Are you a "yachtie" at heart? I know many of us who love to cruise are. Sailing those bright, beautiful turquoise waters is such a great way to simply relax and enjoy life! Right?
Most of my cruising has been on bigger ships, but my best memories are from excursions taken on small sail ships. A day at sea on a catamaran from Cairns to
Michelmas Cay to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef - sailing around the Bora Bora lagoon, checking out Marlon Brando's island and swimming in water so clear I could see at least 50 feet down - a day trip in Tortola out to a secluded island to snorkel with new friends - these are just a few wonderful memories that come to mind.
Explore smaller, unique ports, away from the crowds, no lines. How fantastic would it be to extend these sailing experiences beyond just a day?
I was reminded the other day that they can be, and you don't have to own your own yacht!
I know when I think of yachts, the first image that comes to mind are the mega yachts owned by the rich and famous, those beautiful, sleek ships like the ones docked in Monte Carlo or off the coast of Cannes. A ship of my dreams?
For those of us not in the market to own a ship, exceptional yachting experiences await. With yachts ranging in size from six guests up to 300, the hardest part is deciding which destinations to explore. Fine cuisine, top notch customer service, comfortable cabins, water sports - all included. Affordable and great values too. Check out these options.
CREWED YACHT EXPERIENCE
I had always thought one had to be a certified sailor to take out these smaller ships - also known as bare boating. But I was recently reminded that crewed charters on a sailing or power yacht for a group up to 10 people comes complete with a professional captain and gourmet chef. Itineraries and activities are designed around your wishes, pace and schedule. Snorkel, fish, shop or simply relax with a good book during the day . Enjoy cocktails and a gourmet dinner at night under the stars. All included. What a way to spend a week with family and friends!
The Moorings, in business over 50 years, offers all inclusive yacht charters in over 20 destinations all around the world. The British Virgin Islands are the most popular, but you can also explore Spain, Croatia, Tahiti, Thailand and Australia, among some other spots.
If you are wanting an intimate, private, all inclusive , laid back vacation, a crewed charter may be the way to go!
CRUISE ON A MEGA YACHT
Ten or fewer passengers just a little too small or not your style?
Then take a look at the 62-300 passenger yachts by Crystal, Sea Dream and Windstar. Although I haven't been invited yet to spend a week on a friend's private luxury yacht, I know a week on any of these ships would be as good, if not better.
Unique ports of call, docking in charming towns and city centers where big ships can't go, anchoring in hidden coves, fine dining, exclusive shore experiences - all possible on these yachts.
The one description that made the biggest impression on me?
While others are waiting in line to get off the ship or start an excursion, you can already be in town exploring the sites or swimming, kayaking, or paddle boarding off the marina platforms. No lines, no crowds - heaven!
Photo courtesy of Windstar
When small ship cruising is your desire, in my opinion you can't go wrong with any of these fabulous cruise lines. But there are differences which may help decide which experience is best for you.
Crystal offers the ultimate luxury experience. The Crystal Esprit is a boutique hotel with butler serviced suites for 62 guests. Casually elegant, Crystal is often described as a six star experience, from service to cuisine.
Photos courtesy of Crystal
Sea Dream has two yachts with a maximum of 112 guests - a chic and stylish five star experience. Onboard activities include a small casino, a piano bar, a library if you prefer a more quiet spot and movies under the stars. A signature spot on the top deck are the Balinese Dream beds - a great place to simply relax during the day or a unique experience at night where you can sleep under the stars. Additional unique offerings include a Thai certified spa , a golf simulator with 30 course and mountain bikes for guest use.
Photos courtesy of Seadream
A 150 - 300 passenger ship may not be a yacht to some, but when compared to the mega ships with 4000+ passengers, it is indeed a small ship. On Windstar you can choose between all-suite yachts or their classic masted sailing vessels.
Larger ships allow Windstar to offer multiple dining venues and lounges. They are known for their world-class culinary excellence and are the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation. Windstar offers multiple wine and culinary focused cruises hosted by James Beard chefs.
Photos courtesy of Windstar
So if you are looking for a truly different experience, a place to get away from it all , to explore areas off the beaten path, consider a yachting experience. You won't be disappointed.
INTERESTED IN SMALL SHIP CRUISING?
Check out these articles:
Small Ship Cruises Perfect For Nature Lovers
Fun In The Sun - 5 Perfect Destinations For Sail Ships
Small ship cruising is my specialty,
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder