Best Small Ship Cruises to Add to Your Travel Bucket List

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

If you are searching for a unique and intimate way to explore a new place, consider taking a small ship cruise for your next holiday or vacation.

What is a Small Ship Cruise?

True to their name, small ship cruises are ships with less than 300 people aboard, unlike large cruise lines that carry enough people to populate a small city. Because there are so few people on small ship cruises, guests are offered a more personalized and comfortable experience.

While small ship cruises can take up to 300 people, most typically have 12 to 100 people traveling together on a smaller boat. Small ship cruises can range from ultra-luxurious to budget-friendly options, all while taking travelers to more remote and secluded locations that can’t be reached by large cruise lines.

Small ship cruises cover a large part of the world, offering a wide range of destinations to choose from. Wherever you’re interested in exploring, there’s a small ship cruise waiting for you.

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Why Take a Small Ship Cruise?

Enjoy a More Intimate Experience

One of the best reasons to take a small ship cruise is to get away from all the people on a large cruise ship. If you’re ever taken a large cruise, you’re no stranger to never-ending buffet lines, crowded dining rooms, and tourist fueled excursions.

Leave all of this behind you with a small ship cruise. Enjoy personal space and more intimate experiences not possible when you are traveling with 5,000 other people.

Receive Personalized Service

A smaller ship doesn’t mean downgrading when it comes to service. In fact, service on a small ship cruise is often an upgrade from the frazzled and busy crew that works on large ships.

Because there are fewer passengers, crew, and staff aboard small ship cruises are able to offer more personalized service and individual attention to guests.

Small ship cruises offer an intimate experience and allow staff the chance to get to know guests and their preferences. Expect to be greeted by name, have your drink order remembered, and enjoy other pleasant surprises made possible by being a part of a small group of travelers.

Meet New People

Small ship cruises are a great place to meet other people with similar mindsets to you. It’s easier to really get to know other travelers when you’re not surrounded by an ever-changing mass of other people.

You’re all there for a reason, whether it’s to escape the crowds, enjoy remote locations, have an adventure off the beaten path or all of the above.

Explore Remote Locations

Most locations visited by small ship cruises are remote and only accessible by small ships.

This gives travelers the opportunity to take the road less traveled and explore places that aren’t well-known but just as beautiful. Big cruise ships aren’t able or allowed to access these places, creating a more local and special experience for those aboard a small ship.

Small ship cruises also offer guests the opportunity to utilize knowledgeable local guides through small group outings. Because you’ll be exploring a site with only 8 to 12 different people, you’ll have more chances to ask your guide questions, and really get to know and understand where you are.

small cruise ships

Best Small Ship Cruise Destinations

No matter which destination or boat you choose, you’re sure to have an unbelievable experience on a small ship cruise. Explore remote spots, meet and connect with a small group of people, and enjoy a daily sea breeze. You’re sure to have a trip unlike any other.

Here are some of the best small ship cruise destinations that should be on your travel bucket list.


There’s no better place on earth to experience diverse wildlife, enjoy spectacular views, and revel natural beauty than the Galapagos Islands.

Small ship cruises are the best way to experience all the islands have to offer and visit remote, secluded locations that are rich with history and biodiversity. With a professional naturalist guide, learn about the birthplace of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Galapagos is the ideal place for nature lovers and science buffs alike.

There are tons of small ship cruises that tour the Galapagos, giving you a wide range of boats and itineraries to choose from. Besides the Charles Darwin Research Station, you can visit places like Tortuga Bay where black sea turtles lay their eggs on white beaches, Floreana Island to spot flamingos, and Isabela Island which is made up of five volcanoes.

galapagos liveaboard

Best Time to Take a Small Ship Cruise in the Galapagos:

There are two main seasons in the Galapagos: warm wet season which runs from late December to early June, and cool dry season from July to early December. Regardless of the season, weather in the Galapagos is generally good, so there’s no real “best” time to visit.

Cruises sail around the Galapagos all year, so what you want to see or do on your trip should help you decide when to go. Notable times are January to May when sea turtles and iguanas start nesting, June when California Sea Lions start breeding, and August when tortoises lay eggs.

August is a great time to snorkel with sea lion pups, September and November bring dolphin and whale sightings, and December brings out the best of wildlife as it’s the start of warm season.

Regardless of when you’d like to take a cruise, it’s recommended to book your trip early as the Galapagos is a popular destination and spots tend to fill up quickly.

Top Galapagos Small Ship Cruises

Beagle Cruise Ship

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 14 guests

Rooms: 6 cabins

Bathrooms: 6

Price Range: from €372/day

Take a trip on a seven cabin sailboat to explore the Galapagos. With only 14 guests onboard, you’re sure to have a personalized and intimate experience. All of the cabins come equipped with air conditioning and private bathrooms, as well as a double bed on the bottom bunk with a single bed on top.

When you’re not spending time in your cabin, there are gorgeous spaces to enjoy onboard. If you prefer to be inside, enjoy the air-conditioned lounge complete with a television, reading materials, and board games.

If you’re looking for some fresh air, relax on the sun deck or observation deck to take in the sea breeze and gorgeous sights. The Beagle offers a lovely sailing experience that takes you to unforgettable places.

Trips Offered:

The Beagle offers two routes for passengers to choose from.

The first, a seven-night trip of the northwestern islands, takes sailers to Darwin Beach Bay, Isabela Island to visit Tagus Cove and a tortoise breeding center, as well as Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island.

Alternatively, you can choose to travel through the center southern part of the Galapagos for seven nights. The center southern trip takes guests to the Darwin Research Station, and various islands in the south.

Regardless of where you’re going, the Beagle has snorkeling and kayaking available throughout the trip so that you can make the most of the waters you’re traveling through.

The Beagle is a good budget option if you’d like to take a small ship cruise through the Galapagos. While it’s certainly not cheap, it’s priced more reasonably compared to other Galapagos small ship cruise options.

What’s Included: VAT, Fuel Surcharge, Welcome Cocktails, All Meals, Tea & Coffee, Drinking Water, Kayaks, Land Excursions, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear, Towels

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Beagle Cruise Ship

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Tip Top II Cruise Ship

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 16 guests

Rooms: 10 cabins

Bathrooms: 10

Price Range: from €587/day

If you’re looking to set sail with a more luxurious option, check out the Tip Top II.

This boat has ten cabins, allowing sixteen guests on board as well as eight crew members. The cabins on the Tip Top are spacious with large private bathrooms and air conditioning. Guests can choose between a single, twin or upper deck cabin at the time of booking.

The Tip Top is a yacht-style boat with facilities to match. The sun deck is a large area on the boat, equipped with lounge chairs for guests to use to soak up the sun or relax.

Outside, there’s also a separate lounge and a bar where guests can enjoy happy hour or an evening drink. Inside, there’s a gorgeous dining room with a large indoor lounge. If you’re looking to watch a movie or cool off, this is the place to be.

The best part about the indoor lounge is that it has windows on all sides so you don’t have to sacrifice a good view while relaxing.

Trips Offered:

The Tip Top II offers a range of different trips to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend cruise or a two-week journey, there’s an itinerary for you.

Choose from a three, four, seven, or 14-night cruise and expect to see the best of the Galapagos on this gorgeous ship.

When cruising on the Tip Top, you’ll also experience some unforgettable land excursions. Hike to the summit of Bartolomé Island, take in the sight of sea lion colonies, snorkel with penguins and turtles, and visit the Darwin Research Center to gain a deeper understanding of your surroundings.

This is a great trip if you’re interested in Galapagos wildlife and island trekking.

What’s Included: VAT, Airport Transfer, Tea & Coffee, Drinking Water, All Meals, Kayaks, Land Excursions, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear, Towels

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Tip Top II Cruise Ship

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Origin and Theory

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 20 guests

Rooms: 10 cabins

Bathrooms: 10

Price Range: from €770/day

Step aboard either the Origin or Theory for a high-end boating experience. These twin yachts are 142 feet long and accommodate up to 20 guests. Enjoy personalized adventure provided to you by a crew of 14 available to serve your needs.

Each yacht has ten hotel-style cabins, complete with memory foam beds, an Apple TV, espresso machine and kettle in each room. Each private bathroom comes fully equipped with bathrobes, slippers, and toiletries to make guests feel right at home. All cabins have an ocean view, and are cleaned twice daily. There’s even laundry service available!

The public areas on this boat certainly don’t disappoint. The sundeck is filled with sunbeds, lounge chairs, hammocks, and even a jacuzzi, making it the perfect place to catch some rays or watch a sunset.

Enjoy a drink from either the outdoor bar or the one in the lounge, and settle in for an evening of fine dining.

Trips Offered:

These boats offer two itineraries to choose from, each lasting seven nights. If that’s not long enough for you, there’s an option to book the itineraries back to back, making a full two weeks of adventuring.

On the Origin and Theory, expect to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the Galapagos. Explore beaches and mangroves, walk across lava fields, take small boat tours of hidden coves and caves, and enjoy a variety of water activities.

On this trip, passengers will have the opportunity to snorkel, kayak and paddleboard, and catch glimpses of sea lions and marine iguanas in the wild. This is the perfect trip if you’re looking for a mix of luxury and adventure.

What’s Included: VAT, Airport Transfer, Welcome Cocktails, Alcoholic Beverages, Drinking Water, Soft Drinks, Tea & Coffee, Wine with Dinner, All Meals, Special Dinner, Land and Glass Bottom Boat Excursions, Kayaks, Naturalist Guide, Stand-up Paddleboard, Towels

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Origin and Theory

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croatia dubrovnik


Croatia is an up-and-coming destination for travelers across the globe. An ideal place to relax and explore, Croatia is a country filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, secluded beaches, hidden islands, and a deep, rich history.

Small ship cruises are one of the best ways to explore Croatia, as you’ll get to explore the stunning Dalmatian Coast and learn about the country’s history while discovering different cities, villages, and beaches.

Best Time to Take a Small Ship Cruise in Croatia:

There are two distinct seasons in Croatia: peak season and off season.

Peak season lasts from June to August when the sun is the best, drawing crowds in from all over the world. Prices are generally higher and attractions much more crowded during peak season. Off season is October to April and many shops, hotels, and restaurants are closed, greatly limiting what you can do while on your trip.

The best time to visit is during the shoulder months of peak or off season. May and September are the best months to take a trip as there are far fewer people, prices are reasonable, and places are still open for your enjoyment.

Top Croatia Small Ship Cruises

Diamond Cruise Ship

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 40 guests

Rooms: 20 cabins

Bathrooms: 20

Price Range: from €118/day

Step aboard the Diamond, a luxury 50 foot yacht offering small ship cruises.

The Diamond can take up to 42 people in 20 beautiful cabins equipped with everything you may need for a comfortable stay. Whether you choose one of the main deck or lower deck, each cabin has its own private bathroom, air conditioning, toiletries, and a television.

The public areas on the ship have everything a traveler could dream of. The outdoor lounge is spacious and filled with daybeds and lounge chairs, as well as a hot tub for use around the clock.

When you’re inside, enjoy the gorgeous, wooden dining room where you’ll feast on world-class meals. Or lounge in the cozy chairs where you can spend an afternoon reading or relaxing.

Trips Offered:

The Diamond offers a seven-night trip around the Dalmatian Coast, exploring all it has to offer.

You’ll visit the Blue Cave in Bisevo, Korcula to swim in the bay, have a guided walking tour around the old town of Dubrovnik, and so much more. It’s a great mix of adventure and culture, and sure to leave you hungry for more.

This trip is less expensive compared to other Croatian small ship cruises. If you’re looking to take a lengthy trip at a reasonable price, this may be a good option to consider.

What’s Included: VAT, National Park Fees, Environment Tax, Airport & hotel Transfers, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Half-board Meal Plan, Special Dinner, Land Excursions, Toiletries, Cabin Towels, WiFi

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Diamond Cruise Ship

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Callisto Cruise Ship

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 34 guests

Rooms: 17 cabins

Bathrooms: 17

Price Range: from €150/day

Sail the sea in a newly-renovated ship featuring large lounge areas, comfortable cabins, and unbelievable food.

Guests can choose from four different types of cabins which are all relatively spacious and homey, decorated with wooden accents and carpeting. All cabins are air-conditioned with en-suite bathrooms. If you feel like splurging, go for a cabin on the main deck with large windows!

The public areas are cozy with big armchairs and plush couches. Head upstairs to the deck for some Mediterranean sunshine and sea breeze. There’s a deck dining area as well as lounge chairs for some rest and relaxation.

Trips Offered:

The Callisto offers two different eight-day trips, giving you a choice between exploring the Dalmatian Coast and stopping at Montenegro, or visiting different regions in the country for cultural and relaxation activities.

If you choose the first itinerary, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Krka National Park which is full of wildlife and scenic views, Hvar island, and the cities of Split and Rab for historical tours and cultural enrichment. Before heading home, you’ll also visit Montenegro to see the deepest natural fjord in the Mediterranean.  

The second itinerary takes you to Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece where you can expect to taste wine, explore local culture, island hop and enjoy the warm waters of the Adriatic sea.

No matter the itinerary you choose, you’ll have an experience you won’t forget!

What’s Included: VAT, All Meals, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Cabin Towels

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Callisto Cruise Ship

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Ave Maria Cruise Ship

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 38 guests

Rooms: 19 cabins

Bathrooms: 19

Price Range: from €170/day

Vacation in style on board the Ave Maria!

The Ave Maria is a super posh ship decorated with bright lights, white furniture, and stylish accents.

Able to accommodate up to 38 guests, the Ave Maria has 19 cabins which are super modern and gorgeously decorated. Each has a private marble bathroom and air conditioning, with satin bed linens and colorful accents. Depending on your budget, you can choose from a lower deck cabin, one on the main deck or a VIP upper deck cabin.

It has a big sun deck with lounge chairs and a hot tub, as well as an open-air lounge area to enjoy the breeze while being shaded from the harsh sun.

If that’s not enough, there’s also a deck at the rear with ladders leading into the water, outdoor showers, and a mini pool. Inside, there’s a large dining room with a bar and entertainment area decorated with chandeliers and plush white chairs.

Trips Offered:

Cruise on the Ave Maria for seven nights and experience the Adriatic Sea and its delights.

You’ll experience local life in small villages, learn the history of key cities, and lounge on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Don’t forget to bring along your snorkeling gear because you won’t want to miss what’s underwater.

You’ll also have the opportunity to take a kayak out on the water to do some exploring of your own.

What’s Included: VAT, Port Fees, Airport Transfer, Welcome Cocktails, Drinking Water, Soft Drinks at Meal Times, Tea & Coffee, Half-board Meal Plan, Special Dinner, Land Excursions, Cabin Towels, Toiletries, WiFi

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Ave Maria Cruise Ship

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Boats on lake Inle in Myanmar


A small ship cruise in Myanmar is a great way to travel off the beaten path and explore areas that have had little to no human disruption.

Because Myanmar was closed to tourism until recent years, many of the areas visited on small ship cruises are closed to travelers besides those on boats accompanied by guides. On these trips, you’ll get to experience nature in its truest form at destinations that you will never forget.

Small ship cruises in Myanmar have it all: deep rainforests, pristine beaches, and a vibrant local culture sure to leave a stamp on your heart.

Best Time to Take a Small Ship Cruise in Myanmar:

Cruises in Myanmar only run during dry season, as wet season brings heavy rains and unfavorable conditions. Dry season lasts from November to May, with the hottest months spanning from February to May.

While Myanmar is hot year-round, most people choose to visit during the cooler months of dry season, from December to February.

The waters are clearest in Myanmar in March and April, so if you’d like to snorkel on your cruise, this is the best time to go. If you’re looking to spot some manta rays and whale sharks, opt for a cruise from February to May when they are in abundance.

Top Myanmar Small Ship Cruise

Meta IV

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 8 guests

Rooms: 4 cabins

Bathrooms: 4

Price Range: from €358/day

Step aboard a 25m sailboat built from teak wood to travel the seas of Myanmar and discover all that’s waiting for you.

The Meta IV can take up to eight passengers in four cabins, making it a small, intimate experience. This is a great ship to get to know fellow travelers and share life-changing experiences. On the Meta IV, you’ll enjoy top-notch dining with fresh seafood and local cuisine.

The ship has beautiful accommodations including an outdoor dining area, a sun deck, and air-conditioned wooden cabins. When not exploring the surrounding areas off the boat, soak in the sun or enjoy a clear night sky filled with stars.

Trips Offered:

Choose from a three or five-night trip that takes you around the Mergui Archipelago and experience lands that have barely been touched. You’ll get to visit several islands and relax on the beach, explore natural parks that are filled with diverse wildlife, and spend time with the Moken people to learn about their customs, culture, and way of being.

The price you pay for a Meta IV includes tons of added benefits like a beach BBQ, fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and all land excursions. Not to mention a guide to take you snorkeling in those pristine waters.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive adventure at a good value with tons of activities and unique experiences, this is the trip for you.

What’s Included: VAT, Fuel Surcharge, Airport & hotel Transfers, Welcome Cocktails, Drinking Water, Soft Drinks, Tea & Coffee, Beach BBQ, All Meals, Special Dinner, Land Excursions, Fishing, Kayaks, Naturalist Guide, Snorkeling Guide, Stand-up Paddleboard, Toiletries, Towels

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Meta IV

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If you’re seeking adventure, Alaska is the place for you! There is so much land to explore, vast wilderness to discover, diverse wildlife to catch glimpses of, and glaciers to marvel at.

A small ship cruise through Alaska is a great way to experience all of this and so much more. Discover the panhandle, visit local tribes of the Inside Passage, and visit the largest UNESCO protected biosphere to see whales, seals, eagles, and bears.

A small ship cruise through Alaska will combine adventure with exploration and deep learning, sure to leave you with a sense of wonder about the natural world.

Best Time to Take a Small Ship Cruise in Alaska:

Alaska cruises are best enjoyed from April to September as the weather is warm and the days are longer.

While most people opt to visit during June and July (high season), if you’re looking to avoid crowds and get the best view of the Northern Lights, choose a cruise either at the beginning of April or the end of September.

Top Alaska Small Ship Cruises

Wilderness Discoverer

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 76 guests

Rooms: 38 cabins

Bathrooms: 38

Price Range: from €280/day

The Wilderness Discoverer is the perfect boat if you’re seeking adventure and exploration.

The ship has 38 cabins with three decks, two hot tubs, a dining room, and a bar. There’s even yoga and fitness equipment on board for a fully enriching experience.

The Wilderness Discoverer is a larger ship with five different classes of cabins, so there is something suited to everyone’s budget. Each cabin has air conditioning, a window, a private bathroom, and a television.

Trips Offered:

Choose between a seven or 14-night trip and prepare to be amazed.

On the Wilderness Discoverer, you’ll get to bask in the glory of the glaciers at Glacier Bay National Park, see whales in the wild, go on hikes through jungle islands, and maybe even visit a Tlingit community to learn about local culture.

This trip is nothing short of an active adventure. Besides hiking and exploring, the ship has kayaks, skiffs, paddleboards, and snorkeling gear available for use. You’ll get wilderness and wildlife briefings from crew members as well as knowledgeable local guides who will be able to point out and identify wildlife throughout the trip and on excursions.

What’s Included: VAT, Fuel Surcharge, National Park Fees, Visas and Fees, Airport & hotel transfers, Welcome Cocktails, Alcoholic Beverages, Drinking Water, Soft Drinks, Tea & Coffee, Wine with Dinner, All Meals, Special Dinner, Land Excursions, Naturalist Guide, Snorkeling Guide, Stand-up Paddleboard, Yoga, Towels, Toiletries

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Wilderness Discoverer

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Wilderness Explorer

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 74 guests

Rooms: 37 cabins

Bathrooms: 37

Price Range: from €335/day

If you’re looking for a less rugged adventure, step aboard the fully-equipped Wilderness Explorer (not to be confused with the previous Wilderness Discoverer).

This boat can hold up to 74 guests in 37 gorgeous cabins. There are five different cabin classes to choose from, all with air conditioning, a window and an en-suite bathroom. The higher class cabins are spacious and have a sitting area, while the lower class ones are cozy but comfortable.

When you’re not out adventuring, kick back, relax, and enjoy a drink in the lounge, take in the views on the observation deck, or go for a soak in the rooftop hot tub.

Trips Offered:

The Wilderness Explorer travels between Juneau and Sitka, stopping at breathtaking sites along the way.

On your seven or 14-night trip, you’ll travel through Glacier Bay National Park, stop by Misty Fjords National Monument, trek through Tongass National Forest, and visit Baranof, Chicago, and South Marble islands. You’ll even have the chance to kayak through these gorgeous waters.

Different itineraries include exploring the coves of the Inner Reaches, touring Glacier Bay and the Inner Passage and voyaging between Seattle and Alaska, hitting both the U.S. and Canada.

What’s Included: VAT, Fuel Surcharge, National Park Fees, Visas and Fees, Airport & hotel transfers, Welcome Cocktails, Alcoholic Beverages, Drinking Water, Soft Drinks, Tea & Coffee, Wine with Dinner, All Meals, Special Dinner, Kayaks, Land Excursions, Snorkeling Guide, Naturalist Guide, Stand-up Paddleboard, Beach Towels, Toiletries, Towels, Yoga

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Wilderness Explorer

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Baranof Dream

Quick Info
Max. Occupancy: 49 guests

Rooms: 25 cabins

Bathrooms: 26

Price Range: from €447/day

The Baranof Dream lives up to its name by giving travelers a dream-like experience while aboard.

With 49 people aboard, you’re able to get to know your fellow passengers and enjoy your adventure together. There are five different classes of cabins available (25 in total), each offering a more comfortable experience than the last. All cabins are air-conditioned with a private bathroom and provide a cozy space to relax after a long day of exploring.

There are plenty of common spaces to lounge around, as well as a full dining room where you can expect to feast on tasty meals.

However, the most special part of this boat is its narrow design, which allows the captain to steer it through remote coves and other areas larger boats aren’t able to get to. If you’re looking for an active trip, hop into one of the onboard kayaks to explore the surrounding areas or wander on shore to see all there is to offer.

Trips Offered:

Baranof Dream offers two types of seven-night cruises to explore Alaska and have incredible wildlife adventures.

For a more active cruise, choose their “Last Frontier Adventure” cruise which features activities such as kayaking in a glacial fjord, hiking, and experiencing the “Waterfall Coast” on Baranof Island. On this cruise, you’ll also visit the company’s exclusive Orca Point Lodge and Petroglyph Beach in Wrangell.

Their “True Family Alaskan Cruise” is a great option for a family adventure. This seven-night expedition sails from Sitka to Juneau, and stops at beautiful sites like Glacier Bay National Park, Frederick Sound, and Saginaw Bay. With a Youth Expedition Leader onboard, kids age 7 and older will get a fun educational experience while they explore and learn more about this beautiful region. 

What’s Included: VAT, National Park Fees, Airport & hotel transfers, Drinking Water, Soft Drinks, Tea & Coffee, Wine with Dinner, All Meals, Land Excursions, Naturalist Guide, Kayaks, Cabin Towels, Toiletries

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability for the Baranof Dream

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What to Pack for a Small Ship Cruise

What to pack for a small ship cruise largely depends on the destination. Some places may be scorchingly hot while others may be cool and breezy.

To be properly prepared, do a little research on the location and weather conditions, then pack accordingly.

Regardless of the destination you pick, here are some general items you should bring with you on your small ship cruise.

Bathing Suit

You’re on the ocean so there’s a good chance you’re going to get wet! Many cruises take guests swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and more. Some boats even have hot tubs and pools aboard!

Be sure to bring along a bathing suit so you don’t miss out on the water fun. Along with swimsuits, make sure you bring a few coverups that you can wear when you’re between water activities.


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Dri-Fit Clothes

Because you’ll be around the water a lot, it’s a good idea to bring along dry-fit clothes with you. Dry fit material is the best when you’re around water or doing lots of activities because they dry quickly and wick water or sweat away.

They are also great for more active excursions like treks, kayaking and more. Depending on the weather and where you decide to go, you can also pack a few long sleeved dri-fit tops to give you better protection.

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Don’t forget to protect your eyes!

On a cruise, we’d recommend a pair of polarized sunglasses because they help tone down the glare from the water. We swear by SunGod’s because they’re reliable, protective, and good-looking. Not to mention, they’re fully customizable and ship worldwide!

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You’re definitely going to need sunscreen on the boat and during excursions as the sun will probably be strong and beating down on you. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays!

If you are doing a lot of water-based activities like snorkeling and kayaking, make sure you pick up reef safe sunscreen.

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Light Jacket

It’s going to be pretty breezy when you’re out on the ocean so it’s nice to have a light jacket or sweatshirt to keep you comfortable. Some places you go may also be cool at night, so be prepared!

A light jacket or even a thick shawl is a must-pack for small ship cruises. If you’re going to colder climates like Alaska, make sure you pack proper outdoor gear made from high-quality material to help you combat the cold.

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You’re going to be seeing some pretty magical views, so be sure to bring along your camera, charger, extra SD cards and anything else you may need to capture unforgettable moments.

GoPros are great for adventures as they’re waterproof, shockproof and take outstanding footage. They are great for these kinds of trips as you won’t have to worry about your expensive gear getting wet. You can also take them underwater for those priceless underwater shots!

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Snorkeling Gear

Many cruises offer snorkeling and some have gear on board as well. If you aren’t big on sharing gear or want to have the best experience possible, you may want to bring along your own to enjoy all the water has to offer.

If you’re looking to purchase some gear but don’t know where to start, check out our article on the best snorkeling gear, with complete product reviews and comparisons.

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Hiking Boots / Sturdy Shoes

You’ll be going on many land excursions on your trip, many of which include hiking or long walks. Be sure to have a pair of boots or sturdy shoes to keep you comfortable, protected and prepared for the activity.

If you’re looking for hiking boot suggestions, take a look at two of our articles featuring the best hiking boots for women and the best hiking boots for men.

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Need more help packing for your small ship cruise? Check our our ultimate cruise packing list!

Ready to Book Your Small Ship Cruise?

To get the best deals and find last-minute small ship cruise trips, head over to which guarantees the best price possible. Discover new destinations, unbelievable itineraries, and a new way to vacation. Once you take a small ship cruise, there’s no going back!

Search for your dream cruise now!


Want more adventurous options? Check out our article on adventure cruises for more rugged expeditions, and if you’re looking for an unforgettable diving vacation, explore some of the best scuba diving locations via a liveaboard trip.

Happy cruising!

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