84 Small Ship Cruise Lines Covered and Counting...

Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean island chains offer more than just pleasant breaks on the transatlantic routes as ships move from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean in the spring and vice versa in the fall. Some offer surprisingly beautiful land and seascapes with largely dormant volcano craters to look into (Azores), dramatic mountain scenery (Tenerife in the Canaries), lovely coastal vistas (Madeira), and well-developed resort life (Canaries and Madeira), and springtime flower displays and traditional village life (all islands). The cruise ports (Funchal, Madeira; Santa Cruz, Tenerife; Ponta Delgada, Azores) themselves may hold enough interest in their café and restaurant offerings, local museums, architectural features, churches and craft shopping not to have to venture any further.


The mountain Portuguese island chain sprawls across the Atlantic 850 miles west of Lisbon, and the attractive ports of Ponta Delgada and Horta are favorite stopovers while ships make transatlantic positioning cruises in the spring and fall. Coastal drives to see the beautiful spring flowers, smaller villages, and up to the Caldera rims are popular excursions.


While the beautiful island lying east of North Carolina is well known to the big cruise liners, very few small ships call here as their transatlantic routes generally ply via Scotland, Iceland and Greenland or from the Caribbean and Florida to the Mediterranean.

Canary Islands

These Atlantic Islands just west of Morocco offer a great variety of landscapes, from the impossibly high mountains on Tenerife to desert landscapes, complete with camels, on Lanzarote. The resort islands draw huge numbers of European tourists.

Cape Verde Islands

The Portuguese-settled islands, along with Africans from the nearby continent, are remote, lovely and largely ignored by big cruise ships, located as they are well off-the-beaten-track.


The island and its main port of Funchal have been a major draw for visitors for 150 years because of its mild climate, the natural beauty of its mountainous landscape, and profusion of spring flowers. New Year’s Eve will see up to a dozen cruise ships arrive for the annual fireworks displays.