In my 11+ years in the travel industry I have traveled on a lot of ships. Some destinations, such as Antarctica and the Amazon, are impossible to fully experience without boarding a ship. Other places, such as Greece and the Italian coast, can be done on a land-based itinerary, but a small-ship can provide more efficient travel and the opportunity to fully appreciate the dramatic coastline. Below are three of my favorite small-ships. Itinerary certainly influenced my choices, since the right ship in the right location can make or break a trip, but sometimes the ship is just so exceptional you can imagine going anywhere it does – and in fact some ship’s have such devoted followers they do just that.
Corinthian: a 100-passenger ship that offers a range of itineraries in the Mediterranean, I love this ship because of its size, but also its excellent crew staffed by Travel Dynamics out of NYC. A seamless experience that feels very intimate and with a range of quality onboard scholars you have the advantage of really getting a much more indepth experience than what local guides can provide (although with TDI’s extensive experience in the area even their local guides are amazing). I especially like the family Voyage to the Lands of Gods and Heroes – truly an experience to make history come alive for kids.
True North: Plying the waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea, this intimate and casual 36- passenger ship is Australian owned and operated and epitomizes understated luxury. Excursions are expeditionary-style and include an onboard helicopter that allows for access to isolated sites. Highlights of my trip to the remote Kimberley region of Australia included close (but not too close) viewing of massive saltwater crocodiles, visiting seldom seen ancient aboriginal sites accessible only by helicopter, swimming in isolated swimming holes, and hiking routes that very few others have tread. After a day of exploration returning to the outstanding hospitality of the True North crew makes the ship truly feel like your home away from home.
Lindblad/National Geographic Explorer: One of the finest expedition ships, this 148-passenger ship spends a lot of time in Antarctica, among other cold-weather destinations. With it’s spacious cabins, numerous public areas such as observation lounge, chart room, well equipped library, and floor to ceiling panels of glass, this ship takes expedition cruising to a truly luxurious level. Designed with expedition in mind, the ship has a staff of excellent naturalists, and a fleet of zodiacs, kayaks and other exploration tools, such as an underwater camera that allows glimpses of sea life well beyond a scuba divers range. The Explorer provides ultimate comfort in some of the harshest climates and is one of those ships with a devoted following, and once aboard it’s easy to see why.
This is only a small sample of some outstanding small-ships out there. We’d love to hear about your top ship experiences!