3 Cultured Cruises

Smaller ships often mean big adventure when it comes to cruising the seas. Check out these three picks.

By Donna Heiderstadt

The Aegean Odyssey off the Croatian coast Cruising is all about escape. After all, there's a reason that the farewell wave from the railing is such an iconic gesture. And smaller ships—usually those with fewer than 950 passengers—can make those escapes even richer, allowing access to a greater variety of ports, more options for customized excursions, and a more intimate feel.

Azamara Journey
Passengers
: 686
Lingering in a place like Mykonos or Rio de Janeiro until long after sunset is something most cruisers can only dream about, but the Europe and South America itineraries on Azamara Journey are designed with the maximum port time possible, most including an overnight stay. Further, most cruises feature a very special evening event—a trio of tenors serenading you on a Tuscan hillside, for example.
Insider Tip: The drawing room is filled with beautiful books dedicated to fashion, art, travel, and design.
Cruise fares start at $2,599 per person; 877/999-9553 or azamaraclubcruises.com.

Aegean Odyssey
Passengers
: 378
For cruisers who love to immerse themselves in a location, these journeys that emphasize history and culture are a perfect match. Experts offer daily talks, and complimentary guide-led tours explore sites such as St. Mark's Basilica in Venice and ancient ruins in Crete. Free pre- and post-cruise hotel stays in cities ranging from Cairo to Istanbul present more opportunities to explore.
Insider Tip: The bridge deck's aft area is a hideaway for peace, quiet, and quality reading time.
Cruise fares start at $4,200 per person; 877/398-1460 or voyagestoantiquity.com.

Star Pride
Passengers
: 212
Fresh from a May 2014 transformation, this intimate luxury ship explores Southeast Asia November to April, and then the Mediterranean and Greek isles from May to October. Small and navigationally nimble, the Star Pride gets you into ports such as Hvar and Portofino that larger ships have to bypass. That lets you slip into local street life without the impact of a crowd hitting the cobblestones.
Insider Tip: Star Pride offers bikes for rental, a great way to see even more. Book a day or two in advance to confirm.
Cruise fares start at $2,999 per person; 888/736-2156 or windstarcruises.com.

Photo: The Aegean Odyssey off the Croatian coast 
Courtesy of Aegean Odyssey/Pat Doyle 
 

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