Cruise liners were getting so big and unwieldy that there had to be a backlash from discerning cruise lovers and it should come as no surprise that many cruise fans are starting to think that ‘small is beautiful’ and opting for small ship cruising.
Essentially it’s all about getting back to the itinerary and reconnecting with the opportunity to explore those beautiful off-the-beaten-track parts of the world that you can only really get to in a boat. In many ways small cruise ships define the difference between being a ‘tourist’ and being an adventurer.
It started along the coastline of the Turkish Aegean with Gulet cruises in the traditionally built wooden boats that have sailed these waters since time immemorial. In themselves they are things of great beauty and charm, all graceful lines and warm timbers. Add a few ‘mod cons’, air-conditioning and a crew that pull supper straight from the sea and put it on a plate with a little fresh salad and fruit and Gulet cruises gained a new lease of life for friends and family holidays.
The great benefit of a Gulet Cruises is the ability to drop anchor and have a swim where the fancy takes you, then sail into a small harbour for a drink in a little waterfront taverna away from the thronging crowds disgorged from the factory cruise liners. Those who like a greater level of creature comforts can do the same in more luxurious fashion on the new breed of ‘Mega Yachts’.
Think ‘guest of a billionaire on his yacht for a week on a Greek Island Cruise’ and you’re there. Sleek elegant vessels you see moored up in the best marinas of the world, all smoky glass, chinking cocktails and mystery, Mega Yachts offer an amazing small cruise ship experience. More amazing is that you can book yourself on to a small ship cruise for a lot less than you think.
Finally those for whom creatures are more important that comforts should explore the joys of river cruises. Here a small ship cruise is essential to explore the shallow waters and see the wildlife. Take a Gambia river cruise and you’ll see everything from lions to hippopotami. Alternatively try a Thailand river cruise up the River Kwai to visit temples and elephant sanctuaries. Sometimes thinking small leads to much bigger broader experiences.