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I’m in danger of being tempted…. I received a flyer early this week from Voyages to Antiquity with outline details and prices of their 2015 itineraries, and one or two of them look inviting.

Voyages to Antiquity are a company that I don’t think I’ve ever written about; I certainly haven’t ever cruised with them. They’re one of a small number of companies (others are Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery) who definitely do it differently.  I’ve been vaguely aware of all of them, and at some time in the past have obviously got myself on a mailing list or two. I believe that they provide ‘serious’ cruising with a strong historical/artistic focus and including lecture sessions from specialist speakers, possibly with tests afterwards! But that would be OK, especially as one of the periods that they cover is one that interests me greatly, ‘Late Antiquity‘.

There are a some perceptions that I have about all of these companies which may or may not be accurate:

  • They use very small ships – Voyages to Antiquity’s ‘Aegean Odyssey’ is 11,500 tons, Voyages Discovery’s ‘Voyager’ is about 15,000 tons, and Swan Hellenic’s Minerva is 12,500 tons – which make the even the smallest ships from P&O and other mainstream lines look big. That does cause me some concern; we did a short cruise on Black Watch and found her a bit small, and she’s twice the size of these ships. However, that was in winter; perhaps a summer cruise would be different. They’re all quite old, as well, and cabin sizes don’t seem big (at least, not the standard cabins).
  • They may not be cheap – I don’t recall seeing any bargain-basement fares;
  • They do seem popular – a quick trawl round the Swan Hellenic website showed that many cruises were pretty much sold out for this summer. I’ll bet P&O, Cunard & Celebrity would like to be in that position for their Mediterranean fly cruises. But it’s a lot of money per night for what might be a small cabin.

That sounds like I’m criticising them, and I don’t mean to do that – I do recognise that they’re doing something different, and that’s to be applauded. I was especially interested in some 14, 15 & 16 night cruises with Voyages to Antiquity in 2015 that actually only have 10 or 11 nights on board – the other nights (two or three at the beginning and end of the cruise) are in the embarkation and disembarkation cities, which given that these could be Seville, Rome, Venice or others, is actually all right. And I gather that the price includes a lot – looking at Voyages to Antiquity again, it says that the price includes flights (including regional flights), transfers, excursions, gratuities, drinks with dinner, and so on.

I’d very much welcome comments from any of my readers who have done cruises with any of these companies, or other similar companies that I haven’t mentioned. What was your experience? How do my perceptions match the reality?

2 Responses to “Small ship cruising in 2015?”

  1. Chris Hughes says:

    We only travel on small ships now having started on BIG ones not knowing any better. The Minerva is excellent! To us the he main difference is what you see/do rather than the facilities of the ship!

    Sitting with 1/2 million King Penguins in Antarctica is something unobtainable with BIG ships! Or drifting with 20 bubble feeding humpback whales for 2 hours in Alaska and later standing in gravels stream with salmon running between your legs, followed by watching bears one side of a river catch salmon in the rapids while we stood on other side!

    Have been on many of Noble-Caledonia ships, (typically only 100 people) to remote / interesting / amazing places! We aren’t interested in tourist trap destinations at/near big ports/towns which are only places big ships can berth!

    For rest of this year we are booked for 50 person ship in (Arctic) Svalbard Polar Bear/Walrus watching and in December 85 person icebreaker (with helicopter to get you ashore to remote inland colony!) to see the Emperor penguins at Snow Hill Antarctica!

    No they aren’t cheap, but you get WAY MORE than what you pay for!

    • Tom says:

      Chris – thanks for the comment. If you’ve read more recent posts you’ll know that in fact we won’t be small-ship cruising in 2015 – but it could be there for another year.

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