Motivation Monday: 2021’s Top Small Cruise Lines

Recently, I published a blog post about Small Ship Ocean Cruising – if you missed it and would liek to learn more about it, here’s a link to that one:
All about Small Ship Ocean Cruising

Moving on here are Conde Nast Traveler’s best 2021 Small Cruise Lines & a little bit about each one! Enjoy!

#15 Sea Cloud Cruises

Courtesy Sea Cloud Cruises

Sea Cloud Cruises based in Germany has 3 lovely windjammers: Sea Cloud, Sea Cloud II, & Sea Cloud Spirit, which can carry 64, 94, and 136 passengers, respectively. These sailing vessels mostly share their time between the Caribbean & Mediterranean, but they’ll sometimes explore the Panama Canal or Northern Europe. Their oldest ship is Sea Cloud, built in 1931 for an American heiress and at the time, it was the largest private yacht in the entire world. Later, it served the United States in World War II before ultimately returning to leisure sailings.

#14 Star Clippers

Courtesy Star Clippers

Star Clippers has a fleet of just 3 ships, with its flagship called the Royal Clipper holding the record as the world’s largest full-rigged sailing ship! All 3 of them are are sailing yachts, using their sails for journeys across the Caribbean, Mediterranean, & even Southeast Asia They feature very traditional looking exteriors & the interiors have several bars, a pool, library, & of course, a formal dining room.

#13 Crystal Yacht Cruises

Crystal Esprit, Courtesy Crystal Cruises

In 2015, Crystal brought a yacht into its fleet for the first time, & following the success of it, the Crystal decided to custom-build a polar-class expedition mega-yacht. The ultra luxurious Crystal Endeavor, which travels to remote locations such as the Arctic & the Antarctic, as well as ports around the world. Having been launched in 2021, it can carry up to 200 guests.

#12 Ponant

Philip Plisson/Courtesy PONANT – Compagnie-du-Ponant_Le-Boreal

Very personal service, delectable French cuisine, & Hermès bath products come standard on Ponant’s very-French based worldwide traveling ships. Ponant has expanded its fleet expedition ships & even one sailing yacht with 6 new Explorer-class vessels designed with luxury expedition-style cruising in mind. Each one has an infinity pool, an underwater viewing lounge, & journeys that go as crazy far as Papua New Guinea & West Africa’s Bissagos Islands. During the year 2019, Ponant purchased Paul Gauguin Cruises, this South Pacific specialized ship to its fleet, & in 2021, they launched Le Commandant Charcot, an ice-breaking expedition ship!

#11 Celebrity Cruises

Alex Maguire / Celebrity-Flora-Darwins-Cove-Naturalist-Lounge-2

Celebrity has 3 expedition ships which are by far their smallest. They are the Celebrity Xpedition which carries 48 guests, Celebrity Xploration, which is a catamaran and carries just 16, & Celebrity Flora which carries 100 guests . All 3 sail the Galápagos, with some journeys including pre or post cruise tours to Ecuador’s mainland or Peru, where guests can visit Machu Picchu, a major bucket list trip for many!

#10 SeaDream Yacht Club

SeaDream Yacht Club, Courtesy SeaDream

SeaDream’s 2 yachts carry 112 guests through the Caribbean, around Europe, or across the Atlantic so guests can really get to know other guests onboard. Their 6-deck vessels include a pool, whirlpool, & even a casino, but the best feature on these is the watersports marina attached to the ship that can be lowered down to the waves for ocean swimming, kayaking, and other forms of fun in the sea! The ships frequently overnight in port, allowing SeaDream guests a fantastic opportunity to experience the local nightlife before taking off for their next destination on the following day.

#9 Metropolitan Touring

South America, Courtesy Metropolitan Touring

Metropolitan Touring is the ideal cruise line for those seeking a casual experience one one of their 3 expedition vessels in the Galápagos! The very small only carry 40-78 guests and have a laid-back vibe where the focus is heavily focused on wildlife spotting. The company also offers land tours in Ecuador, Peru, as well as Colombia that can be combined with a Galápagos expedition!

#8 Silversea Cruises

Steven Gourlay/Courtesy Silversea

Silversea has 4 expedition ships that journey to the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Galápagos, & Antarctica on shorter duration sailings. However, in addition to those, they offer worldwide journeys for an international set of guests. Unique and harder to find excursions make once in a lifetime experiences! Some examples of this would be spotting penguins in Antarctica or perhaps a private catamaran tour in tropical destinations. In the fall of 2019, Silversea sailed its first journey through the Northwest Passage, which is quite the monumental accomplishment, with the Silver Explorer, which is a 144-guest expedition ship. The fleet got a new ship, the Silver Origin, in 2020 which sails to the Galápagos, and is specifically designed for this destination!

#7 Quasar Expeditions

Grace, Courtesy Quasar Expeditions

Quasar Expeditions, the first luxury line to sail the Galápagos, is mostly known by the traveling community for their in-depth trips on their 2 very small ships that carry under 32 guests each. The Grace is the former yacht of Princess Grace of Monaco. The Evolution will allow you to retrace Darwin’s footsteps in the Galápagos. If you decide to try their Baltra Island itinerary, you’ll work your way from San Cristóbal Island to Baltra, & get to see all the central & southern islands of the archipelago between the 2 locations!

#6 American Cruise Lines

Courtesy American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines has a unique distinction – they not only operate old-fashioned paddle-wheeler ships in the USA, but they also run contemporary river ships. Yes, they sail the Mississippi, but you can also journey with them through the Columbia & Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest. You might not realize that their 15 ship fleet also has ocean ships that sail from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico! Their latest ship, the American Melody (which is awesome because my granddaughter was born right after she set sail, and her name is Melody too!), set sail in August 2021 & will sail its inaugural season on the Mississippi!

#5: Windstar Cruises

Moorea, French Polynesia – Courtesy Windstar Cruises

Windstar’s 6 ships (3 are sailing yachts & 3 are all-suite motor style yachts) specialize in going into ports that ban larger ships. Two examples of these would be the Monemvasia in the Greek Islands, a hilltop town in the Byzantine, & the sleepy, & the Caribbean island of Bequia. Smaller ports like these give a sense of intimacy that isn’t possible on most cruise destinations, allowing for completely different experience.

#4: Seabourn

Courtesy Seabourn / Quest

Seabourn has 6 ships with under 300 suites each, but the small size benefits their guests who can visit some of the world’s most beloved yacht ports, like St. Tropez in the south of France; the Greek island of Kos; & even popular bigger ports like Dubrovnik & Monte Carlo. And the food! Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller designs very specific, amazing menus on these ships, & they also have a partnership with UNESCO to ensure on shore tours & sustainable practices at some of the most wonderful & wild destinations globally. Soon, their first expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, will set sail, with a sister ship to follow.

#3: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises Navigator

The Seven Seas Navigator takes its all-inclusive promise seriously! Sailing with only 490 passengers and offering unlimited shore excursions, open bars with premium wines, and even and in-room minibars, plus unlimited Wi-Fi, & also dining in specialty restaurants, the Navigator is a tremendous experience! Seven Seas ships sail all over the world, from New Zealand to Dubai, from 1 week to 3 months in length.

#2: Paul Gauguin Cruises

Courtesy Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin Cruise line has just one ship which focuses on the Pacific, carrying 332 guests to stunning beaches & amazing scenery in Tahiti, Bora Bora, & Fiji all year long. On their private island in French Polynesia, called Mota Mahana, passengers enjoy cocktails from the floating bar or paddle out over coral reefs using the onboard water sports marina’s kayaks and paddleboards. They even offer an onboard PADI scuba program to certify scuba divers in some of the clearest waters on the planet. The best part of Paul Gauguin is that they are all-inclusive.

#1: Lindblad Expeditions

Polar Expedition Vessel courtesy of Lindblad

Lindblad’s 15-ship fleet carries just 28-148 per ship, sailing to far-flung & rugged destinations, such as Arctic Svalbard, Antarctica, Indonesia, & the Galápagos. Adventure comes before luxury on a Lindblad cruise. On most ships, you would notice small, simple cabins, but tons of memorable tours, like snorkeling in Borneo or hiking an ice field in Patagonia. However, some of their recent fleet additions are truly luxurious, from its 2 polar-sailing expedition ships called the National Geographic Endurance & the National Geographic Resolution, to the Nile-sailing elegant Oberoi Philae. Each sailing has an team with experts in fields like marine biology and photography to make every moment authentic, full of learning, and expertise.

So what do you think, do you want to try an expedition luxury, sailing, expedition, or other small ship adventure? If so, let Easy Breezy Journeys make the planning and preparation a breeze! Just click HERE to get started!

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