From wildlife voyages in Scotland to floating boutique hotels in the Mediterranean and Antarctic adventures further afield, the online travel company has seen a marked year-on-year increase for small ship cruise holidays in the first quarter of 2017.
Two of the company’s 10 most booked breaks in the first quarter of 2017 were small ship cruises around Croatia, reflecting this growing trend.
Boats typically carry from 6 to around 200 passengers and offer the chance to get closer to the culture and local people in a destination with food on board sourced locally and crew often local people. Travellers spend more time exploring local port towns, with key economic benefits for local residents, and cover less miles at sea than they would when travelling on a larger vessel, offering environmental advantages.
Justin Francis, co-founder and CEO of Responsible Travel says, “We are seeing a polarisation of the tourism industry – on one side a rise in popularity of the ‘safe’, isolated-from-local-people experiences offered by all-inclusives and large cruise liners and on the other an increase in interest for more adventurous and inspiring travel experiences.
“Small ship cruises are clearly meeting the needs of the latter group. These holidays take the focus away from simply ticking off port after port and instead become a journey into the local heart and soul of a region or country. They allow passengers to get to know each destination intimately, in small groups and without overrunning fragile cultures and places with huge numbers of tourists.”
Powell Ettinger, CEO of Responsible Travel member The Small Cruise Ship Collection says, “Small ships are generally the best way to visit some destinations, and sometimes the only way.
“From the floating boutique hotels that ply the Adriatic to the expedition ships that visit Spitsbergen, there is a huge choice of destinations and styles, but the key is always that the voyage is more about the destination than the ship.”