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What Is The Smallest Cruise Ship Today


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Umeko Cavender



Cruises have long been a popular choice for vacationers seeking a unique and luxurious travel experience. From their humble beginnings as passenger steamships in the 19th century, cruise ships have come a long way in terms of size, amenities, and overall grandeur. Today, these floating resorts offer a wide range of activities, dining options, and entertainment to cater to the diverse tastes of modern travelers.


While mega cruise ships often steal the spotlight with their massive size and impressive features, there is a growing trend towards smaller, more intimate cruise ships. These smaller vessels provide a more personalized experience, allowing passengers to explore lesser-known ports of call and enjoy a more intimate atmosphere onboard.


In this article, we will delve into the world of cruise ships and explore the concept of the smallest cruise ship today. We will examine what defines a cruise ship, how cruise ship sizes have evolved over time, and what makes the smallest cruise ships unique. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or someone considering taking a cruise for the first time, understanding the different options available to you is essential in making the right choice for your next vacation.


Definition of a Cruise Ship

Before we delve into the world of cruise ship sizes, let’s establish what defines a cruise ship. A cruise ship is a passenger vessel designed for leisure travel, offering a variety of amenities and activities onboard. Unlike traditional passenger ships or ferries, a cruise ship is specifically built to provide a memorable vacation experience for its passengers.


One defining characteristic of a cruise ship is the ability to travel extended distances, often visiting multiple destinations during a single trip. These floating hotels are equipped with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate passengers for days or even weeks at a time, offering comfortable accommodations, meals, entertainment, and a wide range of recreational facilities.


Cruise ships are known for their extensive facilities, which can include multiple restaurants and bars, swimming pools, fitness centers, spas, theaters, casinos, and more. They are designed to cater to a variety of interests and age groups, ensuring that there is something for everyone onboard. In addition to the onboard amenities, cruise ships offer a selection of shore excursions at the ports of call, allowing passengers to explore and experience the destinations they visit.


Another important aspect of a cruise ship is its size and passenger capacity. While there is no strict definition of how large a vessel must be to be classified as a cruise ship, they generally range in size from small riverboats to massive ocean liners. The size of a cruise ship can have a significant impact on the overall experience, with larger ships able to offer a wider variety of facilities and entertainment options.


Now that we have established what defines a cruise ship, let’s explore how these vessels have evolved in terms of size over the years.


Evolution of Cruise Ship Sizes

The evolution of cruise ship sizes is a fascinating journey that reflects the changing demands and preferences of travelers. In the early days of cruising, ships were relatively small, serving as transportation vessels rather than vacation destinations. However, as the popularity of cruises grew, cruise lines began to invest in larger and more luxurious ships to meet the increasing demand.


In the 20th century, the concept of the modern cruise ship took shape. Companies like Cunard Line and White Star Line introduced larger ships that offered more amenities and comfort for passengers. The iconic ocean liners such as the RMS Titanic and the RMS Queen Mary defined luxury travel of their time, accommodating thousands of passengers and featuring lavish interiors.


However, with the advent of commercial air travel in the mid-20th century, the popularity of ocean liners began to decline. Cruise lines had to adapt to the changing market and shift their focus from transportation to leisure. This led to the emergence of smaller cruise ships that could navigate more destinations and provide a more intimate experience for passengers.


Over the years, cruise ship sizes have continued to evolve, with both large and small ships catering to different types of travelers. In the 1980s and 1990s, the industry saw the rise of “mega cruise ships,” which were significantly larger than their predecessors. These floating behemoths, such as the Carnival Fantasy and Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign-class ships, boasted multiple decks, numerous dining options, expansive entertainment venues, and capacity for thousands of passengers.


While mega cruise ships continue to dominate the industry, there has been a shift towards smaller cruise ships that offer a more intimate and immersive experience. These ships can access smaller ports and scenic waterways that are inaccessible to larger vessels. They prioritize personalized service, attention to detail, and a relaxed atmosphere, appealing to travelers who seek a more authentic and less crowded vacation experience.


As the demand for smaller ships has grown, cruise lines have introduced a variety of options to cater to different preferences. From boutique river cruise ships that navigate the scenic waterways of Europe and Asia to luxury yachts that explore secluded islands and coastlines – there is now a wide range of choices for those seeking a more intimate cruising experience.


While large cruise ships offer an abundance of amenities and entertainment options, smaller cruise ships provide a unique opportunity to explore hidden gems and enjoy a more intimate connection with fellow passengers and the destinations being visited. Now, let’s dive into the world of the smallest cruise ship available today.


The Smallest Cruise Ship Today

In a sea of massive cruise ships, the smallest cruise ship available today offers a refreshing alternative for travelers seeking an intimate and immersive experience. While small cruise ships come in various sizes, one standout example is the Azamara Pursuit, a vessel that embodies the essence of luxury and personalization.


The Azamara Pursuit is part of the Azamara fleet, a boutique cruise line known for its emphasis on destination-focused itineraries and intimate onboard atmosphere. With a maximum capacity of just 690 passengers, the ship provides an exclusive and intimate experience that is hard to find on larger vessels.


Measuring approximately 592 feet in length, the Azamara Pursuit is able to access smaller ports and coastal destinations that are inaccessible to larger ships. This allows passengers to embark on unique and off-the-beaten-path adventures, exploring destinations that are not typically visited by mainstream cruises.


Despite its compact size, the Azamara Pursuit doesn’t compromise on luxury and amenities. The ship features elegant staterooms and suites with upscale furnishings and modern amenities, ensuring passengers enjoy a comfortable and relaxing stay. The onboard entertainment includes live performances, enrichment programs, and a casino for those seeking a little excitement.


Dining on the Azamara Pursuit is a culinary delight, with multiple gourmet restaurants serving a range of international cuisines prepared by world-class chefs. The ship also offers an impressive selection of bars and lounges, perfect for socializing and enjoying a refreshing cocktail while taking in panoramic ocean views.


One of the standout features of small ships like the Azamara Pursuit is the personalized and attentive service. With fewer passengers onboard, the crew can provide a high level of individualized service, ensuring that each guest’s needs are met with warmth and precision. This creates a sense of camaraderie and familiarity among passengers and crew, fostering a community-like atmosphere onboard.


Traveling on the Azamara Pursuit or any small cruise ship provides a unique opportunity for passengers to indulge in exploration, relaxation, and authentic experiences. With fewer crowds, passengers have more time and space to truly immerse themselves in the destinations they visit and connect with fellow travelers on a deeper level.


While small cruise ships like the Azamara Pursuit offer many advantages, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks before making a decision. Let’s explore some of the benefits as well as the limitations of traveling on a small cruise ship.


Features of the Smallest Cruise Ship

The smallest cruise ship available today may lack the grandeur of its larger counterparts, but it offers a distinct set of features that cater to discerning travelers seeking a more intimate and personalized experience. Here are some notable features of small cruise ships:

  • Intimate Atmosphere: With a smaller passenger capacity, the smallest cruise ship fosters a sense of intimacy and community, allowing for more meaningful connections among passengers and the crew. The atmosphere is relaxed and unhurried, providing a tranquil and peaceful onboard experience.
  • Access to Unique Ports: Small cruise ships have the advantage of accessing ports that are inaccessible to larger vessels. This opens up a world of possibilities for off-the-beaten-path destinations and hidden gems that are off the radar of mainstream cruise itineraries.
  • Personalized Service: With fewer passengers onboard, the crew-to-passenger ratio is higher, resulting in more attentive and personalized service. The staff can cater to individual preferences and needs, ensuring a higher level of customer satisfaction and creating a truly memorable experience.
  • Immersive Shore Excursions: The smaller size of the ship allows for more immersive and in-depth shore excursions. Passengers can explore destinations with less time spent waiting in line, maximizing their time to truly experience the local culture, cuisine, and attractions.
  • Upscale Amenities: Despite their smaller size, small cruise ships often boast upscale amenities and luxurious features. From elegant staterooms and suites to gourmet dining options and well-appointed public spaces, every aspect of the ship is designed to provide a high level of comfort and sophistication.
  • Flexibility and Freedom: Small cruise ships offer greater flexibility in terms of onboard activities and dining options. Passengers can enjoy a more relaxed schedule, with fewer crowds and less structured itineraries, allowing for a personalized and spontaneous experience.

These features combine to create a unique and immersive cruising experience on the smallest cruise ship. Whether you’re seeking a quiet retreat, a chance to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, or a tailored vacation experience, small cruise ships provide an appealing alternative to the mega ships dominating the industry.


However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks of traveling on a small cruise ship. Let’s explore some of the benefits as well as the limitations in the next section.


Benefits of Traveling on a Small Cruise Ship

Traveling on a small cruise ship offers a plethora of benefits that appeal to a wide range of travelers. While larger cruise ships have their own merits, here are some advantages that make the experience of sailing on a small cruise ship truly special:

  • Intimate Atmosphere: Small cruise ships typically accommodate fewer passengers, creating an intimate and friendly atmosphere. With fewer crowds, the onboard experience feels more personal, allowing for deeper connections with fellow travelers and crew members.
  • Access to Unique Ports: One of the major advantages of small cruise ships is their ability to navigate smaller ports and remote destinations. This opens up a world of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations that are not accessible to larger ships. It means you can explore lesser-known destinations and experience a more authentic side of the world.
  • Personalized Service: With a lower passenger-to-crew ratio, small cruise ships can provide a higher level of personalized service. The staff members are more likely to remember your name and preferences, ensuring that you receive tailored attention throughout your journey.
  • Enhanced Shore Excursions: Small cruise ships often offer more immersive and in-depth shore excursions. With fewer passengers to manage, you can enjoy a more intimate experience when exploring the ports of call. These excursions often provide opportunities to engage with the local culture, cuisine, and natural wonders.
  • Flexible Itineraries: Small cruise ships generally have more flexibility in their itineraries. They can visit destinations that are off-the-radar for larger ships and adjust their routes based on weather conditions and passenger preferences. This flexibility allows for a more spontaneous and dynamic cruising experience.
  • Quicker embarkation and disembarkation: Due to their smaller size, small cruise ships typically offer faster embarkation and disembarkation processes. This means less time spent in lines and more time enjoying the cruise and exploring the destinations.
  • Less Crowded Facilities: On larger cruise ships, popular amenities like pools, restaurants, and entertainment venues can quickly become crowded. Small cruise ships provide a more relaxed and uncrowded environment, ensuring you have more space and tranquility to enjoy the onboard facilities.

These benefits make traveling on a small cruise ship an appealing option for those seeking a more personalized and immersive experience. Whether you have a specific destination in mind or simply prefer a more intimate cruise experience, a small ship offers unique advantages that can make your journey unforgettable.


While small cruise ships offer a range of benefits, it’s also important to consider the potential drawbacks. In the next section, we’ll explore the limitations of traveling on a small cruise ship to help you make an informed decision.


Drawbacks of Traveling on a Small Cruise Ship

While there are many advantages to traveling on a small cruise ship, it’s important to acknowledge that there are also some drawbacks to consider. These limitations may vary depending on individual preferences, but here are a few common drawbacks associated with small cruise ships:

  • Limited Onboard Amenities: Small cruise ships may not offer the extensive range of onboard amenities and entertainment found on larger vessels. While they still provide comfortable accommodations and essential facilities, the options may be more limited in terms of dining venues, entertainment options, and recreational activities.
  • Less Variety in Dining Options: Small cruise ships may have fewer dining options compared to larger ships. While the quality of food may be exceptional, the range of cuisines and specialty restaurants available might be more limited. However, this can also be an advantage for those who prefer a more intimate dining experience.
  • Restricted Entertainment and Activities: Due to limited space, small cruise ships may offer a smaller selection of onboard entertainment and activities. While you can still expect enjoyable performances, enrichment programs, and recreational facilities, the variety may not be as extensive as what you would find on larger ships.
  • Potential for Motion Sensitivity: Smaller cruise ships tend to have less stability in rough seas compared to larger vessels. This could potentially lead to motion sensitivity for individuals who are prone to seasickness. However, the advances in modern ship stabilizers have greatly reduced this concern, and many travelers find small ships to be just as comfortable as larger ones.
  • Higher Cost: The cost of cruising on a small ship is often higher compared to larger ships on a per-person basis. The smaller scale of the ship and the more exclusive experience contribute to higher pricing. However, it’s important to keep in mind that smaller ships often offer more inclusive amenities and specialized itineraries, which can enhance the overall value of the experience.
  • Limited Cabin Options: Small cruise ships typically have a limited number of cabin categories and sizes. This means you may have fewer options to choose from in terms of cabin layouts and views. However, the upside is that smaller ships generally offer more spacious and comfortable accommodations overall.

While these drawbacks may be a consideration for some, many passengers find that the benefits of traveling on a small cruise ship far outweigh any limitations. It’s essential to carefully consider your preferences and priorities when choosing the right cruise ship size and experience for your next vacation.


Now that we have explored the benefits and drawbacks of small cruise ships, let’s discuss how to choose the right cruise ship size that best suits your travel needs.


Choosing the Right Cruise Ship Size for Your Travel Needs

When it comes to selecting the right cruise ship size for your travel needs, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Both small and large cruise ships offer unique advantages and cater to different preferences. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Destination: The destination you wish to explore plays a significant role in determining the appropriate cruise ship size. If you have specific ports of call in mind, especially smaller or more remote destinations, a small cruise ship may be the ideal choice to access these locations that larger ships cannot reach.
  • Onboard Experience: Consider the type of experience you desire during your cruise. If you prefer a more intimate and personalized atmosphere, with a focus on immersive shore excursions and a close-knit community onboard, a small cruise ship will offer the ambiance you seek. On the other hand, if you enjoy a wide array of onboard amenities, entertainment options, and bustling activities, a larger cruise ship may be more suitable.
  • Travel Preferences: Evaluate your preferred style of travel. If you appreciate a slower pace, more flexibility in scheduling, and a relaxed atmosphere, a small cruise ship may align more with your taste. Conversely, if you enjoy a vibrant and energetic environment with a variety of entertainment and dining choices, a larger cruise ship may better suit your preferences.
  • Budget: Consider your budget when selecting a cruise ship size. Typically, small cruise ships tend to have higher price points due to their exclusive nature and enhanced amenities. However, larger cruise ships may offer more affordable options depending on the cabin category and itinerary. Assess your financial constraints and determine the value you place on the unique features offered by each ship size.
  • Travel Companions: Take into account the preferences and needs of your travel companions. If you are traveling with a large group or seeking an extensive range of entertainment options to cater to different interests, a larger cruise ship may be the better choice. However, if you are traveling as a couple or with a small group seeking a more intimate and relaxed experience, a small cruise ship can provide a cozy and memorable journey.

Ultimately, choosing the right cruise ship size is a personal decision based on your preferences, travel goals, and the experience you seek. It’s worth considering the advantages and drawbacks of both small and large ships to find the best fit for your individual needs.


Finally, keep in mind that regardless of cruise ship size, each voyage offers its own unique charm and opportunities for discovery. Whether you decide to set sail on a small ship to explore remote destinations or embark on a large ship for a vibrant onboard atmosphere, the experience of cruising is sure to create lasting memories.



In conclusion, the world of cruise ships offers a diverse range of options, including small-sized vessels that provide an intimate and immersive experience. From the smallest cruise ship available today to the mega ships dominating the industry, each size offers its own set of benefits and drawbacks.


The smallest cruise ship, such as the Azamara Pursuit, allows for a more personalized and exclusive experience. With a smaller passenger capacity, these ships foster a sense of intimacy and community, providing opportunities for deeper connections with fellow travelers and crew members. Additionally, small cruise ships can access unique ports and off-the-beaten-path destinations, allowing passengers to embark on unforgettable adventures.


While small cruise ships may have limitations in onboard amenities and entertainment options, they make up for it with their upscale facilities, attentive service, and immersive shore excursions. The intimate atmosphere and personalized attention create a tranquil and relaxed onboard experience, allowing passengers to truly immerse themselves in the destinations they visit.


When choosing the right cruise ship size for your travel needs, consider factors such as the destination you want to explore, your preferred onboard experience, budget, and travel companions. Whether you opt for a small cruise ship or a larger vessel, the key is to select the size that aligns with your preferences, providing you with the vacation experience you desire.


In the end, each cruise ship size offers its own unique advantages and appeals to different types of travelers. The important thing is to embark on a cruise adventure that suits your style, preferences, and travel goals. So, whether you are looking for an intimate and immersive experience or a vibrant and activity-filled vacation, the world of cruising has a ship size that will make your journey truly memorable.