13 of the best small ship cruises

Try a boutique cruise holiday on a ship designed for fewer guests

best small ship cruises

As much as the mega liners of the world are tempting for the all-singing, all-dancing, resort-at-sea type of holidays, finding the best small ship cruises means seeking out lesser-known destinations and tapping into exclusivity, individuality, and personal service.

We think the best small ship cruises are those that are a little out of the ordinary. Perhaps it’s a cruise that follows an unusual itinerary around tiny islands, like the islands of Costa Rica or the Scotland's Western Isles . Or maybe the ship itself is extraordinary because it is more akin to a sailing boat, such as the stylish MS Galileo . We love small ship cruises when something extra-special happens onboard too, such as a celebrity cooking class . And what could be more glamorous than dropping anchor at St Tropez's celebrated regatta after a week exploring the French and Italian Rivieras ?

When searching for the best small ship cruises, you'll want to make sure they match the experiences you're after. For a friendly atmosphere where guests get to know each other over dinner, a European river cruise along the Douro or through Bordeaux can offer plenty of shared experiences and opportunities to meet new people. For something that will give you plenty to talk about when you get home, expedition cruises to far-flung places like Antarctica are thrilling and intrepid without sacrificing comfort.

For more ideas, we’ve rounded up the best small ship cruises to help you pick the perfect nautical holiday.

Sail the Seine from Paris to Normandy’s beaches

eiffel tower or tour eiffel aerial view, is a wrought iron lattice tower on the champ de mars in paris, france

Hop on board the lovely S.S. Joie de Vivre for a memorable small ship cruise through northern France, visiting Paris, Rouen, and the Palace of Versailles. This exquisite floating pied-à-terre is the epitome of French glamour, with fine antiques, handcrafted furniture, original artwork, and signature accents inspired by 20th-century Parisian design.

You'll find lots to do on board in between excursions, with a wellness centre, spa, wine bar, bistro, and entertainment centre. Joining you on board for part of your trip will be renowned chef Michel Roux, who'll host a live cooking demonstration and a Q&A, so you can heighten your knowledge of fine French cuisine.

And as if that wasn’t tempting enough, you’ll also coincide with the Rugby World Cup final in Paris, allowing you to soak in the celebratory atmosphere in the city on match day, or even attend the final yourself if you have tickets, before heading back to S.S. Joie de Vivre for a supremely comfy night’s sleep.

A royal-style voyage around Scottish islands

best small ship cruises

Exploring a region by cruise often means you can cover more ground in less time. On a small ship, there’s the opportunity to tuck into ports and waterways that big cruise liners can’t. The elegant Lord of the Glens, hosting just 54 guests, investigates the inland waters of the Caledonian Canal and hidden Scottish sea lochs. Unlike some ocean cruises where you enjoy endless views of the horizon, on a Scottish cruise, there are landmarks and landscapes to admire from the deck almost all the time, including Urquhart Castle, the waterway of Laggan Avenue that’s lined with Scots pines, and the looming Ben Nevis.

Lord of the Glens is a one-of-a-kind ship with a design inspired by the Royal Family's former floating palace, The Royal Yacht Britannia. There’s a feeling of warmth and comfort throughout the ship, where dinner is created from locally sourced ingredients, and drinks are served in crystal glasses by attentive staff as you look out at the Scottish scenery through enormous picture windows.

You can join a very special departure on Lord of the Glens in May 2023 hosted by TV weather presenter, Carol Kirkwood.

You'll hear Carol reminisce about her life growing up in Morar and more about her grandfather’s role in building the incredible Glenfinnan Viaduct — which you'll also have a chance to cross on a journey on the West Highland Railway included in the trip.

FIND OUT MORE

Another chance to explore Scotland aboard Lord of the Glens comes in October, when broadcaster and proud Scotswoman Kirsty Wark will join a sailing through the locks of the Caledonian Canal and onwards to the Sound of Mull.

For the first few days, Kirsty will be on hand to chat with guests about the history of modern Scotland - the perfect conversation as you glide past exceptional Scottish scenery.

Explore the islands of Venice on a glamorous cruise

small ship cruises

Take an oh-so-stylish cruise on S.S LA Venezia, an opulent river ship swathed in fine fabrics and finished with gilded accents and plenty of iconic Murano glass (she’s sailing to and from Venice, after all).

While the ship alone is enough to tempt, an October 2023 voyage from Venice to Torcello, Chioggia, Burano and Murano includes an exclusive private live cooking demonstration and market visit with chef Rick Stein, elevating this cruise from excellent to exceptional.

You’ll be in the company of just 125 other guests, so attentive service is assured. Just because it’s a small ship, doesn’t mean it’s light on choices. The S.S La Venezia has three dining venues, including an Italian kitchen on the upper deck.

This cruise offers exclusive access to some of the city's most treasured buildings, like St Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace — perfect if you're keen to learn more about Venice's art and architecture.

Navigate the islands and secluded coves of Croatia's coast

best small ship cruises

Croatia's Adriatic Coast is home to some of the country's most spectacular locations, like the Krka National Park and the sleek island resort of Hvar. Set sail with us on boutique ship MS Prestige on a voyage that takes you through these wonderful waters.

Highlights of the itinerary include sailing through the islands of Kornati National Park, a large archipelago with over 80 idyllic islands, and a visit to the enchanting historical city of Zadar. MS Prestige is a sleek, yacht-like cruiser that carries just 38 passengers and is the perfect vessel for exploring the coast and islands of Croatia. The ship’s size means it can easily tuck into smaller bays, and there's a platform at the rear of the ship so that you can easily swim in the famously crystal-clear waters of Croatia's peaceful coves.

The ultimate exclusive cruise in the Med

best small ship cruises

Royal Clipper is an extra-special ship and one that turns heads wherever she roams. Dressed to the nines with a complement of 42 white sails, she really is a beauty. You can explore Mediterranean waters powered by the wind whenever possible, giving a wonderful romance to your cruise that's hard to beat. Carrying just 227 guests, Royal Clipper is small enough to stop at some smaller ports along the French and Italian Rivieras.

Join an exciting cruise in September 2023 that coincides with the glamorous St Tropez regatta, where you'll drop anchor and enjoy the yacht races from the deck. That's not the only highlight of this one-off sailing: celebrity chef James Martin also joins this voyage demonstrating his skills in an onboard cooking demo and taking questions from guests.

A mega yacht in the Caribbean

best small cruise ships

Hosting just 100 guests (with 72 crew to look after them), the brand-new Emerald Azzurra is a gorgeous ship with billionaire-boat styling. This is quite a departure from your classic cruise ship, where you can spend days leaping off the ship's marine platform directly into the Caribbean Sea — then wrap yourself in one of Azzurra's Missoni towels post-dip.

A ship of this elegance deserves to be seen in the most glamorous locations. In March 2024, Emerald Azzurra follows a route around some of the Caribbean's most lusted-after locations, including Barbados, Tobago, Bequia, and Grenada.

A foodie cruise of Bordeaux with Raymond Blanc

best small ship cruises

With a range of opulent finishing touches, Scenic Diamond is a luxurious ship that carries a maximum of 155 passengers and offers exceptional dining, with all meals included on board.

One standout feature on board Scenic Diamond is its cookery school, Scenic Culinaire , where you can learn more about the art of French cuisine in between shore excursions. This makes it the perfect vessel for a gourmet exploration of France.

Join Good Housekeeping on a foodie cruise of Bordeaux in October and you'll sail through one of France's premier gastronomic regions in style. As well as lessons Scenic Culinaire , you'll have an exclusive live cooking demonstration and Q&A session with iconic chef, Raymond Blanc.

As you sail along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers you'll stop off to visit several historic vineyards, elegant châteaux wine estates, and local markets.

A low-impact expedition cruise around the British Isles

best small ship cruises

Some of the best small ship cruises can be better for the environment, especially when you choose one that runs on biofuel to reduce emissions and departs from the UK, making your entire trip flight-free.

Take a low-impact voyage on MS Maud, a ship from expedition specialist Hurtigruten. Hosting just over 500 guests means you get the best of both worlds — a personalised experience but with more onboard facilities than on truly dinky ships. On a 13-day adventure in the spring or summer of 2023, you can explore the waters closest to home, visiting Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, and the Isles of Scilly.

The fabulous beaches of Costa Rica

couple of tourists walking on exotic beach at sunset, costa rica

When you want to explore the coastline and islands of Costa Rica, it's sensible to find a cruise where you'll visit smaller ports and go a little off the beaten track — and to do that, you're going to need a smaller ship.

Journey down the west coast of Central America on Star Clipper, a traditional tall ship that evokes the romance of a grander age and carries just 166 guests. Over a week-long exploration, you'll sail into shimmering turquoise bays with a bounty of exotic marine life and call at destinations that serve as gateways to the national parks where you can see the lush mangroves and gorgeous lagoons and hear the calls of monkeys in the rainforests.

A never-forget Antartica expedition

best small ship cruises

A cruise to Antarctica really is nothing short of extraordinary. And to do it right, you need to join an accomplished crew who know how this wonderland works. In 2020, expedition cruise experts Hurtigruten introduced MS Fridtjof Nansen to its fleet and it fast became one of our favourite small vessels to explore Antarctic waters.

Hosting just 500 guests, it's not the smallest ship exploring the region. But in this instance, being a little larger means you get some extra facilities including a choice of restaurants (a definite plus on an 11-night cruise), a large science centre, and a fabulous outdoor swimming pool (which, yes, is heated so you can take a dip in as you gaze across the monochromatic landscape).

Another option for exploring the White Continent is on a 13-day expedition cruise aboard MS Roald Amundsen, which also takes you to the fascinating Falkland Islands, where you'll find grassy hills, wildflowers, sandy beaches, and colonies of penguins.

MS Roald Amundsen is a state-of-the-art expedition vessel specially designed for voyages in polar waters and like MS Fridtjof Nansen and most of Hurtigruten's fleet, includes a science centre, a two-level observation deck, and a range of excellent dining options.

Wine tasting on the Douro River

best small ship cruises

River cruises are ideal for seeing the diversity of a region, and there’s plenty to see hopping from place to place along the Douro River in Portugal. A-ROSA ALVA is a small river boat that promises plenty of variety on an itinerary that starts in the colourful city of Porto before sailing into the wine-growing valleys.

Guests have the chance to disembark and take part in the traditional grape harvest, but that’s not the only reason it’s the perfect cruise for wine lovers. There are also plenty of opportunities to taste the local port wine at the Quinta da Roseda estate near Pinhão and sip from the ship’s selection as you look out at the passing scenery from ALVA’s Panorama Lounge.

Yachting around the Cyclades

best small ship cruises

Fancy boarding a ship that’s more like a private yacht than a cruise ship? MS Galileo is a vessel that harks back to the ships of yesteryear, venturing around the Greek islands with its white, billowing sails unfurled. You’ll dock at smaller islands, including gorgeous Folegandros – but you won’t miss out on experiencing why sun-splashed Santorini and Paros get their sought-after status.

Galileo typically stays in port until the wee hours, allowing time to disembark after dinner for evening strolls and drinks by the waterside. Because there’s a little more wriggle room in the itinerary than on larger ships, don’t be surprised if your crew makes an unscheduled swim stop for guests to take a refreshing dip in the sparkling waters.

There are just 24 cabins on board, making Galileo feel more like an oversized millionaire’s yacht than a cruise ship. And if the idea of a typical cruise with dressing up in gowns under the hot Greek sunshine doesn’t seem like a happy match, you can leave your sequins at home – this is a cruise that, despite feeling exclusive, is blissfully informal too.

An island-hopping adventure in the Hebrides

best small ship cruises

Scotland's Inner and Outer Hebrides are known and loved for their dramatic landscapes, from serene lochs to towering mountains. There are hundreds of islands to explore, so navigating on a small ship is a comfortable and convenient way of seeing the best of the isles, without having to worry about local ferry timetables.

Hurtigruten's environmentally progressive ship MS Spitsbergen is the perfect vessel for exploring Scotland's smaller islands — compact enough to manoeuvre into ports on tiny islands, but large enough to feature excellent facilities like a sauna, hot tub, lounge bar, and library. Like all Hurtigruten's ships, you'll also find a science centre on board, so you can learn more about the intriguing landscapes and wildlife you'll be seeing on your cruise.

Join us for an island-hopping adventure in the Hebrides on MS Spitsbergen and you'll see fantastic scenery, varied birds and wildlife and taste delicious whiskies at local distilleries.

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Small Ship Cruises

If you want a great deal on a small ship cruise holiday, we highly recommend you contact us today to hear about our exclusive special offers and the latest discounted fares.

Established as the UK’s original luxury cruise specialist, we partner with world-famous cruise lines such as Silversea , Seabourn , Windstar and Scenic Ocean Cruises in offering small ship cruises in 2024 and 2025 to a range of captivating destinations throughout the world.

Regardless of which operator you choose, a voyage on a small ship promises a truly unforgettable cruise experience with the highest standards in onboard service, dining and facilities. Furthermore, choosing small cruises means you can visit more off-the-beaten-path ports and islands, many of which are inaccessible to larger cruise ships.

The Definition of a ‘small ship.’

What constitutes a ‘small’ cruise ship is the subject of some debate. Some believe that anything over 200 guests is too big. Others would argue that any ship offering a capacity for fewer than 1,000 guests is small. At The Cruise Line, we recommend that a ‘small ship’ is a vessel with no more than 600 guests.

Advantages of Small Ship Cruising

Enjoying a small ship cruise has two main advantages; the first is that many cruise enthusiasts believe that cruising on a small ship cruise line offers a greater level of intimacy that larger vessels cannot replicate. Secondly, the public spaces on small ships are generally more relaxed, and there’s often a more excellent camaraderie between passengers and the ship’s crew.

The second advantage of choosing a small ship cruise is that they offer a wider variety of ports on their itineraries. In addition, due to their size, small ships can easily navigate their way into remote ports of call that are generally inaccessible to larger vessels. For this reason, many cruisers prefer small-ship cruises when exploring destinations such as Alaska or the Galapagos Islands .

Best Small Ship Cruise Lines

The cruise line you choose for your small-ship cruise holiday will depend on personal preference and, perhaps most importantly, where you want to go. But, from sleek yachts and luxurious river ships to expedition-ready vessels, we guarantee you’ll find a cruise line offering the kind of small-ship experience that meets your requirements.

As a guide, here is a selection of the best small-ship cruise lines and cruise ships:

Up to 100 guests:

  • Emerald Azzurra, Emerald Sakara ( Emerald Yacht Cruises ) – up to 100 guests
  • Le Ponant (Ponant Cruises) – up to 67 guests
  • Hebridean Princess (Hebridean Island Cruises) – up to 48 guests
  • Sea Cloud II (Sea Cloud Cruises) – up to 94 guests
  • Silver Origin (Silversea) – up to 100 guests

Up to 150 guests

  • Celebrity Flora – up to 120 guests
  • Sea Cloud Spirit (Sea Cloud Cruises) – up to 136 guests
  • SeaDream I, SeaDream II ( SeaDream Yacht Club ) – up to 112 guests
  • Wind Spirit, Wind Star ( Windstar Cruises ) – up to 148 guests

Up to 250 guests

  • Le Bougainville, Le Champlain, Le Dumont d’Urville, Le Laperouse ( Ponant Cruises ) – up to 184 guests
  • Hanseatic Inspiration (Hapag-Lloyd Cruises) – up to 230 guests
  • S cenic Eclipse I , Scenic Eclipse II (Scenic Ocean Cruises) – up to 228 guests
  • World Navigator, World Traveller, World Voyager ( Atlas Ocean Voyages ) – up to 196 guests.

Up to 400 guests

  • Star Breeze, Star Legend, Star Pride (Windstar Cruises) – up to 254 guests
  • MS Fram (Hurtigruten) – up to 318 guests
  • Seabourn Venture, Seabourn Pursuit ( Seabourn ) – up to 317 guests
  • Wind Surf (Windstar Cruises) – up to 374 guests

Up to 600 guests

  • Seven Seas Navigator (Regent Seven Seas) – up to 557 guests
  • Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest, Seabourn Sojourn (Seabourn) – up to 540 guests

Book Small Ship Cruises with The Cruise Line

To learn more about small ship cruises, please call our team of Voyage Consultants on 0800 008 6677 . Alternatively, please browse the collection of voyages below and make an online enquiry for your preferred sailing.

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Scotland Slowly

  • Observe prehistoric structures
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Classic England Cruise

  • Taste the English Cream Tea
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Ancient Isles: England, Ireland, and Scotland

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Scottish Isles and Norwegian Fjords Voyage - with Smithsonian Journeys

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Journey along Celtic shores

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British Isles Rhapsody

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  • Experience rich history of Scotland
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Travel + Leisure Readers' 5 Favorite Small-ship Ocean Cruise Lines of 2023

Readers shared why great things come in small (ship) packages in our annual "World’s Best Awards" survey for 2023.

Paul Brady is the news director at Travel + Leisure and the brand's expert on cruise travel. He has been covering the travel industry for more than 15 years for outlets including Condé Nast Traveler , Skift , and The Huffington Post .

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  • What Readers Loved
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This year, small ships seem to be hitting the mark. These vessels, which Travel + Leisure defines as those with 150 to 299 cabins, offer what many readers consider the perfect blend of choice and comfort, with plenty of onboard dining and activities without the at-times overwhelming selection found on much larger ships. In fact, small ships may be driving a surge of interest in cruising generally, as new and newly refreshed options in this range are drawing both longtime cruisers and those eager to try a new way of traveling.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Nearly 165,000 T+L readers completed the 2023 survey, an increase of nearly 25 percent over pre-pandemic voting levels. A total of more than 685,000 votes were cast across over 8,500 unique properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

For the cruise category, respondents were asked to rate individual ships; the results were combined to generate scores for cruise lines in different categories based on number of cabins. The small-ship ocean cruise line category is only for ships with 150 to 299 cabins. Some cruise lines may appear in multiple categories depending on the makeup of their fleet.

Ships were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Cabins/facilities
  • Itineraries/destinations
  • Excursions/activities

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses. 

Tim McKenna/Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

What Readers Loved 

In the 2023 voting, readers gave high marks to established brands that have reinvigorated their offerings. Consider No. 2 Windstar Cruises, which recently rebuilt three of its small ships at an investment of $250 million, adding more suites, improved culinary options, and enhanced spa facilities to each. “I'm never going to be able to get on another cruise line,” said one convert, who traveled on Star Legend .

Meanwhile Paul Gauguin Cruises (No. 3) may have slipped a bit from its 2022 ranking but still posted a score of more than 92 points. That’s thanks to its luxurious service — most rooms come with butler service — and, no doubt, its dreamy itineraries that visit remote atolls in South Pacific and the cruise line’s private beach on Bora Bora. “It's the only way to see this part of the world,” one voter shared.

This year’s small-ship leader, though, made its mark with two new vessels that are unlike anything else sailing today. Read on to see how Viking captured this category — and for more details on all the top lines.

Courtesy of Viking

Typically thought of as a midsize-ship line, Viking took top honors in this category, too, thanks to its twin ships Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis . The expedition vessels, both of which have 189 cabins, are built for out-there adventures, whether on the waters of the Great Lakes or in the Southern Ocean on the way to Antarctica. “I can't say enough about how wonderful our experience was on the Viking Octantis to Antarctica. The ship is stunning in every way,” one voter said. “The excursions were all well-planned and executed — and the science and educational sessions were excellent,” another added. While shorter trips aboard these ships are possible, Viking can also arrange for a “ longitudinal world cruise .” These multi-month journeys will take intrepid guests from Minnesota to Ushuaia, Argentina — or the other way around — in small-ship comfort, with port excursions and insightful lectures along the way. 

The Full List 

Reader Score: 95.35

2. Windstar Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 92.72

3. Paul Gauguin Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 92.56

4. Seabourn

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 92.51

5. Silversea

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 90.56

We are proud to have won Luxury Cruise Agency of the Year 2022 at the TTG Luxury Awards! Read more >

Mundy Cruising

7 of the best small ship cruises from uk ports in 2022 and 2023.

Published 1st March 2022 in Cruise Advice By Edwina Lonsdale /cruise-news/cruise-advice/best-small-ship-cruises-uk-ports

Silversea exploring the British Isles, one of the best options for a small ship cruise from a UK port

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As we begin to travel again, many of us will initially be looking to avoid airports and stressful or complicated travel arrangements. The perfect solution is a relaxed UK departure, allowing you to drive to the port for an easy embarkation, and hey presto, you are already on holiday!

In our opinion, nothing could be nicer than to take a small ship cruise from the UK, although of course 'small' is a relative term. Whether you want to avoid the crowds and queues of the megaships while still enjoying excellent facilities and entertainment on a resort-style ship, or you prefer the intimacy of a tiny but spacious vessel such as the 50-guest Hebridean Princess, there is going to be an appealing voyage for you.

Options include longer cruises and itineraries visiting the Baltic, Norway, Iceland and even Greenland, or southwards to France and Spain. For many, a British Isles cruise will have a magic all of its own. Here is our pick of the best small ships cruising from UK ports:

1. Hebridean Princess

This little gem of a ship, known to many as the Queen's favourite (she has chartered it twice for family celebrations), is the perfect choice if you want to explore the beauties of Scotland's Western Isles and more. Just 50 fortunate guests can travel in cosseted country house style, with plenty of tables for two at dinner, and tiny group tours ashore including walking and cycling, visiting private stately homes, and enjoying a wee dram at a remote distillery. Inclusive fares, whilst high, cover every detail of your trip from the moment you embark, and you will travel in unpretentious style as truly welcome guests.

Hebridean Princess

2. Silver Moon and Silver Shadow

Silversea's newest ship, the 596-guest Silver Moon, sails round-trip from Southampton in September 2022 on a 13-night exploration of the Norwegian Fjords. Silver Moon features a new dining concept, S.A.L.T. (Sea And Land taste), showcasing local flavours from each destination with special restaurant menus, cookery classes and shore excursions. Highlights of this cruise include the charming Hanseatic wharf of Bergen, the dramatic Geirangerfjord and the picturesque little village of Flåm.

In June 2023, the ever-popular 388-guest Silver Shadow embarks on a not-to-be-missed round-trip Southampton voyage exploring the Norwegian Fjords, circumnavigating Iceland and travelling the Scottish and Irish coasts on a particularly interesting 29-night sailing.

Silversea - Silver Moon

3. Ponant Explorers

Ponant's sleek 184-guest Explorer class yachts bring a touch of French flair to the coastlines of Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 2022, starting with a short 6-night round-trip voyage from Glasgow on Le Dumont d'Urville, departing on 17th June . Marvel at the iconic Eilean Donan castle and Iona's famous Abbey before crossing the Irish Sea to explore Belfast and Dublin. Sister ship Le Champlain also offers two sailings between Edinburgh and Glasgow in July and August 2022 , sailing north to the fascinating Shetland and Orkney islands.

Looking ahead to 2023, you can enjoy an 8-night voyage on 3rd May from London to Glasgow on Le Bellot, visiting the charming towns of Cowes, Penzance and Fishguard, as well as Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast. Then on 5th May and Le Dumont d'Urville teams up with Smithsonian Journeys on an 8-night voyage between London and Glasgow exploring the rich history and culture on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Ponant - Le Champlain and Le Dumont d'Urville

4. Seabourn Ovation

Seabourn Ovation's 14-day roundtrip from Dover departing 17th September 2022 takes 604 guests on a magical exploration of the British Isles. Along the way you will visit castles, prehistoric fortresses, medieval churches and abbeys, and stately homes, all alongside extraordinary natural beauty and cosmopolitan cities.

In 2023, Ovation returns to UK shores with three fantastic voyages. Departing 23rd April , the first is the 10-night round-trip voyage from Tilbury - 'Land Of Fjords & Fairytales' including Oslo, Gothenburg and Copenhagen, and a transit of the Kiel Canal. In May a 21-night Baltic voyage includes two separate overnight calls in St Petersburg as well as visits to Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallinn and more. Finally, a 14-night 10th September round Britain voyage focuses on our own nation's highlights with calls in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Ireland.

Seabourn Ovation

Oceania's pretty little 684-guest Sirena has lots of ex UK itineraries to choose from in early and late summer 2022. If you enjoy the unpretentious style and excellent dining options on the Oceania ships, you have so many options with various 10- and 12-day cruises, which can be combined to create 20- and 22-day explorations. Tour the British Isles or try south, east, north or west: you are spoilt for choice on this mouthwatering range of Southampton round-trips.

In 2023 there is a choice of vessel as well as itinerary from Oceania with the 1250-guest Riviera offering a June voyage visiting France and Spain as well as an August British Isles itinerary. The brand new 1200-guest Vista also explores close to home on a single Southampton round-trip as part of her inaugural season, calling at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast, Dublin and more.

Oceania Insignia pool deck

6. Seven Seas Splendor

Regent's magnificent new ship, the 750-guest Seven Seas Splendor, joined the fleet in February 2020. Her spacious accommodation, huge range of dining options, beautiful observation lounge and inviting deck areas are perfect if you wish to explore from the British Isles in style, with options in both May and September 2022 .

Travel the Atlantic Coasts of France and Spain in May 2023 , or UK and Irish shores in June 2023 . Additionally, the splendid Seven Seas Voyager will be sailing a round-Britain route in August 2023 . And remember, on Regent all your shore excursions are included in the fare.

Regent Seven Seas Splendor - Pool deck

7. Explora Journeys

Launching in May 2023, we expect Explora Journeys to quickly carve out a slice of the luxury cruise market with a fleet of resort-style vessels offering spacious accommodation, a fantastic range of dining and plenty of facilities. The inaugural season of the 922-guest Explora I includes a 9-night 24th August 2023 Southampton to Glasgow voyage with an overnight call in Edinburgh, along with time in Newcastle and Invergordon, Stornoway, Oban and Liverpool.

Explora Journeys - Explora I

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

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7 Jun - 14 Jun 2022 (7 Nights)

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14 Jun - 21 Jun 2022 (7 Nights)

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8 small cruise lines for when you hate big cruises

Small ship cruise lines might be just the ticket when the idea of a huge vessel is unappealing to you; here are some of the best small cruises.

Words by Nick Dalton

Small cruises might seem a lot more appealing to some at the moment after MSC Preziosa recently hit the headlines after being too big to fit into the port of Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides.

The 139,000-ton ship, the length of seven jumbo jets and with capacity for 4,345 passengers, was instead forced to anchor outside the Scottish island town.

In further news for mammoth vessels, Royal Caribbean’s Utopia of the Seas has celebrated its “float out”. Set to sail in July 2024, the ship – 1,188 ft. in length (or nearly 12 blue whales end to end) – will take the crown of the world’s biggest cruise ship from incumbent vessel Wonder of the Seas.

While big is best for plenty of travellers – what if (small) size matters to you? If thousands of holidaymakers sounds unpleasant – these small-ship cruise lines will no doubt appeal.

Antarctica

Expedition ships Swan Hellenic

Swan Hellenic is a historic name that has sailed back with three new expedition ships that tackle the polar regions – and fascinating places in between – with pure style. SH Vega and SH Minerva take 152 guests while SH Diana, which arrived in 2023, has upped that to 192. Understated Scandi style and life centring on the soothing Observation Lounge.

Lectures from experts unfold the secrets of everywhere from the Antarctic to the treasures of Jordan and while you might have spent the day exploring on a Zodiac inflatable you can come home to comforting bars and excellent food on these small cruises.

Boutique elegance Azamara

Not the smallest – the Azamara four ships, Journey, Pursuit, Quest and Onward, hold from 700 to 800 guests – but friendly, unpressured boutique elegance without a fuss. There’s entertainment on deck but not of the manic disco variety – I’ve seen a cool Filipino rock ‘n’ roll band playing neat covers.

In some ports there are AzAmazing Days – in pastel-hued Porto Venere on the Italian Cinque Terra coast there was food, drink and music around the seafront. And the White Party is like something from a continental movie: pool deck tables are set up for all guests (all urged to wear white), food is cooked on real barbecues and there’s fizz and music. Truly amazing when docked somewhere like Monte Carlo .

Azamara Quest

Sci-fi- superyachts Emerald Cruises

The company known for cool river cruises has taken to the seas with a pair of stunning sci-fi-looking superyachts, Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara , each carrying only 100 guests in a style that makes you feel like an oligarch. Everything’s cool and white, from the sundecks to the glass-walled rooms to the restaurants.

There’s no rush to get off on these small cruises – and there’s even a marina platform with an array of toys including paddleboards and sea scooters. For land, there’s a fleet of e-bikes.

All-inclusive luxury Silversea

Silversea boasts a dozen ships sailing the world, from 100-passenger Galapagos-based Silver Origin to ice-class 144-passenger Silver Explorer to more conventional ships taking 600 people, to the newest of all, Silver Nova , for 728 guests.

This is unhurried, all-inclusive luxury wherever you want to go, from a Med jaunt to the ends of the earth, with just as many people around you as you can manage. Around-the-clock butler service and a vast choice of cuisines and restaurants depending on the ship.

Silversea ship Silver Nova Salt Kitchen cruise news

Wind-blown delights Star Clippers

Sail away in serenity on a tall ship with Star Clippers. Of three wind-blown delights, two (Star Clipper and Star Flyer) accommodate 166 passengers while flagship Royal Clipper can manage 227 and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest square rigger.

All mod cons in a fairytale setting with an elegant restaurant, while Royal Clipper has a retractable watersports platform. Get away from it all lazing on the rigging as the sea splashes beneath you, climb the mast, or drift off as stirring music plays while the sails unfurl as you depart another beautiful port.

Well-priced cruises Variety Cruises

Well-priced cruises on a fleet of eight small but modern boats from a private company based in Athens. The biggest Variety Cruises vessel for 72 guests, is flagship Variety Voyager sailing the Aegean and out to the Cape Verde Islands.

Most hold fewer than 50 passengers with plenty of small ship cruises around the Med. Harmony V (49 guests) ventures to Egypt, Jordan and Israel while Panorama II sails in Tahiti, Pegasos in the Seychelles . A great chance to find yourself amongst like-minded folk with themed sailings including history, nature, active and LGBTQ.

Variety Cruises Seychelles

Modern ships Cruise Croatia

There’s nowhere better for a small ship cruise than the Croatian coast , littered with beautiful islands… Korcula, the believed home of Marco Polo, hip Hvar, Brac with its gorgeous beaches and many more.

Plus mainland highs including Dubrovnik, Split with its mountain-leaping walls, and Split, its old town actually the retirement palace of Roman emperor Diocletian (visit the historic underbelly foundations).

Cruise Croatia has 16 modern small ships, none holding more than 38 passengers. Cruises – often taking in Montenegro – on ships such as MS Markan which has balconies, sundecks and a swimming platform – feature guided food, wine and cultural tours, daily swim stops, water sports and lectures.

Discovery yachts Scenic

Scenic has two ultra-luxury ships, Scenic Eclipse and Scenic Eclipse II , for 228 guests (200 in polar regions. Plenty of room to chill – and if you really want to get away from people, there are the rides on the onboard helicopters (there are two on each ship) and submarine as well as the Zodiac inflatables and thoroughly relaxing kayaks.

Discovery yachts they call them, with six-star service. Sleek, contemporary décor. Go for the two-bedroom Penthouse Suite if you can but everyone gets a balcony – and butler service too.

Scenic Eclipse II

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As the UK’s leading agents for all major river cruise lines and small ship, luxury and sailing cruises, we offer unique cruises and exclusive discounts. Visit our award-winning websites to find thousands of cruises, the latest special offers, unbiased advice, customer cruise reviews, detailed deck plans and images for thousands of river and small ships.

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- in comfort and style, sunrises and sunsets, to capture your heart, wildlife encounters, - in their natural environment, the scottish cruise company, - with hospitality at its heart, breathtaking scenery, - best seen from the sea, something for everyone, - on a scottish cruise, the best of scotland's larder, - prepared on board, a majestic line cruise: the perfect way to explore the west coast of scotland and the hebrides.

The Majestic Line has been hosting Scottish cruising holidays on the waters off the West Coast for over 15 years. Most of our cruises depart from Oban, gateway to the Highlands and the Islands of the Outer and Inner Hebrides – sailing in these waters is the best way to explore the islands and the beautiful coastline of Scotland. Our five small cruise ships are beautiful floating hotels and have been designed to access remote and sheltered anchorages that larger boats find inaccessible. Sailing from April to October we make the most of the longer summer days with opportunities for walking ashore and wildlife spotting or just relaxing onboard. You can find out more about where we go on our Cruising Area.

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Our five small cruise ships offer you a truly unique experience, a Scottish holiday with a difference. Our converted fishing trawlers, Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan , provide accommodation for up to 11 guests, whilst our purpose built vessels, Glen Etive and Glen Shiel , can accommodate a maximum of 12 guests. Each of those boats has a crew of four onboard; Skipper, Chef, Engineer and Steward.

For 2023, we are delighted to introduce Glen Rosa. With a crew of Skipper and Chef, she can accommodate up to 6 guests in 3 ensuite cabins.

Our crews provide the very best in Scottish Hospitality and do their best to ensure your cruise runs smoothly. Meals are freshly prepared on board utilizing the wonderful Scottish Larder with our Chefs focusing on locally sourced seasonal produce – seafood is of course a highlight for many on our cruises with mussels from Loch Spelve, langoustine and occasionally a lobster caught in the creels that we keep on board.

The Majestic Line offers a choice of 17 different cruise itineraries from 3 nights , 6 nights or 10 nights . We cruise waters surrounding some of Scotland's iconic islands such as Islay, Jura, Mull, Skye, St Kilda, Staffa and Iona, the small isles of Rum, Muck and Eigg. You can go ashore to enjoy the fantastic scenery, take a walk, visit one of the malt whisky distilleries or gin distilleries, watch the local wildlife. We also operate a river cruise through the Caledonian Canal and Neptune’s Staircase to Loch Ness and sail to Inverness. Discover our Cruises .

The seas off the West Coast of Scotland provide an incredible habitat for all sorts of marine wildlife and our guests regularly see dolphins, porpoises, seals, basking sharks, minke whales, orca, not to mention the amazing sea birds from puffins and petrels to gannets and guillemots. Find out more about the species we regularly see at Wildlife of the West Coast of Scotland and Hebrides .

If you are looking to discover the West Coast of Scotland and the Hebrides in a relaxing and enjoyable way with good company and excellent food then a Majestic Line cruise is the perfect Scottish holiday for you. Discover your Scottish cruising holiday here .

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We were also very lucky with the weather and really enjoyed the chance to explore the islands - we had no idea there were so many little islands off the coast of Scotland. All in all we had such a fabulous time that we all want to book another cruise.

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9 of the best small ship cruises to the Caribbean

Published 2nd August 2023 in Cruise Advice By Claire Benktander /cruise-news/cruise-advice/best-small-ship-cruises-caribbean

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The Caribbean is one of the world's most appealing cruising destinations, renowned for its gorgeous beaches, balmy temperatures and easy-going island culture. Discover the tiny islands and secluded beaches that the big ships can't reach with our pick of the best small ship cruises to the Caribbean.

Yet we often hear people writing the Caribbean off, lumping all of the islands together based on bad past experiences or some horror story they've heard from a friend. As with so many preconceptions about cruising, this negative view of the Caribbean tends to come from the world of mainstream megaships.

The big ships are restricted to busy, overdeveloped islands where going ashore means running a gauntlet of hassle from street vendors, touts and taxi drivers. Often the main attractions are duty free shopping malls, and the chances of experiencing an authentic slice of Caribbean culture are minimal. Some of the big cruise lines even stop at their own private islands, a sanitised pastiche of the Caribbean that we find rather depressing.

Bequia, St Vincent & The Grenadines

A small ship cruise around the Caribbean is a completely different experience, allowing you to visit the smaller islands and secluded bays that the bigger ships can't reach. On sleepy islands like Bequia and Tobago you'll encounter none of the hassle that plagues the more mainstream islands, and you'll find idyllic beaches and lush rainforests still largely unsullied by mass tourism. Island-hopping around the Caribbean by small ship is a fantastic way to explore the region, giving you a taste of several different islands and their surprising diversity, from the natural wilderness of Dominica to the classic cars and communist murals of Cuba.

Classic car in Havana, Cuba

The most convenient Caribbean gateway for UK cruisers is Barbados, with regular direct flights from both Gatwick and Manchester. You can also fly direct to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, both of which serve as turnaround ports for many Caribbean cruises, though you will of course have to contend with the joys of US immigration. Other popular turnaround ports include San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Philipsburg (St Maarten), convenient for the US market but less so for the UK, with no direct flights. There are also occasional cruises departing from St Lucia, Antigua or Jamaica, as well as longer itineraries that visit the Caribbean en route to Central and South America.

The Pitons, Saint Lucia

Cruise ships generally head to the Caribbean as winter descends on Europe and North America, with high season running from December through to February. Temperatures rise and rain becomes more likely as you head towards the summer months, though downpours tend to be short and sharp. Hurricane season officially runs from 1 June to 30 November, and the peak usually comes in August and September, by which time you're unlikely to find many cruise ships in the Caribbean.

Beach in Barbados

There is a huge amount of choice when it comes to ships, routings and ports of call, so here is our guide to eight of the best small ship cruise lines visiting the Caribbean:

1. SeaDream Yacht Club

SeaDream's laid-back, al fresco style is perfectly suited to tropical latitudes, and both of their 112-guest yachts winter in the Caribbean. Itineraries include Bridgetown round-trips focusing on the stunning Grenadines, a particularly attractive option for UK travellers, and cruises around the Virgin Islands from San Juan or St Thomas.

SeaDream Yacht Club beach service in the Caribbean

2. Windstar Cruises

Windstar's fleet of six small ships includes three sail-assisted yachts and three all-suite former Seabourn ships, giving you two different ways to cruise the Caribbean. Their 14-night Star Collector voyages out of Barbados are a great option if you're looking for a longer trip, and Windstar also have a handful of itineraries visiting the so-called 'ABC Islands' of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

Windstar Cruises yachts in the Caribbean

3. Seabourn

Seabourn are another good choice for those seeking a more in-depth exploration of the Caribbean, with 14-night round-trip voyages from both Barbados and St Martin. Their fleet of seven ships is the most modern of all the ultra-luxury lines, with a refined yet relaxed ambience on board that is perfectly suited to cruising the Caribbean.

Seabourn - Caviar in the surf

4. Silversea

Silversea's classic fleet, ranging in size from 298 to 728 guests, offers a number of Caribbean options, including a handful of Barbados round-trips. There are also various itineraries embarking or disembarking in Fort Lauderdale, and Silversea have some interesting voyages combining the islands of the Caribbean with either Bermuda or Central America.

Silversea's Silver Spirit in Tortola, British Virgin Islands

The stylish yachts of French cruise line Ponant are a great choice for something a bit different. As you might expect , the French Caribbean features prominently in their programme, with unusual turnaround ports including the island of Martinique and Cayenne, capital of French Guiana. Their itineraries range from classic Caribbean routes to expedition-style voyages exploring Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula and the amazing dive sites of Belize.

Ponant - Le Boréal

6. Sea Cloud Cruises

The majestic tall ships of Sea Cloud offer a very different cruising experience, marrying the romance of travelling under sail with high standards of service on board. Watching the crew hoisting the sails by hand is a remarkable spectacle, and you'll be the envy of other cruisers as you set sail from ports including Bridgetown, Santo Domingo and Havana.

Sea Cloud II

7. Star Clippers

Star Clippers is a more affordable option for tall ship enthusiasts, with the five-masted Royal Clipper and four-masted Star Flyer both wintering in the Caribbean. Royal Clipper focuses on the Grenadines and Windward Islands and operates out of Barbados, making it the most popular option for UK cruisers. Star Flyer is based in St Martin, visiting islands including Anguilla, St Barths and the British Virgin Islands.

Royal Clipper at sea

8. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Just launched, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is an exciting new cruise line that promises to bring the Ritz-Carlton brand of luxury to the oceans for the first time. Three super-stylish yachts are perfectly suited to cruising in the sun-kissed Caribbean - the first, 298-guest Evrima, offers Bridgetown and San Juan round-trips between December to March, 456-guest Ilma and Luminara will arrive in 2024 and 2025 respectively.

small cruise ships from uk

9. Emerald Yacht Collection

Emerald Azzurra and Sakara are the first ships in the Emerald yacht fleet, carrying just 100 lucky travellers in sleek and stylish surroundings with a marina at the back of the yachts, allowing you to hop straight into the Caribbean waters with a host of water toys. Voyages between November and April include St John's round trips that visit Martinique, the Grenadines and St Lucia, as well as sailings to and from San Juan that call in at Saint Kitts and Nevis, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and glamorous St Barths. There are also longer two-week voyages encompassing both the above regions, including round-trip Barbados sailings.

small cruise ships from uk

Claire is Marketing Manager at Mundy Cruising, having worked with the company for nearly a year and in travel for over 8 years. Most recently she's cruised on Seabourn and has also sailed with Ponant and Uniworld. Her favourite destination is Sweden however she's also enjoyed cruises in the the Galapagos, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Greek Isles and the Far East. When she’s not travelling she loves weekends away in the countryside.

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Small ship cruises to the Caribbean

Sea front in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan (Puerto Rico) to Hamilton

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

28 Mar - 4 Apr 2024 (7 Nights)

From £4,831 pp

Children on the beach in Barbados

Jewels of the Windward Islands

Windstar Cruises

From £2,133 pp

Soufrière and the Pitons, Saint Lucia

Philipsburg to Philipsburg

Sea Cloud Cruises

28 Mar - 8 Apr 2024 (11 Nights)

Church of San Juan Bautista in Arucas, Gran Canaria

Ocean Voyage: Fort-de-France - Las Palmas

29 Mar - 8 Apr 2024 (10 Nights)

From £2,590 pp

Old town streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan (Puerto Rico) to Charlotte Amalie

SeaDream Yacht Club

30 Mar - 6 Apr 2024 (7 Nights)

From £3,576 pp

Historic Bridgetown, Barbados

Dreaming of the Caribbean

30 Mar - 8 Apr 2024 (9 Nights)

Philipsburg, St Maarten

Ocean Crossings + Ponta Delgada, Azores

30 Mar - 13 Apr 2024 (14 Nights)

From £1,398 pp

Tram outside Lisbon cathedral, Portugal

Eastbound Atlantic Ocean Crossing

Star Clippers

30 Mar - 15 Apr 2024 (16 Nights)

From £1,905 pp

Flamenco dresses in Málaga, Spain

Star Collector: Atlantic Interludes & Iberian Indulgences

30 Mar - 21 Apr 2024 (22 Nights)

From £4,909 pp

Marigot, St Martin

Eastern Caribbean with St. Barths

Emerald Cruises

From £7,620 pp

Street in old San Juan, Puerto Rico

West Indies Island Hopping with Chef Michael Bonacini

From £12,690 pp

Vintage car in South Beach, Miami

14-Day Antillean Allure

31 Mar - 15 Apr 2024 (15 Nights)

From £5,799 pp

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The Best New Small-Ship Cruises to Book in 2024

A uthentic. It was Merriam Webster's top searched word for 2023 and one that has dominated the travel vernacular in recent years. And while many would not necessarily associate the word with ocean cruising , the growth in popularity of small-ship cruises-particularly sailings with 500 guests or fewer-indicates that in the cruising world, passengers are seeking a more intimate, less crowded, and yes, arguably more authentic sailing experience.

Take expedition cruising , for example. As the number of adventure-focused ships and yachts has exploded in recent years, these cruises are no longer just about extreme voyages in polar regions. They are also about offering a deeper look into the culture, food, history, and environmental fragility of remote wonders of the world.

Although there isn't a huge number of new small ships being introduced, there are a few notable vessels that have either recently launched or are launching this year with a focus on the idea that smaller is not just better, but more sustainable, too. These new small-ship cruises bring with them some exciting and more immersive new itineraries to destinations both warm and wintry that have us ready to pack our bags and sail away.

Sea Cloud Cruises' "Sea Cloud Spirit"

  • Suggested itinerary: Reset your mind and body on an eight-night sailing through Spain's Canary Islands and on to Morocco on a special cruise featuring experts in restorative health. Pricing starts at $4,895 per person.

What's more authentic-and sustainable-than setting sail on a tall ship where the sails are hoisted up each day by hand? Although not technically new (it was launched in 2021), the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit and its two sister ships, Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II , are upping their game in a push to introduce Sea Cloud Cruises' unique product to North American travelers. The German company has traditionally catered to German and British passengers. As part of its effort to expand its reach and appeal, Sea Cloud is adding wellness programs with daily onboard yoga and guest fitness gurus, in addition to special food- and wine-focused sailings with well-known chefs making appearances. Sea Cloud Spirit , the largest of the three-ship fleet with 69 cabins, was meticulously designed to pay homage to the original Sea Cloud , which was the world's largest private sailing yacht when Wall Street broker Edward Francis Hutton had it built in 1931 for his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The Sea Cloud Spirit combines the experience of decades of traditional seamanship with the modern-day luxuries of a private yacht. Cabins range from 172-square-foot single cabins to 300-square-foot balcony suites with soaking tubs. There's a large fitness center and spa, which has a steam room, sauna, and thermal area for two; indoor and outdoor lounges; and a main dining area, plus a more casual bistro. The action, however, is out on deck, where passengers can stargaze at night or simply gaze in awe at the impressive sails blowing in the wind.

Atlas Ocean Voyages' "World Navigator"

  • Suggested itinerary: Go searching for Arctic wildlife on a 12-night cruise from Reykjavík, which sails along the eastern coast of Greenland and to Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago, one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas and home to polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, and other Nordic wildlife. Pricing starts at $6,499 per person.

World Navigator , which sailed its maiden voyage in Antarctica this past November, is the third vessel to join the fleet of one of the newest players in small-ship expedition cruising, Atlas Ocean Voyages. The company's 100-cabin expedition yachts are almost identical and provide a hybrid of sorts between traditional expedition and luxury cruising. Cabins are spacious, almost all with balconies, desks, and seating areas. The bathrooms have glass-mosaic tiled showers with rain showerheads, wall jets, and even benches.

Everything on the ship-including the sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows-is designed to provide maximum views. The ships also have spacious pool decks with two hot tubs, a fitness center overlooking the sea, a spa, and water toys like kayaks and paddleboards. There's even extreme camping gear for those willing to brave an overnight under the stars in Antarctica. During North American winters, all three of Atlas's expedition yachts sail in Antarctica. With the addition of World Navigator , the company is launching more Arctic Circle cruises during the North American summers while also adding a host of new epicurean and cultural expeditions in South America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and northern Europe this year.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's "Ilma"

  • Suggested itinerary: Spend a little extra time in port on a 10-day sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon, which has three overnight stays, in Palma de Mallorca and Malaga in Spain, and in Lisbon, Portugal, one of Europe's oldest cities. Pricing starts at $10,600 per person.

Another newcomer to luxury small-ship cruising is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which debuts its second ship, the Ilma , this year. With 224 suites, the ship is larger than the original Ritz-Carlton yacht, the 149-suite Evrima , which launched in October 2022. On the Ilma , all the suites will have private terraces, including a two-story suite with soaking tub; the coveted, 1,000-square-foot owner's suite has a private outdoor whirlpool. Even the smallest suites are not all that small, at 300 square feet, and come with a personal concierge and 24-hour room service. The yacht boasts what Ritz-Carlton says is the highest ratio of space per guest at sea.

And you can expect to find the same meticulous service standards that you would find at Ritz-Carlton resorts throughout the world as the line aims to impress hotel guests seeking a luxury hotel experience at sea. Onboard are five dining venues, including S.E.A., a European tasting experience designed by chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany; Talaat Nam, featuring Southeast Asian cuisine and a sushi bar; and Mistral, a casual come-as-you-are alfresco grill with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Light bites are served at the marina at the aft of the ship, where you can also hop on a borrowed paddleboard. Oh, and did we mention there are two outdoor pools, too?

Book a terrace suite on the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's newest vessel, Ilma , launching in 2024.

small cruise ships from uk

Orkney, Shetland and Faroe Islands

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£5490.0

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  • Explore the largest island of Orkney Islands, Mainland, which offers interesting history and charming small towns
  • Enjoy the stunning nature of cliffs, fjords, valleys and beautiful landscapes
  • Marvel at the rich bird life

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Join us on a magnificent expedition cruise to the Orkney, Shetland and Faroe Islands on board Le Boreal

NB these cruise details have been updated - Please see the new trip page - Orkney, Shetland, Faroe Islands and St Kilda cruise .

The expedition starts in Oban and we sail, via the scenic and bird-rich island of Handa, to the enchanting Orkney Islands. Here we explore the largest island, Mainland, which offers interesting history and charming small towns. The expedition continues to the Shetland Islands, where we are greeted with rich history, beautiful landscapes, characteristic settlements and plenty of sheep. We leave this astonishing archipelago behind and then head for the dramatic and remote Faroe Islands, located in the middle of the North Atlantic. The islands are still under the sovereignty of Denmark. Here we enjoy the stunning nature of cliffs, fjords and valleys, marvel at the rich bird life and learn more about the islands’ exciting culture and history.

Prices quoted here are often dependent on currency fluctuations. Please check with (01432 507450 or [email protected]) for the very latest price, which may well be cheaper than the one advertised here.

DeLuxe Stateroom

We arrive in Glasgow and spend a night at a comfortable and centrally located hotel. In the evening we have time to explore this Scottish city on our own.

We travel by private bus and with a local guide to Oban, where our small and comfortable expedition ship M/S Quest is waiting for us. Our trip to Oban offers magnificent sceneries of the Landscapes, characterised by lochs and bens. In the afternoon we embark the ship and head out on our expedition.

At dawn we reach the Summer Isles, located on the northwestern coast of Scotland. Here we go ashore on the largest and the only inhabited island of the archipelago – Tanera Mór. The island was once a port for herring and today it hosts a salmon farm. We take a walk and enjoy the magnificent scenery and the breathtaking views. We also visit the little post office that has issued its own postage stamps since 1970. Later, we reach the small island Handa. During the summer season the island’s dramatic sandstone cliffs become home to an estimated 100 000 breeding seabirds such as puffins, razorbills and guillemots. During the evening we set course for the Orkney Islands.

Today we arrive at the port of the charming town of Stromness, located on the largest island - Mainland. We spend the day exploring the island and we head into the heart of Neolithic Orkney, an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. We visit the 5 000-year-old village of Skara Brae and see the remarkable dwellings that were revealed from beneath the sand dunes by storms only 160 years ago. Today it is western Europe’s most well-preserved prehistoric village. We continue to the Ring of Brodgar – a huge ceremonial circle of stones dating back almost 5 000 years. On the way back to Stromness we also make a stop in Kirkwall, the main town of the Orkney Islands. Here we find St. Magnus Cathedral, the most northerly cathedral in the British Isles, founded by the Viking Earl Rognvald in 1137.

In the early morning, we reach the capital and main port of the Shetland Islands, Lerwick. During our visit we explore the remarkable Neolithic ruins of Jarlshof. The site was uncovered by a violent storm in the winter of 1896/97, revealing an extraordinary settlement site embracing at least 5 000 years of human history. A guided tour takes us through the narrow stone lanes of Lerwick and we make a visit to Shetland Museum, where we get acquainted with the islands’ fascinating history and culture. In the afternoon we continue our voyage towards the remote Faroe Islands

Our ship heads northwest as we listen to interesting lectures on the flora, fauna and history of the fascinating group of islands to come. In the early evening we reach Suðuroy, one of the 18 islands that belongs to the Faroe Islands.

We spend the day exploring the dramatic Island of Suðuroy. Spellbinding steep bird cliffs to the west and a rolling, idyllic landscape offer visitors magnificent sceneries upon arrival. The geographic distance from the rest of the Faroe Islands also explains much of its uniqueness when it comes to language and culture. From Suðuroy’s little town Vágur, beautifully situated in the Vágsfjørður fjord, we head for Beinisvørð – a 469 meter high sea cliff. From here we can enjoy the breathtaking views of the island’s diverse landscape that consists of mountains, fjords, villages and valleys. Our tour continues, either by foot or by bus, down the slope to Suðuroy’s southernmost village, Sumba. From here we make a longer walk to the southernmost tip of the Faroe Islands, Akraberg, where we find a charming lighthouse, dating back to 1909.

Weather and wind permitting we enter our sturdy Zodiacs to explore the westernmost island – Mykines, a bird paradise that attracts bird enthusiasts and ornithologists from all over the world. This little island is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds such as gannets, fulmars, guillemots, storm petrels and kittiwakes. The main attraction is undoubtedly Mykineshólmur, an independent islet that is connected to the mainland by a suspension bridge on 35 meters elevation. On the grassy slopes above the cliffs, thousands of puffins are nesting. It is not unusual to see them flying in with fish hanging from their beaks to feed their young. For those who are ready for a tougher hike, we hope to have the chance to reach the top of Mykines to enjoy the incredible views. Hopefully we will also visit the only settlement, named after the island, with its ten brave inhabitants

We will spend our last full day in the Faroe Islands on the largest island, Streymoy. Here lies Tórshavn, the archipelago’s charming capital, established by the Vikings in the 9th century. The parliament that was founded in 850 AD can still be seen and is one of the world’s oldest. What was once an important trading port is now a modern town with about 13 000 inhabitants. After a visit to the capital we continue to the historical village of Kirkjubøur, which is the Faroe Islands’ most important cultural and historical site. Here we have a chance to see the 900-yearold picturesque farm Roykstovan, originally the bishop’s residence but since 1550 it belongs to the Patursson family. Today, part of the house is a museum while the remainder is occupied by the 17th generation of the family. In Kirkjubøur we can also find the small, and still active, medieval church St. Olav and the ruins of the Magnus Cathedral from about 1300 AD

In the morning we disembark M/S Quest, transfer by bus to Vágar Airport and begin our journey back home.

small cruise ships from uk

M/S Quest was built in Denmark in 1992 to serve as a ferry on Greenland`s west-coast. In 2004/2005 she was redesigned as an expedition ship and has now a career as a small and comfortable expedition vessel. She was extensively renovated in 2018. Quest takes 53 passengers in 26 cabins, all with sea-view and private facilities. The triple cabins on deck 3 have upper and lower berths. All other cabins have two lower berths or a double bed. In your cabin you also find a desk with chair and ample storage space for clothes and equipment. The superior cabins on deck 3 and 4 are spacious and have a separate sitting area and TV/DVD. The Owner`s cabin, next to the Captain`s cabin, on deck 4 has a double bed, two large picture windows, a sitting area and TV/DVD.

In the dining room you are treated to delicious meals in between landings and in the panorama lounge you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding polar landscape. Here you can listen to entertaining lectures on the area`s flora, fauna, history and glaciology. In the lounge you also find a well-stocked bar and a small library. The ship has spacious observation decks where you can enjoy the beautiful vistas and search for seabirds, whales and polar bears. The ship has a European Captain and there is a friendly and informal atmosphere on board. Travelling with this small expedition ship offers an entirely different experience and perspective than you get on a larger and more conventional cruise ship.

It is always possible to share a cabin on board M/S Quest. All cabins have windows and private facilities.

Vessel Type:  Expedition

Cabin layout for Quest

10 days from £5490.0

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small cruise ships from uk

  • Business and industry

Prime Minister to announce major reform package to boost apprenticeships and cut red tape for thousands of small businesses

Major package of reforms to support small businesses in PM’s first economic speech since the Spring Budget [Monday 18th March].

small cruise ships from uk

  • Major package of reforms to support small businesses in PM’s first economic speech since the Spring Budget 
  • £60 million new investment to enable up to 20,000 more apprenticeships, including for young people and small businesses 
  • Unnecessary regulatory burdens to be slashed through Brexit freedoms saving around £150 million per year for thousands of small businesses
  • New taskforce to be established to boost private investment in women-led businesses and make the UK the best place in the world to be a female founder

In his first economic speech since the Spring Budget, the Prime Minister is expected to set out a major package of reforms to support businesses to deliver more apprenticeship places, cut red tape for SMEs and leverage more private investment in female founders at the Business Connect conference in Warwickshire today [Monday 18th March].

The Government will fully fund apprenticeships in small businesses from 1st April by paying the full cost of training for anyone up to the age of 21 - reducing costs and burdens for businesses and delivering more opportunities for young people to kick start their careers.

This will remove the need for small employers to meet some of the cost of training and saves time and costs for providers like further education colleges who currently need to source funding separately from the government and businesses.  

The move is underpinned by an additional £60 million of new government funding for next year, guaranteeing that where there is demand for apprenticeships from businesses, the government will ensure there is enough funding to deliver them.  

From the start of April, the government will also increase the amount of funding that employers who are paying the apprenticeship levy can pass onto other businesses. Apprenticeships can currently be funded by a levy paying employer transferring up to 25% of their unused levy to a different employer. 

Under the new measures, large employers who pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to transfer up to 50% of their funds to support other businesses, including smaller firms, to take on apprentices. This will help SMEs hire more apprentices by reducing costs and enabling more employers to get the skilled workers they need while unlocking more opportunities for young people in a huge range of sectors, industries, and professions. 

Hundreds of large levy-paying employers have already taken advantage of the opportunity to transfer their unused levy funds to other businesses. As of [December 2023], 530 employers including ASDA, HomeServe and BT Group have pledged to transfer over £35.39 million to support apprenticeships in businesses of all sizes since September 2021.

Taken together, these measures are expected to enable up to 20,000 more apprenticeships, primarily for young people, and is part of our plan to build a stronger economy and deliver a brighter future where hard work is rewarded and young people get the skills they need to succeed in life.

This also builds on our record of transforming apprenticeships over the last decade. Since 2010, we’ve helped 5.7 million people start an apprenticeship, working with employers to develop almost 700 new high-quality standards and increasing the funding for apprenticeships to over £2.7 billion from next year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

Growing up in my mum’s pharmacy, I know first-hand how important small businesses are. Not just for the economy, but as a driver for innovation and aspiration, and as the key to building a society where hard work is always recognised and rewarded.
Whether it’s breaking down barriers and red tape for small businesses, helping businesses hire more young people into apprenticeships and skilled jobs or empowering women to start up their own businesses – this government is sticking to the plan and leaving no stone unturned to make the UK the best place to do business. 
Taken together, these measures will unlock a tidal wave of opportunity and make a real difference to businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said:

This Government has built a world-leading apprenticeship system from the ground-up – with apprenticeships now available in around 70 per cent of all occupations.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for businesses to develop the skills they need, and these new measures will help more businesses and young people benefit from them.
Our plan to deliver a high-growth, high-skilled economy is working, with more opportunities available to young people than ever before.

This is the third Business Connect conference to take place since it was launched by the Prime Minister last year and is expected to convene over 150 SMEs, as well as government ministers to discuss how we can further support businesses to grow and thrive in the UK.

The Prime Minister is also expected to announce further deregulatory measures to simplify both non-financial and financial reporting for SMEs which is expected to save thousands of businesses across the UK around £150 million per year. 

This includes increasing the number of companies which qualify as a smaller or medium sized business through a 50% uplift to the thresholds that determine a company’s size. This is expected to benefit up to 132,000 businesses who will be spared from burdensome form-filling and non-financial reporting requirements.  

The existing onerous and outdated thresholds were previously set by the EU, but our Brexit freedoms mean we can now raise the thresholds to ensure they’re more proportionate and better reflect the needs of British businesses. This has also allowed us to go further than the EU, who recently raised its thresholds by 25%. 

We are also removing several duplicative and bureaucratic EU reporting requirements, including for what companies must set out in their annual reports, whilst also making it easier for companies to share digitalised annual reports rather than paper copies – ensuring businesses practices are fit for the modern age. 

Taken together, these changes are expected to deliver around £150 million of savings for SMEs per year and save small businesses at least 1 million hours per year in total. 

The Government will also consult on further changes later this year including exempting medium-sized companies from producing strategic reports, which could save them a further £148 million a year and raising the employee size threshold from 250 to 500 employees, which will mean around 1,000 more large companies could become SMEs.

Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch said:

Almost every job in the UK is owed to what is, or what previously was, an SME. They are the engines of economic growth for this country. 
Whether it’s through cutting red tape, unlocking investment or lowering business costs, today’s announcements show that this government is committed to doing all it can to turbo-charge SMEs so that they can go further and faster than ever before.

Speaking directly to businesses and delegates at the event, the Prime Minister will underline the government’s plan to create the economic conditions to encourage entrepreneurship and drive growth. As part of this, the Prime Minister is expected to announce a new industry led Invest in Women Taskforce to unlock private investment in female business leaders and make the UK the best place in the world to be a female founder.

For too long, innovative, women-led start-ups have been held back due to a lack of finance and the proportion of equity capital investment going to all-female founder teams has been stuck at around 2% in the UK for the past decade. 

The core aim of the Taskforce is to raise a bespoke funding pot for female-founded businesses through private capital and address the wider challenges that female entrepreneurs specifically face to help unlock their potential to establish and grow their enterprises. 

The new taskforce will be industry led and co-chaired by entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow and Barclay’s Hannah Bernard, with Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, representing the government. The membership of the taskforce will be set out in due course. 

Hannah Bernard OBE, Co-Chair of the Invest in Women taskforce and Head of Business Banking, Barclays UK said: 

This is an area I am incredibly passionate about, so it is a privilege to be offered this position.  
I believe that the key to the UK’s growth will be enabling every single entrepreneur in this country to thrive; female entrepreneurs face significantly higher barriers to get their businesses the support and investment they need, from seed funding for start-ups, through to the challenges of gaining scale-up investment. 
I’m really excited to be working with Debbie who is an ideal partner given her entrepreneurial credentials and I believe together, we can make a real difference.

Debbie Wosskow OBE, Co-Chair of the Invest in Women taskforce and multi exit entrepreneur said:

Women leading businesses shouldn’t have to face funding challenges to build and grow their business, because of their gender. 
As an experienced entrepreneur, who founded her first business 25 years ago, I know first-hand the importance of breaking down barriers and making meaningful change for female led businesses. 
By putting funding front and centre of this Taskforce, we aim to make the UK the best place in the world to be a female founder.

In 2024, the year of the SME, the government continues to back small businesses as the lifeblood of the economy. The single biggest way we are backing businesses is by the economic conditions for them to thrive, which is why the government has worked hard to deliver on our priorities to halve inflation, grow the economy and cut debt. 

We have made good progress on our plan. Inflation has fallen from 11.1% to 4.0%, the economy has performed better than forecast, wages are rising, mortgage rates are starting to come down, the economy has outperformed European neighbours and debt is on track to fall as a share of the economy.

Because of the progress we have made, the economy is turning a corner and we have been able to afford tax cuts as part of our plan to reward work and grow the economy. But we know there is more to do which is why we’re sticking to the plan to keep building an even stronger economy to support businesses to establish and grow their roots in the UK.

John Boumphrey, Country Manager of Amazon UK, said:

As one of the UK’s largest creators of apprenticeships, we welcome these changes that will help us to support more apprentices and small businesses across the country.
Amazon has been a successful case study in using the Levy Transfer, committing over £8 million to SMEs since 2021, supporting more than 900 apprenticeships in over 400 businesses.
Changes that allow us to transfer more money will be a boost for many SMEs, and the many more apprentices who will have the opportunity to start and build their careers.

Martin McTague, National Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

We welcome these very important announcements on apprenticeships, as well as other action including helping more women start up in business. The Prime Minister is right to take decisive steps to support small employers do what they do best, providing jobs and opportunities in their local communities.  
We have campaigned for more levy-paying businesses to be able to transfer their funds to small businesses in their supply chain, and for crucial support on costs, so we’re pleased to see the Prime Minister make this intervention today. 
Time and resources are in short supply for small businesses and so increasing the amount of funding for training costs will help to improve the number of small firms entering the apprenticeship system.
Apprenticeships are an effective way of allowing small firms to recruit and up-skill talented people and these measures are a positive way to bolster the number of businesses taking on apprentices.

Anthony Impey, Chief Executive of Be The Business and Chair of Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, said:

Small businesses are run by some of the country’s most impressive and resilient people, but they are time poor and need a simple, straight-forward skills offer to access the talent they need to grow their businesses. 
These changes will make a real difference in opening up apprenticeships for young people to kick start their careers at a time when small businesses are pushing forward to boost their productivity.

The government has a strong record on backing businesses and driving entrepreneurship – including by cutting taxes to ensure our business rates remain internationally competitive. As announced in the Spring Budget, the government will increase the VAT registration threshold to £90,000 from 1 April 2024 which will take around 28,000 small businesses out of paying VAT altogether. 

We are also cutting tax for two million of the self-employed who make up the vast majority of small businesses owners and leaders, by cutting the main rate of Class 4 NICs from nine to six per cent in April. Taken together with the cut to self-employed National Insurance announced at the Autumn Statement, this is a tax cut of £650 for an average self-employed person on £28,000. We’ve also increased the Employment Allowance for National Insurance Contributions, taking 40% of businesses out of paying NICs altogether. 

On top of this, SMEs will be supported to invest and grow through a £200 million extension of the Growth Guarantee Fund, helping 11,000 small businesses to access the finance they need.

At the Autumn Statement we protected over one million small businesses from a business rates increase for the fourth consecutive year. We are now supporting small businesses for the next five years with the cost of their business rates through a £4.3 billion package. This includes freezing the small business multiplier at 49.9p for a fourth consecutive year, saving an average shop £1,650, and protecting over a million rate payers from a 6.6% increase on their bills.

We have extended the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure business rates relief for a fifth year, meaning 230,000 properties will receive a 75% relief, up to a cap of £110,000 per business. This support is worth £2.4 billion and will protect small businesses including cafes and high street shops, and meaning the average independent pub saves over £13,000. The Small Business Rates relief has also taken over 700,000 businesses out of paying business rates completely.

Last month, the Department for Business and Trade held the first meeting of the newly established Small Business Council which acts as a powerful voice for small businesses within Government and has been tasked with overseeing three key areas for small firms – access to finance, skills and support as well as removing barriers.

The Help to Grow campaign website has also been relaunched and refreshed, as a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This includes helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, helpful webinars as well as the basics of how to set up a business for the first time.

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Night & Day Cafe in Manchester

Concert arenas urged to add £1 ticket levy to help small UK venues

Industry leaders say crisis-hit grassroots spaces are struggling to stay open as costs rise

Concert arenas should impose a £1 levy on gig tickets to create a fund that helps prop up grassroots live music, with industry figures telling MPs that rising costs are creating a “crisis” for smaller venues.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee heard from promoters, artists and representatives from industry bodies, nearly all of whom backed the call for a levy to be placed on tickets, which would then be distributed to smaller venues, 125 of which were forced to shut during 2023.

Mark Davyd, the chief executive of Music Venue Trust, advocated for a French-style system where there is a centralised pot of about €200m (£172m) that venues, artists and promoters can apply for, which is funded by a levy on the gross value of tickets sold at big venues .

MVT has been lobbying for a levy since December 2023, when the historic small venue Moles in Bath was forced to close, joining about 16% of grassroots spaces that permanently shut during 2023.

MVT suggested a charitable organisation be set up to direct the fund, which would have a board made up of industry figures, rather than be run by government.

On Tuesday the MVT posted an image of this year’s Leeds and Reading festival lineup without the artists who started at grassroots venues. Only five acts remained .

The Music Venue Trust’s annual report in January showed that 38% of UK grassroots venues posted a financial loss, while the whole sector recorded a slim 0.5% profit margin, despite increased demand for tickets.

There were various opinions on who should pay the £1 levy – ticket buyers, who are already charged booking fees, or the arena venues themselves.

John Drury, the chair of the National Arenas Association, said if the arenas were forced to pay the £1 levy, “the impact would be something like 20% of our profit”.

Drury told the committee that the “ Enter Shikari model ” – the band that donated £1 from every ticket sold to their OVO Arena Wembley show in February 2024 – would be the NAA members’ favoured approach to relieving pressure on grassroots venues.

Many of the artists who perform at Reading festival started at grassroots venues

Kwame Kwaten, vice-chair of the Music Managers Forum, said the levy on arena ticket sales needed to be compulsory rather than voluntary. He said: “If you give people the chance to back away, they’ll take it. Not everyone is as generous as Enter Shikari.”

Other witnesses called for an English football-style fan-led review of grassroots music, while some suggested a reduction in VAT on tickets, which stands at 20% – far higher than in France, Italy or Germany.

The MPs also heard that smaller venues are under increasing pressure from planning applications and noise complaints, such as the case of Night & Day cafe in Manchester ’s Northern Quarter, which had its future threatened after complaints from one resident whose flat abuts the venue.

Davyd said: “The Northern Quarter, one of the most well-known cultural districts in the country, has been described as a ‘mixed-use’ area, effectively placing 14 other music venues in Manchester at risk of a resident complaint.”

Jon Collins, chief executive at Live, the industry body that represents live music and entertainment business, said he had similar concerns about the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool, where developers have started to build residential projects near or next to venues.

He said that the “ agent of change ” principle – whereby new developments are required to adapt to existing businesses in the area, such as paying for soundproofing – at present was too weak and didn’t protect live music venues.

“We’ve already got venues that are under pressure [in the Baltic Triangle], fundamentally we all welcome ‘agent of change’ but it needs more teeth,” he said.

Davyd said that about 50% of the cases MVT are helping with are related to financial troubles, with another 20% about planning and development issues.

The warnings about small venues come on the same day research commissioned by the British Academy suggests that live performing arts could face “existential threat from a range of potential global shocks” unless they become more resilient.

The research, which looked into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector , said that there needs to be a “clear resilience strategy” for performing arts backed by national and local government.

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Here's how the UK's aerospace businesses are taking off with the help of government funding

  • The UK government recently announced a multimillion-dollar investment in advanced manufacturing. 
  • As part of this initiative, the Aerospace Technology Institute program will provide support for R&D projects through 2030. 
  • The funding is poised to benefit innovative small businesses across the industry. 

The UK government has announced a £975 million investment in advanced manufacturing to accelerate the development of cleaner and more sustainable air travel technologies. This commitment extends the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) program until 2030, which supports mid-stage research and development projects led by industry.

Among the projects awarded funding are an all-electric vertical take-off aircraft, electric engines that can be retrofitted to existing planes, and a clean metal-casting innovation. The government's collaboration with industry aims to bring cutting-edge technologies closer to reality, paving the way for zero-emission aircraft and a future of environmentally friendly air travel. 

"Government is focused on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel, whilst maximizing the opportunities that decarbonization can bring to the UK," said Paul Griffiths, head of Aerospace at the UK Department for Business and Trade. 

Investment is helping to achieve liftoff

The results of the ATI program are already taking flight. In a world-first, ZeroAvia's hydrogen fuel cell-powered 19-seater aircraft took its maiden flight in 2023. The Dornier 228 is retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain on the left wing of the aircraft. In the testing phase, it completed ten flights lasting up to 22 minutes in duration. 

ZeroAvia is working toward certifying its first powertrain for up to 20-seat aircraft by the end of 2025 and an engine for up to 80-seat planes by 2027. This will lead to the construction of state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and generate high-skilled green jobs. 

"These new zero and low-emission propulsion technologies will be the solutions adopted by the global aviation industry over the next decades, and the regions that establish advanced manufacturing capability in this area will likely have a significant industrial strategy opportunity," Dominic Weeks of ZeroAvia said.

Another recipient of the ATI program funding is Vertical Aerospace, the UK's pioneer of electric aviation. The company is developing a fully battery-powered, vertical take-off and landing aircraft called the VX4. It will produce zero operating emissions, reduce congestion, and help people travel quickly between and within major cities. "For many people, this type of aircraft will be the first zero-emissions flight they experience," said Stuart Simpson, chief financial officer at Vertical Aerospace.

In March 2024, Vertical received an additional £8 million grant to help develop its propeller technology. The project is the third awarded to Vertical by ATI and brings its total UK government grant funding to £37 million. "This award demonstrates a significant vote of confidence in Vertical's potential to lead the next generation in aviation," Simpson said.

Smaller businesses reap the benefits of funding programs

A key focus of the program is funding projects by SMEs. Headquartered in North Yorkshire in the UK, Sylatech received grant funding from ATI for its Digital Liquid Metal Manufacturing project. Sylatech's £3.4 million project, carried out in collaboration with Cranfield University, Alloyed Limited, and the University of Sheffield, aims to produce ultra-high-quality aluminum components with exceptional performance and manufacturing consistency that surpass current technologies.

Aluminum shape casting remains heavily under-utilized in the aerospace industry, primarily due to concerns over process and product consistency and mechanical performance. Sylatech is trying to change that by enhancing the properties of recycled aluminum, known as "post-consumer aluminum." Using the company's metal casting technology MeltX, the project focuses on enhancing aluminum's mechanical characteristics. By doing so, Sylatech aims to achieve two significant outcomes: reducing the weight of products made from this metal and increasing their durability during use.

The novel aluminum casting process will also drive aluminum circularity in line with net zero sustainability targets. "The intent is that our technology innovation will play a significant role in the development of sustainable manufacturing," said Gordon Gunn, Sylatech's commercial director. "When fully operational during 2024, MeltX will deliver new lightweight and sustainability opportunities for aerospace, automotive, and recycling industries." 

The UK's long-term vision for civil aerospace is developed through the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), which is a strategic partnership between the UK government, industry, and academia to secure the future of UK Aerospace. The AGP strategy " Destination Net Zero, " launched at the Farnborough International Airshow 2022, seeks to reduce the climate impact of aviation and secure the UK's position as a world leader for the next era of flight.

"The AGP's mission is to make the UK a world leader in the development and manufacture of the most sustainable aircraft technologies," Griffiths said, "where globally competitive businesses, supported by a strong national ecosystem, provide high-quality jobs and growth throughout the UK."

Find out more about the UK Advanced Manufacturing Plan.

This article was created by Insider Studios with the UK's Department for Business and Trade.

small cruise ships from uk

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  27. Concert arenas urged to add £1 ticket levy to help small UK venues

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