In a world increasingly worried by the debate about “over tourism” – Barcelona and Dubrovnik are already putting up the “we’re full” signs – small ship cruising’s time may have come.

That’s what Intrepid – the 30-year-old global brand founded in Melbourne off the back of authentic travel – believes.

Intrepid-owned Peregrine has just launched its adventure cruising itineraries – with a bold promise that its small ships, with a maximum capacity of just 50 passengers, will be carbon neutral.

CEO James Thornton said intrepid takes 300,000 people on holidays each year.  And the demand for “sustainable experience-rich travel” with local people and experiences has never been stronger.

“Travellers are increasingly aware of the impact they can have on holiday,” he said.  “We’ve heard from local leaders that cruise ship travellers are now being called ‘ice cream tourists’  – because that’s all they’re buying when they visit an increasingly overcrowded city like Dubrovnik.”

Thornton says he believes adventure cruising travellers may outnumber those on Peregrine Adventures land-based trips in the next decade.

The company claims it has a $500 a day average price. Its fleet of small ships can enter small harbours.  And a recent acquisition in Greece has added go their fleet of sail and motor ships.

Mr Thornton is obviously a fan. “It means we can jump off the boat in a small cove like a private yacht and go for a swim, have a great barbeque, try and local food and really get an immersive experience and meet local people.”

He said the first season had seen seven charter vessels and seven departures in Croatia.  Next year, there will be five charter itineraries in Europe, nine departures in Croatia, plus Greece, Spain and Portugal, three in Iceland and three in Costa Rica.

Asia is the next target, with Vietnam and Cambodia on the radar.

Highlights from Peregrine’s 2018 Adventure Cruising Europe program include:

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