If you've traveled with big ship cruise lines in the past, it's time to forget everything you thought you knew about cruising. And if you've avoided cruising because you thought it would be like traveling in a floating mall, it's time to think again. This is something else altogether. Small ship cruises let you experience Alaska - up close and personally.
Small Ship Alaska Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines
For passengers who are well traveled, but ever curious, sophisticated but informal, American Cruise Lines offers experiences to suit their style.
Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic small-ship expedition Alaska cruises let you go where others can't, with the experts who know Alaska best. Each Alaska tour is an active, engaging adventure travel vacation through wild Alaska.
Regent Seven Seas
One of the best values in the luxury cruise market with prestigious and extraordinary ships that appeal to epicureans and connoisseurs looking to travel off the beaten path in the lap of luxury.
The name "Silversea" was chosen because it connotes quality and luxury as well as capturing the romance and special sensations of the sea. As an innovator in the ultra-luxury segment, Silversea quickly became the favorite among modern affluent travelers with its all-inclusive pricing, and unmatched onboard product.
Change the way you see the world with an Un-Cruise Adventures "Un-Cruise." Guests appreciate raw wilderness, active adventure, and going eye-to-eye with wildlife.
Alaska Small Ship Cruising
The Small Ship Advantage
A cruise on a small ship is not filled with elaborate distractions, sleek resorts and packaged tours. Rather, small ships are perfect for intimate exploration of off-the-beaten track waterways, narrow channels and tiny ports that passengers on large ships will never see. When Lindblad Expeditions guests visit a small port in Alaska's Inside Passage they don't overwhelm the local communities. Their largest vessel hosts just 62 guests.
Small ship guests would rather watch for whales in Frederick Sound than spend the afternoon in a casino. They linger outside on deck as the Captain noses under a waterfall, rather than watch a video. On a small ship, the focus is very often outside, on what Nature has provided for entertainment, rather than on amusements provided to occupy your attention on board.
Your time is spent wisely, too. Rather than making a beeline from port to port, small ship Captains have the flexibility - and the inclination - to linger when whales are putting on a show, a glacier is calving spectacularly, or to seek out sea otters when a nearby fisherman radios the word.
On a small ship cruise, you are not just a visitor. You are a participant. Whether kayaking next to a glacier, hiking in a rain forest in Alaska, or enjoying a spectacular spring garden in British Columbia, a small-ship cruise is an engaging experience for all the senses.
Small Ships in Alaska versus Big Ships
Some people automatically think that bigger is better. At small ship cruiselines, they think differently. They believe that close is better than far away...that personal is better than mass produced...that a few like-minded friends are better than thousands of strangers. No waiting in line. No trying to find a window seat. No crowds.
That's why each of their ships only hold around 100 guests, and why almost all of their cabins face outside with large windows or portholes. That's why they serve delicious informal meals in comfortable dining rooms where you can sit wherever and with whomever you like.
Frequently Asked Questions about Small Ship Cruising:
- How many people will be onboard?
The largest Lindblad Expeditions ship carries 148 guests at most. The average Princess cruise ship carries over 2,400 guests in Alaska.
- What is the dress code?
The atmosphere on a small ship is casual for all meals. Other cruise lines have two formal nights, two coat and tie nights, and three casual dress nights. Small ship cruises are casual every night.
- Are there open meal seatings? Can I choose my dining companions?
All meals on Lindblad Expeditions are open dining. You can eat when you want and with whom you want? There is no "early" and "late" seating and set dinner arrangements and tables like you have on the big ships?
- Are there casinos and shows onboard?
A small ship cruise emphasizes Alaska, not the onboard amenities. It's nothing fancy. Just an up close and personal vacation where Alaska and it's natural treasures provide the entertainment.
- How close will the ship get to glaciers, whales and shoreline?
Very, very close. Your captain may follow a pod of whales, pull up so close to a glacier you could touch it, drift next to a waterfall or even anchor off a remote cove close enough for you to take the gangway ashore.
- Will the ship vary its schedule to maximize whale watching or wildlife sightings?
Absolutely. Unlike the large massive, 100,000 ton cruise ships, a small ship can follow its own schedule to maximize wildlife sightings.
- Will I experience narrow waterways such as Wrangell Narrows and Peril Straight?
A small ship vacation always takes you into the most remote Alaskan locations. It's impossible for the big ships to get you this close.
- How big are the "Small Ships" compared to the Big Ships?
The largest Lindblad Expeditions ship is the National Geographic Explorer. She is 356 feet long and carries 148 guests. The smallest oceanview stateroom is 191 square feet in size and has three port hole windows. The smallest Princess Cruise Line Ship in Alaska is the Sun Princess. The Sun Princess is 895 feet long, 77,000 tons and carries 2,250 passengers and 900 crew members. A standard oceanview stateroom is 147 square feet and has a picture window.
- How much does the price of a Small Ship Vacation compare to a Big Ship?
A Small Ship Cruise Vacation does cost more money. An 8 night Inside Passage cruise can start at $5990 per person for an oceanview stateroom on a Lindblad Expeditions ship, versus $719 for a 7 Night cruise on a large Princess ship. The small ship cruise will give you more ports, more scenery, more history, more culture, more glaciers, more wildlife, more intimate surroundings and a more memories than a big ship ever will. And since there is a shore excursion or highlight in almost every port of call, it's virtually all-inclusive as well.
Expert Expedition Teams
You will travel with expert expedition teams on these intimate and comfortable cruise ships and when exploring on land. You'll be amazed at how easily interestingly these hand-picked Expedition Teams (Naturalists, Historians and experts from National Geographic) can convey even the most detailed of information. And they're always there when you need them.
Small Ship Cruises Are Not For Everyone
Small ship cruises are for travelers who understand the difference between Mass Market and Expedition-Style cruising. On a small ship cruise, Alaska is the focal point, not the ship. These ships are small, intimate and able to take guests up close to find Alaska's hidden treasures, where the big ships don't-- and can't--reach.
How to Book a Small Ship Cruise
Small ship cruise lines do not offer online booking capability. Since small ships depart from more remote Alaska ports and since there are so many different vacation extension options, we highly recommend you speak with an AlaskaCruises.com cruise expert to help you plan your small ship vacation.
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