Out to Sea for July 8/17
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One size doesn’t fit all in these days of huge mega-floating resorts.
More cruise passengers are opting for “small-ship” cruising with dozens, not thousands, of their “closest friends.”
They’re looking at voyages with a few fellow passengers up to several hundred, not multiple thousands that disgorge boatloads of visitors all at once at private islands and ports of call.
These ships include the Tugboat MV Swell for 12 guests and the Schooner Maple Leaf for eight, both from eco-tourism Maple Leaf Adventures of Victoria, B.C., to expedition ships, riverboats and yachts.
|Smaller-than-mega ships are able to tie up in Hamilton, Bermuda’s downtown instead of going to the Royal Naval Dockyard at the outskirts. (Jim Fox photo)|
Forget, also, the crowds onboard lined up at the Lido Buffet, dining rooms, shows and packed shore excursions.
Largest at sea is Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas that can carry a maximum of 6,687 guests and 2,193 crew members.
“Interest in travelling onboard ships with a smaller passenger capacity is on the rise among travellers,” says Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of the industry trade association, said small-ship cruising allows for a “unique and intimate cruise unlike any other.”
The association has reviewed the small vessel category and has the following observations to help plan that perfect vacation.
Cruise the world
Small ships have the ability to sail to many destinations around the world, some of which are unattainable by larger ships.
They can often cruise along famous and historic rivers while offering themed itineraries that focus on different interests.
As an example, Avalon Waterways’ Danube Dreams for Beer Enthusiasts is a 10-day European voyage with ale-centric activities onboard and on land.
Avalon’s Golden Myanmar and the Alluring Irrawaddy cruise takes 36 passengers from Bhamo, near the border of China, along the Irrawaddy River.
|The 12-passenger Swell is a classic restored tugboat plying Canada’s west coast waters. (Photo by Jason Bradley)|
Next year, Paul Gauguin Cruises will be the first line to visit the port city of Vairao in Tahiti Iti with its wild coastline, ancient temples, Polynesian culture and incredible surfing.
Tauck is taking travellers to far-reaching destinations ranging from Costa Rica and Antarctica to the Galapagos Islands with a deeper understanding of each destination in association with BBC Earth.
More intimate travel
Seabourn ships have fewer than 300 suites similar to private clubs where travellers share open decks, social spaces and enjoy personalized attention.
At its “Caviar in the Surf” beach barbecue, staff members plunge into the water to offer guests iced champagne and caviar at a surfboard bar.
The line’s cruisers can also accompany the executive chef to the local market to buy products to be cooked in the ship kitchen.
More “unique” experiences are possible as many large ships travel through the Panama Canal but small vessels can offer a more intimate experience.
Windstar Cruises offers wet landings and access to ports such as Bahia Drake, Puerto Jimenez, Parida and Bocas del Toro in Costa Rica and Panama for personal experiences.
The line’s Barcelona and Grand Prix of Monaco voyage allows cruisers to meet a Formula One racing expert and attend a cocktail reception.
More fun onboard and on shore
There’s no lack of amenities or entertainment with many smaller ships having a crew-to-traveller ratio of nearly one-on-one.
Among the lines are Emerald Waterways, Uniworld for Danube itineraries, Ama Waterways for personalized trips, Silversea Cruises for onboard enrichment programs, Regent Seven Seas for all-inclusive trips, Oceania for meals cooked to order and SeaDream in the Mediterranean.
CLIA reports that 25.8-million people are expected to take a cruise this year, up from 24.2 million in 2016.
Top seven destinations are the Caribbean, Mediterranean, rest of Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand/Pacific, Alaska and South America.
The CLIA-member fleet is made up of 458 ships with 26 new vessels including 17 river ships added last year.
Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca