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With its fair share of negative press and media backlash regarding the health and safety onboard large cruise liners, the question of ‘What does the future of cruising look like?’, is on everyone's mind.

Opinion Piece

As we emerge into a new era of travel, the appeal of traversing new destinations via small ships will become more and more prevalent in the consumer mind. So, how will small ship cruises emerge as the new face of the cruising industry once the dust of a global pandemic has settled?

A Rise in Small Group Travel

Small group travel is appealing for many reasons; a relaxing experience that isn’t tarnished by having to queue with hundreds of your fellow guests, increased health and safety capabilities and authenticity at its core. From an operational point of view, smaller groups are easier to manage and allow for exceptional levels of customer care to take place. On the customer side, authentic experiences and added value are where the key differences between 38 guests onboard and 3,500 lie.

A Hefty Focus on Health & Safety Onboard

It goes without saying that the health and safety capabilities onboard smaller ships is ten fold compared to large cruise liners, due to the size of the ships and the number of people onboard. Here at Sail Croatia, health & safety, training and education are some of our highest priorities and we work hard operationally to ensure that all of our staff members are trained in health and safety, first aid and customer care.

There have been certain hygiene issues highlighted on larger cruise liners, largely due to the scale and size of the ships. With the close proximity of travellers, one can expect a higher rate of virus infection than on smaller ships. Looking geographically during this pandemic, we see the spread of germs increase in densely populated areas, so it makes sense that individualised and smaller group experiences will pose less risks.

There is warranted consumer concern surrounding ventilation and the spread of germs through shared air-conditioning units. There is a key difference in our Elegance small ships, whereby each cabin has an individual air-conditioning unit, meaning that air entering the cabin from the unit is not shared with any other cabin. This is a key factor in ensuring the spread of germs is minimised.

A Reduction in International Cruising

When global uncertainty arises, international cruising poses the risk of immmigration issues and potentially closed borders. Most small ship cruises only operate within their country of origin, as these ships are often not designed for open water cruising. Our small ships cruise between the Dalmatian Islands only, meaning there are no international ports, immmigration wait times or paperwork to complete once guests board. As well as the comfortable cruising conditions thanks to the hundreds of islands sheltering the sea, guests do not need to worry about anything other than the picturesque view from the top deck!

Authenticity Over Opulence

The idea of experience based travel underpins all of our cruises and is at the crux of everything we do as a business. Rather than having to remain inside a cruise liner ecosystem, small ship cruising allows you to immerse yourself in an authentic Croatian experience; spending your days diving straight into the sea from the back of your ship, docking in quaint, historic towns every afternoon and spending each night docked in a new location where guests are able to head out for dinner, enjoy a waterfront cocktail or participate in a plethora of activities. Docking in a new port every evening brings the added benefit of more time spent in each location than you would come across on a traditional cruise. Spacious ensuite cabins, large dining saloons and plenty of room to relax and unwind are quintessential of small ship cruises, however unlike its cruise line counterparts, small ship cruising doesn’t feature casinos, lap pools, cabaret shows, or buffet meals. Small ship cruising prides comfort, authenticity and a local perspective over activities that keep guests onboard all day.

A Sustainable Future

Sail Croatia’s small ship cruises are part of a sustainable model that feeds back into local communities and economies. All ships within the Sail Croatia fleet are owned and operated by local families, ensuring a direct investment back into communities that support the business. Sail Croatia is also working hard to achieve environmental sustainability through their non-profit organisation, Green Sail and long term sustainability strategy. Due to their vast size, distances travelled and capacity onboard, large cruise liners have faced a lot of backlash in recent times due to environmental concerns. As we re-enter the world of travel, consumers will be looking to reduce their environmental footprint, support companies that give back and show leadership in sustainability.

It’s easy to look at the future of cruising as bleak in these uncertain times, however with small group experiences, local crew members, sustainable initiatives and luxurious ships at a fraction of the size, the future certainly lies in small ship cruising.