Small Luxury Cruises
When it comes to cruise ships, bigger is definitely not better. Some destinations are so remote that the only way to reach them is on a small luxury cruise ship. These purpose made, boutique vessels feel more like a floating lodges offering intimate, bespoke travel experiences to some of the most exotic and exciting locations on Earth.
Luxury yachts, small ships and expedition vessels enable small groups of travellers to access areas that large ships cannot due to size and other constraints - remote places such as the exotic Galapagos Islands, small ports around Patagonia, along the Amazon River and to ecologically sensitive Antarctica. Small ships are versatile, able to maneuver in small coves and channels, and can dock at more intimate ports, making for a much more intimate and exclusive travel experience, with the lightest footprint possible.
Choosing the correct option can be overwhelming as there are so many different vessels and itineraries to choose from. We have personally vetted the best of these and narrowed them down to just handful of different boutique operators who excel in three main criteria: guides, itinerary and facilities. So, whether you are looking for a 4, 7 or even 14-night option, a modern state of the art vessel or one exuding old Hollywood glamour, you will have an unforgettable experience in one of the world’s last remaining and pristine wildlife sanctuaries. If you are travelling as a family or small group of friends, we can also arrange a private charter for you, which is often comparable in price to standard voyages and can be tailored exclusively to your personal preferences and tastes.
Best time to cruise? The good news is that the Galápagos is a year-round destination so there really is no “best time” to visit. From June to November is the dry season where temperatures tend to be a little cooler, and December to June is the warm and wet season. In the end, whenever you choose to travel, no one ever returns disappointed.
Best time to Cruise? As with the Galápagos, the Amazon is a year-round destination and can be divided into two seasons: the warmer, dry season from June to November and the wet season from December to May. Many guests prefer the wet season as water levels are higher allowing explorations by canoe to access more hidden corners of the rainforest not accessible when water levels are lower. The dry season brings lower water levels, allowing more land-based activities such as hikes into the rainforest and offering a different yet still unique experience. Our tip is to travel in May and June as the water levels are high enough to take canoe trips but the low enough to allow access by land.
Best time to Cruise – Not surprisingly, the best and only time to visit Antarctica is during their summer months, from November to March. During this time, the days are long, and the temperature is often above freezing. Within this period, each month does offer slightly different experiences:
- November – During this period, the continent is at its most pristine with frozen seas and a landscape that is just beginning to wake up from the long harsh winter months. It is a photographer’s dream as it is at its purest with heavy snow and slow, luminous sunsets. It is also an interesting time for penguin watching as couples’ mate and prepare their nests. Look out for parents protecting their newly laid eggs.
- December / January – This is a magical time for penguin lovers as the colonies are abuzz with new life and the chicks are leaving the nest with their adorable downy plumage. The ocean is also teeming with life, so keep an eye out for whales feeding, groups of crabeater seals hauled out on floating ice and even the leopard seal and pup on land. This is also the mildest month where the days are long, and the temperatures are usually comfortably above freezing.
- Feb / March – This is the best time for whale watching. It is also an interesting time for penguins as parents have left their adolescent chicks to fend for themselves. Whilst colonies may be smaller, there are lots of up-close encounters with the inquisitive youngsters.
As with Antarctica, the best time to visit is around the Arctic's summer and early fall months.
- May / June - During this period, the landscape is pristine and white and full of icebergs. Polar bears can be seen on the ice floes hunting seals.
- July / August - This is the warmest season in the Arctic, and the flowers will be in full bloom. Longer days for more photographic hours as melting ice allows the ships to explore larger areas. This is the best season for seeing polar bears in Svalbard, and wildlife and birdlife will be at their peak, including beluga whales in Canada and whale watching in Greenland.
- October / November - Towards the end of the season, polar bears gather in Canada as the winter sea-ice forms.
Apart from these iconic cruises, there are fabulous options for cruise enthusiasts from shorter cruises around Pataonia and Cape Horn to scenic day cruises and private charters.
There is no better way to travel from Chile to Argentina, or vice versa than on a luxury expedition cruise that navigates through the scenic fjords and channels of Tierra del Fuego. Running from September through April, the cruise covers a four-night route from Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina, passing though landmarks of the Patagonian landscape such as the Beagle Channel and Cape Horn. Expect first rate gastronomy, world-class wines, and an expedition program led by expert local guides.
Sail around Argentina’s largest lake, Lago Argentino. As you navigate around blue icebergs, you will witness spectacular views of some the Patagonia’s largest glaciers, such as Upsala Glacier, the Mayo and Black Glaciers and of course the colossal Perito Moreno Glacier. We can arrange these cruises as a day trip or, for a more in-depth glacial experience, a 3-day cruise.
Set sail from glorious Havana, French-founded Cienfuegos, or musical Santiago, settling into life on the ocean. Board a catamaran and sail past coral reefs, through pristine waters and watch pelicans dive, southern stingray glide, and marine turtles munch on seagrass. Look out for wild dolphins, too. Stop at secret beaches in coves along the coast, and on remote coral islands. Snorkel the shallow waters in search of rare elkhorn coral, colourful parrot fish, and sea anemones while your private chef prepares a BBQ seafood feast for lunch.
Experience luxury at sea on one of our lavish yachts and sailing boats. Whether you want to lounge on a sunset cruise, enjoy a day or two on your own private vessel or charter a yacht for your private group for a longer exclusive cruise to discover out of the way locations along the coast, we can tailor-make something for you. With the choice of the tranquil Caribbean Sea, the bold Pacific Ocean, or the geologically interesting Gulf Coast, sailing enthusiasts will love this life at sea. Getting out onto the water allows for unique snorkeling, diving, and fishing experiences that cannot be accessed by land and so allows for a unique voyage of discovery.
Cruising is a stress-free way to travel, and the casual atmosphere on a small ship cruise feels more like a community instead of a small city at sea, making this an incredible vacation, whether you're with family or traveling solo and hoping to make a few friends along the way.
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We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.