6 Small Cruise Ships for Adventure Lovers

by Kayla Becker

6 Small Cruise Ships for Adventure Lovers

by Kayla Becker

Sure, big cruise ships have flashy bells and whistles like rock climbing walls, Broadway-style shows, and waterslides, but they’re not for everyone. If you’d rather not stand in lines among thousands of passengers and unload in the type of big port that can accommodate large ships, you might just love sailing on a small ship, which can take you to off-the-beaten path ports that mega cruise ships can’t reach. Here, six small ships that prove bigger is not always better.

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Cruising the Amazon with Delfin II / Lindblad Expeditions
National Geographic Endeavour II
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National Geographic Endeavour II

Where It Sails: The Galapagos

Why It Rocks: The newest addition to the Lindblad and National Geographic partnership, this 96-passenger ship is a top choice for adventure lovers. With experts in their field as guides (and even photographers from National Geographic, too) you’ll venture out on Zodiacs to get up close to wildlife such as iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Best of all, you won’t sacrifice any comfort on board, where you’ll have a spacious cabin, a gym, and even a spa.

Where It Sails: The Galapagos

Why It Rocks: The newest addition to the Lindblad and National Geographic partnership, this 96-passenger ship is a top choice for adventure lovers. With experts in their field as guides (and even photographers from National Geographic, too) you’ll venture out on Zodiacs to get up close to wildlife such as iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Best of all, you won’t sacrifice any comfort on board, where you’ll have a spacious cabin, a gym, and even a spa.

Crystal Esprit in the Seychelles
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Crystal Esprit

Where It Sails: Caribbean and Mediterranean

Why It Rocks: No one said going off the beaten path had to be rough — this 62-passenger ship sails to far reaching destinations in luxury, with a poolside grill where you can watch films under the stars, lounge on cushy daybeds. There's a floating marina platform, and you can even venture deep into the ocean on the ship's submarine. Plus, with all-inclusive pricing, there's no need to pay for alcohol or most excursions.

Where It Sails: Caribbean and Mediterranean

Why It Rocks: No one said going off the beaten path had to be rough — this 62-passenger ship sails to far reaching destinations in luxury, with a poolside grill where you can watch films under the stars, lounge on cushy daybeds. There's a floating marina platform, and you can even venture deep into the ocean on the ship's submarine. Plus, with all-inclusive pricing, there's no need to pay for alcohol or most excursions.

Zambezi Queen
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Zambezi Queen

Where It Sails: Africa's Zambezi River

Why It Rocks: This 28-passenger ship is more floating safari lodge than cruise ship, taking you along the waters of Botswana for prime wildlife viewing. You'd be hard pressed to find a more comfortable way to do this trip, with spacious, chic guest rooms and even a pool onboard.

Where It Sails: Africa's Zambezi River

Why It Rocks: This 28-passenger ship is more floating safari lodge than cruise ship, taking you along the waters of Botswana for prime wildlife viewing. You'd be hard pressed to find a more comfortable way to do this trip, with spacious, chic guest rooms and even a pool onboard.

Safari Endeavour
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Safari Endeavour

Where It Sails: Alaska; Mexico's Sea of Cortez

Why It Rocks: If you like the idea of unplugging and venturing into the great outdoors, this 84-passenger Un-Cruise ship fits the bill. The experience centers around active excursions like kayaking among Alaskan fjords or hiking in remote ports. Bonus: All activities and excursions are included in the fare.

Where It Sails: Alaska; Mexico's Sea of Cortez

Why It Rocks: If you like the idea of unplugging and venturing into the great outdoors, this 84-passenger Un-Cruise ship fits the bill. The experience centers around active excursions like kayaking among Alaskan fjords or hiking in remote ports. Bonus: All activities and excursions are included in the fare.

Scenic Spirit
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Scenic Spirit

Where It Sails: Vietnam and Cambodia

Why It Rocks: If you want to cruise the Mekong River, this ship will get you there in style. The all-inclusive, 68-passenger vessel launched in 2017 as the first of Scenic's ships purpose-built for this itinerary, celebrating it onboard with cultural activities and local cuisine. The cabins are spacious, as is the pool deck for a ship this size. Best of all, you won't have to pay for anything once you board, including alcohol, excursions, Wi-Fi, and even 24-hour room service.

Where It Sails: Vietnam and Cambodia

Why It Rocks: If you want to cruise the Mekong River, this ship will get you there in style. The all-inclusive, 68-passenger vessel launched in 2017 as the first of Scenic's ships purpose-built for this itinerary, celebrating it onboard with cultural activities and local cuisine. The cabins are spacious, as is the pool deck for a ship this size. Best of all, you won't have to pay for anything once you board, including alcohol, excursions, Wi-Fi, and even 24-hour room service.

Delfin II on the Amazon
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Delfin II

Where It Sails: The Peruvian Amazon

Why It Rocks:  This intimate 28-passenger ship from Lindblad Expeditions is cruising's version of glamping. After exploring the jungle with naturalist guides to spot sloths, pink dolphins, and monkeys, you'll return on board to quality cuisine and spacious suites with air-conditioning — meaning you'll never have to rough it on your adventure.

Where It Sails: The Peruvian Amazon

Why It Rocks:  This intimate 28-passenger ship from Lindblad Expeditions is cruising's version of glamping. After exploring the jungle with naturalist guides to spot sloths, pink dolphins, and monkeys, you'll return on board to quality cuisine and spacious suites with air-conditioning — meaning you'll never have to rough it on your adventure.

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