Ride the wave of small cruise companies

Do you look at those massive cruise ships and wince?

Crowded on board with what amounts to a small town trapped in a herd mentality.

Where pool space is at a premium and personalisation non-existent.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Cruising covers a vast array of options, and one that is popular in Australia is small cruises.

Here are some of the best.

Coral Expeditions

A small cruising company with three ships specialising in some of the most beautiful and remote regions of Australia, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

With no more than 120 guests, there are no queues, lengthy embarkation and disembarkation or elbowing to get to the buffet.

The smaller ships mean closer proximity to coastal regions and the ability to explore sheltered bays and squeeze into inlets those cruising behemoths could never dream of accessing. And if that’s not close enough, the company offers zodiac inflatables and their own Xplorer vessels to travel to shore to discover hidden bays and enjoy onshore activities.

Known for their excellent food and friendly, knowledgeable all-Australian crew.

True North Adventure Cruises

This boutique tour company receives rave reviews from happy travellers, many of who come back for more.  

True North concentrates on the WA coastline, but also travels Queensland, NSW and the NT and PNG.  

Once again, these smaller ships allow for a much more up-close and personal experience. One of their signature events is sailing into the King George River waterfalls so guests can have a shower on the bow.

Other standout features are an onboard helicopter, ‘adventure’ boats for off-ship excursions, a heavy emphasis on cultural experiences and only 36 guests.

Aurora Expeditions

This is an Australian company, but they don’t travel in Australia. Instead their bent is adventure tourism, mostly on Arctic itineraries, but they also have South American and European tours.

The ships are staffed by remote area specialists who provide expert onboard lectures to enhance your experience. They combine the luxury of cruise ships with the adventurous spirit of a pioneering travel company, despite being established in 1991.

There are just two ships in the fleet, the Greg Mortimer, named after one of the company’s founders and the Sylvia Earle, named for a pioneering marine biologist.

Both feature a revolutionary bow designed to both reduce sea sickness and bring passengers closer to the environment.


If you want the luxury experience, why not explore Silversea’s offerings? They have hundreds of cruises, including Australia and New Zealand and several specialist Kimberly cruises.

Silversea is an all-inclusive line offering port-to-port and door-to-door options and the ships only carry a couple of hundred passengers at the very most instead of a couple of thousand.

Silversea is known for its exceptional food – you can order ‘sustainable’ caviar 24/7 – and as it’s all-inclusive, plus there are complimentary drinks in your suite.

The staff to guest ratio is almost 1:1, so the service is highly personalised and includes a butler service to every suite.


Scenic is yet another Australian company that travels the world boutique style.

While Scenic is well known for its ocean cruising, including itineraries around Australia. Their river cruises are especially exclusive, the ‘largest’ – based in Europe – carries just 170 passengers. The largest ship touring Asia carries just 68 guests.

But there has been no compromise on room, Scenic is known for its custom-built ‘space ships’ with roomy cabins, public areas and varied dining options.

Have you enjoyed a small ship cruise? What made it different from other holidays?
Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Cruise etiquette: Guide to good manners while cruising

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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