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7 small ship cruise lines to watch in 2020/21


If you've been following the extraordinary growth of the cruise industry over the last few years, you'll already be aware of the many exciting new ships on order.

It's usually the big mainstream ships that grab the headlines, but that's never been our focus at Mundy Cruising. What we're excited about is the incredible growth and innovation within the small ship arena, including the inexorable rise of expedition cruising. Here are our cruise lines to watch over the next couple of years…

1. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Ritz-Carlton make their hotly anticipated cruising debut in 2021, a little later than planned after some delays at the shipyard. The first of their three sister yachts finally has a name: Evrima, derived from a Greek word meaning 'discovery'. We think this vessel will be very special indeed, with a spacious marina, Ritz-Carlton's Gold Standard service, and a personal concierge to help you plan your time ashore.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

2. Ponant

The final two yachts in Ponant's new Explorer class will launch in 2020. Le Bellot kicks off her inaugural season in Norway and Iceland, before heading to the South Pacific and New Zealand's subantarctic islands, while Le Jacques Cartier will explore the Baltic and the Middle East, with a rare call in Beirut. Excitement continues to build for the launch of hybrid-powered icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot in 2021, and we eagerly await more news following Ponant's recent acquisition of Paul Gauguin Cruises.

Ponant Explorers - Le Laperouse in the Seychelles

3. Crystal Cruises

Crystal's first expedition yacht, Crystal Endeavor, sets sail in 2021, and what a ship this promises to be. Highlights include Michelin-inspired dining, high-tech toys for exploration and some of the largest expedition cruise accommodation at sea. There are so many eye-catching itineraries, including Japanese journeys, Australian adventures and a thrilling transit of the Northeast Passage. A second expedition ship, as yet unnamed, is due to follow later.

Crystal Endeavor in Antarctica

4. Silversea

Silversea's ageing Silver Galapagos will be replaced in summer 2020 by the stunning Silver Origin. This 100-guest ship will be the most luxurious in the Galapagos, with smart features like an outdoor firepit and an interactive video wall. We're also excited about the evolution of Silversea's classic fleet, with Silver Moon arriving in 2020 and Silver Dawn in 2021. Innovations include the new S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) programme, showcasing local cuisine in selected destinations.

Silver Origina - Explorer Lounge terrace and fire pit

5. Seabourn

Seabourn join the expedition party in 2021 with the launch of Seabourn Venture, the first of two expedition ships. Interiors by Adam D. Tihany, spacious suites and two six-seater submarines will allow you to explore destinations including Greenland, Antarctica and the Amazon in unparalleled comfort and style.

Seabourn Venture - Wintergarden Suite

6. Saga

Saga's first new-build, Spirit of Discovery, launched in 2019 to rave reviews, and will be joined by sister ship Spirit of Adventure in 2020. Both ships will operate on a fully all-inclusive basis, with a wide choice of ex-UK departures. Saga are also building a river ship, Spirit of the Rhine, slated for launch in 2021.

Saga Cruises - Spirit of Discovery

7. Viking Cruises

After their successful expansion into ocean cruising it was only a matter of time before Viking set their sights on the expedition market, and two new 378-guest ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, are due to launch in 2022. Itineraries will go on sale in early 2020, with a focus on the Arctic and Antarctica.

Viking Polaris
Meet the author

Tom is a former Marketing Manager at Mundy Cruising

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