How adventure and
standard cruises differ

cruise tips you can trust


Key differences

Ship size

Their small sizes allow them to navigate into petite bays, narrow channels, and shallow depths.


They can stop at interesting ports that are too small or lack sufficient tourism infrastructure for big-ship visits.

Passenger count

It ranges from about a dozen (see boat photo above) to several hundred. The typical standard cruise ship carries a thousand or more passengers.

Passenger profile

Overall, the voyagers are more educated, well-off, and well-traveled.


They are more expensive because of factors like lack of economy of scale.


The focus is on learning and experience, not onboard entertainment and touristy ports. Expert lecturers give educational onboard lectures relevant to the boat's current location - and provide guidance on shore excursions. The ports are typically too small and lack sufficient tourism infrastructure for big-ship visits.

Land excursions

They are more educational and physically challenging. The typical boat-to-shore conveyance is not a tender but rather the Zodiac (a motorized inflatable rubber watercraft with a shallow draft). Read the informative 3-page Zodiac section in my Antarctica Cruise guide.

Itinerary flexibility

Many captains are authorized to change the itinerary (including port stops) on short notice to take advantage of an unexpected wildlife-spotting or other sightseeing opportunity.

Learn More

for Top 5 adventure cruise ratings


Photo by Sly06 - CC BY 2.0



Share this page

World's Top 100 Wonders
World's Top 1000 Wonders

Site map
My credentials
About my website and criteria
Reader testimonials