BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER WHEN IT COMES TO CRUISING EXOTIC DESTINATIONS
When it comes to exploring off-the-beaten-ports of call, smaller ships offer big adventures. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) counts as its members 20 diverse cruise lines, of which eight operate vessels that fall into the “small ship” category. While large mega-liners offer nonstop activities and extensive onboard facilities, smaller ships focus on voyages of discovery that explore secluded coves and hidden harbors that larger vessels often must bypass because of their larger size.
CLIA member lines that include American Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Coastal Voyage, Pearl Seas Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises and Windstar Cruises all offer fascinating, destination-rich itineraries on ships that carry 500 passengers or less.
Itineraries span the globe, reaching as far north as the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Peninsula in the south. Travelers can visit New England’s quaint summer playgrounds of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, the protected wildlife sanctuary of the Galapagos Islands, remote Viking settlements in the land of the proverbial Midnight Sun, and legendary European resorts along the French Riviera and Italian, Iberian and Dalmatian coasts.
“CLIA-member cruise lines offer a ship and itinerary for virtually every personal preference,” said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA. “Today’s cruise vacationers have the best of both worlds. They can select a super- or mega-liner that offers nonstop activity and extensive onboard facilities. Or, they can take a voyage of discovery on a smaller ship, which can access secluded bays and remote natural harbors.”
Here’s a sampling of the intriguing itineraries offered by CLIA-member cruise lines:
AMERICAN CRUISE LINE American Cruise Lines offers unique itineraries aboard three ships that carry no more than 100 passengers along the smooth, inland waterways of the U.S on itineraries between Maine and Florida. Culturally enriching, behind-the-scenes shore excursions and informal lectures from a cadre of naturalists, historians, and other experts bring destinations alive with their knowledge and passion for American heritage.
CELEBRITY CRUISES Celebrity Cruises transports guests to the Galapagos Islands aboard the yacht-like, 94-passenger Celebrity Xpedition. Itineraries of seven-plus days enable travelers to snorkel, hike and explore the Galapagos, mingling with sea lions, chatting with environmental experts and enjoying dinner and dancing under the stars, all in one day. They can dine at the outdoor grill or in the elegant main restaurant.
NORWEGIAN COASTAL VOYAGE Twelve ships in the Norwegian Coastal Voyage fleet carry 100 to 490 passengers along Norway’s coast between Bergen and Kirkenes, as far north as Spitsbergen and Greenland. The line also visits Antarctica during the austral summer season. Ships are large enough to be comfortable but small enough to sail close to the shore to take in the stunning scenery.
PEARL SEAS CRUISES Pearl Seas Cruises is CLIA’s newest member. Beginning in 2008, it will visit the Canadian Maritimes, Newfoundland, New England and the Caribbean aboard intimate, luxury vessels that can slip into off-the-beaten path destinations as well as better-known ports. Pearl’s first ship will carry 165 passengers and debut in July 2008. A second 210-passenger ship inaugurates service in June 2009.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Paul Gauguin (330 guests) and Seven Seas Navigator (490 guests) boast an ambiance that is relaxed, yet highly accommodating. Passengers can avail themselves of such intimate one-to-one experiences as Le Cordon Bleu workshops, which are limited to 16 participants, and “Circles of Interest” programs that enable like-minded guests to experience personalized shore excursions and onboard lectures.
SEABOURN CRUISE LINE Seabourn Cruise Line itineraries are designed to take advantage of their three ships’ intimate size – they carry 208 guests – and maneuverability. Ports that are inaccessible or impractical for larger ships are one of the major attractions for Seabourn guests. Uppermost in travelers’ minds is the level of personalized service and the sense that they are part of an intimate club.
SILVERSEA CRUISES Silversea Cruises’ four-ship fleet offers guests high levels of personalized service and a spacious, uncrowded feeling. All suites afford ocean views, private sitting areas and most have private verandas. Open- seating at meal times is complimented by such large-ship hallmarks as show lounges with nightly entertainment, casinos, state-of-the-art spa and fitness facilities, and broad, teak decks.
WINDSTAR CRUISESWindstar Cruises’ tag line “180 Degrees From Ordinary” aptly describes the line’s casually elegant shipboard atmosphere. Its three motor sailing yachts, which carry between 148 and 308 guests, sail the world’s most beautiful waters calling at 100 exotic locales and hidden harbors that larger ships must bypass. Itineraries for 2006-2007 include ports throughout Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas.
For more information about these destination-intensive itineraries visit www.cruisetravelermagazine.com considered one of the best consumer resources when planning a cruise vacation.