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Non-traditional cruise ships tend to be on the small side, and they are often—though not necessarily—more luxurious than traditional cruise ships. Because they vary so much in size and function, you’re likely to find your non-traditional ship more interesting than the typical big mainstream cruise ships.

Size usually dictates how extensive onboard amenities are. A mid-size expedition ship may have as many amenities as a mid-size traditional cruise ship, but a small barge or yacht may have little more than a restaurant and salon for gatherings. Cabins on these ships tend to be snug but comfortable.

What makes a ship “non-traditional” also varies. It may be a sailing vessel or a converted trawler; it could be a double-hulled expedition ship suitable for Arctic waters or a small barge suitable for the canals of southern France.

These are our favorite non-traditional cruise ships.

Wind Surf

Windstar Cruises
  • Sails To Caribbean

Why It’s Wonderful

While the sails overhead only give the illusion of actual "sailing," they add to the ambiance of voyages to unspoiled regions of the Caribbean where barbeques are held on pristine beaches and voyages usually include an overnight port call.

Royal Clipper

Star Clippers
  • Sails To Caribbean

Why It’s Wonderful

As unlike a traditional cruise ship as possible, Royal Clipper sails from Barbados on voyages to off-the-beaten track destinations in the Grenadines and Windward Islands. In addition to the daily raising of the sails, a highlight of every cruise occurs when engines are turned off and passage is made under full sail.

Tere Moana

Paul Gaugin Cruises
  • Sails To Caribbean

Why It’s Wonderful

The newest addition to the fleet carries the cruise line's hospitable spirit of Polynesia into the Caribbean. Literally "Ocean Traveler," Tere Moana emphasizes unique itineraries that larger ships cannot offer by exploring hidden ports throughout the Caribbean.