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Viking Ocean Cruises

Several years ago, Viking River Cruises announced their plan to bring their river concept to ocean cruises. They would introduce destination-focused itineraries and their ships would include a shore excursion at each port of call and onboard they would include beer & wine with lunch and dinner, just as on their river product. In addition, the ships would be all balcony accommodations and their specialty dining options would be available at no additional charge. The first Viking Ocean Cruises ship began sailing in 2015 and now there are six ships in the fleet, with ten more to come in the next few years!

At only 930 passengers, these ships are an excellent size; large enough to offer very nice amenities, but not so large as to be overwhelming. They have an excellent reputation for providing a decidedly upscale experience, but at a more moderate rate than possibly expected. There is no casino onboard and you’ll not find a large ‘Vegas-style’ review; instead, the entertainment might feature a cultural art form of the region being visited, as well as World-class lecturers, a resident historian, and a cooking class.

Itineraries are virtually world-wide, with many options in particular for Europe in the summer and even winter seasons. Viking’s rates normally include airfare and schedules can be customized for an additional charge. Because of their loyal following, they are often sold out far in advance, so early planning is always a good idea. Also of note is the Viking payment policy which normally requires full payment up to a year in advance!

Below you’ll find a short video overview, as well as some assorted photos…..

The Viking Star
Deluxe Veranda Stateroom (DV) 270 sq ft including veranda
Explorer’s Lounge – great for viewing at sea, or in port!

Atrium Stairway, note the Scandinavian design decor
Aquavit Terrace, a favorite for alfresco dining
Main Pool, with retractable cover

Wintergarden, a place to simply gather, or to enjoy high tea

Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant, reservations required, but no additional charge!
The Spa, access is included; treatments are additional
Some photos just speak for themselves!

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring Windstar Cruises…..

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Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises operates a fleet of small, luxury ships with very personalized service. All accommodations are spacious, ocean-view suites that include butler service, and most include private verandas. Silversea voyages and cruise expeditions sail to over 900 destinations on all seven continents, more than any other cruise line.

Since Silversea is ‘all-inclusive’, you’ll enjoy free-flowing premium wines and spirits, delicious gourmet cuisine, in-suite dining, full butler service for every suite and of course all gratuities

Actually two cruise lines in one, Silversea has the luxury fleet of ships accommodating 274 to 608 guests, offering itineraries to popular and familiar international destinations. In addition, their fleet of ‘exploration’ ships for 100 to 254 guests also offer the same luxury, but they call at destinations such as the Arctic, Galapagos, and Antarctica. Whichever version you select, you are sure to find Silversea to be an outstanding choice in the smaller ship category!

Below you’ll find a short video overview, as well as some assorted photos…..

Silversea Small Luxury Cruise Ship – Silver Muse

Silver Muse – Superior Veranda Suite
Spacious surroundings await, whether inside, or out!

Silversea Expeditions in Antarctica
Silver Origin in the Galapagos

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring Viking Ocean Cruises…..

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Seabourn Cruises

Seabourn operates a fleet of all-inclusive, all suite luxury ships which sail to places beyond where larger ships can reach.  Their five ships only accommodate 450 to 532 guests for a private club-like atmosphere.  Since they have nearly one crew member to each guest, the service is personalized and attentive.  In addition, each suite includes a Personal Suite Stewardess, to ensure that everything is prefect!  Each suite includes a walk-in closet, marble bathroom with double vanities, a living area with sofa and dining table.  Complimentary premium spirits and fine wines available on board at all times.  Also of note is that tipping is neither required, nor expected!

The itineraries offered by Seabourn are virtially world wide and the ambience onboard is that of a fine resort at sea.  And coming soon, is their new, purpose built expedition ships, which will sail to locations such as Antarctica, the Amazon, and the Arctic!

Their current promotional offer includes reduced deposits, upgrades and shipboard credits; Please contact Cruise Escapes for details!

Below you’ll find a very nice, short video overview, as well as some assorted photos…..

click on any photo to enlarge:

Most accommodations on Seabourn look just like this!
The main restaurant
Observation Bar. with wonderful views
The marina can be used in certain ports for one-of-a-kind adventures!
The Seabourn fleet offers almost all balcony suites

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring SeaDream Yacht Cruises…..

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises enjoys a stellar reputation for luxury cruises.  Of their five ships, four are all-balcony, all-suites and accommodate only around 700 passengers (the fifth is smaller and has mostly balconies!).  However, their standout feature is the inclusions; their pricing includes almost everything related to the cruise package, as seen on the attached list.

Regent’s itineraries are virtually worldwide, with many beginning at 7-nights, but also many are 10 to 12-days and they extend even up to multi-month world cruises!  They put a significant emphasis on Europe in the Summer season, but they are also well known for Alaska, Canada/New England and other ‘close-to-home’ itineraries, as well.

Since Regent is a truly all-inclusive experience, it is common for someone to experience sticker shock when they first view their rates.  However, Regent actually offers an excellent value when one considers just what is included.  The attached comparison makes a very convincing example and the benefit of not being ‘nickel & dimed’ onboard adds to the deluxe experience and the overal relaxed ambience.

A very nice, short video is below, as well as some photos of the ship and the destination.

Their current promotional offer can be found <here>. Please contact Cruise Escapes for details!

click on any photo to enlarge:

Sample Standard Suite (minimum accommodation)
Spacious Specialty Dining options – no additional charge
Spacious facilities – inside & out!
Kotor, Montenegro – one of many spectacular ports of call
Seven Seas Explorer

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring Seabourn Cruises…..

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CDC Cruise Update:

You may have seen in the media recently that the CDC has just lifted the cruise industry ‘No Sail’ order which has been in effect for several months.  While this is certainly a positive step in the resumption of passenger cruises, it is only the beginning.  The guidelines which the CDC is requiring are complicated and numerous.   Cruise lines will have to achieve all the requirements before attaining their individual permission to set sail and it’s going to take some time (This weekend Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent just cancelled all cruises through December 31 and Carnival has deleted their schedules for December, as well).

Quite simply, it will be a bit longer before we have definite information about exactly when limited cruises will resume and just what the required protocols will mean in relation to the passenger experience.  For example, it appears that Covid testing will be taking place for all passengers upon
embarkation at all U.S. ports and another test will be administered at the time of disembarkation at the end of the cruise, as well.  Again, all details are yet to come, but we wanted to tell you that there is, at last, some light at the end of the tunnel for cruise suspensions.

We will update you again when the details are published and more information is available.  In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and support!

Quite simply, it will be a bit longer before we have definite information about exactly when limited cruises will resume and just what the required protocols will mean in relation to the passenger experience.  For example, it appears that Covid testing will be taking place for all passengers upon
embarkation at all U.S. ports and another test will be administered at the time of disembarkation at the end of the cruise, as well.  Again, all details are yet to come, but we wanted to tell you that there is, at last, some light at the end of the tunnel for cruise suspensions.

We will update you again when the details are published and more information is available.  In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and support!

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Paul Gauguin Cruises

The cruise line’s website states a very nice and accurate introduction: “Designed specifically to glide through the shallow seas of the South Pacific, The Gauguin is the flagship of Paul Gauguin Cruises and a small-ship cruiser’s dream. She delivers travelers to intimate ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships, all the while providing an onboard experience that is nothing short of luxurious. Guests aboard these luxury cruises enjoy spacious suites and staterooms (more than 70% with private balconies), an onboard watersports marina, three dining venues, an extensive spa, and five-star service. Life onboard also reflects the beauty and rich cultural heritage of the islands she calls upon, with a warm, friendly feel, informal setting, and even a beloved troupe of Gauguines and Gauguins —local Tahitians who serve as cruise staff, entertainers, and storytellers.”

At only 332 guests, the Paul Gauguin is an outstanding example of Small Ship Cruises. You’ll also find that it is virtually all-inclusive with features such as round-trip Los Angeles airfare, transfers, complimentary onboard beverages, gratuities, to name just a few!

The ship and the onboard experience are both excellent, but then there’s the destination…TAHITI & POLYNESIA! These islands and their surrounding waters are nothing short of stunning. Even if you are not normally a ‘beach person’, the beauty and magic of this destination will almost assuredly captivate you. Most itineraries include the private stop at Motu Mahana, where you’ll be like Gilligan for a day, but in wonderful luxury, and a second private beach opportunity on a secluded, white sand beach in Bora Bora.

A very nice, short video is below, as well as some photos of the ship and the destination.

Their current promotional offer can be found <here>. Please contact Cruise Escapes for details!

The Paul Gauguin

An example of the standard balcony cabin (Category C)

The Marina offers various activities, including paddle boarding & kayaking

Kayaking near Moorea

Authentic & Local entertainment
Motu Mahana

Private beach location at Bora Bora

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring Regent Seven Seas Cruises…..

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Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises operates six ships, of which four accommodate only 684 passengers, very much like our previous post on Azamara. Oceania is best known for their port rich itineraries AND for their dining – the food is wonderful!

These four ships, Insignia, Nautica, Regatta and Sirena, have all been recently updated beautifully and they sail various itineraries, world wide. (The other two ships in the Oceania fleet are the Marina & the Riviera and, while we love these ships, they carry over 1200 guests and so they are not part of our blog series of small ships with ‘ under 1000 passengers’.) Offerings vary from year to year, but generally their departures include Alaska, Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East, Canada/New England and even some Caribbean.

Oceania invites you to savor your experience with imaginative insider tours that immerse you in the heart of the destination’s culinary and cultural traditions.

Promotional offers from Oceania often feature their “O Life” fares, as seen below; ask us for details when you are ready.

Veranda Stateroom
Tuscan Grill, specialty dining
Grand Staircase
Oceania in the Panama Canal

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring Paul Gauguin Cruises…..

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Azamara Cruises

Azamara Cruises is a part of the Royal Caribbean family of cruise brands and they operate three ships on worldwide itineraries.  At just about 700 passengers, these great ships provide you with most of the amenities of larger ships, but but with fewer guests and a feeling of a more personal setting.  Azamara is very destination focused and they like to tout their ‘longer stays and more overnights’.  They offer mostly European itineraries in the Summer season, with an assortment of international itineraries throughout the remainder of the year.

The features which we really like onboard Azamara include the excellent dining, the personal service, the ease of getting around the ship, and the mostly inclusive amenities, including their once-per-cruise “Azamazing Event” (see full list of inclusions here).

We’d also point out that there are no casinos onboard their ships.  As for the cabins, they are on the more modest size, but they are quite comfortable and feature good storage.  However, the standard cabin categories have pretty small bathrooms and the shower is quite small, but totally acceptable!

Azamara features some sort of promotion most of the time; the most current offer can be found by clicking here.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces New Onboard Entertainment
Azamara Cruises
Azamara Standard Balcony Cabin
Azamara often docks at close-in locations, as seen here in St. Petersburg, Russia

Look for our next Small Ship Cruising post featuring Oceania Cruises…..

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Small Ship Cruising

As it appears that cruising will actually begin to resume operations in 2021, we suspect that many of our clients will be thinking about what options there will be going forward.  While many people enjoy the amenities and facilities of large ships (and there will still be an abundance of those to choose from), we also realize that some of you will be more interested in choices which accommodate fewer guests.  While it could be said that “the smaller the cruise ship, the bigger the price”, one should consider what value these ships offer with smaller crowds and more spacious environments.  Additionally, smaller ships often offer itineraries with “off the beaten path” ports of call which are more exclusive and simply cannot accommodate larger ships.

So, if the smaller ship, with fewer guests onboard is of interest, we thought it might be a good idea to highlight these options.  The following is a list of lines with ships that carry less than 1,000 guests (some even far fewer than that).  We’ll be sending a brief profile of each line individually, beginning later this week.  In the meantime, here are the lines we’ll be highlighting with details on each to follow in the coming days!

  • Azamara
  • Oceania*
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Regent
  • Seabourn
  • Silversea 
  • Viking Ocean
  • Windstar

*Oceania has two ships which accommodate just over 1200 passengers, but their other four all have less than 700 passengers.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces New Onboard Entertainment
Azamara Cruises
Best Cruise Ships & Luxury Experiences | Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises
Book an Exotic French Polynesia Cruise on The Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin Cruises
Seven Seas Voyager Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | CruiseMapper
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seabourn Cruise Line History
Seabourn Cruise Line
Silver Shadow Cruise Ship - Silversea Cruises Silver Shadow on iCruise.com
Silversea Cruises
Viking Ocean Cruises
Boutique Cruise Line Company - Windstar Cruises
Windstar Cruises

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Update: Cruise Line Suspensions

March 31, 2020

Most major cruise lines have now extended the dates for their suspended sailings. While we are all sad this is necessary, we applaud them for their responsible decisions. Here is a summary…

Cruise line suspensions

For those affected, each cruise line is offering full refunds, or future cruise credits; offers vary.

Obviously, this is subject to change, but this is the most current information as of today.

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