Small Ship and River Cruising

  • Not all cruise ships are floating hotels.

    It is possible to experience a cruising holiday without the endless night clubs, restaurants, shopping malls and 4,000 other passengers. If it’s an off the beaten track adventure with personalised service and comfort you seek then why not try a small ship or river cruise.

    What do we define as small?

    Typically a small ship cruise can accommodate anywhere from 12 to 300 passengers, and the vessels range from upscale motor yachts in the Mediterranean to expedition cruisers in Antarctica.

    If you wish to escape the coastal ports and venture inland then there are a host of river cruising options. Explore the original trade routes of Europe, Asia and Russia where the cities were born from their proximity to these waterways.

    River cruising vessels range from the comfortable to the luxury; purpose built ships, traditional Chinese wooden junks, converted rice barges and French colonial boats to name a few.

    Less passengers means you will enjoy a more “intimate” cruising experience and get to know your fellow travelers. Plus small groups impact less on the environment and of course offer geographic access to the world's less frequented coastal ports and inland waterways. We offer a range of small ships cruising options in a variety of destinations at a range of prices to suit every pocket.

    Our dedicated cruise specialist Carrie Stalbow works solely on sourcing not only the best ships, but new and exciting itineraries worldwide.

  • Papua New Guinea

    Located just 160km north of Australia, the mountainous Papua New Guinea has much to offer visitors. The tropical wonderland is home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside of the Amazon. There are 4 main regions in PNG and 20 provinces, each with a thriving culture that is both colourful and vibrant.

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    Papua New Guinea

    New Zealand

    Known by locals as "God's own country", New Zealand's land leaps out of the water and rises with green flanks towards the sky. This is the place where fairy tales are made and certainly fairy tale holidays. The Bay of Islands is the most popular cruising destination with hundreds of secluded islands and bays to explore. Read more
    New Zealand

    Indian Ocean

    Cruising and sailing holidays in the Indian Ocean are wonderful experiences with beautiful islands and atolls, many of which are remote and seldom visited.

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    Indian Ocean


    Stories of the traditional owners of the land, tell how Australia was created by the movement of the Rainbow Serpent. This vast and beautiful continent is woven with such diverse environments, flaura and fauna that you will not be restricted by what to do when considering your holiday experience. You can choose anything, from a wild adventure holiday, to a pampered relaxing holiday. Most people find their only limitation is time, and many extend their stay.

    Sailing with us in Australia and you could sail the famous Sydney Harbour or the tropical, northerly Whitsundays. Mariner has also partnered up with an excellent cruise provider to offer small ship tours into the Kimberly; a wild and ancient landcsape like no other on earth. Read more
  • You can generally expect to receive:

    Arrival and departure airport transfers
    No need to find your own way to the ship, our operators will collect you form the airport and take you straight to your cabin

    Accommodation in a private cabin with en-suite bathroom
    In some case you may have your own private balcony too!

    On-board meals
    Often includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and even some meals on land

    A range of premium beverages
    On luxury small ship and river cruises you will usually see your minibar stocked daily with premium beer, wine and spirits

    Shore excursions
    Smaller groups means access to areas and sites that cannot cater to larger groups. From Zodiac adventures in Antarctica to the Cai be floating markets in Vietnam

    On board tipping
    No need to constantly carry cash with you

    A generous crew to passenger ratio
    With more crew and less passengers, you know you will be taken care of

    Port fees and taxes & National Park fees
    These are usually part of the package price
  • Fjordland MIlford Sound New Zealand

    This is a 6 night cruise package that allows guests the ultimate access, in safety and comfort, to the wonders of this majestic World Heritage site. This is an invitation to get to know the Fiordland National Park alongside ecology guides who travel with guests into the territory to discover the region’s beauty with endless and unexplored spots yet to be discovered in this geological mosaic.

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    Fjordland MIlford Sound New Zealand

    Island Escape Secrets of Vanuatu

    Vanuatu - shrouded in lush, tropical jungle...adorned with breath-taking waterfalls... overshadowed by awe-inspiring volcanoes...and surrounded by some of the most pristine tropical seas on earth - a tiny, but beautiful, corner of the world that has been so thankfully 'lost in time' forever.

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    Island Escape Secrets of Vanuatu

    Island Escape Mystery of Vanuatu

    We engage with the mysteries on the islands of Wala, Ambryn and Malakula. We visit some of the most remote and inaccessible areas in Vanuatu and share the mystery of their culture, customs and their village life. Read more
    Island Escape Mystery of Vanuatu

    Island Escape Romance of Vanuatu

    The beautiful island group where we cruise is decorated with small tropical islands; each surrounded by soft white sand beaches and coral reefs and inhabited by people for whom time is an abundant commodity. Read more
    Island Escape Romance of Vanuatu

    Island Escape Magical Vanuatu

    We will show you these amazing islands of northern Vanuatu on this comprehensive 13-night Vanuatu Cruise. You will visit villages that rarely see cruise ships or western civilization. These cruises visit the world famous land divers, the enthralling rom dances and allow the opportunity of acquiring wonderful artifacts and carvings along the way. Read more
    Island Escape Magical Vanuatu

    Orion Expedition Cruises

    Wake each morning to another day of adventure, and then return to Orion - a world of comfort and attentive service. No matter what the days adventures entail, you know that you will always return to the comfort of Orion with 75 dedicated crew. Have a massage to unwind, a sauna for sore muscles, or refreshment brought to you, spa side. Read more
    Orion Expedition Cruises

    Zegrahm Expedition Cruises

    Zegrahm trips are led by the best and the brightest in their respective fields. Scientists, naturalists, and historians bring an educational component to the adventure through lectures, recaps, and guided excursions. Skilled expedition leaders and cruise directors expertly handle logistics and passenger service. Read more
    Zegrahm Expedition Cruises

    Aranui III

    Let the South Pacific seduce you aboard the Aranui III. Join a 14-day adventure cruise in French Polynesia and the Marquesas islands. Beginning in Tahiti, the journey follows the trade route to Fakarava, Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Rangiroa and back to Papeete. If you want to see real Polynesia, this is the real deal. Read more
    Aranui III
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  • Can you please pass this on to the Captain and crew aboard the Island Passage.

    Tricia and I would like to once again say how much we enjoyed the recent trip around the Bay of Islands. We were especially impressed with the attention to safety which I observed was a key feature at all times.

    Tricia and I are used to much more vigorous action but the more passive activities that were provided made for forced relaxation and were most enjoyable.The food was glorious and we are both home now and trying to shed the few extra kilos gained on the trip.

    The genuine humour on board from the captain right through to the cooks in the galley made for lots of laughter and joyous moments and I could see that it was always coming from the right place and very real. The tours and history lessons from Luci gave me knowledge of N.Zs culture and were most enlightening.

    I could go on but I think you can see we had a great time on the tour and in fact, on shore. We will do another cruise with you maybe next year and may bring some friends with us.

    Thanks again for the cruise and may all your guests be pleasant.

    Island Escape Bay of Islands Cruise 2013

    Peter & Patricia

    Just to let you know we all had a FANTASTIC time, the ship was wonderful, the crew absolutely, unbelievably helpful and accommodating, nothing was too much trouble for them and the food was beautiful, cooked to world class standards and worthy of a "3 Hat Restaurant" rating. Needless to say we all are keen to do another cruise so I am sure you will be hearing from us again.  Having the boat to ourselves was an added bonus. It will be hard to return to our daily routine and fending for ourselves.

    Island Escape Cruise 2013

    Maggie C
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