AdventureSmith Explorations is the original small ship cruise specialist. This comprehensive small ship cruise guide, written by our experts with decades of combined experience, offers articles with the best advice on all aspects of small ship cruising. Use this small ship cruise guide as your starting point to research this unique style of travel. Browse our cruise articles below to learn about small ship cruising, get inspired and find your perfect cruise. Use the filters on the left below to sort articles by destination or topic. We update this page regularly so you can stay on the cutting edge of adventure cruising. 

In this guide you will find a plethora of articles, from very broad to quite specific, to help you learn more about small ship cruising. Find detailed advice on general topics such as how to choose your small ship cruise, 9 Standouts in Small Ship Cruising, Snorkeling Tips for Small Ships, How to Prevent & Treat Seasickness on Cruises, and insight into the differences between small ships and big ships.  

Our small ship cruise guide also offers in-depth articles about specific destinations such as Antarctica Superlatives: 9 Unique Ways to Experience the White Continent, Baja by Month: When to Go & Why, Whale Watching Aboard Small Ship Cruises in Alaska and Galapagos Travel Tips: Experts Share Insider Advice. You will not find more detailed tips and advice, or a more comprehensive small ship cruise guide, anywhere.  

Personalized Advice  

Need more advice? Contact our experienced small ship cruise experts for honest, unbiased advice and firsthand knowledge. The articles in this guide were written by our crew and they can help you personally. We cruise aboard small ships regularly to bring you the most up-to-date information.  

What is a Small Ship Cruise? 

There are many definitions of a small ship cruise. For some folks, a ship with 1000 guests may be considered small. Our definition of a small ship cruise is one where guests can get off the ship away from port. The logistics of operating off-vessel activities such as hiking, kayaking, small craft excursions or snorkeling require that the ship be under 250 guests and most carry less than 100 guests. We emphatically believe that the best small ship cruises focus on active adventure away from the ship.  

Why Choose a Small Ship Cruise? 

We like to advise clients that big cruise ships are focused inward on the ship itself with Broadway style entertainment, casinos, midnight buffets and waterslides. Small ship cruises are focused outward, on the destination. Because of their low numbers and shallow draft, small ships cruise where the big ships cannot. They get up close to shore where wildlife is abundant and active exploration awaits. Learn more about our unique selection of small ship cruises and how to choose your small ship cruise.   

Types of Small Ships 

Small ships can be grouped into three broad categories that help travelers determine the best ship for their style of travel. Expedition ships carrying 60 to 200 guests are sturdy, comfortable vessels specially designed and built for adventure travel in remote locations. Mid-size cruisers carrying 40-60 guests offer the intimacy and efficiency of a small yacht combined with the amenities and space usually found on an expedition ship. Yachts, barges and sailboats carry 8-40 guests and offer the most intimate small ship cruise experience.  

Best Small Cruise Ships 

As an unbiased expert in small ship cruising, selecting the best small cruise ships will depend on the interests of you, the traveler. The best small cruise ship for a luxury client may be very different than the best small cruise ship for an active adventure client. We pride ourselves on working personally with each client to determine the best small ship for them in each destination. View our selection of the best small cruise ships anywhere. 

Best Small Ship Cruise Lines  

We are often asked what is the best small ship cruise line? We work with only the best small ship cruise lines in the world. Each has its own style of travel and appeals to a specific type of traveler. For instance, UnCruise Adventures offers more active adventure than most, while Lindblad Expeditions has a reputation for superior expedition leaders, many affiliated with National Geographic. Quark Expeditions has a long history of polar expeditions and Quasar Expeditions has a penchant for historic yachts in the Galapagos Islands.  

We work with many of the biggest and best companies in small ship cruising, as well as many smaller family-owned-and-operated vessels that are off the radar of most travelers. So, while it is a challenge to list them, we pride ourselves on suggesting the best small ship cruise lines for you. View our selection of the best small ship cruise lines hand picked by our experts.  

How to Choose Your Small Ship Cruise, by Destination 

Among our most popular articles are destination-based guides with detailed advice on how to choose your small ship cruise. These small ship cruise guides offer detailed information specific to each cruising destination. Find details on when to go, how long to travel, types of cruises, advice on choosing the best ship or yacht, information on how to seamlessly plan pre- and post-cruise arrangements, advice on naturalist guides, family cruises, charter cruise options, traveler cruise reviews and more. These are the best small ship cruise guides for destinations worldwide.   

Improve this Small Ship Cruise Guide 

Help us improve this guide with your feedback. Do you have a burning question about small ship cruises or cruising in a particular destination? Feel free to use the comment fields at the bottom of each article to provide your feedback or ask a question. Or contact us to suggest a topic and your idea could lead to our next small ship cruise guide article.