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Best Small Ships

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mall ships range from megayachts and sailing vessels of less than 5,000 tons to ships of about 25,000 tons. These ships may carry as few as 70 passengers or as many as 350 and tend to be more upscale although that isn't always the case.

Because of their small size, these ships never have elaborate facilities and amenities. And that's not really the point of a small-ship cruise anyway. You might find a small spa with a couple of treatment rooms and a fitness room, though you'll rarely encounter a fully equipped gym.

Public spaces are similarly limited. On smaller vessels, passengers tend to entertain themselves rather than be entertained. Therefore, lounges on small ships are more intimate, and the only entertainment is usually done cabaret-style. There are no big Broadway or Las Vegas revues. There's rarely room for multiple dining venue, so small ships ordinarily have a single restaurant that can accommodate all guests in a single open seating. Gracious service and fine dining are paramount, and your table is likely to be set with signature china, European crystal, and heavy silver, and covered with Belgian linens. Cabins may be luxe but will rarely be large.

Intriguing itineraries are more often the focus of the voyage and often include some ports of call that are inaccessible to larger ships.

Review our editors' favorite small cruise ships below.

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