If you are one of those persons who remember how the ships and cruising was in the ’70s and ’80s, I may have some good news for you. If you are one who enjoys cruising, but is getting tired of the mega ships carrying between 2,000 and 5,000 passengers, I may have some information you will appreciate.
Most popular cruise lines today offer very large ships with many wonderful resort features such as spas, Vegas-type entertainment, and a selection of dining options from which to choose, and some of these dining options cost extra.
Most newer and large ships feature balconies with your stateroom, which allows you to sit outside while you enjoy personal privacy. The down side of all this luxury for some is that the mega ships at times feel crowded and there is little personal attention as was experienced in the earlier days of cruising. If this is a problem for you, here are some ideas.
Most American travelers are not familiar with a few of the British cruise lines since they do not market here. They tend to purchase older, once popular ships that many of us remember. The Island Princess of the ’70s is now the Discovery. The popular Marco Polo today was once a Russian transatlantic liner. The lovely Vistsfjord of Norwegian America Cruises and Cunard Line is today the Saga Ruby. Much money has been spent over the years to keep these older ships in good condition and they offer a cruising style that existed many years ago.
These ships carry 600 to 850 passengers with good crews that offer personal services missing today with the mega ships. Your name will be remembered and there is always a welcoming smile. There may be problems with your toilet or leaks in the bathroom, but these problems are usually corrected promptly. The staterooms in the older ships are usually smaller than you will find in today’s mega ships, but you may not care.
Here is a list of some of the British cruise lines you may wish to contact on the Web to gain more detailed information.
Fred Olsen Cruises feature ships that once sailed for the Royal Viking Line and a few others and offer cruises in the Baltic, Mediterranean, around the British Isles and Caribbean.
Saga Cruises feature about the same itineraries using older ships you may remember and now named the Saga Sapphire, Saga Ruby, etc.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages now feature their Marco Polo and Discovery offering cruises in the Baltic, Mediterranean, circle the British Isles, along with South and Central America.
Discovery Cruises has the Voyager, which they recently placed in service to cruise all over the world. The same company owns two other cruise lines for upscale travelers and you will find them on the Web under All Discovery Cruises.
Fares for these lesser-known cruise lines are about on par with the popular cruise lines here. However, in most cases, you will have to purchase your own air to England to board these ships.
Popular cruise lines you may be familiar with here at home also offer smaller cruise ships you may enjoy. Princess Cruises have in service the lovely 30,000-ton Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess. These ships carry only 700 passengers and are very modern with good crews and fine dining. Their itineraries are often longer; visiting lesser-known areas and catering to the more experienced cruiser. These two ships offer balconies with staterooms, which many of us want today.
Holland America Line features a smaller ship in the 38,000-ton range, which was once the Royal Viking Sun and now named Princendam. The vessel has been refurbished and is a wonderful ship carrying some 800 passengers. It also cruises all over the world on longer voyages. One offering is a detailed transatlantic voyage where you board in New York City making stops in selected Atlantic islands; then go to the Mediterranean, with a full selection of ports of call; and returning home to the East Coast of the U.S. You wouldn’t have to fly overseas on this one. In fact, if you took AMTRAK enjoying the sights from a train you would not have to fly at all.
Azamara Club Cruises, a division of Royal Caribbean Cruises, offers two lovely smaller ships very much like two smaller Princess ships. These are called Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest and offer cruises all over the world. I get good reports on these two ships, so you might wish to investigate the details of their itineraries and fares. These are also in the 30,000-ton range carrying only 700 passengers and visiting very interesting ports of call. This is a very well-managed company I understand.
Here in the United States, American Cruise Lines features small boat cruising up and down the Atlantic Coast and Alaska, as well as paddle wheel boats on the Mississippi and Colombia Rivers. The crews on their boats are all American, which you may prefer. Prices will be higher than on foreign registered ships.
There is a fine selection of upscale cruise lines catering to U.S. cruisers and they include Lindblad Expeditions, which cruise through the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and the Arctic region among other uncommon areas.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises are very elegant with some of the finest smaller cruise ships available today.
Crystal Cruises’ two ships are a little larger than most upscale cruises lines carrying fewer than 1,000 passengers, but are reputed to be one of the world’s best. I sailed with them many years ago and could not find a fault.
Seabourn Yacht Club cruises have been in business quite a few years now and have a wonderful reputation.
Paul Gauguin Cruises now have two smaller ships cruising the South Seas and Mediterranean. If you wish to visit the Tahitian group of islands, here is your cruise line.
SeaDream Yacht Club cruises do a nice job of small vessel cruising and you might give them a look-see on the Web.
SilverSea Cruises have been in business for quite a few years and offer some of the finest smaller ships at sea cruising the world.
Star Clippers has some interesting sailing ships, as do Wind-Star Sail Cruises. These ships appeal to the outdoor traveler who does not wish to dress at night for dinner and who want sails blowing above their heads when lounging on deck.
Hapag Lloyd cruises market some of the most luxurious ships on the high seas. This is a German company catering to the German market. Most of the crew speaks English and the announcements are also given in English.
There will be few Americans onboard. Their itineraries tend to be longer in length and more detailed than most. The Germans get longer vacations than we do.
A French cruise line named Compiegne du Ponant is getting attention lately and features very modern, newer ships for their market. If you speak French, this may appeal to you.
There are now more than 400 cruise ships plying the seven seas and I’m sure you will find the right company and ship to suit your desires. Bon voyage!