84 Small Ship Cruise Lines Covered and Counting...

North America

The Eastern US and Canada are a virtual playground for small ships primarily in the warm weather warmer months. The charms of New England and its islands are on the top of the list, while fall foliage draws river and canal cruisers to the Hudson and Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence River, waterways in southern Ontario and on the Great lakes. The East Coast’s Intracoastal Waterway connects New England with the American South with a great variety of places to call into. The Mississippi River system is vast in navigable and includes a half-dozen tributaries to explore Middle America close up by steamboat. Altogether different are the Pacific Northwest’s rivers, islands and sounds. Then no place in North America is more popular for both small and large ship cruises than Alaska and the route north along Inside Passage connecting the Lower 48 with the 49th state.


Small ships focus on the Alaska Panhandle, also known as Southeast Alaska or the Inside Passage, to visit Juneau (capital), Skagway (former gold rush town) and Glacier Bay (ice flows, mammals and birds). Before or after a cruise, some folks add on land-based excursions to Anchorage and Denali National Park.

American and Canadian Waterways

From the Intracoastal Waterway between New England and Florida, to the north-south-running Mississippi River and its major tributary, the Ohio, this is a vast network that also includes the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake rivers, and the Inside Passage leading to Alaska.

Coastal America

The East Coast stretches from Maine to Florida, and includes the New England Islands and also the less frequented Gulf Coast and West Coast from Washington State south to the Mexican border.


Three coastlines include the west coast’s Baja Peninsula, a whale watching area, and the Mexican Riviera (mostly large cruise ships); the Sea of Cortez (small ship paradise) fringed by Baja’s east coast and Mexican mainland; and Mexico’s Gulf Coast with the focus on the Yucatan Peninsula (large ships).