Cruises)

Looking for a classic sailing experience? MS Panorama II uses wind power alongside motors, giving you a unique trip. With 25 ocean-view cabins (max 49 guests,) plus indoor and outdoor lounges, this ship promises a leisurely pace at 10 knots.

Imagine relaxing on the deck with a board game or enjoying some water sports.

True North (North Star Cruises)

True North (North Star Cruises)

The True North is operated by North Star Cruises and is renowned for its adventure-oriented itineraries that explore the rugged and remote coastlines of Australia’s Kimberley region, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.

The ship has a capacity for just 36 guests, ensuring a personal and intimate experience. It is equipped with modern amenities, including an onboard helicopter for unique aerial excursions and six expedition boats for up-close explorations.

The True North allows guests to engage deeply with the natural environment while offering luxury accommodations and services.

Admiralty Dream (Alaska Dream Cruises)

Admiralty Dream (Alaska Dream Cruises)

Explore Alaska’s Inside Passage and learn about Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures. Admiralty Dream offers unique experiences like dance performances and carving demonstrations.

With expert guides, glacier cruising, and beach landings, you’ll immerse yourself in the local culture and cuisine featuring seafood like king salmon and crab.

This ship holds 49 gues and 21 crew members a full capacity.

Aqua Mare (Aqua Expeditions)

Aqua Mare (Aqua Expeditions)

The Aqua Mare is a luxurious way to see the Galapagos Islands. This super-yacht has just seven spacious suites and offers high-end features like a panoramic dining area, outdoor lounge, BBQ spots, a swimming platform, and a Jacuzzi.

Personalized service and naturalist guides enhance your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Aqua Mare holds 16 guests and 16 crew members.

SeaDream I and SeaDream II

SeaDream I

The SeaDream I and SeaDream II are twin yachts that epitomize luxury at sea, each accommodating up to 112 guests in an intimate, refined setting.

These vessels sail to a variety of exclusive and picturesque destinations including the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and transatlantic crossings. Known for their informal elegance, these ships offer a distinct experience with features like Balinese dream beds for sleeping under the stars and a watersports marina platform, providing direct access to the sea.

Their small size allows them to visit smaller, less crowded harbors, offering a unique, boutique-style cruise experience.

National Geographic Sea Lion and Sea Bird

National Geographic Sea Lion and Sea Bird

The National Geographic Sea Lion and its sister ship Sea Bird let you explore wildlife-rich areas that bigger ships can’t navigate.

Using tools like a SplashCam and a hydrophone, you can see and listen to underwater life. With 62 guests on each ship, you’ll enjoy adventures like kayaking complemented by onboard educational tools.

Ocean Nova

Ocean Nova

The Ocean Nova is a small, nimble vessel specifically designed for navigating the icy waters of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. With a capacity of just 78 guests, it offers an intimate and immersive polar expedition experience.

The ship is equipped with Zodiac boats for shore landings and close encounters with polar wildlife, enhancing the adventure aspect of each journey.

Its compact size allows access to remote areas that larger ships simply cannot reach, making it ideal for travelers seeking a true exploration of Earth’s final frontiers.

Le Ponant (Ponant)

Le Ponant (Ponant)

Le Ponant offers a unique cruising experience with its ability to sail under wind power. This three-masted vessel includes 16 staterooms and was refurbished in 2022.

Enjoy gourmet meals in Le Diamant and an eco-friendly cruising experience that combines luxury and sustainability.

The Coral Adventurer (Coral Expeditions)

The Coral Adventurer (Coral Expeditions)

The Coral Adventurer, launched by Coral Expeditions, is designed to take guests on expedition cruises across Australia’s rugged and pristine coastline, as well as the exotic islands of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.

It accommodates 120 guests, providing a comfortable and intimate atmosphere that allows for personalized service.

The ship features advanced navigational and exploration technology to safely bring guests closer to unspoiled wilderness areas. Onboard, guests enjoy spacious staterooms and multiple observation and lounging areas, designed to enhance the scenic cruising experience.

MS Monet (Noble Caledonia)

MS Monet (Noble Caledonia)

Sailing the blue waters of the Adriatic and Aegean seas, the MS Monet provides a private yacht experience.

With 50 guests, you can enjoy indoor and outdoor dining areas, guest speakers, and a deck-side Jacuzzi. It’s like staying in a country house hotel but on the sea.

Chichagof Dream (Alaskan Dream Cruises)

Chichagof Dream (Alaskan Dream Cruises)

Perfect for exploring Alaska’s vast wilderness and coastline, the Chichagof Dream features 76 guest spaces and special equipment for kayaking and shoreside hikes.

Meals highlight freshly caught seafood, and the ship includes unique features like a Himalayan salt room and custom-built kayak launchers.

Hebridean Princess (Hebridean Island Cruises)

Hebredian Princess (Hebridean Island Cruises)

Sailing around the Scottish Highlands and islands, the Hebridean Princess offers a cozy atmosphere with a fireplace-lit main lounge and individually designed staterooms.

Experts in various fields provide enrichment during the journey. It’s a small luxury vessel with a comfortable, homey feel.

How Do The Costs Compare Between Small And Large Cruise Ship Experiences?

The costs of cruising on smaller ships tend to be higher per person compared to larger cruise ships, primarily due to the higher staff-to-guest ratios, specialized itineraries, and often more inclusive offerings.

Smaller vessels frequently provide more personalized services, which can include all-inclusive pricing that covers excursions, gourmet dining, and sometimes even butler service, adding considerable value.

Furthermore, smaller ships often access more secluded or unique destinations, which can lead to higher operational costs but provide a distinctly unmatched experience.

However, while the upfront cost might be higher, the value derived from a more intimate, luxurious, and unique cruising experience can be well worth the extra expense for those seeking a deeper connection with their destinations and a more personalized journey.

Lastly, potential travelers should consider that smaller ships tend to have fewer onboard purchases necessary, as many amenities and services are typically included in the fare.

Hebredian Princess (Hebridean Island Cruises)

Why Book a Small Cruise Ship?

Fewer People

One big reason people opt for smaller cruise ships is the lower number of passengers. A ship with fewer guests means fewer crowds, making it easier to relax by the pool or find a seat at dinner without feeling overwhelmed.

On a massive ship with thousands of passengers, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a bustling city. Smaller ships, with fewer people, offer a more relaxed and intimate experience. This means you won’t see new faces all the time, allowing for more meaningful interactions with fellow travelers.

If you enjoy meeting new people, a smaller vessel lets you connect with the same folks throughout your trip, forming real friendships. You’re also more likely to get to know the crew, adding a special touch to your voyage.

More Luxury

Small cruise ships often provide luxurious experiences, focusing on individual guests. You’ll find that cabins, dining options, and recreational areas are designed with your comfort in mind.

With fewer passengers, crew members can offer more personalized attention, making you feel like a VIP. Some small ships have nearly as many crew members as guests, ensuring top-notch service that meets your needs quickly and efficiently.

This level of attention and care enhances your overall travel experience, offering a sense of luxury that bigger ships might struggle to provide.

Visit Remote Areas

One of the best perks of choosing a small cruise ship is the ability to visit less-traveled, remote locations. Smaller ships can navigate into smaller ports and explore rivers and tiny islands that big ships can’t reach.

For instance, the Galapagos Islands are a popular destination for small ships since larger vessels can’t access the area. Other unique spots include the icy regions of the Arctic and Antarctic, the winding rivers of France, and the hidden islands of Fiji.

These destinations not only offer breathtaking views and adventures but also have a smaller environmental impact, helping to preserve these beautiful locations for future generations.

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