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The world’s smallest ocean cruise ships

Galapágos Sea Lion

With an estimated 278 ocean cruise ships sailing the seven seas, finding the perfect ship for you can be a little overwhelming. Ships can vary in many different ways and one of those ways is size.

Small ship cruising offers an intimate and personal voyage like no other. Forget crowds and queues, small ships welcome less than 1,300 passengers aboard, making them one of the most intimate ways to travel. Cruise Critic says, “small ships distinguish themselves from mainstream cruise ships in more ways than just physical size - which allows them to sail into small harbours and shallow channels.” Though they may be small in size, they’re large in character - here’s an overview of our top 5 small ocean cruise ships:

What is considered a ‘small’ ship?

Small ships are classified by the following:

Small Yachts: Up to 110 passengers

Large Yachts: Between 140 and 400 passengers

Ultra-Small Ships: Between 450 and 625 passengers

Small Ships: Between 650 and 1,300 passengers

Crystal Esprit

Cruise Line: Crystal Cruises

Occupancy: 62

Classification: Small Yacht

Sails To: Mediterranean, Middle East

This 62-passenger boutique-style yacht is the smallest ship to feature on our list. Crystal Esprit joined the Crystal Cruises fleet in 2015 and has set the standard for luxury ever since. Perfectly combining elegance with adventure, she offers an array of exciting, intensive onshore experiences. Crystal Esprit enchants with the promise of customised discovery in iconic yachting destinations from the Dalmatian Coast and Greek Isles to the Arabian Peninsula and Seychelles.

Celebrity Xpedition

Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises

Occupancy: 96

Classification: Small Yacht

Sails To: South America

What better way to experience the imitable Galapágos Islands than on the exclusive Celebrity Xpedition? With 64 crew members catering to only 96 guests, Celebrity Xpedition offers modern luxury for the modern explorer. She joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in 2001 and has been exclusively transporting a limited number of passengers to the Galapágos Islands since. A cruise aboard this intimate ship is a truly unforgettable experience.

Silver Origin

Cruise Line: Silversea

Occupancy: 100

Classification: Small Yacht

Sails To: South America

Silver Origin is Silversea’s very first ship created entirely for the Galapágos Islands. Welcoming only 100 guests on board, she has the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the Galapágos as well as a team of Ecuadorian national expert guides, 8 Zodiacs and seamless hybrid spaces that offer an extraordinary voyage around one of South America’s most desirable destinations.

Star Clipper

Cruise Line: Star Clippers

Occupancy: 166

Classification: Large Yacht

Sails To: Asia

Traditional elegance meets modern luxury aboard Star Clipper. This glorious 166-passenger tall ship joined the Star Clippers exclusive fleet in 1992. She is unlike any other ship to feature on this list due to her Edwardian inspired decor, four masts and barquentine rig. Her sails are in use whenever possible, adding to the authentic and unique wind-powered experience of journeying by sailboat.

MS Fram

Cruise Line: Hurtigruten

Occupancy: 318

Classification: Large Yacht

Sails To: Baltic Sea, Antarctica

Specially designed for expedition cruises to some of the most remote locations in the world, MS Fram promises a unique and thrilling voyage, where nature and wildlife take centre stage. Fram (meaning ‘forward’) joined the Hurtigruten fleet in 2007 and was later refurbished in 2020. She welcomes 318 passengers aboard while sailing the Baltic Sea but during her voyages around Antarctica the capacity is reduced to 200.

Popular small ship cruise destinations

Destination Itineraries
Antarctica See all featured cruises >
Asia See all featured cruises >
Baltic & Scandinavia See all featured cruises >
Mediterranean See all featured cruises >
South America See all featured cruises >

 

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