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small cruise ships types

91 Small Ship Cruise Lines By Type

We’re the ONLY travel site out there that covers so many small-ship cruise lines in reviews, feature articles and photos — we’re up to 91 small-ship cruise lines and counting! QuirkyCruise.com offers original, quality writing about this wonderful corner of the travel world.

To help you browse, dream and plan your next small-ship cruise, we categorize our 91 small ship lines (with vessels under 300 passengers) into 5 cruise types:

Coastal Ships  ✴️ Expedition Ships   ✴️  Oceangoing Ships   ✴️  River Boats   ✴️  Sailing Ships

 

Coastal Ships

Coastal small ship cruises

Safari Voyage. * Photo: Un-Cruise Adventures

Perhaps the hardest category to pin down, coastal ships cruise in open waters, but usually stay close to land so they may call at numerous ports and islands, and enter bays, canals, lakes, and rivers. Examples are the Norwegian coastal service linking many towns and cities facing the North Sea, and US-flag coastal ships plying between the New England Islands, the Intracoastal Waterway and Alaska’s Inside Passage. The Croatian coast (Mediterranean) and the islands of Japan make excellent coastal cruising itineraries.

Adventure Canada

AdventureSmith Explorations (Tour Operator)

Argyll Cruising

Alaska Marine Highway

American Cruise Lines

Atlas Ocean Tours

Blount Small Ship Adventures

Blue Lagoon Cruises

Captain Cook Cruises

Croisières Jacques-Cartier

Deep Blue Holidays YASAWA PRINCESS

Ecoventura

Hebridean Island Cruises

Hurtigruten

Magna Carta Steamship Company

Majestic Line

Marine Link Tours

Overseas Adventure Travel

Pacific Catalyst

Pandaw River Cruises

Patricia Cruises

Pearl Seas Cruises

Pitcairn Island’s Claymore II

Puffer Steamboat Holidays VIC 32

St. Hilda Sea Adventures

SeaDream Yacht Club

UnCruise Adventures

Victory Cruise Lines

Expedition Ships

Expedition small ship cruises

The Stella Australis. * Photo: Australis

These have a distinctive learning element and bring to mind a sense of adventure whether it’s visiting remote peoples in the South Pacific or plying the Upper Amazon; looking for rare birds and exotic animals along Australia’s Kimberley Coast or in Central America; cruising amongst amazing, and often colorful, ice formations in Antarctica; and encountering dramatic landscapes in Patagonia. Trained experts give talks aboard and lead active outings ashore.

Abercrombie & Kent

Adventure Canada

AdventureSmith Explorations (Tour Operator)

Alaskan Dream Cruises

Aurora Expeditions

Australis

Celebrity Cruises’ Xpedition

Xpedition

Coral Expeditions

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Deep Blue Holidays YASAWA PRINCESS

Ecoventura

G Adventures

Grand Circle Cruise Line

GreenTracks

Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises

Haumana Cruises

Hurtigruten

Lindblad Expeditions

Oceanwide Expeditions

One Ocean Expeditions

Overseas Adventure Travel

Ponant

Poseidon Expeditions

Quark Expeditions

Quasar Expeditions

Seabourn Expeditions

SeaTrek Adventure Cruises

Silversea Expeditions

Tauck

UnCruise Adventures

Zegrahm Expeditions

Oceangoing Ships

Star Pride. * Photo: Windstar Cruises

Designed for the open seas, travel between continents or from the mainland to islands well out to sea, oceangoing ships also offer port-rich cruises such as between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean or from Great Britain to Baltic Sea ports. Some oceangoing ships are also used for expedition itineraries.

Abercrombie & Kent

Adventure Canada

AdventureSmith Explorations (Tour Operator)

Compagnie Polynesienne

Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Pitcairn Island’s Claymore II

Ponant

SeaDream Yacht Club

Silverseas Cruises

Tauck

Vantage World Travel

Windstar Cruises

Zegrahm Expeditions

River Vessels

River going small ship cruises

The River Empress * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Easy to identify, they offer a hugely popular means to get into the interior of a country or continent. As a matter of course, river boats may also ply canals and cross bays and lakes to cover many hundreds of island water miles. Europe, Asia, and North America offer the most diverse opportunities for river cruising, while South America brings to mind the Amazon and its numerous tributaries, and Africa the Nile. This section also include canal barges.

Abercrombie & Kent

AdventureSmith Explorations (Tour Operator)

AMAWaterways

American Cruise Lines

American Queen Steamboat Company

Aqua Expeditions

A-Rosa

Avalon Waterways

Barge Lady Cruises

Blount Small Ship Adventures

CroisiEurope

Crystal River Cruises

Delfin Amazon Cruises

Emerald Waterways

French America Line

G Adventures

Gota Canal Steamship Company

Grand Circle Cruise Line

GreenTracks

Le Boat

Lindblad Expeditions

Magna Carta Steamship Company

Murray River Cruises

Ontario Waterway Cruises Inc.

Overseas Adventure Travel

Pearl Seas Cruises

Puffer Steamboat Holidays VIC 32

Riviera River Cruises

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines

Scenic Cruises

Tauck

UnCruise Adventures

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Vantage World Travel

Victoria Cruises

Victory Cruise Lines

Viking River Cruises

Sailing Ships

Sea Cloud

This group comes under a broad umbrella, from the sails providing the main means of propulsion, to using wind power when the conditions are ideal, or as window dressing with the principal push coming from diesel engines. Sailing ships of all three variations have a majesty and beauty all their own. Most are found amongst islands in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and in the South Pacific and Indonesia, with repositioning transoceanic crossings such as between Europe and the Caribbean drawing the most ardent sailors.

Abercrombie & Kent

AdventureSmith Explorations (Tour Operator)

G Adventures

Lindblad

Oceanwide Expeditions

Ponant

St. Hilda Sea Adventures

Sea Cloud Cruises

Silhouette Cruises

Silolona Sojourns

Star Clippers

Trinity Sailing

Vantage World Travel

Windstar Cruises

Zegrahm Expeditions

 

And if you’ve been on a small-ship cruise lately, we’d love to hear about it in our Reader Reviews section!  

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© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

The dancers of French Polynesia are mesmerizing and so is the backdrop. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Small Ship Cruise Line Reviews by Destination

We’re the ONLY travel site out there that covers so many small-ship cruise lines in reviews, feature articles and photos — we’re up to 91 small-ship cruise lines and counting. QuirkyCruise.com offers original, quality writing about this wonderful corner of the travel world. Go ahead, have a look around!

And if you’ve been on a small-ship cruise lately, we’d love to hear about it in our Reader Reviews!

SUBSCRIBE to QuirkyCruise.com  for updates & special offers!

 

Africa
(including Egypt)

Deep Blue Holidays YASAWA PRINCESS (Coastal, Expeditions)
Grand Circle Cruise Line (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
St. Helena Line (Oceangoing)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Silhouette Cruises (Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Expeditions)
Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (Rivers)
Viking River Cruises (Rivers)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Alaska

Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Alaska Marine Highway
(Coastal)
Alaskan Dream Cruises (Coastal, Expeditions)
American Cruise Lines (Coastal, Rivers)
Atlas Ocean Tours (Coastal)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Marine Link Tours (Coastal)
Pacific Catalyst (Coastal)
UnCruise Adventures (Coastal, Expedition)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Antarctica
(including Falklands, South Georgia & Tierra del Fuego)

Abercrombie & Kent (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Aurora Expeditions (Expeditions)
Australis (Expeditions, Coastal)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
Hurtigruten (Coastal, Expeditions)
Lindblad Expeditions  (Expeditions, Rivers)
Oceanwide Expeditions (Expeditions, Sailing)
One Ocean Expeditions (Expeditions)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Polar Latitudes (Expeditions)   
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Poseidon Expeditions (Expeditions)
Quark Expeditions (Expeditions)
Seabourn Expeditions (Expeditions)
Silversea Expeditions (Expeditions)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Arctic Regions
(including Iceland & Greenland)

Abercrombie & Kent (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Aurora Expeditions (Expeditions)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
Hurtigruten (Coastal, Expeditions)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Oceanwide Expeditions (Expeditions, Sailing)
One Ocean Expeditions (Expeditions)   
Polar Latitudes (Expeditions)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Poseidon Expeditions (Expeditions)
Quark Expeditions (Expeditions)
Seabourn Expeditions (Expeditions)
Silversea Expeditions (Expeditions)
Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Asia: East Asia
(including China & Japan)

Abercrombie & Kent (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Avalon Waterways (Rivers)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Silversea Cruises (Oceangoing)
Tauck (Tour Operator)  (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (Rivers)
Vantage Deluxe World Cruises (Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Victoria Cruises (Rivers)
Viking River Cruises (Rivers)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Asia: South & Western
(including India, the Indian Ocean & the Middle East)

Abercrombie & Kent (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Deep Blue Holidays YASAWA PRINCESS (Coastal, Expeditions)
Crystal Yacht Cruises (Oceangoing, Expedition)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
International Expeditions (Rivers, Expeditions, Coastal)
Pandaw River Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)
Silhouette Cruises (Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (Rivers)
Vantage Deluxe World Cruises (Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Variety Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Asia: Southeast Asia
(including the Mekong & Irrawaddy Rivers)

AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
AmaWaterways (Rivers)
Aqua Expeditions (Rivers)
Avalon Waterways (Rivers)
Coral Expeditions (Expeditions)
CroisiEurope (Rivers)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
Grand Circle Cruise Line (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Pandaw River Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)
Scenic Cruises (Rivers)
Seatrek Sailing Adventure (Sailing)
Silolona Sojourns (Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Star Clippers (Sailing)
Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)
Tauck (Tour Operator)  (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (Rivers)
Vantage Deluxe World Cruises (Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Viking River Cruises (Rivers)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Atlantic Ocean
(including Azores & Canary Islands)

American Cruise Lines (Coastal, Rivers)
Blount Small Ship Adventures (Coastal, Rivers)
Crystal Yacht Cruises (Oceangoing, Expedition)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Hurtigruten (Coastal, Expeditions)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Pearl Seas Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)
St. Helena Line (Oceangoing)
Sea Cloud Cruises (Sailing)
SeaDream Yacht Club (Coastal, Oceangoing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Star Clippers (Sailing)
Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)
Variety Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)

Australia & New Zealand

AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Aurora Expeditions (Expeditions, Coastal)
Coral Expeditions (Expeditions)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises  (Expeditions)
Murray River Cruises (Rivers)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Caribbean Islands
(including Cuba)

Abercrombie & Kent (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
American Cruise Lines (Coastal, Rivers)
Blount Small Ship Adventures (Coastal, Rivers)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
International Expeditions (Rivers, Expeditions, Coastal)
Island Windjammers (Sailing)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Pearl Seas Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Sea Cloud Cruises (Sailing)
SeaDream Yacht Club (Coastal, Oceangoing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Star Clippers (Sailing)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Variety Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Victory Cruise Lines (Coastal, Oceangoing)
Windstar Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Central America
(including Mexico, Belize, Sea of Cortez & Panama Canal)

AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
Blount Small Ship Adventures (Coastal, Rivers)
Grand Circle Cruise Line (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
International Expeditions (Rivers, Expeditions, Coastal)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Sea Cloud Cruises (Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Tauck (Tour Operator)  (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
UnCruise Adventures (Coastal, Expeditions)
Variety Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Windstar Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Zegrahm Expeditions  (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Europe
(including Rivers & Oceangoing)

Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
AmaWaterways (Rivers)
Argyll Cruising (Coastal, Oceangoing)
A-Rosa (Rivers)
Aurora Expeditions (Expeditions, Coastal)
Avalon Waterways (Rivers)
Barge Lady Cruises (Rivers, Canals)
CroisiEurope (Rivers)
Crystal River Cruises (Rivers)
Crystal Yacht Cruises (Oceangoing, Expedition)
Emerald Waterways (Rivers)
Gota Canal Steamship Company (Rivers)
Grand Circle Cruise Line (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Hebridean Island Cruises (Coastal)
Hebrides Cruises (Coastal)
Hurtigruten (Coastal, Expeditions)
Le Boat (Rivers)
Lindblad Expeditions Expeditions, Rivers)
Magna Carta Steamship Company (Coastal, Rivers)
Majestic Line (Coastal)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Patricia Cruises (Coastal)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Puffer Steamboat Holidays (Coastal)
Riviera River Cruises (Rivers)
St. Hilda Sea Adventures (Coastal, Sailing)
Scenic Cruises (Rivers)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Trinity Sailing (Sailing)
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (Rivers)
Vantage Deluxe World Cruises (Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Viking River Cruises (Rivers)
Windstar Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Europe: Mediterranean
(including the Greek Isles & Croatia)

AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Sea Cloud Cruises (Sailing)
SeaDream Yacht Club (Coastal, Oceangoing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Star Clippers (Sailing)
Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)
Tauck (Tour Operator)  (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
Vantage Deluxe World Cruises (Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)
Variety Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Windstar Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

North America
(including Alaska, US Rivers & Canada)

Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Alaska Marine Highway
(Coastal)
Alaskan Dream Cruises (Expeditions)
American Cruise Lines (Coastal, Rivers)
American Queen Steamboat Company (Rivers)
Atlas Ocean Tours (Coastal)
Blount Small Ship Adventures (Coastal, Rivers)
French America Line (Rivers)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Croisières Jacques-Cartier (Rivers, Coastal)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Marine Link Tours (Coastal)
Ontario Waterway Cruises (Rivers)
Pearl Seas Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
St. Lawrence Cruise Lines (Rivers)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
UnCruise Adventures (Coastal, Expeditions)
Victory Cruise Lines (Coastal, Oceangoing)
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

Pacific Ocean Islands
(including French Polynesia, Fiji & Hawaiian islands)

Blue Lagoon Cruises (Coastal)
Captain Cook Cruises (Coastal)
Coral Expeditions (Expeditions)
C.P.T.M. & the Arunai 5 (Oceangoing)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Haumana Cruises (Coastal)   New!
Paul Gauguin Cruises (Oceangoing)
Pitcairn Island’s Claymore II (Coastal, Oceangoing)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing)
UnCruise Adventures (Coastal, Expeditions)
Windstar Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)

South America
(including Galapagos, Amazon & Tierra del Fuego)

Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal)
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)
Aqua Expeditions (Rivers)
Aurora Expeditions (Expeditions, Coastal)
Australis (Expeditions, Coastal)
Avalon Waterways (Rivers)
Celebrity Cruises Xpedition (Expeditions)
Delfin Amazon Cruises (Rivers)
Ecoventura (Expedition, Coastal)
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing)
GreenTracks (River, Expeditions)
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)
Hurtigruten (Coastal, Expeditions)
International Expeditions (Rivers, Expeditions, Coastal)
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Expeditions, Rivers, Oceangoing, Sailing, Coastal)
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)
Silversea Expeditions (Oceangoing, Expeditions)
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)
UnCruise Adventures (Coastal, Expeditions)
Zegrahm Expeditions  (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)

 

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© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Zegrahm Expeditions

Zegrahm Expeditions got its start in 1990 by a group of men who knew adventure travel with first-hand experience. In fact the company name is derived from their initials. The programs are worldwide and ever changing, and the firm has a very high loyalty factor with many return clients. Some field leaders have their own following amongst past passengers and biographies appear on the website.

While Zegrahm offers land programs in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia, it is the unusually comprehensive expedition cruise programs that are the focus here. Most have one annual departure, while the Galapagos has two, so while we aim to update the changing expeditions and vessels chartered, use the itineraries listed below as a guide of both present and past itineraries.

Nearly every cruise has a land extension. Zegrahm has partnered with the Nature Conservancy to give participants a better understanding of the value of nature. They receive a year’s membership while a percentage of the cost of the cruise goes to the organization.

Zegraham Island Sky

Zegraham’s Island Sky * Photo: Ted Scull

Ships & Years Delivered

As there are many itineraries and multiple ships involved, every destination and the ship used will be treated together as a pair. Zegrahm does not own ships but takes on complete charters of a half-dozen vessels taking from 38 to 110 passengers.

Passengers

Mostly American, active, 50 and up, well-heeled, curious about the world and enjoying sharing the experience with others. Singles are welcome and rates are often favorable, more so than on land itineraries. Children are welcome and families are especially catered for on selected Antarctic and Galapagos itineraries.

Price

$$$ Very Pricey, yet with much included – see below.

Included Features

Zegrahm includes a lot in their pricing, so often there is little else to budget for other than air fare and land extensions, if any. All trips ashore and special events, entrance fees, kayaking, snorkeling and diving (when offered), all gratuities aboard and ashore, and beer and wine with lunch and dinner.

Itineraries (ship reviews following below)

Note: Many itineraries are one-of-a-kind and often not repeated from year to year, so the specific destinations and rotation of ports will change. Here, we aim to show you the numerous and ever-changing possibilities for world-wide small ship travel that Zegrahm has offered, does offer and made offer again. Also, all ships are chartered for a specific cruise or a finite period of time, and other ships may take over. The standards will be high throughout the chartered fleet.  

1) Antarctica: The 22-day comprehensive itinerary embarks and disembarks at Ushuaia, Argentina located at the tip of South America and visits the Falklands, makes five landings in South Georgia, then several islands off the Antarctic Peninsula and as many landings on the peninsula as time and weather permit. Highlights are the huge variety of birds, whales, seals and penguins, former whaling stations, places associated with the explorer Ernest Shackleton and his party, often a research station, icebergs, stunning land and ice formations, and some of the clearest atmosphere your will ever experience.

During the time spent aboard, the expedition staff gives talks, share experiences and show films and recently prepared videos. A second 14-day itinerary concentrates on the Antarctic Peninsula plus a foray south across the Antarctic Circle. N.B. For those who have traveled to Antarctica, Zegrahm offers an itinerary that includes the Falklands and South Georgia without Antarctica.

Ship: ISLAND SKY

Antarctica: Chinstrap penguins are having a noisy discussion over the children. * Photo: Ted Scull

Antarctica: Chinstrap penguins are having a noisy discussion over the children. * Photo: Ted Scull

2) The Philippines: Very few ships visit the Philippines, let along multiple calls, and here is a 17-day interisland itinerary that combines visiting tribal as well as mainstream Filipino communities, beautiful landscapes, a volcano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, orangutan rehabilitation center, coral reefs and marine life seen from boats and snorkeling activities. The main island of Mindanao and Manila, the capital, are not in the plans.

Ship: CALEDONIAN SKY

3) Japan: A 17-day cruise spring cruise features a voyage through the Sea of Japan and up the island country’s West Coast to visit Honshu Island’s fabulous gardens, landscapes, architectural wonders, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, medieval castles, and a sail across to South Korea’s World Heritage Site at Gyeongiu.

ShipCALEDONIAN SKY

4) Australia’s Kimberley: A 15-day coastal cruise embarks in Broome, a port in Western Australia, famous for its pearl industry, transports you to some of the country’s most remote parts (The Outback) reached by sea. Small-boats take you out to reefs, into river gorges, whirlpools, mangrove swamps and under cliff faces to search out some of the world’s most unusual sea, land and birdlife in the world.

Visit several waterfalls, some tidal and reversible, thousands of years old aboriginal paintings tucked away in cliff caves and an aboriginal village at a island port just off Darwin, the disembarkation port and the Northern Territory’s capital city. There are times that you feel you are stepping on shores that have seen very little human activity. The May 2018 Kimberley coastal cruise embarks in Darwin and disembarks in Broome.

Aboriginal cave paintings Kimberley Coast, Australia. * Photo: Ted Scull

Aboriginal cave paintings Kimberley Coast, Australia. * Photo: Ted Scull

Ship: CORAL DISCOVERER 

4A) Australia’s Great Barrier Reef: An in-depth 15-day exploration embarking in Cairns (Queensland) and sailing northward to much less visited Ribbon Reef #3, 9 & 10, Rachel Carson Reef, Cod Hole (giant potato cod), and Lizard Island with focus on seabirds, monitor lizards, and minke whales including close contacts by diving and snorkeling. N.B. The Great Barrier Reef is under threat from global warming.

Ship: CORAL EXPEDITIONS II

5) Melanesia: A 17-day interisland cruise embarking in major South Pacific city of Port Moresby, New Guinea and sailing through the Melanesian islands to Port Vila, Vanuatu. The emphasis is on the local Melanesia culture (customs, ceremonies, dress, art, music, boat building) in several very isolated communities and great variety of exotic sea and birdlife amongst the coral reefs. There will be many chances to snorkel and dive over around coral reefs looking for clownfish, damsels, Moorish idols, and butterflyfish. One dive visits the USS President Coolidge that sank in 1942. From the disembarkation port, fly to Brisbane, Australia.

5A) Micronesia: A truly off-beat 18-day cruise embarks in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea and island hops (with no less than 13 calls) to Palau for diving, snorkeling, meeting the locals, birding, and an archeological site.

ShipCALEDONIAN SKY (5&5A)

6) Patagonia: Two cruises back-to-back feature first an 18-day voyage beginning in the Falklands and exploring the dramatic narrow waterways from Cape Horn into Patagonia and north along the Chilean fjords to Puerto Montt, just south of Santiago, Chile. This portion is nature at its most beautiful and rugged. Leaving penguins sightings in the Falkands, visit one of the world’s great national parks – Torres del Paine – for its birdlife and incredible mountain scenery. Cruise for whales, seals and sail up to the base of South America’s longest glacier, then navigate the fjords northward to Puerto Montt.

Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia. * Photo: Ted Scull

Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia. * Photo: Ted Scull

7) West Coast of South America: The second portion, is an 18-day cruise visiting coastal Chile, Peru and Ecuador to see historic architecture, some pre-Columbian, some Spanish, the Atacama Desert in northern Chile and the driest place on earth, settings of volcanoes and glacier lakes, and unusual South American birds and sealife, some via Zodiacs amongst off-shore islands. The voyage ends near Guayaquil, Ecuador.

ShipSEA ADVENTURER

8) Central America: This 15-day voyage begins in the Costa Rican port of Puerto Caldera via a flight to San José and sails south scouting out the huge variety of birds in Costa Rica via Zodiac cruises and hikes, visiting the Panamanian marine park on Isla Coibe, the Embera Indians of the Darien jungle and the Kuna of San Blas Islands. Linking the two coasts is a Panama Canal transit with views of the second canal under construction. On the Caribbean side, explore the Tortuguero Canals near Puerto Limon for monkeys, sloths, caimans, iguanas, lizards and crocodiles and finish off by visiting the coastal reefs of Honduras’ Bay Islands and Lighthouse Reef off Belize where the cruise ends (Belize City).

Pedro Miguel Locks, Panama Canal. * Photo: Ted Scull

Pedro Miguel Locks, Panama Canal. * Photo: Ted Scull

Ship: SEA ADVENTURER

9) Galapagos: 13 days amongst no less than ten islands may provide one of the most thorough explorations of the islands that Charles Darwin made so famous, as most cruises are three, four, or seven days. As well as the endemic sea and birdlife, there is time to study the land forms, the active and dormant volcanoes and the lava fields. See the section on the Galapagos for more details. In July/August 2018, the Wild Galapagos itinerary lasts 10 days (still longer than most).

Ship: ISABELLA II or EVOLUTION

10) Circumnavigation of Cuba: THIS CUBAN ITINERARY IS NO LONGER OFFERED DUE TO US GOVERNMENT RESTRICTIONS AGAINST TRAVEL BY SHIP TO CUBA . 14 days beginning with two hotel nights in Havana then joining the ship for nine ports calls, one sea day and return directly to Havana. Highlights are Old Havana, City of Bridges at Matanzas, exploring mangrove forest of Cayo Guillermo, snorkeling the reefs, nature reserve at Cayo Saetia to see water buffalo, wild boar and exotic birds, the World Heritage Site at Santiago de Cuba including the famous San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War (1898), the Spanish colonial town of Trinidad also a World Heritage Site, Cienfuegos for Zapata Wetlands and the Bay of Pigs where an unsuccessful American invasion took place in 1961, beaches at Cayo Largo, nature at its most diverse at Isla de la Juventud, and the biological diversity of Maria La Gorda. Note: this cruise is one of the most comprehensive offered by any cruise line.

Ship: HEBRIDEAN SKY

11) Canal to Cuba: THIS CUBAN ITINERARY IS NO LONGER OFFERED DUE TO US GOVERNMENT RESTRICTIONS AGAINST TRAVEL BY SHIP TO CUBA. 16 days embarking in Panama City, Panama thence to the huge marine park at Isla Coiba, the Embera community in Darién Province, a daylight Canal Transit, San Blas Archipelago, Spanish fortifications at  Portobelo, Tortuguero Canals at Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, the English-speaking island of Isla de Providencia, Colombia, then the Cuba ports (see above itinerary for descriptions) of Cienfuegos, Isla de la Juventud, Maria la Gorda and Havana with a hotel night.

Ship: HEBRIDEAN SKY

12) The Hidden Gems of the Caribbean: For the tropical island buff, this 14-day cruise of the Grenadines will show you all aspects of island life, their natural beauty, sea and bird life, coral reef diving and snorkeling, as well as the long histories of individual islands, their conquest by European powers and struggle for independence to today’s varied lifestyles.

Ship: LE PONANT

11) Coastal Europe: A lot of variety is packed into this 16-day voyage that starts out in Lisbon and works its way northeastward calling Spanish, French, English, Belgian and Dutch ports with just one day at sea. Destinations ashore include UNESCO sites at Santiago de Compostela, Mont St. Michel and the Frisian Islands; the wine county upriver from Bordeaux; World War II history on the French coast; three of the Channel Islands – Guernsey, Jersey and the tiny utterly charming Duchy of Sark; medieval Brugge and ending in Amsterdam. The 14-day itinerary has similar ports but does not call at Brugge or Amsterdam and ends in Portsmouth, England. Another all Spanish itinerary (apart from a call at Porto) begins in Barcelona and sails south, around through the Strait of Gibraltar up the west coast, and across the north coast as far as Bilbao.

The village, Isle of Sark, Channel Islands. * Photo: Ted Scull

The village, Isle of Sark, Channel Islands. * Photo: Ted Scull

Ship: SEA ADVENTURER

11A) Wild & Ancient Britain: A 14-day cruise nearly circumnavigates the British Isles leaving from Portsmouth, England and calls at Falmouth, Isles of Scilly, then islands off Ireland, islands off the West Coast and to the north of Scotland, ending in  Aberdeen. The highlights are seabirds galore, numerous Neolithic monuments, unusual natural features, and architectural treasures.

Ship: OCEAN ADVENTURER

12) The Baltic: A comprehensive 17-day itinerary departs London for ports in Germany, and a Kiel Canal Transit, then Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland and ending in Stockholm.

Ship: ISLAND SKY

13) The Adriatic, Sicily & Malta: The 13-day cruise begins at the Maltese port of Valetta, a World Heritage Site that survived heavy fighting in WWII: visits four Sicilian ports with roots in Greek and Roman times; even more cultural influences with a stop in Albania and another in Montenegro, then successive calls along the Croatian coast, including Dubrovnik and ending in Venice.

Ship: ISLAND SKY

14) Sicily: A more focused itinerary is a 13-day circumnavigation of Sicily calling at ten ports plus Malta and Lipari in the Aeolian Islands.

Ship: VARIETY VOYAGER

15) Black Sea Circumnavigation: A 15-day spin begins and ends in Istanbul and proceeds counterclockwise with three stops along the Turkish coast; a call at Batumi in Georgia, the spas at Sochi, then skipping the Crimea and stopping at the crossroads city of Odessa, two ports in Romania (including seldom-visited Histria, the country’s oldest settlement) and lastly Varna, with its Greek and Roman connections. 10 ports and cruising the Danube delta (home to 200 species of birds) makes this a thorough study of Black Sea history and communities today. All that is missing is Russia (Crimea).

Ship: ISLAND SKY

Livadia Palace, site of the Yalta Conference at the end of WWII. * Photo: Ted Scull

Livadia Palace, site of the Yalta Conference at the end of WWII. * Photo: Ted Scull

16) Iceland & Greenland: A 16-day voyage aims to combine searching in Zodiacs for sea life and birdlife, dramatic scenery that includes glaciers, fjords, icebergs, and vast expanses of tundra, Viking settlements and the colorful modern-day fishing villages and their cultural attributes. In June/July 2018, the 15-day expedition embarked in Narsarsuaq, Greenland by charter flight from Reykjavik and concentrates on Greenland’s south and east coast then crosses to northwest Iceland ending in Iceland’s capital.

ShipSEA ADVENTURER (2017) and HEBRIDEAN SKY (2018)

16A) Svalbard: A-14 day expedition uses flights to and from Oslo to join the ship at Longyearbyen, the island’s  principal port. The emphasis is on wildlife, especially polar bears, seals, walrus, whales and Arctic foxes; seabirds such as kittiwakes, guillemots, dovekies, puffins and ivory gulls, and the natural beauty of the lush tundra, fjords and glaciers. Touring off the ship is on foot, and in kayaks and Zodiacs.

Ship: HEBRIDEAN SKY

17) Indonesia: A 19-day linear voyage begins at the northern tip of Sulawesi and heads along the chain of Indonesian islands to Papua and Papua New Guinea, with a call at Australia’s Thursday Island. Activities are diving and snorkeling amongst the coral reefs, visits to Asmat’s warrior tribes and West Papua’s seafarers, and looking for birds of paradise, doves, parrots, cockatoos, friarbirds and flying foxes.

Ship: CALEDONIAN SKY

18) Vietnam: Zegrahm began trips to Vietnam 25 years ago shortly after travel was permitted. A 16-day coastal cruise begins in Hanoi with a transfer to Haiphong Harbor for embarkation. Eight calls are made en route to Ho Chi Minh City including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the Chinese-style “Forbidden City” of Hue and a leisurely sail amongst the sculpted islands in Halong Bay. A special activity is discovering Vietnamese and French-influenced cuisine where passengers tour local markets and vegetable and herb gardens, sample treats at food stalls such as prawn cakes and grilled port patties with sticky noodles, and participate in cooking classes on board. In November/December 2018, a 19-day mostly land and air tour to Myanmar and Laos slotted in a two-day river cruise between Mandalay and Bagan and another two-day cruise on a less visited portion of the Mekong in Laos. Both use Pandaw river boats.

Ship: CORAL PRINCESS, now CORAL EXPEDITIONS I

19) Cuba: Travel to Cuba on a humanitarian project, a 17-day itinerary that includes a partial circumnavigation of the island and then onward land travel returning to Havana. The 56-passenger Le Ponant, a motor/sail vessel provides comfortable accommodations at sea and the nimbleness to get into small ports. Activities combine cultural, water sports and people-to-people encounters. In April 2018, there are two Cuban itineraries, the first one including Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama before sailing north to Cuba for three days, and the second, a 14-night cruise that completely circumnavigates the island calling at 9 ports and with flights to and from Havana.

Ship: LE PONANT or HEBRIDEAN SKY

The Ships

OCEAN ADVENTURER, formerly SEA ADVENTURER: Renewed in 2017, this traditional 120-passenger vessel was built in 1975 for the Russians to operate rugged sea routes especially in the Arctic has been refitted several times to offer a steady, stabilized oceangoing experience, including strengthening for ice. It has two lounges, including a lovely library, and an aft-located dining room with wraparound glass windows. Cabins are of small to moderate size and all are outside. Zodiacs carried.

CALEDONIAN SKY: Built in 1992 as one of the original six small Renaissance ships, she carries 100 passengers in roomy one-room suites with sitting areas, including eight cabins with balconies, many positioned in the forward half of the ship. One lounge is located above the bridge for glass-protected viewing and the other, with a bar, seats all passengers at once for lectures and socializing. In addition, there is a small library and gym. The dining room is aft on the lowest deck with portholes. A lido deck serves informal outdoor meals in good weather. Zodiacs and scuba diving gear are carried.

ISLAND SKY: Built in 1992, she is also one of the original Renaissance ships (100 passengers) though while her roomy one-room forward-located suites are similar (four with balconies), her layout is somewhat different with two aft lounges including a good-sized library, in place of a forward-viewing lounge. The dining room is on the lowest deck with portholes, and the aft-lido deck serves informal meals in good weather conditions.

HEBRIDEAN SKY: As with the two sisters above, the ship was first completed as one of the Renaissance ships in 1992 and most recently refitted in 2014 and 2016. Passenger capacity is 112 and roomy cabins with sitting areas measure 225, 266 and 325 square feet. The owner’s suite is even larger. The sofa bed will sleep a third person. An elevator serves all decks, and an observation platform is popular for spotting wildlife. Zodiacs are carried for exploring near land, edging up to glaciers and sailing into fjords.

LE PONANT: Completed in 1991, with French registry, as a sail-assisted motor ship, she has three masts and takes just 56 passengers in moderate-size outside cabins, most located on the lowest passenger deck and with portholes. Five others are clustered two decks higher amidships. The lounge is aft opening onto a deck at the stern. Dining is either in the forward restaurant, or in favorable weather, one deck above, aft and outside. Zodiacs, snorkeling and scuba diving gear are carried.

CORAL DISCOVERER, formerly Oceanic Discoverer: Built in 2005, this small Australian-registered ship carries 65 passengers in all outside cabins, most with view windows. A lounge, seating all, faces aft to an open deck, and the dining room is on the lowest passenger deck with a long rectangular window on either side. The top deck has a Jacuzzi. The vessel carries Zodiacs, a glass-bottom boat, and a tender taking all passengers ashore at one time.

ISABELA II: Completed in 1979, she was heavily refitted and last refurbished in 2012. Good-size cabins are all outside with two partial-view singles, to accommodate 39 passengers. The dining room, lounge and library are on the lowest passenger deck. The Sun Deck has a covered aft bar and lounge for informal dining. The vessel carries Zodiacs, sea kayaks and a glass-bottom boat.

CORAL EXPEDITIONS I, formerly Coral Princess: Completed in 1988 and refitted 2005, this 4-deck Australian-registered ship carries 65 passengers in all outside cabins. The lounge seats all for lectures, often illustrated on two large plasma TV screens. The open top deck has a Jacuzzi, and for sightseeing, there is a glass bottom boat, Zodiacs, and an excursion vessel that can take all passengers at one time.

CORAL EXPEDITIONS II, formerly Coral Princess II (Completed in 1985 and refitted in 2015, the three-deck ship carries 44 passengers in all outside cabins with the 4 D-Deck units having portholes rather than windows. A glass bottom boat is available for watching tropical fishes.

VARIETY VOYAGER: Built in 2012, this sleek-looking yacht handles 72 passengers in all outside cabins located on three of the four decks. Public areas include a lounge, single-seating dining, outdoor dining, library, gym, spa and top deck outdoor bar lounge.

Why Go?

If you long to visit off-beat places around the world, or popular expedition destinations, you will be in good company enjoying the experiences with other like-minded modern-day explorers. Many Zegrahm cruises offer longer itineraries than other operators giving you more in-depth connections but also increasingly the monetary outlay.

When to Go

All Zegrahm Expeditions are geared to the best season or seasons to travel to a particular region.

Activities & Entertainment

These cruises are designed for the active traveler with lots of destinations and as few sea days as possible. Time aboard, however, will be well spend with lectures and audio-visual presentations presented by the expedition staff who will bring their expertise to you on board and on excursions ashore. Excursions will be in vehicles, on foot and in kayaks and Zodiacs and some itineraries offer snorkeling and diving. Two vessels have glass-bottom boats — ISABELA II and OCEANIC DISCOVERER.

Along the Same Lines

Lindblad Expeditions.

Contact

Zegrahm Expeditions, 3131 Elliott Avenue, Ste 205, Seattle, WA 98121; www.zegrahm.com 855-276-8849 or 206-745-9364

TWS

 

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New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

By Judi Cohen (on Instagram @Travelingjudi)

Having lived on Lake Ontario for my entire life, it never crossed my mind that the Great Lakes could be a cruising destination. Until August, that is, when my sister-in-law Marla and I sailed aboard the newly overhauled 202-passenger Victory II for an inaugural 9-night sailing on the Great Lakes. This was a unique opportunity to experience both the challenges and the successes of a new launch, and a great deal of learning along the way.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi & Marla sailing away from Montreal!

We cruised through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system, including passing through a total of 17 locks along the way, starting in French Canada’s Montreal and Quebec City, followed by Kingston, Toronto and Niagara Falls in Ontario, and ending in Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan in the United States. The food, alcohol and shore excursions were all included, which contributed to a relaxed vibe.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

The itinerary, from Quebec City and ending in Detroit.

Most of the passengers aboard for this inaugural trip were from Canada and the United States. It was interesting how many of the Americans from Texas, North Carolina and Oklahoma had never been to Canada before, and had booked this cruise to satisfy their curiosity about the Great Lakes and the ports on the Canadian side of the border. Some also mentioned that they were attracted to this sailing because there was a low risk of getting seasick.

 

Victory II

TheVictory II is a small vessel, just under 300 feet in length, with a maximum capacity of 202 passengers and up to 74 crew members. She was built in 2001 in Jacksonville, Florida, sailing for a time as the Sea Discoverer, before being refurbished and re-christened Victory II. 

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

The Victory II. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Bruce Nierenberg, the chairman of Victory Cruise Lines, was aboard and said Victory’s cruises were ideal for “experienced travelers, over 55, looking for premium non-mass market vacations.” He explained that because Victory’s two small ships are intimate, guests can actually get to know one-another. In my opinion, Bruce really got that right.

The ship has a comfortable, traditional feel with lots of wood paneling and velvet upholstery. I felt almost as if I was sailing in my own living room. There were no line-ups for dining with flexible dining hours generally starting from 7 to 8:30pm in the dining room, and the option of booking the upstairs Lighthouse Grille for 7 or 7:30pm seatings. We could be very casual on the ship generally and in the dining rooms. We did get dolled up a little for the night that we were invited to the Captains Table!

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Captains Table in the Victory Dining Room. * Photo: Judi Cohen

It was convenient to move around from one deck to the next to access dining, lounges, observation decks, the gym, the spa and the pursers desk which were all located next to a central staircase and elevator. I never needed a deck plan or directions to find anything. It was simple and intuitive. A welcome change from some larger ships I have sailed on.

Cozy Cabins

Our beautiful cozy Ocean View Stateroom with twin beds and two large windows was located on Deck 1, the lowest deck for passenger accommodations. While it was relatively small (158 sq. ft.) compared to larger mainstream ships, it was very well designed with lots of drawers, closets shelves and a desk. Even with the two of us sharing (and considering that we each brought enough clothes and shoes for 6 months!), everything found a place without difficulty. I brought my own wire hangers to supplement those provided on the ship, impressing my sister-in-law with this travel trick I learned a long time ago.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi’s cabin with 2 twin beds. * Photo: Judi Cohen

The bathroom was quite generous with a large shelf below the sink that we found convenient for all of our toiletry items. I must say the shower was quite small with a clingy shower curtain, however the powerful water pressure more than compensated for that.

Our room and bathroom were kept immaculately clean with ample supplies of soap, shampoo, shower gel, fresh drinking water and soft fluffy towels, bathrobes and slippers. It was nice to have a hairdryer and a safe in the room as well. Our beds were very comfortable with crisp white linens and a choice of pillows. When I got into bed I had a better night’s sleep than I get at home in my own bed.

A category A cabin aboard Victory II. * Photo: Victory Cruise Lines

Pretty Public Rooms

The Great Lakes Lounge on Deck 2 is where the entertainment and presentations were held. With comfortable, plush velvety upholstered seating and small wood tables, we spent most of our leisure time in this inviting room. This is also where they served High Tea three times during our sailing.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi and Marla enjoying their High Tea!

The Whale of a Tail Tavern became very lively in the evenings when we were entertained with embarrassing Karaoke and dancing….and cocktails. We ended up in the bar every night to hear about everyone’s day and getting to know all the guests.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi in Whale of a Tail Tavern. * Photo: Marla Hertzman

I’m pretty sure that I spent time with every single guest either on the ship or on our excursions, something that would have been unthinkable on the larger ships that I’ve been on.

Lounge chairs and other seating were available on both of the observation decks, ideal for enjoying sail-aways and the starry night skies.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

A new ship being unveiled; peeling plastic from the observation lounge windows. Photo: Judi Cohen

Dining Delights

The Victory Dining Room, located on Deck 1, provided open seating at varying sized tables. Mornings featured a plentiful buffet breakfast with many healthy choices including fresh fruits, yogurts, muesli, nuts, cheeses, meats and breads, along with custom orders of eggs. I enjoyed medium-poached eggs on toast most mornings. For lunch, there were several menu items, served French style, including soups, salads, mains and desserts. Dinner was also served French style with choices of soups, salads, fish, meat and vegetarian mains, as well as dessert choices. My favorites were the poached salmon, lobster tails, Caesar salad, tenderloin and the fine cheeses from Quebec. The service was a little spotty initially as the staff was getting used to the new ship and the menu, as one would expect, but every team member went out of their way to make our meals enjoyable.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Lamb chops. * Photo: Judi Cohen

The Lighthouse Bar and Grille located on Deck 4 was a lovely room with glass all around for a panoramic view. It was particularly special to have breakfast there at sunrise or dinner at sunset, the later which we did, enjoying a mixed grill of lamb chops, steak and salmon, brought out raw on a hot lava stone. We cooked the meat and fish to our liking before removing them from the stone. Reservations were required here, but it was never a problem to find a table.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

The Lighthouse Grille. * Photo: Victory Cruise Lines

Onboard Activities

Dr. Gloria Auchey, a professor English and communications from George Washington University, was the sole lecturer on board, giving several PowerPoint presentations about memory, personality and brain power.

Dr. Gloria Auchey presenting in Lounge. * Photo: Judi Cohen

What we would have preferred were experts lecturing about the ports and the seaway lock system. I found myself in many conversations with other guests, not familiar with the Seaway and Great Lakes, and curious about French versus English Canada. Providing reading materials or inviting destination experts on board would help to make this cruise a more enriching learning experience for everyone. A spokesman for Victory Cruise Lines says there will indeed be expert destination lecturers on board all future cruises to give talks about the history and culture of the ports.

When not exploring in port, a visit to the spa and/or  gym was always an option; I enjoyed a relaxing facial treatment and even managed to hit the gym twice. There was also a galley tour, karaoke, a Name-That-Tune contest and other trivia games.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Drinks before our galley tour! * Photo: Judi Cohen

 

The Victory II Passengers

Most of the guests were well traveled and between ages 55 and 85; however there were many travel and cruise industry people from Canada and the United States who were much younger. The majority of the guests were retirees who have turned their focus to seeing the world, learn new things and enjoy wonderful food!

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Quebec City sail-away with other guests on the observation deck. * Photo: Marla Hertzman

Only three passengers had physical limitations including Jane Ann who has macular degeneration and was accompanied by her husband and her guide dog named Sarge. Jane Ann made a presentation on the first day about her limited vision and her close relationship with Sarge, a beautiful black English Lab. She requested that we not play with Sarge unless we let her know first and then she would make an adjustment to her grip on his collar which magically gave him permission to be just a regular playful puppy and signaled to Sarge that he was “off duty.” The crew even placed patches of sod outside of the doors on a lower deck for Sarge to do his thing! We all loved having Sarge along on our shore excursions, during our meals and in the lounge areas.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Sarge being introduced in the Lounge. * Photo: Judi Cohen

 

Ports & Excursions

The most interesting aspect of this cruise was visiting all the various port cities and experiencing the many locks we maneuvered through. Our routine was similar each day with shore excursions in the morning and afternoon, and lunch in between, served either on or off the ship. All excursions were included in the cruise fares.

Montreal, Quebec

On Day 1, we boarded the ship in one of North America’s oldest cities, Montreal, and had a full day to visit. Starting with a city tour, we saw the bustling Old City of Montreal with its galleries, boutiques and restaurants set in stone buildings. The highlight was visiting the majestic Notre Dame Basilica and the architectural gems outside in the square. My jaw dropped at the deep blues in the intricate stained-glass windows and dome at the Notre Dame. I could have sat for hours just staring up.

Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica. * Photo: Judi Cohen

But there was so much more to see including the views from our drive towards Mont Royal, the 20-storey high mural of poet and Canadian music legend Leonard Cohen, and the campus of McGill University. In a strange way, I felt as if I was carried back to Japan during our visit to the Botanical Gardens, with its pagodas and bonsai garden.

After lunch on the ship, we meandered through the streets of Old Montreal and along the vibrant carnival-like waterfront boardwalk before returning to the ship completely exhausted from the 95-degree heat. We gathered on the observation deck with cocktails in hand and sailed away, passing the site of Expo 67, with its few remaining structures, including architect Moshe Safdie’s cube houses and the United States Glass Sphere Pavilion, so that was a trip back down memory lane.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Montreal’s Botanical Gardens. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Quebec City, Quebec and Kingston, Ontario

I fully embraced our next two ports, Quebec City and Kingston, which tell the vibrant story of French and English Canada. Visiting the historical Plains of Abraham and a few stops in the only walled city in North America, followed by a walk across the top of the Montmorency Falls, provided a taste of this compact, hilly and cobblestoned city. Stopping at the castle-like Chateau Frontenac Hotel poised on top of the city provided a full panoramic view of the walled city and the waterfront.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Lovely Old Quebec. * Photo: Judi Cohen

By contrast, Kingston tells the tale of the British and Upper Canada. In addition to touring the early-19th-century Fort Henry, we were taken to the inner sanctum of the Royal Military Institute and allowed to walk on Parade Square before heading to the Kingston Penitentiary Museum. The storied maximum-security penitentiary once housed legendary prisoners like convicted mass murderers Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olsen. I can’t say I enjoyed seeing the old prison cells and the disciplinary equipment, but I left with a visceral sense of the harsh and lonely existence for prisoners languishing in their cells.

Visiting the Rideau Canal’s Kingston Mill Lock on a beautiful sunny day was a true highlight. It’s hard to believe that this UNESCO site, with its massive wooden gates, is still operated manually. As we watched the operation to let two small boats through the locks, one of the hundreds of the iconic Canadian Pacific trains thundered across the iron bridge directly over our heads. A truly Canadian experience.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Kingston’s Rideau Canal. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Toronto, Ontario

The largest Canadian city we visited was Toronto. A bus tour in the morning took us past the Bay Street skyscrapers in the bustling financial district and Yorkville’s chic shopping district, with a stop at City Hall followed by a walk from the newly installed “Doggy Fountain” to the historic St. Lawrence Market. Hearing all the comments from other guests made me very proud of my hometown.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi at Toronto’s Doggie Fountain. * Photo: Marla Hertzman

Some guests went back to the ship for lunch. I joined Sheila and Tom from Greenville, Texas, for lunch in Yorkville followed by a stroll along Toronto’s “mink mile” for a little shopping therapy. We then took an Uber to the Art Gallery of Ontario to rejoin the other cruise guests for a tour prior to returning to the ship through heavy traffic and sheer chaos in the downtown core. What a welcome to Toronto.

Welland Canal

As we retired for the evening after our stop in Toronto, we were told that the captain would be up all night with his crew to navigate through several locks on the Welland Canal. Built in 1829, this canal links Lake Ontario and Lake Erie (lakes teeming with freighters) and provides a detour around Niagara Falls. Not unlike the lock we visited along the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ontario, these locks use gravity and water as the lock gates are opened and closed. Unfortunately, we passed through the locks during the night. All we could hear was the bumping and creaking noises as the ship entered and exited each lock.

During the crossing of the lakes, we watched the huge freighters pass as we had dinner. When two giant CSL freighters passed very close to our ship, I pointed out to my sister-in-law that Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) was bought by our former Prime Minister Paul Martin.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Ship inside one of the 17 locks. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Port Colborne – Niagara Falls, Ontario

In the morning, after our successful passage through the Welland Canal, we disembarked in Port Colborne and took a bus ride to Niagara Falls. I’ve been going there since I was a child, visiting dozens of times with friends and family. To be honest, Niagara Falls never gets old.

One of the older passengers told me that she specifically chose this Victory II cruise because she wanted to see Niagara Falls before she dies. I could feel the excitement and anticipation as we waited in line with our bright pink plastic rain ponchos to board the small boat, named the Hornblower, that would take us to the base of the US and Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

As the warm spray engulfed us, I heard squeals of sheer joy as we all tried to take pictures and videos without having our phones and cameras destroyed by the water. Nobody left the Falls disappointed.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

In Niagara-Falls, pink raincoats on the Hornblower boat. * Photo: Judi Cohen

We then drove to the Chateau Des Charmes Winery for a delicious lunch with paired wines, including Niagara Ice Wine. As if this wasn’t enough, we then carried on to the quaint city of Niagara-on-the-Lake for a nice walk along its main street that is just brimming with cafes, clothing boutiques, candy stores and ice cream shops, plus beautiful small hotels and B & B’s.

All in all, a spectacular day in the Niagara region, with its fruit trees, grape vines, wineries, theatres, shopping, fudge shops and small colorful restaurants. Two thumbs up.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Niagara on the Lake is bursting with flowers. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Cleveland, Ohio

Our first port in the U.S. was Cleveland. This city absolutely “rocked.” Not just because of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where I ambled for hours, enjoying musical flashbacks to my hippie days, but because of the rebirth that is evident in all of the city’s neighborhoods.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Our welcome at the Port of Cleveland. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Welcomed by a local choir, and people holding up “Welcome to Cleveland” signs, we boarded “Holly the Trolley” for an open-air tour of the city. The historical West Side Market, dating back to 1912, was buzzing with food vendors and shoppers. I stopped at every bakeshop to carefully study the cupcakes, candies, breads, cookies and assorted colorful delicacies. I experienced sensory overload and loved every second of it.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi and Marla in Holly the Trolley for our City Tour in Cleveland.

Cleveland has many old iron bridges from all eras crossing the Cuyahoga River (referred to as the crooked river), that allow ships to pass through the inland waterways that serviced the industrial factories and warehouses. The abandoned warehouses are slowly being converted into cool hipster loft housing, all part of the recent transformation of the city.

Who knew Cleveland had a theatre district that is allegedly second only to New York City and a fabulous Art Gallery currently hosting the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit. (So interesting, I didn’t know!)  I tried buying tickets to see the popular play Hamilton and the Kusama exhibit, but unfortunately both were sold out.

I wondered why we were being taken to the Lake View Cemetery. I have been to Pere Lachaise in Paris to see Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde’s graves and to La Recoletta Cemetery in Buenos Aires to visit Evita Peron’s  grave, but I have never seen anything like the Wade Memorial Chapel in Lake View Cemetery.

Built in 1901, the centerpiece of the small chapel is a 9-by-7-foot stained-glass window called “Flight of Souls,” depicting the consummation of the Divine Promise, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (of Tiffany and Co.). It showcases his signature “favrile” method of layering translucent and opalescent pieces of glass to create rich, deep colours. Prior to being installed in this chapel, the piece won first place at the 1900 World Exposition in Paris. Presidents and numerous celebrities are buried in this beautiful cemetery.

I could have easily spent another couple of days in Cleveland.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

The Tiffany stained-glass window “Flight of Souls” inside Cleveland’s Wade Chapel. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Detroit, Michigan

Our last port along the Detroit River was Detroit, often referred to as “Motor City” for its rich automobile history. This is the home of Ford Motor Company, and the shiny glass “Oz-like” General Motors Building sits prominently on the waterfront near the port. It is also the home of Barry Gordie Jr., the founder of Motown Music.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Judi made sure to visit the Motown Museum on her own. * Photo: Marla Hertzman

While Victory Cruise Lines did not have any planned shore excursions in Detroit, a few passengers that I spoke with had made arrangements for private tours of the city. I stayed overnight in Detroit before driving home to Toronto and visited the Motown Museum and had a famous Coney Hot Dog at Duleys Place, made famous by the late Anthony Bourdain.

Most other passengers took taxis to Detroit Airport and boarded flights home. I hope they will one day return to see the revitalized Detroit with its iconic buildings, music and food.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Sailing along the Detroit River at sunrise. * Photo: Judi Cohen

 

Until Next Time ….

Warning:  If you enjoy giant cruise ships with thousands of passengers and loads of onboard entertainment and shopping, this cruise is not for you. If you are looking for a small, comfortable, casual, hassle-free and intimate ship, Victory II is right up your alley.

What I loved about the Victory II was the absence of line-ups, the freedom and flexibility to dine when, where and with whom I wanted to, the family feeling among the passengers and with the staff, and the ease with which I could access all of the ship’s services from just one central staircase.

The unique St. Lawrence and Great Lakes itinerary took us to interesting cities characteristic of the regions on our route with ample time to explore both as part of the included excursions and independently. The food was outstanding with a nice variety of menu items and our room was cozy, clean and comfortable. I recognize that this was the inaugural sailing and, while yes, there were some hiccups that were irritants for some passengers — minor things like key cards not working and pictures to be hung — I expect these minor issues will be quickly corrected for future sailings. After all, this was the first opportunity to really unwrap this ship and unveil her beauty and services on the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes, an area not often seen from a small cruise ship.

New Victory II Great Lakes Adventure

Captain Waving as we approach the Port of Detroit. * Photo: Judi Cohen

 

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small ship cruise captain

By Ted Scull.

George Freeman Coughlin has been sailing as a small ship cruise captain for many years, working for Coastwise Cruise Line, Exploration Cruise Lines, Clipper Cruise Line, Cruise West, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, Alaskan Dream Cruises, and UnCruise Adventures.

Traveling as a journalist, I first met Captain George in May 1986 aboard the Colonial Explorer, a replica steamboat (now SS Legacy for UnCruise Adventures), for a week’s cruise in the Chesapeake Bay. Then I met him again two months later as a lecturer (at his request) on the same ship for the relighting of the Statue of Liberty over the July 4th weekend. It was a Smithsonian charter, and those three days were tremendous fun with New York Harbor packed with all sorts of vessels: liners, small cruise ships, excursion boats, sail training ships, warships, ferries, and tugs. After that, when the Colonial Explorer came to New York, I would give a harbor talk before the farewell lobster dinner at which George and I would show the passengers how to crack a lobster as most did not hail from the East Coast. That was the beginning of a long friendship.

George Coughlin has been captain of the Pilgrim Belle, Colonial Explorer, Newport Clipper, Nantucket Clipper, Yorktown Clipper, National Geographic Sea Bird/Sea Lion, Victorian Empress, Spirit of Yorktown, Chichagof Dream, and S.S. Legacy.

small ship cruise captain

Captain George Freeman Coughlin at the wheel of UnCruises’ SS Legacy

Q&A with Small Ship Cruise Captain George Coughlin

Ted: Where did you grow up and what made you interested in taking a job at sea?

George: I grew up in Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. In the summer months, my parents took me on frequent day excursions from Rowes Wharf in Boston to Nantasket Beach and Provincetown, Cape Cod. This was my introduction to becoming very interested in passenger carrying vessels, which at the time, I never realized would be the foundation of my career as a mariner.

 

Ted: What was your first ship and your role aboard? Did you think you had made the right decision?

George: My first ship was the S. S. Potomac in 1962. She was a former vessel owned by Wilson Lines. Built in 1910, I believe. All steel construction, 4 decks and a passenger capacity over 1,000. She was a true oil-fired steamboat. I was a 14-year-old deckhand.

 

Ted: Any stories to tell from those first months?

George: I remember the very first time that Capt. Herb Patterson had me take the helm, and under his direction, gave me rudder commands to bring the Potomac alongside Rowes Wharf. I also remember that going back to school after working that first summer aboard wasn’t so easy. I had to join a union for the summer, but really wasn’t old enough to be working onboard. Management felt that I looked old enough, so we worked around that obstacle pretty well.

 

Ted: When did you think you had settled in and were making good progress in the cruise industry?

George: I was in the Navy from 1965-1968. During that time, I had my sights on the Merchant Marine after completing my term of duty and really had no interest in staying with the Navy as a career. I remember being fascinated with the liner S.S. United States and thought that perhaps being a deck officer onboard would be of interest. As things turned out, I opted to stay involved with smaller passenger vessels and I have no regrets.

 

Ted: Where did you get your professional training?

George: As the expression goes, I worked my way up the hawse and through the ranks. Many individual classes have been taken at various schools for all the license endorsements, including Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay MA.; Maritime Professional Training, Fort Lauderdale, FLA; and Northeast Maritime Institute, Fairhaven, MA.

 

Ted: What ranks did you hold before becoming a captain and on what ships?

George: My time in the Navy was shipboard as a Quartermaster and when I was discharged I opted to sail as Mate aboard a yacht for the winter in Florida. During that winter of 1968-69, I focused on accumulating my combined sea time and sitting for my first Coast Guard License.

small ship cruise captain

Captain negotiates a lock chamber.

Ted: What was your first command and where did you go?

George: My first command was a classic Harbor Tour vessel owned by Hyannis Harbor Tours (Hy-Line Cruises) Hyannis, MA. Her name was/is Prudence, a 65-foot wooden-hulled 150-passenger vessel, single screw, and built in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine in 1911.

 

Ted: Did you have favorite ships and what made them special?

George: I’m a little superstitious about naming favorite ships. It’s rather like showing favoritism to a child of a family of 10. Just don’t want the word to get around to those other ships that I may possibly be sailing on again. They have a way of retaliating. With that said, the “Prudence” will always be dear to me, as well as the now S.S. Legacy.

small ship cruise captain

Capt. George Coughlin aboard the Colonial Explorer in May 1986, now SS Legacy, UnCruise Adventures.  Photo: Ted Scull

Ted: Did you have preferred seasons and favorite itineraries?

George: It’s like comparing apples to oranges. There are just so many places to see and enjoy. If I had to choose — in the winter, The Virgin Islands; and in the Fall, The Chesapeake Bay. In the Spring, it’s the Inside Passage from Seattle to Juneau; and in the Summer, S.E. Alaska.

small ship cruise captain

Daws Glacier, Endicott Arm, SE Alaska. * Photo Capt. George Coughlin

Ted: Any unusual occurrences to share?

George: It was nearing the end of one of my Alaska summer seasons, and we had what was considered a good year for wildlife sightings. I was sailing through Frederick Sound towards Petersburg and almost in disbelief there were literally 25+ Humpback whales ahead of us breaching, sounding and as a group, being very playful. As I recall, the following week, there was but one whale in that same area. We decided that the week prior was the Humpback’s gathering together and bidding us farewell before making their long migration to Hawaii for the winter.

 

Ted: Any funny stories to tell as a small ship cruise captain?

George: I was sailing on the Panama/Costa Rica itinerary one winter and after consulting with one of our onboard local guides, I opted to anchor off a beautiful uninhabited island off the Panama Coast. I sent the ships Bosun in with an inflatable to check out the sandy beach landing. He radioed back to me and said there was a pretty good swell, but the landing was doable. I made a shipboard announcement and said for those who are agile and in the spirit of adventure, we will be offering zodiacs to/from the beach. All was going well, and I was standing in the companionway just outside the lounge, when a returning guest, rather elderly and looking frail, approached me and asked me if I was the Captain. I looked at her and noticed that she was missing one of her rubber shoes and her eyeglasses that she was wearing were full of sand. She looked like the cartoon character, Mr. Magoo, and I did all I could to restrain from laughing. I noticed that she wasn’t hurt in any way and replied that I was the Captain, not knowing what she might be gearing up to say, thinking that she was probably infuriated about her experience on the beach. She looked up at me and smiled, saying “I just had one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.” Needless to say, I was greatly relieved and very happy for her.

 

Ted: Have you fully retired?

George: I keep my license renewed and current. I enjoy doing random fill-in stints as Captain and also some piloting/training. I did a few relief stints with Lindblad/National Geographic this spring. I also did a few relief Captain stints aboard the S.S. Legacy on the Columbia/Snake Rivers last summer for UnCruise Adventures. I’m looking forward to a few more years before full retirement.

 

Ted: What do you like to do with your free time?

George: I’ve always had an interest in music, especially classical and opera. I’ve been singing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Boston Holiday POPS and Boston Symphony for the past 20 years. I had my own small sailboat and was a member of the Hyannis Yacht Club for over 30 years. I enjoy travel and hold a single-engine aircraft land/sea license.

 

Ted: You have a good balance in your life that will serve you well. I hope we get to meet up soon, and thank you sharing your seagoing story. I am sure there is more to tell.

small ship cruise captain

Captain Coughlin at leisure.

 

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91 Small Ship Cruise Line Reviews A to Z

We’re the only travel site out there that covers so many small-ship cruise lines in reviews, feature articles and photos — we’re up to 91 small-ship cruise lines and counting. QuirkyCruise.com offers original, quality writing from top travel writers about this wonderful corner of the travel world. Go ahead, have a look around! And if you’ve been on a small-ship cruise lately, we’d love to hear about it in our Reader Reviews section!

Please subscribe to our QuirkyCruise Newsletter for updates & special offers!

Here’s the list of our 91 small-ship cruise line reviews.

A
Abercrombie & Kent (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing)  Antarctica, Arctic, Cuba, Egypt, East Asia
Adventure Canada (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Coastal) — Arctic, Antarctica, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Galapagos, Costa Rica, Panama and more
AdventureSmith Explorations (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers, Sailing, Coastal)  Antarctica, Arctic, Galapagos, Alaska, Mediterranean, Amazon, Southeast Asia, Costal Rica, Australia, New Zealand and more
Alaska Marine Highway (Coastal)  Alaska
Alaskan Dream Cruises (Expeditions)  Southeast Alaska
AmaWaterways (Rivers)  Europe, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa
American Cruise Lines (Coastal, Rivers)  US, Canada
American Queen Steamboat Company (Rivers)  US
Aqua Expeditions (Rivers)  Amazon, Southeast Asia
Argyll Cruising (Coastal, Oceangoing) — Scotland
A-Rosa (Rivers)  Europe
Atlas Ocean Tours (Coastal)  British Columbia
Aurora Expeditions (Expedition, Coastal) — Antarctica, Arctic, Galapagos, Scotland, Australia
Australis (Expedition)  South America, Antarctica
Avalon Waterways (Rivers)  Amazon, Galapagos, Europe, Egypt, Southeast Asia, China

B

Barge Lady Cruises (Rivers, Canals) Europe
Blount Small Ship Adventures (Coastal, Rivers, Canals)  US, Canada, Belize, Cuba (pending)
Blue Lagoon Cruises (Coastal)  South Pacific

C
Captain Cook Cruises (Coastal)  Fiji
Celebrity Cruises Xpedition (Expeditions)  Galapagos
Coral Expeditions (Expeditions)  Australia, NZ, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, South Pacific
Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime (C.P.T.M.) & the the Aranui 5 (Oceangoing)  French Polynesia
CroisiEurope (Rivers)  Europe, SE Asia
Croisières M/S Jacques-Cartier (Rivers, Coastal) — Eastern Canada
Crystal River Cruises (Rivers)  Europe
Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises (Oceangoing, Expedition)  Europe, Mid East, Indian Ocean (Seychelles)

D
Deep Blue Holidays YASAWA PRINCESS (Coastal, Expedition) — Indian Ocean (Maldives)
Delfin Amazon Cruises
(Rivers) — South America, Peru, Amazon River

E
Ecoventura (Expedition, Coastal)  Galapagos
Emerald Waterways (Rivers)  Europe

F
French America Line (Rivers)  US

G
G Adventures (Expeditions, Rivers, Sailing) — Galapagos, Amazon, Arctic, Antarctica, Mediterranean, India, Southeast Asia
Gota Canal Steamship Company (Rivers)  Sweden
Grand Circle Cruise Line (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)  Europe, Panama, Myanmar
GreenTracks (River, Expeditions)  Amazon, Galapagos

H
Hapag-Lloyd Expeditions Cruises (Expeditions)  Worldwide
Haumana Cruises (Coastal) — South Pacific
Hebridean Island Cruises (Coastal)  Scotland’s Isles, Northern Ireland, Norway
Hebrides Cruises (Coastal)
Hurtigruten (Coastal, Expeditions)  Norway, Northern Europe, Arctic, Antarctica, South America

I
International Expeditions (Rivers, Expeditions, Coastal)  India, Papua New Guinea, South America, Cuba 
Island Windjammers (Sailing)  Caribbean

L
Le Boat (Rivers)  Europe 
Lindblad Expeditions (Expeditions, Rivers)  Worldwide

M
Magna Carta Steamship Company (Coastal, Rivers)  Scotland
Majestic Line (Coastal)  Scotland
Marine Link Tours (Coastal)  British Columbia
Murray River Cruises (River) — Australia

O
Oceanwide Expeditions (Expeditions, Sailing)  Arctic, Antarctica
One Ocean Expeditions (Expeditions) — Arctic, Antarctica
Ontario Waterway Cruises (Rivers, Canals)  Ontario
Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) (Rivers, Expeditions, Sailing, Coastal) — Antarctica, Egypt, Galapagos, Mediterranean

P
Pacific Catalyst (Coastal) — Alaska, Baja California, San Juan Islands
Pandaw River Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)  Southeast Asia, India
Patricia Cruises (Coastal)  England, Channel Islands
Paul Gauguin Cruises (Coastal, Oceangoing) — South Pacific
Pearl Seas Cruises (Coastal, Rivers)  US, Canada, Cuba
Pitcairn Island’s Claymore II (Coastal, Oceangoing)  South Pacific
Polar Latitudes (Expeditions ) — Antarctica
Ponant (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)  Worldwide
Poseidon Expeditions (Expeditions)  Arctic, Antarctica
Puffer Steamboat Holidays (Coastal) — Scotland

Q
Quark Expeditions (Expeditions)  Arctic, Antarctica

R
Riviera River Cruises (Rivers) — Europe

S
St. Helena Line (Oceangoing)  South Africa, South Atlantic islands: St. Helena & Ascension
St. Hilda Sea Adventures (Coastal, Sailing) — Scotland
St. Lawrence Cruise Lines (Rivers, Canals) — Ontario, Quebec
Scenic (Rivers)  Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia
Sea Cloud Cruises (Sailing)  Caribbean, including Cuba, Central America, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Seabourn Expeditions (Expeditions) —Arctic, Antarctica
SeaDream Yacht Club (Coastal, Oceangoing)  Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Seatrek Sailing Adventure (Sailing)  Indonesia
Silhouette Cruises (Sailing) — Indian Ocean (Maldives)
Silolona Sojourns (Sailing)  Indonesia, Southeast Asia
Silversea Cruises (Oceangoing)  Worldwide
Silversea Expeditions (Expeditions)  Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos
Star Clippers (Sailing)  Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic, occasionally Asia & South Pacific
*Swan Hellenic (Oceangoing, Rivers)  Worldwide *Ceased operations January 4, 2017 **To be revived ? 

T
Tauck (Tour Operator) (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Rivers)  Worldwide
Trinity Sailing (Sailing) — England, Scotland

U
UnCruise Adventures (Coastal, Expeditions)  Alaska, Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (Rivers)  Europe, Egypt, India, Southeast Asia, China

V
Vantage World Travel (Oceangoing, Rivers, Barging, Sailing)  Worldwide
Variety Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)  Mediterranean, Atlantic Isles, Caribbean, Central America, Seychelles
Victoria Cruises (Rivers)  China
Victory Cruise Lines (Coastal, Oceangoing) — North America, Caribbean
Viking River Cruises (Rivers)  Europe, Russia, Egypt, Southeast Asia, China

W
Windstar Cruises (Oceangoing, Sailing)  Caribbean, Central America, Mediterranean, N. Europe, French Polynesia

Z
Zegrahm Expeditions (Expeditions, Oceangoing, Sailing)  Worldwide

PollypaleGreen2 copy

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Big Ships Small Ships

By Ted Scull & Heidi Sarna.

Small cruise ships are different than big ships in myriad ways.

  • Well, there’s the very size of course. One is a city, the other is a village.
  • Then there’s the variety of things to do and eat on board — one’s a buffet piled high with lots of everything and the other is a curated prix fixe menu of just what you need and no more.
  • One you may get lost on, the other never.
  • Your cabin may be more than 100 feet above the sea on the biggies, but on a small ship, never more than a few feet above the water.
  • The smallies can pull right up to most any pier in rivers, canals, lakes and bays, while the mega ships can only get into deep water ports, sometimes having to anchor off shore or dock in industrial terminals or miles from town.

You get the drift.

Read more about small ships vs big ships here. And here, for 11 FAQs about small-ship cruising.

The following images clearly illustrate the differences between big ship cruising and small ship cruising. Have a gander and decide which you prefer  ….

 

In which port would you prefer to board your ship?
Big Ships Small Ships

Boarding the small ship way. * Photo: Ted Scull

 

Or this …..

 

Big Ships Small Ships

Boarding the biiiggggggg ships. * Photo: Port of Miami

 

What is more appealing ….

Sailing aboard a skyscraping block of flats spread over 13 decks with seemingly endless options and multiple banks of lifts to ease vertical exploration or …… finding everything on just five decks?

Big Ships Small Ships

Endless decks with endless diversions. * Photo: Ted Scull from a brochure

 

Or this …..

 

Big Ships Small Ships

Small ships have a handful of passenger decks, typically just 2 to 5. * Photo: Ted Scull from a brochure

 

Do you want your top viewing deck occupied by this sinuous toy …

Or do you want a wide open deck for impromptu deck games or a deck chair?  Adults may prefer the latter and kids the former.

Big Ships Small Ships

The deck toys on a mega ship. * Photo: Ted Scull

 

Or this ….

 

Big Ships Small Ships

This cozy cruiser’s top deck hosts some deck chairs and an exercise bike. * Photo: Ted Scull

 

Ok, most people like to have a cabin with a balcony…

But with a big city number of neighbors or a small village?

Big Ships Small Ships

A sea of balconies on a biiiiggggg ship. * Photo: Ted Scull

 

Or this ….

 

Big Ships Small Ships

Some small ships have balcony cabins, but their sheer numbers won’t overwhelm you. * Photo: American Cruise Lines

 

 

Do you like your ship’s bow plastered with art …

… to look like this or traditionally painted and including just the ship’s name?

Big Ships Small Ships

Big ship hulls can be a vast muralist’s canvas. * Photo: Ted Scull

 

Or this ….

 

Big Ships Small Ships

Small ships display their name and no more — elegant and clean. * Photo: Ted Scull.

 

 

Do you like a pool packed with humanity, or one with just a few souls?
Big Ships Small Ships

A mega ship pool packed with people. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

 

Or this ….

 

Big Ships Small Ships

Small ship pools are small and so are the numbers in them. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.