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Viking Sea wins Best Small Ship title

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930-guest Viking Sea is the second Viking Ocean ship

While large ships come with certain advantages (bowling at sea, anyone?), some cruisers prefer the intimacy, personalized service and destination-focused itineraries of a smaller vessel. These 10 cruise ships and yachts, each with a passenger capacity of under 1,000, can get to smaller ports inaccessible to larger ships and offer a more social atmosphere where it’s easier to get to know your fellow guests. 

  • Viking Sea
    Viking Ocean Cruises

    The 930-guest Viking Sea was built in 2016 as the second oceangoing vessel in the Viking fleet. Itineraries are destination focused, but onboard, passengers enjoy an inclusive experience with all-veranda staterooms, plenty of public spaces to spread out, excellent alternative dining options and top-notch service.
    Photo courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises

  • Azamara Journey
    Azamara Club Cruises

    Azamara Club Cruises describes the Azamara Journey as “a luxurious boutique hotel at sea.” With a capacity of less than 700 passengers, this intimate vessel is packed with modern amenities, including a large number of suites, a spa, fitness center, pool and several restaurants, bars and lounges.
    Photo courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises

  • Viking Sky
    Viking Ocean Cruises

    The 930-passenger Viking Sky feels more like a resort than a cruise ship, thanks to its all-veranda staterooms, tasteful decorations and elegant public spaces for reading, relaxing or socializing. Little extras, like numerous USB ports, ocean-facing lounge chairs on the pool deck and floor-to-ceiling windows in most venues, make for a comfortable sailing experience.
    Photo courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises

  • Azamara Quest
    Azamara Club Cruises

    Azamara Quest, a 690-passenger ship in the Azamara Club Cruises fleet, sails destination-focused itineraries, and the Quest has its own touring bikes onboard for shore excursions. Service is friendly and attentive, and passengers enjoy amenities like a pool deck, specialty dining, a library and an observation lounge.
    Photo courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises

  • Azamara Pursuit
    Azamara Club Cruises

    The latest addition to the Azamara Club Cruises fleet, Azamara Pursuit sails to 19 new ports, including several in South America. The 702-passenger cruise ship has been beautifully renovated and refurbished to include a pool deck, two specialty restaurants, a fitness complex, spa and two spa suites.
    Photo courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises

  • Star Legend
    Windstar Cruises

    Star Legend, a Windstar Cruises all-suite yacht, carries just 212 guests for an intimate cruising experience. Service is top notch and atmosphere decidedly casual. Rooms are spacious, with walk-in closets, marble bathrooms and ocean views from every room.
    Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises

  • SeaDream II
    SeaDream Yacht Club

    SeaDream II is the newest of two twin mega yachts that carry just 112 passengers and 95 crew. This 56-stateroom vessel is all-inclusive and known for its sensational personal service and outstanding food. Cabins are spacious with plenty of storage.
    Photo courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club

  • The Gauguin
    Paul Gauguin Cruises

    The Gauguin, flagship vessel of Paul Gauguin Cruises, was designed specifically for the waters of the South Pacific. The 332 guests aboard the ship sail to small ports inaccessible to bigger ships, all while enjoying luxury amenities like spacious suites and staterooms, an onboard water sports marina, three restaurants and a spa.
    Photo courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

  • Royal Clipper
    Star Clippers

    Designed after the tall ship Preussen, the Royal Clipper is the world’s largest full-rigged sailing ship, complete with 42 sails. The vessel carries just 227 guests with luxurious accommodations and modern amenities like three swimming pools, relaxed dining and a marina platform for water sports. Passengers can even don a harness and climb the mast to a crow nest.
    Photo courtesy of Star Clippers

  • Seabourn Encore
    Seabourn Cruise Line

    The ultra-luxury Seabourn Encore features 300 suites for 600 passengers with all the amenities of Seabourn’s Odyssey-class ships. New additions to Encore include a VIP area on the top deck, a wellness program and two new restaurants, The Grill by Thomas Keller and Sushi.
    Photo courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line

The top 10 winners in the Best Small Ship category are as follows:

  1. Viking Sea - Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Azamara Journey - Azamara Club Cruises
  3. Viking Sky - Viking Ocean Cruises
  4. Azamara Quest - Azamara Club Cruises
  5. Azamara Pursuit - Azamara Club Cruises
  6. Star Legend - Windstar Cruises
  7. SeaDream II - SeaDream Yacht Club
  8. The Gauguin - Paul Gauguin Cruises
  9. Royal Clipper - Star Clippers
  10. Seabourn Encore - Seabourn Cruise Line

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Don and Heidi Bucolo (EatSleepCruise.com), Carrie Finley Bajak (CruiseBuzz.net), Danielle Fear (Cruise Miss), Sherry Laskin (CruiseMaven.com), Jason Leppert (Popular Cruising), Chris OwenDoug Parker (Cruise Radio) and Ming Tappin (Your Cruise Coach) were chosen for their knowledge of the cruising industry.

Congratulations to all these winning cruise ships.

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AlertThe Experts

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Carrie Finley Bajak

Carrie Finley Bajak

Carrie Finley Bajak

Danielle Fear

Danielle Fear

Danielle Fear

Sherry Laskin

Sherry Laskin

Sherry Laskin

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert

Chris Owen

Chris Owen

Chris Owen

Doug Parker

Doug Parker

Doug Parker

Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin

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