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Small ships, like Silver Explorer, visit small islands, like Los Roques, a place unaccustomed to cruise passengers.

Big ships often visit busy Caribbean ports, and small ships usually visit quieter ones, but that’s not always the case.

Many of the big ships have their own private islands — Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean among them. Plus, some big ship operators have smaller ships in their fleets, including Holland America Line’s Prinsendam and Princess Cruises’ Pacific and Ocean Princess, which carry fewer than 900 guests and visit smaller ports.

The small ship players seek out destinations where few ships have gone before. You’ll often find these ships in yachting harbors. Among them: Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea, Star Clippers and Windstar Cruises.

The islands that smaller vessels visit may not be all that well known, even to avid cruisers, but they’re not entirely unexplored either. Some of the Caribbean destinations that small ships visit include:

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, St. Vincent & the GrenadinesJost Van Dyke, British Virgin IslandsSt. George’s, GrenadaGustavia, St. BartsMayreau, St. Vincent & the GrenadinesVirgin Gorda, British Virgin IslandsLos Roques, VenezuelaBasseterre, St. Kitts

Also see, Two Caribbeans: Which Suits You Best? Big Ship Or Small Ship?

Which do you prefer? Big, busy islands or small, serene ones?