5 worldwide mini cruises to savor


If giant cruise liners dropping thousands of passengers at every port-of-call isn’t your idea of fun, perhaps something a little more compact, and a little more luxurious would be closer to your tastes. All around the world mini cruises – some lasting only several hours – can offer unique and unusual perspectives to many seemingly familiar places. Add a sumptuous dinner into the equation and you lift the experience to an even higher level of luxury. Add another delectable ingredient – the surrounding landscape, the sights, the sounds, the color, and the history – and the entire experience becomes not just one great adventure of discovery, but an entire compendium of delights to cherish for years to come.

Barbados, the jewel of the Caribbean 

Even the word Barbados conjures up images of golden beaches, cloudless skies, shimmering azure blue waters, rolling green plantations, and rainbow-colored cocktails sipped in the shade of a grove of seafront palms. Add to that idyllic scenario the prospect of a luxurious and romantic dinner cruise with the island’s coastline as the backdrop.

Barbados is high on the wish list for honeymooners, but you don’t have to be a newlywed to step onboard a sleek luxury catamaran and take to the seas. Settle into your cruise with a welcoming drink in hand and let the ship’s crew do the hard work. Eventually, your vessel will sail into a secluded cove and weigh anchor where a selection of typical Bahamian foods will be served.

Following dinner, you can choose to take a dip in the crystal waters, and if you’re lucky there may even be a chance to swim with the majestic sea turtles who call the waters around the island their home. At another port of call on your luxury cruise, you’ll have a chance to dive down to a 19th-century shipwreck, delicately covered in corals and other brilliantly-colored marine life. No visit to Barbados should be considered complete without undertaking this amazing experience.

Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River

Ever since 1498, when Vasco da Gama became the first European to set eyes on the mighty Zambezi River, this vast African waterway has inspired armies of explorers, sightseers, and adventurers. Not much has changed in the intervening years, the river still attracts people from all over to world to experience the majesty of Africa’s fourth-largest river, and of course, the legendary Victoria Falls. One of the best ways of imprinting this mighty river on your mind is through the experience of a Zambezi sunset river cruise.

Having been whisked from your hotel in Livingstone this amazing adventure begins the moment you set foot aboard your vessel and set sail onto this great river. A professional and hugely knowledgable guide will keep you informed and entertained with amazing facts about the river, the forests, the tribes who have inhabited the region for centuries, and of course, the wildlife you’re likely to encounter. You’ll be sure to spot crocodiles, hippopotamus, zebra, and hopefully, even elephant as your journey continues. Plus, the abundance of birdlife is staggering and sure to thrill even an amateur bird-watcher, with over 400 species of birds which gather along the riverbanks be sure to bring your binoculars. You’ll also be served snacks and drinks to enjoy as you undertake this incredible river safari. A river cruise like no other, and one that’s sure to provide you with some unforgettable and precious memories to last for years to come.

Maui sunset dinner cruise for two

If you want to celebrate a special occasion in the company of someone special, this is the way to do it. Onboard a comfortable and spacious catamaran this Maui sunset dinner cruise will let you soak up the marvels of an Hawaiian sunset while taking in the beauty of the surrounding islands.

Imagine relaxing onboard your ship, dining on a sumptuous meal prepared by an award-winning chef, toasting the sunset with fine wines and champagnes, as the trade winds carry you between Maui, Molokai, and Lania. Surrounded by amazing scenery on all sides, including the splendors of the Kahalawai Mountains, this really is a moment to be savored in the celebration of life. Whether you choose this incredible experience as a honeymoon, birthday, or anniversary celebration, or if you just happen to appreciate the finer things in life this is definitely an experience not to be overlooked.

As the sun slowly sets over the Pacific Ocean and the islands of Hawaii it’s hard to believe that there is a real-world back on terra firma waiting for your return. But for a couple of magical hours sit back with a glass of wine in hand and imagine if every sunset could be just like this.

Connecticut lobster cruise for two

Step onboard a New England tall ship and take a voyage back in time. This unique dinner cruise pivots around a luxurious meal set in the comfort of a fully-refurbished tall ship, ensuring comfort, space, and safety. In order to increase your appetite, you’ll be invited to help raise the mainsails, plot the course and even take a turn at the helm.

Leaving Connecticut behind you your voyage begins with a tour of the Thames River, sentried by the formidable forts of Griswold and Turnbull. You’ll also see Avery Point and the Ledge lighthouse, a returning beacon for sailors for many years. You’ll also learn about life at sea and on land from your specialist guide.

Then it’s time for the main attraction, a classic and mouthwatering New England lobster dinner, featuring a 1.25lb lobster, delicious clam chowder with sides, sweet dessert, along with a selection of both hot and cold beverages – you can even bring your own wine. This is the perfect experience to help with celebrating a major life event, and an experience that is sure to live long in the memory. 

Amsterdam dinner cruise

Amsterdam, a Unesco World Heritage city interlaced with a vast network of canals and waterways is always high on every traveler’s wish list. The city is a pure delight and perfectly designed for discovery either on foot or by bicycle. But, if you really want to capture a totally unique Amsterdam perspective then take to the water and enjoy the pleasure of a city mini dinner cruise. Your vessel will wend its way through the city’s waterways past many of the iconic sights, monuments, and architectural delights on offer.

Amsterdam’s canals were first excavated during the bustling commerce of the 17th century, with the rich merchant’s houses from the same epoch still visible along your entire cruise route. While dining on a sumptuous, and lovingly prepared 4-course meal, a multilingual commentary will entertain you and your partner with stories, tales, anecdotes, and legends from old Amsterdam. 

Along with the stories behind the city’s history, you will glide comfortably past the city’s major landmarks; Magere Bridge, the Old Port area, and the famous Anne Frank House. As a bonus, the city of Amsterdam is very proud of its historic landmarks which are mostly illuminated during the hours of darkness, making this the most perfect and romantic way to enjoy and drink-in the flavors of the city.

Linas Ceikus is CEO and Founder of Tinggly. Tinggly is an experiential gift company offering you the chance to give unique experience gifts in lieu of material possessions, ideal for all discerning travel-lovers.

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Comments (12)

  1. Annie Hinchliffe says:

    Being more of an introvert who isn’t keen on crowds and lengthy getaways, I’ve shied away from big cruises over the years. Wouldn’t mind a mini cruise though, especially as it’s a cheaper way of doing it. It makes me think a bit of a bus sightseeing trip if you can go just for a few hours, but a hundred times better. Some interesting ones here. I’ve only done a safari on foot and in a 4×4 before so I like the idea of the Zambezi River trip, must give a whole new perspective on the area and the wildlife.

    • I’ve done a couple of ‘big cruises’ in the past (not by choice but as part of my job), and while some people may love them, they’re not for me.
      River trips and short cruises are more of my things. And, Like you, I’ve done safaris on foot, on a horse, and 4X4 in Africa, but the Zambezi is amazing. I hope you get to do it someday soon.

  2. Sharon Harris says:

    To throw some more cruise ideas into the ring here are two from Switzerland. One spring evening I did a dinner cruise on Lake Geneva. There was a thunder storm and then a rainbow just behind the water jet. Absolutely beautiful.

    Then last January, with the mountains covered in snow, I took a gourmet lunch cruise on Lake Lucerne. Luckily it was a clear sunny day and the views were brilliant.

  3. Josh says:

    A lobster cruise, there’s something I never would have imagined existed! I’m hoping to do Amsterdam with a few friends next year but I hadn’t thought of a dinner cruise. As you say, the canals and waterways are a big part of the tourism there so it’d be a good idea to make the most of it. I’ll have to look into one of those, especially if you can do it on an evening as it’s getting dark to see the illuminations.

    • I’d strongly recommend an evening dinner cruise in Amsterdam. Especially if you can do one of the longer ones – 3/4 hours – enjoy the scenery, the food, and prepare yourself nicely for a night out on the town. :)

  4. Brian says:

    I’ve done mini-cruises along the Barbados shoreline. There are so many hotels clustered along the Caribbean coastline that really a cruise is the only way that you are going to see the tropical beauty of that shoreline. For me the downside was that when the boat docked I didn’t want to get off. That mini-cruise gave me an expensive taste for much longer cruises.

    • Wow! I’ve never been to Barbados but your recommendation sounds perfect.
      I’m not a big fan of giant cruise liners, but some of Europe’s river cruises are amazing. Usually limited to about 30/40 passengers, great food, city stops on the Danube, the Seine, Portugal’s Douro and many more.
      Hmmmmmm… time to start checking some spring cruises.
      Thanks for your comments.

  5. Julie Humphries says:

    The one that appeals to me out of all of these is the Zambezi River sunset cruise. Dinner, sunset and wildlife – what a dream combination!

    • Me too. Sunset in East Africa is so incredible. The light, the birdsong, the sounds of hippos as they make their way out of the rivers to graze during the night, and the ‘barking’ of zebra off in the distance. Magical.
      I hope you get to experience this some day.

  6. Kirsty Emerson says:

    It would be interesting to have a guess at what would make up the other places for a top ten list of mini cruises. One of my all-time favourites was a day’s catamaran cruise off of Mauritius. Great views, some snorkelling on the coral reef and then a stop for lunch on a black volcanic rock island with white sand beaches.

    • Sounds incredible.
      Another great European option is any of the Canary Islands where you’ll usually find lots of mini-cruises, including dinner, whale and dolphin watching, swimming, etc.
      But as I said, a great option if you happen to be in Europe.
      Thanks for your tip.

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