Small Ship Cruises

A cruise holiday can be so many things that in our expert opinion, there really is a cruise for everyone. You just need to find the right one. The difficulty in some cases is that some holidaymakers have pre-conceived notions as to what a cruise will be like, or what it will entail, and decide from the outset that it isn’t for them.

But the reality is often a very different picture. Of course, some of the visions of cruising – the huge mega-ships, filled with thousands of people in what is essentially a floating resort – are a reality. But that isn’t the only type of cruise available, far from it. There are so many options available that this type of cruising is just one small part of it. This is the beauty of engaging with an experienced, specialist travel agency such as Panache Cruises. Our Connoisseurs all have first-hand experience of not only the different types of cruising but also the individual cruise lines so they can advise your properly.


More than that, the ethos behind Panache Cruises is that you will have just one point of contact – your Connoisseur – who will work with you every step of the way. We will get to know you, what your holiday desires are and the type of trip that will suit you and your personality. We will also take care of every last detail, no matter how small, to ensure that you are taken care of until you return home.

This is a unique service in the travel industry and you’ll never find yourself speaking to a call centre or talking with someone you don’t know. It’s our way of ensuring you get exactly the right type of cruise, and holiday, that you desire, every time.

At Panache Cruises, we focus on four different types of cruising; elite ocean, luxury river, expedition and yacht-style. All of these are different types of small ship cruising in their own way and all offer fundamentally different cruise experiences. So if you think small ship cruises might be right for you, take a look at this comprehensive guide, which includes everything you need to know to help make the right decision about your cruise holiday.


What is Small Ship Cruising?

In the cruise world, there are ships of all kinds, ranging from those which carry as few as 50 guests, to those carrying in excess of 6,000 passengers.

Small ship cruising is exactly as it says; it is taking a cruise holiday on a ship with a much smaller capacity. Exactly how many passengers these ‘small’ ships hold is actually open for a little debate but would certainly be less than 1,300.

If that still sounds a lot to you then we can assure you that the small cruise ships we offer at Panache Cruises generally have much fewer guests on board than that! The term ‘small ship cruising’ does not actually denote a specific type of cruising so we cannot categorise it into one area.

All types of cruising offered by Panache Cruises could legitimately be called small ship cruising as the capacities of the ships do not exceed 1,300 passengers, with nearly all of them well under a maximum capacity of 1,000 passengers.

So regardless of the type of cruise adventure you wish to undertake, whether it be elite ocean, luxury river, expedition or yacht-style cruising, you can ensure that your experience will be a ‘small ship cruising’ one.

In most cases, small ship cruising is centred around the destinations that you will be visiting, whilst ensuring that you travel there in style and luxury. The beauty of the smaller ships is that they can get closer to the heart of the locations on the itinerary and that they can also go to different ports that the larger ships cannot.

You will find that you’ll feel closer to the regions you visit too, as everything is geared to ensuring you get the most out of small ship cruises and really get to fully immerse yourself in the places you visit.


What to expect on Small Ship Cruises

While large ships may offer a variety of family-friendly entertainment, small ship cruises simply do not have the capacity to accommodate large-scale attractions and are often more serene and intimate experiences. Indeed, if you are the type of person who would enjoy small ship cruises, you are likely to prefer the absence of such distractions in order that you can focus on the itinerary you will be following.


Even on small ship cruises, you will find multiple places to dine, areas to relax and socialise, and space for evening entertainment to be enjoyed.

Spa and fitness areas will be well-equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and there will be sufficient space to enjoy the outdoor vistas and in most cases some kind of pool area. So whilst you may not have all the bells and whistles of a mega-ship, there will be plenty to occupy you and it will all be of superb standard on small ship cruises.

On board small ship cruises, you will find that the staff-to-guest ratio is extremely high – in some cases there are even more crew members on board than passengers themselves.

This all means that the service will be truly six-star; attentive, welcoming, personalised, and indulgent, with your needs met at all times.

You can benefit from the staff not only knowing your name, but also knowing your personal preferences; which drink you prefer before dinner, how you like your suite or stateroom to be presented when you return from a shore excursion and even how you like your bath to be drawn.

Many small ship cruises offer a full butler service in the suites as well as 24-hour in-suite dining so you can really enjoy your cruise in the way you prefer. Many of the small ship cruising options are fully inclusive which only serves to enhance your time on board. It will allow you to indulge in everything you desire, and more, and not have to pay any attention whatsoever to a potential bill you will have to pay on disembarkation.

The only items you will have to pay for will be the additional services such as spa or beauty treatments and purchases made in the onboard boutiques.

You will find yourself having a much closer connection to the destinations on your itinerary on small ship cruises. The focus really is an experiential one and the course your ship will navigate has been carefully curated by true experts to ensure you can see parts of the regions visited that you always wanted to and perhaps never thought possible.

You will be presented with a broad range of excursion options for the duration of your cruise, which will enable you to feel fully immersed in the culture of the place and the activities you can enjoy.


For example, active adventurers might choose to hike through a vineyard to marvel at the views of a stunning Bordeaux valley; a sommelier-in-the-making might indulge in a tour and tasting at the winery; historians might prefer a walking tour of the local sights; while those who want to explore more of the region’s scenery could head off on an e-bike into the countryside.

The ambience on board small ship cruises is one of the real key differences to a much larger ship. When you are travelling with so few fellow passengers, there is a much stronger sense of community and you are likely to be on board with like-minded people. This allows you to foster friendships – some which will last far longer than the cruise itself – and you will have the ability to share experiences and tips throughout the duration of the cruise.

In short, what you can expect from small ship cruises is a luxurious level of service, excellent facilities which will provide everything you need and more, a welcoming environment from fellow passengers and a real chance to get to the heart of some of the most beautiful places in the world.


What Type of Cruise are Small Ship Cruises?

As we have mentioned, all of the cruises offered by Panache Cruises could be classified as ‘small ship cruises’ and as such, the world is your oyster. There are many types of small ship cruises you can enjoy, including Elite Ocean, Luxury River, Expedition, and Yacht-Style Cruises. Let’s take a closer look at each of these small ship cruises in more detail.

Elite Ocean Cruises

As a cruising option, this is one of the most luxurious ways to sail the high seas. You will find nothing on board your ship but excellent service and luxury amenities, delectable cuisine, and expertly curated shore excursions. You will also be privy to enrichment programmes and activities that will enhance your experience of the destinations on the itinerary to ensure you have a truly immersive experience.

You can expect the freshest ingredients, sourced from the local regions of the areas visited and menus will have an influence of these regions too. The exquisite food will be of Michelin-starred quality and these ships are large enough to accommodate several specialty dining restaurants which, if you are on one of the true six-star ships, you will find are all included within the price of your cruise fare. Whilst there will be a local influence to many of the options, you will also find food from around the globe, served in exceptional locations throughout the ship.

Elite Ocean
Regent Ship

There will be slightly more entertainment options than on board some of the other, smaller ships from the different types of cruises offered and this is because these ships are the largest of the small ships on offer. You are likely to find an auditorium where the evening’s show will be performed and which will also house informative lectures from experts to educate you about certain points of interest on your cruise.

There is often an onboard library with a quiet space to rest and read, as well as other bar areas and salons in which you can relax and engage with other passengers.

The spa, wellness and fitness facilities will be larger and slightly better-equipped than on some of the smaller ships so you have the ability to indulge in as much, or as little as you desire. Indulge in a massage or other well-being treatment, or perhaps employ the services of a beautician. You will also be able to work out on the state-of-the-art gym equipment or attend a class hosted by a fitness professional.

The destinations you visit on elite ocean small ship cruises are crucial to your enjoyment and you will find excursions have been carefully crafted to get the most out of them. You will be offered a choice which will suit your needs; for example, you can choose been ‘culture’ or ‘active’ in some locations. This will allow you to personalise your holiday to suit your individual needs more closely.

The ships are slightly larger than some others but they are still small enough to get close to the heart of the regions you are visiting and are able to reach some of the smaller ports. The elite ocean cruise lines are constantly pushing the boundaries to ensure you get the most out of your luxury small ship cruises and see more of the world.

So you can expect to see the newest and most exciting ports on the list, as well as interesting itineraries that will cover more unusual areas to show you a different side. Extended stays, longer in ports, evening visits and even overnights all combine to ensure you can see as much of the locations as you desire.



Azamara ships are akin to a floating boutique hotel and allow you to explore Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle and Far East, the Americas and even as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

Azamara’s main ethos centres around destination immersion and as a result of this, you will find yourself enjoying a truly evocative and enhanced luxury cruise where you’ll learn and see more than you thought possible. Thanks to experiences such as ‘AzAmazing Evenings’, you will be able to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime events such as attending the opera in opulent and exciting surroundings.

Azamara ships are beautifully finished, with well-appointed suites and shared areas, all complemented by excellent cuisine and the focus on the places you are visiting. Some might call Azamara’s ships ‘mid-sized’ as they can accommodate up to 1,200 guests so they would be on the larger side of the small ship cruising proposition. Let Panache Cruises help you decide if this is right for you.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises

Whatever it is you seek to find in the world via your elite ocean cruise, you can rest assured that Oceania will help you discover it. From cosmopolitan cities, to wide stretches of beautiful beach, shopping on exclusive boulevards or discovering the wonders of the ancient world, you can have it all with Oceania. Their ships and service offer a cosy experience with a country-club ambience where the intimacy will shine throughout, and you’ll have the perfect platform to create memories to last a lifetime.

With a culinary offering that is overseen by Master Chef Jacques Pépin, every time you dine will be an exquisite event and you will enjoy influences from the destinations you visit. Tours and excursions will all you to see more and reignite your wanderlust with passion.

Oceania currently operates six ships ranging from capacities of 684 to 1,250, more of the mid-sized small ships. Each will offer you an indulgent atmosphere, exceptional cuisine and the opportunity to explore the world in style.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The Regent Seven Sea fleet is world-renowned for its extravagance and beauty and has received many awards to verify this, so any small ship cruises with Regent are the epitome of luxury. The perfectly appointed interiors are consistent throughout and you will find the suite in which you reside is a true sanctuary from which to enjoy your cruise.

Small ship cruises with Regent Seven Seas are nothing but refined luxury that you will enjoy from start to finish. Regent offer you a truly unrivalled experience, one of the key benefits of which is their all-inclusive offering, ideal for small ship cruising.

Known as the most inclusive cruise experience, when you sail with Regent you will have everything you need – and more – included within the holiday.

Regent Seven Seas
Regent Seven Seas

This extends to the shore excursions you have access to; they are free and unlimited, offering you an incredible choice in the ports you visit. You will be able to enjoy experiential encounters, educational activities or even expend some serious energy on one of the more active exploits.

A culinary partnership with chef Thomas Keller ensures you will always dine in style when you sail with Regent and accommodations are all-suite, most with verandas, to allow you to relax in comfort.

The fleet boasts five ships, all incredible, but which also includes some of the most luxurious ships at sea in Seven Seas Voyager and her sister ship, Seven Seas Splendor. Ship capacity ranges from 490 passengers to 750 so on none of them will make you feel daunted by the volume of other guests.


Offering ships that are some of the youngest and most modern in the luxury cruise world, Seabourn allows you to explore the farthest reaches of the world in contemporary elegance in the form of small ship cruises. Sail to Alaska, Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean on vessels akin to a work of art.

‘Seabourn Conversations’ allow you to connect with experts in their fields and educate you in an engaging way and they also work in partnership with UNESCO World Heritage to take you to the impressive sites.

Their small ship cruises are all-inclusive, featuring ‘Seabourn Moments’ which are a real treat for guests. Plus, your Personal Suite Stewardess is assigned to help ensure your cruise goes perfectly. The suites are all ocean front, mostly with a veranda, and you’ll have one of the most impressive space-per-guest ratios and a ratio of almost 1 to 1 of staff to guest. The ships carry a maximum of 600 passengers so you’ll really feel the benefit of Seabourn’s small ship cruises.



Intimacy prevails when you sail with Silversea and you will feel it as soon as you embark on any of the luxurious small ship cruises available. But the size and ambience of the ships does not limit their explorative capabilities as Silversea sails to over 900 destinations on all seven continents. A staff to guest ratio of almost 1 to 1 means the service you receive will always be impeccable, personalised and highly attentive.

Silversea offers a choice of dining venues, even aboard their smallest ships, with as many as six restaurants on board the Silver Spirit and eight restaurants on board the new Silver Moon. Including a couple of speciality restaurants at a small cover charge. Lavish surroundings ensure you always feel as though you are in true luxury and all accommodations are spacious with an ocean view. A dedicated butler in the suites will be on hand to offer those additional touches too, so that everything is catered for in an instant.

Silversea’s fleet ranges from their small 50 suite vessels to those carrying as many as 600 guests. Even the larger vessels do not compromise on space, further enhancing the comfort and range of small ship cruises.

Luxury River

Luxury River Cruises

River cruising is a type of small ship cruising that is a world away from life on the ocean waves. You will traverse through the heart of countries on a small, yet refined, ship that can sail right to the heart of the towns on its itinerary.

A river cruise can be quite different in its approach to how guests become immersed in the culture, history, architecture and even the artisan techniques of specific regions.

It is a perfect holiday opportunity for those seeking activity, gastronomic pleasure, enriching and immersive experiences that will teach them all about the world in which they are seeing. It can even involve sporting adventures if you so desire!

As you sail along the waterways of the world, from the Mediterranean to Asia and Africa, you will see some of the most incredible wonders of the world. Marvel at incredible waterfalls on the Mekong or the Great Pyramids of Giza from the Nile. Sample delicious fine wines from the Douro, pay your respects at the Normandy landing beaches, or wonder at the temples of Myanmar.

You can include game drives or land programmes, and witness the history and culture on a river cruise,. The opportunities truly are endless. You’ll be sailing on a much smaller ship than you may be used to on the open ocean, in turn creating a warm and friendly atmosphere for you and your fellow guests to enjoy.

If you’re considering small ship cruising but haven’t thought about luxury river cruising, contact Panache Cruises today and we will happily discuss this option with you.

Ama Waterways

Ama Waterways

AmaWaterways have plenty of experience in sailing the waterways of the world which is how they were able to develop the cutting-edge and innovative AmaMagna. It is a true one-of-a-kind ship that will allow you to sail the European rivers and Asia in complete luxury – this is their best ship of the fleet.

It has more space for guests and is double the width of a standard European river ship which allows for a lot more space per guest than usual, but still maintains the small ship cruising atmosphere. There are enhanced facilities on board with 50% of the accommodations being suites. There is also a cinema and Zen wellness studio as well as four dining venues which exceeds many other river cruise ships.

AmaWaterways is extremely well-celebrated in the river cruise world and AmaMagna has been lauded as one of the World’s Greatest Places by TIME Magazine. Step on board and find out why for yourself – it carries just 196 guests so spaces are limited.

Avalon Waterways

Attentive crew await you when you embark your Avalon ship and the service you receive throughout the duration of your trip will be personalised and indulgent. You’ll be able to explore the waterways of the world in a level of comfort that will delight you, with itineraries and excursions that have been carefully crafted to showcase the ports to their finest.

The staterooms tend to have as much as 30% more space and there are open-air balconies so you can get a closer view. An inclusive experience, your cruise will include events on board that are destination-themed and when in port, you’ll find the ships can get right into the centre thanks to their smaller size.

Avalon are experts in cruising the rivers of Europe and also explore the Far East and India too along the Ganges. When you sail with them, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing they do so in an environmentally conscious way and you’ll only be mixing with a maximum of 150 fellow passengers.

Avalon Waterways

Emerald Cruises

Step onto one of Emerald’s Star-Ships and you’ll be transported to another world. Experts in the river cruise world. Emerald have a clear focus on EmeraldVALUE to ensure that you receive fantastic value for money and enjoy your river cruise from start to finish.

Not only will your carefully curated menus be simply delicious, there will be local specialties served throughout. Selected drinks are included with meals too. Whilst sailing around the world, including Europe and Asia, you’ll be able to take part in EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE experiences so you can see locations in your own way. The itineraries and excursions have been put together by experts in order to show the very best of the regions and allow you to get to the heart of them.

On your home away from home, you won’t find masses of other travellers, but instead you’ll be on ships of varying capacity from below 100 to 180. This is the perfect size to foster a welcoming atmosphere.

Emerald Cruises

Riviera Travel

Riviera Travel have been delivering unique luxury experiences for over 30 years.

From the Danube to the Douro and all that’s in between, Riviera’s 5-star luxury cruises take you on the ultimate break away from the stresses of everyday life.

Glide along the rivers of Europe and take in the classic sights; marvel at the Parliament of Budapest, admire the architecture of Austria’s concert halls, wonder at the clifftop chateaux in France, and explore traditional German Christmas markets.

Take advantage of a plethora of shore excursions among the quaint towns, valleys and vineyards, before enjoying a sumptuous range of dining options, impeccable wines, and indulgent spa and wellness facilities on board your Riviera ship, without having to fight for space.


Extreme luxury awaits you on a Scenic ship. This will be a truly all-inclusive cruise delivered on board a ship with excellent facilities and beautiful appointments. Scenic operates a fleet of Space-Ships which are better equipped than many others on the water and with everything included, you won’t need to spend a penny whilst on your cruise.

All you will need to consider is which excursion you’ll take in the ports on your itinerary. There will be many to choose from in order that you can create the type of cruise holiday you want, which will suit your tastes entirely. There will be Scenic Freechoice and Scenic Enrich experiences in every port. As many as five dining options await you, and you’ll find local influences brought in throughout your journey.

Your beverages are all included so choose from fine wines and premium spirits. You’ll find suites that are well-appointed and with butler-service too so you really will have your every need met. Scenic ships range in size from capacities of less than 100 to those around 150 to ensure the size remain intimate.

Scenic River


Uniworld offer a slightly different atmosphere on their cruise ships as each on is uniquely designed and appointed, akin to the finest boutique hotels in the world. You’ll feel the difference as soon as you step on board, having the sense you are cruising within a luxury work of art! The décor is influenced by the destinations the ship will be visiting and this is one element that sets the ships apart and brings you even closer to your itinerary.

This is further compounded by the enticing range of ports and well thought-out excursions you will find as part of your Uniworld cruise. Whilst on the ship itself, you will see that Uniworld puts service at the heart of its experience to ensure you have the best of everything.

Butlers are trained in the same place as those at Buckingham Palace and are the consummate professional at all times. No detail is ever too small and no request too large to for the team so you will have the ultimate in luxury experience. The largest ship will carry in the region of 160 passengers with some of the even smaller ones carrying fewer, around 120.

Expedition Cruises

Any type of cruise is an adventure but when you enter the world of expeditions, a whole new world opens up. A world of intrigue and mystery, one filled with natural habitats, stunning landscapes and wonders you never thought you would be able to tick off your bucket list.

An expedition cruise is the opportunity to get up close and personal with our environment and learn about the cultures that inhabit the most remote places and the indigenous species that rule the land and seas.

An expedition cruise is one of education and information and this simply wouldn’t be possible if you were to attempt it on a larger ship.

Celebrity Flora

Smaller ships have access to smaller ports and less touristic areas, and expedition ships carry Zodiacs in order to take small groups out onto the water and land in areas which might be otherwise inaccessible.

The expert Expedition Team spend time giving lectures or holding discussions and presentations to teach guests about the destinations to which they are headed. The facilities on board often include innovative additions such as discovery or science centres which passengers can visit at their leisure for further educational opportunities.

Immersive expedition cruises do not compromise on cruise style; these adventure vessels are simply exquisite in every aspect. You won’t find anything but excellent service and a fine finish on any expedition ship offered by Panache Cruises.

Aurora Expeditions

Operating for almost 30 years, Aurora Expeditions are pioneers of this type of cruising, having first launched their cruises to Antarctica. Today, you can take an exciting expedition to the Arctic circle or the Antarctic on small ship cruises that has the ability to really explore the heart of these beautiful places.

Founded by those with a passion for adventure, their mission is not only to showcase these destinations, but also to create ambassadors who will share the word of protecting them. This is more easily achieved on smaller ships with group expeditions and responsible travel at the centre of what they do.

Operating just two ships, the design is clever to ensure minimal impact is made on the environment around them so you can have a clear conscience when you get explore. You’ll mingle with specialists and enjoy some luxuries on board plus have the opportunity to take part in all manner of activities. The ships will take just 132 passengers to ensure the very best trip can be had by all.

Aurora Expeditions
Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises are famous for their large and stylish ocean-faring fleet but their expeditions are somewhat less known. They have two ships in the expedition fleet which will take you to the natural phenomenon of the Galapagos Islands so you can behold their beauty and walk in Darwin’s footsteps.

Both ships are more intimate than those others in Celebrity’s fleet which makes them the perfect size for navigating this island paradise, but there is no compromise to be had on the level of luxury found therein. You’ll enjoy an inclusive experience, giving you peace of mind, and you will recline in all-suite accommodation.

The most important factor about these small ships is that they are specially designed to suit the region including dynamic positioning systems which mean no sea flora will be damaged with a traditional anchor. You will have a truly educational adventure with lectures, activities and more and you’ll have the chance to choose from six different itineraries covering 30 ports. The ships carry 48 passengers or up to 100 passengers as a maximum so this is true small ship cruising at its finest.


Hurtigruten has many ships in the fleet but at Panache Cruises, we offer only two of them because we think they are of the right standard to be included within our luxury portfolio. These ships are the newest in the fleet and are excellent for guests who wish to strike a balance between an indulgent cruise and exploring the remotest parts of the world.

There are many exceptional innovations on these almost identical ships to make them environmentally friendly and you will be able to see some of the most fascinating wildlife and nature on your travels. Meet Innuit communities and see UNESCO World Heritage sites whilst also taking part in plenty of activities.

The rich, Scandinavian inspired décor feels welcoming, and many suites have a balcony with some even having a private hot tub. You’ll be accompanied by an expert Expedition Tea, and can learn even more in the Science Centre on board. The ships can accommodate approximately 500 guests on board.



A cruise with Ponant Expeditions is a way to explore the world with a very distinctively French influence. The French way of life is observed on board and you will feel indulged every nautical mile you travel thanks to the impeccable service and indulgent surroundings.

You can travel far and wide with Ponant, including sailing to the likes of Papua New Guinea and Antarctica where you can plunge into the waters. An expedition team will be on hand to educate and guide you, and take you to hidden places that other cruises will not be able to.

As an additional bonus, Ponant have partnered with National Geographic to provide you with even better encounters in the natural world which are perfect for those who wish to get even closer to the wilderness or exotic lands.

With a maximum capacity of approximately 260 guests, you will have plenty of opportunity to learn, explore and engage on a Ponant Expedition.

Scenic Eclipse


Whilst famous for their river cruises, Scenic took the next step to enter the expedition cruise world and they have done so in extreme style with the World’s First Discovery Yacht, Scenic Eclipse.

The facilities on board this ship will rival any of the very best six star ships in the world, and include incredible extras that you most certainly would not expect to find.

If you want to head deep into the heart of the world’s remotest places, you can do so in style and you’ll meet species you have only seen in books and see landscapes that defy nature themselves. Your suite will be filled with luxurious appointments and you’ll have the choice of nine dining establishments to tempt your tastebuds.

There is a spa, gym and a whole host of other amenities in which you can relax when you have had a full day of exploring.

The team of experts on board will be equipped to educate you and answer all your questions and you’ll have access to Zodiacs and kayaks to take you to meet the wildlife around you.

And just when you thought you couldn’t get any closer, you could opt to take a helicopter flight to soar with the birds or plunge beneath the depths in the on board submarine – both of these will be found on your impressive vessel.

Scenic Eclipse will carry a maximum of approximately 200 guests dependent on the region you sail to.

Scenic Eclipse


Another favourite in the elite ocean cruising world, Seabourn have also forayed into expeditions with a range of itineraries that will leave you spoilt for choice. The purpose-built ship is designed precisely to suit the regions it is destined for so you couldn’t be sailing in a more conscious way.

Seabourn Venture

Not only that, you’ll find the on board experience is exactly what you would expect from luxury experts such as Seabourn, where the service will make you feel like the most valued guest on the ship.

Zodiac trips, snorkelling, scuba diving and ebikes are all available for you to explore your surroundings as you sail to the stunning locations including jungle rivers and freezing waters.

You’ll learn of ancient cultures and meet the indigenous wildlife which fills the area. When you want to learn a little more, you can head to the Discovery Center on the ship where there will be lectures and all manner of edutainment and you will also be able to chat to the expedition team who can often be found here.

Seabourn Venture will carry a maximum of 264 guests because the ship needs to be of a small enough size to get to those hard to reach places where the world’s true beauty is found.


Silversea have not one but three expedition ships, all equipped to explore the regions intrepid adventurers want to visit. This form of cruising is very different to their elite ocean proposition and you will feel the difference the moment you enquire. You can expect the same level of impeccable service and of course fine dining, drinks and the other inclusions apply.

But on a Silversea expedition, you will be offered so much more. From kayaking and snorkelling to truly immersive experiences such as sharing a banquet in Melanesia. Local communities are just waiting to meet you and tropical paradises are there to be explored.

The on board activities and atmosphere will help you to learn about your destinations and an expedition team will head all this up with all manner of enrichment activities included to benefit your expedition cruise experience. Of course, all this would not be possible on a large ship cruise which is why expeditions are best left to small ship cruising. The ships range in capacity from 100 to 264 so you know your voyage will be intimate as any expedition should be.

Silversea Expedition

Yacht-Style Cruises

For many, the thought of a cruise might not appeal simply because they believe it does not give them a true sense of sailing. Panache Cruises are here to show you that this is simply not the case. There is no arguing that a yacht-style cruise is an incredibly authentic way to see the world in style.

These ships tend to be the smallest of the small ship cruising options, many of which have capacities of fewer than 100 guests. There is a different atmosphere on board a yacht-style cruise; elegant yet informal, with service that is second-to-none. In fact, on many yachts, the number of staff outweighs the number of guests!

If you are looking for extreme luxury with the ability to explore glamorous ports or even hidden and remote locations, we can highly recommend yacht-style, small ship cruises.

Yacht Style Cruises
Yacht Style Cruises

The yachts offered by the cruise lines below are all so well-appointed that you know in an instant you are travelling in abject luxury.

You’ll find fine dining on board and in most cases, a fully all-inclusive offering meaning everything you could ever want or need it there waiting for you.

The itineraries are expertly crafted with excursions perfectly placed to showcase the very best of the regions to give you the most immersive experience. If you’re considering small ship cruises for your next holiday, there are few better options with more cachet that that of a yacht-style cruise. So get in touch with your Panache Cruises Connoisseur today and find out more.

Emerald Azzurra

Emerald Cruises

Emerald Azzurra graced the oceans for the first time in March 2022 and what a yacht it is! Famous for their river cruising, Emerald have designed a ship that will take yacht-cruising to the next level.

Sailing the Adriatic Coast, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, Emerald Azzurra will take you around the most stunning yachting destinations in style. With no more than 100 guests on board, you will have lots of space to enjoy the facilities including a marina platform and infinity pool and when it comes to dining, you will be treated to exceptional à la carte meals.

Be one of the first to experience a different type of small ship cruising on board Emerald Azzurra's brand-new sister ship, Emerald Sakara, which will be setting sail in 2023 and adding the Seychelles to her list of fantastic new itineraries!


Offering expedition cruising too, the yacht-style ships of Ponant will take you to excluded ports, remote beaches, lands that time forgot and majestic seas in the far reaches of the globe to take you far off the beaten track.

It’s the perfect choice for those who wish to explore somewhere new and enjoy a refined French elegance throughout the ship. Your enrichment comes from the list of specialists and experts who visit the ships during your voyage to pass on a little of their knowledge to the guests.

Ponant yachts take less than 100 guests on their itineraries so you know you’ll be on board with only like-minded souls to make firm friends with.



Another expert in a different cruise type, Scenic have expanded beyond the waterways of the world and started to sail the high seas with the World’s First Discovery Yacht.

This offers both expedition and yacht-style cruising depending on the destination you pick but the service, amenities and way you feel on board the ship do not differ.

Read the section about Scenic Luxury Cruises in the ‘Expedition Cruise Lines’ segment to find out a little more about this up-and-coming cruise opportunity.

Scenic Eclipse

SeaDream Yacht Club

Sailing a yacht around the Caribbean surely features on the bucket lists of many and it is one that can be relatively easily ticked off by taking a cruise with SeaDream. On board you will find an ambience of casual elegance, exceptional service and exquisite dining, all of which you can enjoy on your amazing itinerary.

SeaDream arguably know the Caribbean better than anyone and as such you will be taken to places which don’t feature on many itineraries. They also explore the Mediterranean in great detail so you can pick the region which suits you. The ships take a small number of guests – a maximum of 112 at a time – and added to the fact there are 95 crew members on board, you know the service will be excellent.

Staterooms on board are all ocean view so you can see the world sail by and there are plenty of other facilities for you to enjoy too. We won’t blame you, however, if you’d rather spend your time reclining with a cocktail on the sun deck!

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises is a small ship cruise line operating a small fleet of boutique-style all-sailing yachts and travelling around Europe, North and Central America, and the South Pacific. A multi-award winning cruise line, Windstar is famous for its destination authenticity, outstanding service, and inventive culinary programme.

Windstar’s small yachts and personalized approach to cruising brings guests closer to each destination than ever before, creating intimate moments and allowing full immersion into the world’s most unique and exotic cultures. With fewer than 350 guests onboard each vessel, a voyage with Windstar will feel like you are on your own private yacht.

The approach to shore excursions is exceptional, with three categories to choose from; the essentials collection is ideal for first-time cruisers and must-see sights; the concierge collection includes smaller groups for hands-on cultural and culinary themed activities; and finally the beyond ordinary collection of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Small Ship Cruising Destinations

As you have seen, there are so many options for small ship cruising and this means that there are no destinations you cannot visit on yours. You can explore literally all seven of the continents in great detail and have a multitude of different experiences. A summary of the key cruise destinations is below:
Northern Europe

From elite ocean to yacht-style cruising, small ships sail all over Northern Europe and take in a vast array of history, culture, cuisine, and climate. If you’re looking for a tour of delightful Christmas Markets in Germany, some sun in Spain, to indulge in food and wine in France, or even hoping to catch the Northern Lights in Norway or the Baltics, there are so many small ship cruises in Northern Europe.

Rivers of Europe

This is perhaps the most popular of all our river cruises thanks to how many rivers are found in Europe and their proximity to cruisers from the UK. There are quite literally thousands of luxury river cruise itineraries to choose from, all to be enjoyed on small ships with a limited number of passengers.


The sparkling, beautiful and often glamorous place is filled with the sort of ports which lend themselves perfectly to both elite ocean cruising and also yacht-style cruising. The smallest of these ships will be able to access the very remote ports, getting right to the heart of the region.

Middle East

An Arabian adventure awaits you in this majestic and opulent part of the world and there are few better ways to explore than small ship cruises. You will be able to see the riches of kingdoms and the wealth of oil-laden countries as well as explore ancient cultures and historic monuments. An elite ocean cruise will be highly informative in this region and a yacht-style cruise will allow you to arrive in high style.

Africa Lion
Africa & Indian Ocean

Elite ocean cruises will sail you around the tip of Africa, exploring South Africa in depth and other ports along the way. You can also sail across the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean to see the tropical islands paradises which await you there. If you’d rather explore the Indian Ocean more deeply, there are yacht-style cruises as well as certain expeditions which will take you all around this area.

Luxor Egypt
Rivers of Africa

Another way to see parts of Africa is via a luxury river cruise, where you will cut right through the heart of the continent. Gaze at the jaw-dropping sight of the Sphinx along the Nile, look out for the Big Five in the roaring heat, and journey to the spectacular Victoria Falls on the Chobe or the Zambezi Rivers.


A vast continent in terms of size but also in terms of opportunity, you can see this in a variety of ways. The countries are as diverse as anywhere else on earth and the exploration you can do here is virtually endless. Elite ocean cruises have a huge range of itinerary choices which will enable you to see the parts you want to explore and expeditions are designed to introduce you to the exotic lands and cultures you will find there.

Laos Mekong
Rivers of Asia

If you’d like to see a different side to Asia, and different countries, you can opt to take a luxury river cruise which will cut through countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia. Venture along the Irrawaddy, Mekong, or Yangtze for a truly unique and unrivalled Asian adventure. You’ll see religious monuments, crumbling temples, and vibrant cities, as well as uncover the secrets of the past.

Uluru Australia
Australia & New Zealand

For the most part, the type of cruise you will find here will be elite ocean cruises, sailing you around the continent in extreme luxury. However, there are expedition options too. The expedition opportunities will allow you to see regions you would never normally see, meaning small ship cruises here leave lasting memories. You will be amazed at how much wildlife there is here too.

Bora Bora
The Pacific

Yacht-style cruising is popular here because the region lends itself well to that sort of ship thanks to the island-gems which sparkle across the seas. It can be somewhat of an adventure as your hop from place to place seeing more beauty with each one you visit. Elite ocean cruising is also a possibility here as these smaller ships can still access the island locations. An expedition cruise will allow you to really understand the myths and legends which swirl around this area too, as well as get up close and personal with the local species.

St Lucia
The Caribbean

Perfect for yacht-style cruising, the Caribbean is a sailor’s paradise. But it doesn’t stop at yachting either as this destination is also ideal for an elite ocean cruise too. There are plenty of well-known islands to visit but all cruise lines endeavour to continually push the boundaries and add new and exciting ports to the list; smaller ports are inaccessible to mega ships so small ship cruises are the only way of exploring these remote locations. That way, you can feel as though you’re stepping on untouched, remote beaches in paradise.

New York

There are few things more iconic than a transatlantic cruise but today’s elite ocean and yacht world means that there are multiple options available and they aren’t necessarily the same Southampton to New York trips you are familiar with. How about Miami to the Med? Or South America to the Med, via the Azores? There are plenty of ways to traverse this huge expanse of water.

Machu Picchu
The Americas

Sail up the East Coast of the USA as far north as Canada on an elite ocean cruise, or head to Alaska and see bears fishing for salmon. Take a yacht-style cruise to soak up the sheer magnitude and diversity of South America or take an expedition cruise around Central America. It is important also not to overlook that absolutely incredible Galapagos Islands which are famous for the biodiversity which is found there. Darwin’s laboratory is most easily explored via an expedition cruise or small elite ocean cruise; small ship cruises are imperative as tourism is limited in order to preserve the delicate ecosystems within the islands.

Polar Regions

These are not regions that usually spring to mind when you consider a luxury cruise but small ship cruises are perfect in these areas. The whole point of sailing here is to get up close to the natural surroundings to learn about the indigenous wildlife and local cultures at what feels like the ends of the world. An expedition will take you to these far-flung places and some elite ocean cruises will also cover parts in slightly less detail too. To explore these areas properly, it really needs to be on small ship cruises.


At certain points in the year, there is a need for ships to move from one seasonal location to another. For example, cruise ships will spend the summer in the Mediterranean and the winter in the Caribbean and as such, need to sail to the new locations. These cruises are available for passengers to travel on and can offer slightly unusual itineraries going to diverse places. Yachts and elite ocean cruises are the most likely to offer this type of small ship cruising.

Great Wall of China
Grand Voyages & World Cruises

Embark on a trip around the globe on small ship cruises and tick off that bucket list adventure! Elite ocean cruise ships offer World Cruises, plus a range of World Cruise Sectors which are shorter sections of the full itinerary to give guests a taste of what you could expect on a full World Cruise. A Grand Voyage is also an exciting way of seeing more ports, more countries, and even more continents via small ship cruises so you won’t have to feel put off by the thought of hordes of travellers.


Here we answer your most frequently asked questions with regards to small ship cruising. Read on for more information about choosing a small ship for your elite ocean, luxury river, expedition, and yacht-style cruises.
Will I feel confined on small ship cruises?

Whilst these ships are indeed smaller than the mega ships of the mainstream cruise lines, it is worth remembering that they are still sizeable vessels, even the smaller ones carrying fewer than 100 passengers. The nature of this type of luxurious small ship cruising also means that there is an excellent guest to space ration meaning you will not feel claustrophobic in any parts. Furthermore, with fewer people on board, the ship will never feel crowded.

Is small ship cruising expensive?

The type of small ship cruises we offer at Panache Cruises is indeed a luxury proposition and the prices reflect this. However, they also reflect the number of inclusions you receive, the exceptional service, and the fact that you will be travelling on the best ships in the world to the most fantastic destinations, with the opportunity to really experience the places you visit.

Can I go on small ship cruises solo?

Yes, we would highly recommend small ship cruises for solo travellers. Whilst there may not be a huge number of events geared specifically to your demographic, that will not matter as much because fundamentally you will be on board with like-minded fellow travellers. Furthermore, the fact that there are fewer guests on board means there is more of a community where you are likely to make good friends with other passengers, so small ship cruises are great places to meet new people.

What kind of cruise can I take on a smaller ship?

If you read above, you will find that the main options are quite comprehensive and cover; elite ocean cruising, luxury river cruising, expedition cruising and yacht-style cruising. All of the cruises offered by Panache Cruises could be categorised within small ship cruising so speak to us as the experts.

Where can I travel on small ship cruises?

Again, if you read above, you will find that the world is on offer when it comes to small ship cruises. As there are so many options available, you are able to travel wherever you want to in one way or another.

What level of service can I expect on small ship cruises?

That depends on the cruise line and the type of cruise you opt for but at Panache Cruises, we only work with luxury partners in order that we can ensure our guests receive the standard of care they would expect.

Are the cabins tiny on small ship cruises?

At Panache Cruises, we only work with the cruise lines who offer the very best cruises in the industry and as such, you will not find a poor-quality offering. Of course, on some of the very small yachts, some of the suites cannot possibly be as large as on the bigger elite ocean ships but they are carefully designed to maximise the space and offer plenty of room to ensure an indulgent holiday.

What facilities can I expect on small ship cruises?

This will of course depend not only on quite how small the ship is, but also on the cruise line and the type of cruise you are heading on. The majority of the small ships featured by Panache Cruises, however, tend to have facilities which include spa and wellness, fitness, several dining venues, entertainment areas, libraries/other spaces in which to engage and learn. Some of the ships even include submarines and helicopters but don’t expect these on all ships!

How should I book my small ship cruise?

At Panache Cruises, we are the experts in all things luxury cruising and will work hard to understand your personal preferences and exactly what it is you desire in a holiday. We know more about all types of cruising and the cruise lines we have mentioned here so you know that when we make a recommendation it is well-informed. It should also mean you get the right small ship cruises for you! We also have access to the best pricing and offers and will fully curate your holiday to ensure it is to your exact requirements. Booking through a reputable travel agent is always recommended as it means your money and/or your trip are protected too – something which has been important in recent times.

Top Tips

Panache Cruises are the experts in all things small ship cruising. So in order to make sure you enjoy your luxury cruise holiday to the fullest, take a look at some of our words of wisdom and you should have nothing but an enjoyable small ship cruising experience:

Set your own expectations

If you have been on larger cruise ships in the past, are used to huge hotels or have never cruised before, it is important to fully appreciate what you are going to appreciate in order that you can enjoy it.

If, for example, there are sea days within your itinerary, then you need to have the mindset that you will enjoy that time to watch the scenery pass you by or make use of the ships’ facilities. You will see many of the same faces about the ship too but this can be a good thing, especially when it comes to the bartender remembering your favourite drink!


Explore and use the facilities

Many small ship cruises have some impressive features on board and the fact that the ships are smaller make them easily navigable and homely.

When you have a little free time, don’t put off heading into the hot tub, or getting a spa treatment; savour every opportunity you get to enjoy the luxury facilities on board your small ship cruise without the hustle and bustle you may find on a larger ship.

Push your boundaries and enjoy excursions

We don’t mean to the point where you won’t enjoy your cruise but if you have a secret desire to try a certain activity but have never taken the plunge, we recommend just going for it! It could be an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone or simply just learn a few different things.

If you’re an avid historian for example, you might be tempted to only choose excursions of that nature. But you could get a whole different enjoyment out of a culinary adventure too so why not give it a go?

The same applies to if you have never been on small ship cruises before at all; give them a go and you will soon reap the benefits of a personal small ship cruising experience. The chances are you will enjoy the challenge and the new experience, so make use of all your opportunities on your small ship cruise.

French Polynesia

Make sure your holidays suits YOU

Yes, this covers the excursions you choose but it can go much deeper than this. Ensure you eat in the restaurants you fancy (we can help book them in advance if required), make sure you try all the activities you want to and head off to see the sights you will enjoy. But beyond that, you can also have the rest of your cruise holiday tailored to suit you.

At Panache Cruises we ensure that every aspect of our small ship cruises are exactly to our customers’ tastes. We will sort your flights in the right class, we’ll ensure you have the appropriate transport to the airport, we’ll select your suite grade and do all the necessary check ins.

We can even arrange stays before and after your cruise so you get more out of the destinations you are visiting and if you want something special whilst you are on your cruise (a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for example), we can arrange that too. Just let us ensure you have everything you need for the perfect small ship cruise.