Travel + Leisure Readers' 10 Favorite Intimate-ship Ocean Cruise Lines of 2024

Travel + Leisure Readers' 10 Favorite Intimate-ship Ocean Cruise Lines of 2024

Readers in our annual “World’s Best Awards” survey for 2024 saved their highest marks for intimate cruise ships.

Sometimes the best things come in small packages and Travel + Leisure readers say the same thing about the most intimate cruise ships. In fact, these ships with 150 or fewer cabins had some of the highest marks in the cruise category of our World’s Best Awards voting. See which ones came out on top in this year’s rankings.

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

For the cruise category, respondents were asked to rate individual ships; the results were combined to generate scores for cruise lines in different categories based on number of cabins.

Ships were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Cabins/facilities

  • Food

  • Service

  • Itineraries/destinations

  • Excursions/activities

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

<p>Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions</p>

Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions

What Readers Loved

All the intimate ships in this category received top scores in this year’s voting, readers showing delight in having a ship practically to themselves. Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) moved up from No. 4 last year to claim the No. 2 spot, voters citing friendly staff as a differentiator: “Every one of the crew was the most personable and helpful that I have ever seen,” said one reader.

Aqua Expeditions (No. 3), with vessels such as the 20-suite Aqua Mekong, held onto its same spot in the tankings. “Unique excursions and experiences that you could not get anywhere else,” praised one voter of the company. Rounding out the top five are well-known brands Lindblad Expeditions (No. 4) and the expedition ships of Seabourn (No. 5).

The top line once again this year is Quasar Expeditions, with its intimate exploration of the Galápagos.

World's Best Awards 2024

The Winner

Quasar Expeditions

<p>Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions</p>

Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions

With two intimate ships, the 32-passenger Evolution and 16-passenger Grace, Quasar remains a perennial favorite of T+L readers, many voters calling a cruise with the small company a trip of a lifetime. “The Grace was the best cruise I've ever been on and one of the top three travel experiences of my life (and I've traveled several million miles around the world!),” said one reader. “I travel extensively and can honestly say that my Quasar Evolution expedition was the most amazing vacation adventure I have taken in my life.” said another. “Service was first class, yet the entire trip was casual, friendly, and unpretentious.”



"I travel extensively and can honestly say that my Quasar Evolution expedition was the most amazing vacation adventure I have taken in my life. Service was first class, yet the entire trip was casual, friendly, and unpretentious."

T+L Reader



The Full List

1. Quasar Expeditions

Reader Score: 97.81

2. Overseas Adventure Travel

Reader Score: 97.55

3. Aqua Expeditions

Reader Score: 94.81

4. Lindblad Expeditions

Reader Score: 94.40

5. Seabourn

Reader Score: 94.35

6. Celebrity Cruises

Reader Score: 93.94

7. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Reader Score: 92.86

8. Variety Cruises

Reader Score: 92.35

9. Ponant

Reader Score 91.73

10. Silversea

Reader Score 91.33

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