Small-Ship Cruising (3)
(Information from CruiseCritic.com)
"Large" yachts are those that accommodate between 140 and 400 passengers, and feel more like small-scale cruise ships than pumped-up private yachts. These capacities are ideal for travelers who want an intimate experience but prefer sailing with more than a few dozen other people. These ships are also a good bet if you don't like feeling the movement of the ocean; because they are larger, the ride is usually a bit smoother than small yacht options.
There are some nice perks when you sail a large yacht. First of all, you'll have more choice when it comes to cabins. Some cabins on large yachts will have balconies with sweeping ocean views, while none of the ships in the "Small Yacht" category offer accommodations with verandas. Most of the ships in this category also offer a variety of suites that give you more square footage, space to dine in your cabin and outdoor furniture to enjoy on your veranda. Ships from Silversea offer butler service with every stateroom, which equates to an ultra-luxurious experience for all.
These larger ships offer more dining venues onboard. Silversea ships in this category, for example, offer three fine dining options -- The Restaurant main dining room, La Terrazza for authentic Italian flair, and specialty restaurant Le Champagne, featuring French cuisine -- in addition to the on-deck Pool Bar & Grill. Many lines -- including Windstar, Silversea and Paul Gauguin -- also stage elaborate BBQs on deck or on a beautiful stretch of beach.
The public areas of the ship offer more variety on a large yacht as well. You can expect amenities that could include at least two bars and even a standalone cigar lounge; a spa, beauty salon and full-fledged fitness center; a small theater; a casino; a library and internet/card room; and maybe even a small boutique selling clothing, jewelry and sundries.
Finally, these large yachts can visit some additional destinations that the small yachts can't visit safely (due to their size) but larger ships might be too big to access. Look for itineraries to the Arctic and Antarctica -- destinations that require larger ships with certain navigational equipment and strengthened hulls for sailing in areas where ice is prevalent. Large yachts also offer some compelling South Pacific itineraries.
For more information on large & small yacht cruising worldwide, give us a call.
(Information from CruiseCritic.com)
The "small yacht" category includes ships that accommodate no more than 110 passengers. Here you'll find yachts that range in length from 120 to 360 feet, brought to you by Un-Cruise Adventures, Crystal Cruises and SeaDream Yacht Club. Compare that to Quantum of the Seas' length of 1,139 feet, and you see how much smaller and more intimate these yachts can be. Ponant's entry to this category is Le Ponant, a three-masted motor-yacht; a pair of windjammers from SeaCloud Cruises round out the list. You won't enjoy a voyage aboard a yacht in this category unless you love traveling with a very small group of people. If you wish to hobnob with a different group of people each night, look to a larger ship.
Small-ship cruising in general is all about the destination, and that's even more the case aboard small yachts. These downright tiny vessels can anchor in hidden-away bays and harbors, and can visit some truly off-the-grid destinations, such as Alaska's Kuiu Island or Curieuse in the Seychelles. Plus, small yachts put a premium on getting passengers close to amazing sites. For example, take Alaska's Inside Passage; while mainstream cruise ships sail past Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm, yacht passengers don marine survival suits, board skiffs and get within feet of sweet seals sitting prettily atop icebergs floating in the strait.
Most port visits focus on the natural habitat or local culture of the destination, and many of these cruise lines hire well-educated naturalists and historians to interact with passengers each day, offering onboard lectures and leading shore excursions (which are included in the cruise fare in the case of Un-Cruise Adventures' trips). These experts are on hand to answer questions and provide a level of education about the region that makes the trip special.
One of the most appealing aspects of small yachts are their watersports platforms, which enable passengers to get right into the water rather than simply gazing at it from 10 decks up. All of the ships in this category, with the exception of SeaCloud’s windjammers, have them. From the platform, you can go swimming or snorkeling right from the ship, or borrow a personal watercraft such as a kayak or canoe. SeaDream also has several JetSkis for passenger use. While some larger yachts and ships have similar onboard marinas, it's a different experience when you're sharing the facilities with so few people. It feels as if the yacht is yours alone, and you're simply enjoying the water with a handful of friends.
The onboard experience is also more like that of sailing on a private yacht. You'll get to know your fellow passengers -- who tend to be well off and well traveled -- and the crew will cater to your every need, quickly learning not just your name but your likes and your dislikes. The chef will incorporate locally sourced ingredients -- salmon in Alaska, pineapple in Hawaii -- at mealtime and can customize the menu to a certain degree for your personal tastes. On the flip side, choice will be limited to one dining venue (with breakfast and possibly lunch served as a buffet only) and a limited selection of dinner entrees (typically a meat, fish and vegetarian option). Though seating is open, mealtimes are set, but can change based on what's going on outside. For example, if there are whale sightings in Alaska, dinner could be delayed in order to allow everyone to get on deck and have a look.
Because the itinerary is so paramount on small yachts, daytime activities are pretty nonexistent. Passengers generally need to entertain themselves. While the sun decks are nice on all of these ships, only Crystal Esprit and SeaDream I and II have pools; the other ships only have on-deck hot tubs. The spa (if any) usually consists of one or two small treatment rooms. Some yachts do have a few fun high-tech toys -- like the submarine aboard Crystal Esprit or the golf simulator on SeaDream yachts. There are no theaters on these ships and the "casino" -- when there is one -- is often just one game table with a slot machine located in a nearby corner.
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In 1922, upscale clientele boarded Cunard Line’s Laconia for the first cruise ship itinerary to circle the globe. Today almost 100 year later cruise passengers have many luxury small ship cruise options from long to short voyages.
Passengers can choose a pampering yacht experience or opt for a vacation on a midsize ship. There are adventurous expeditions to remote destinations or simply upgrade to a suite on a range of cruise lines. If you prefer mega ships you can choose the exclusive” ship with in the ship” area of these vessels. With upgrades so go the benefits.
Boutique cruising is becoming so attractive to the luxury cruiser that even the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company is launching its own brand in 2019 the Ritz- Carlton Yacht Collection with three, 298 passenger, all suite, all-balcony luxury yachts.
An advantage of the smaller upscale ships is the ability to be more all-inclusive & because of their size there can experience smaller ports & destinations that the big boats cannot.