Small is beautiful.  The cruise industry is seeing early signs of recovery with several lines resuming operations for local travellers in the wake of COVID-19.

Boutique company Katarina Line, which specialises in cruising the Dalmatian coast, resumed sailing last month with departures from Opatija, Split and Dubrovnik.

“Small-ship cruising is among the safest way to enjoy an unforgettable vacation experience in Croatia,” said Daniel Hauptfeld, marketing director for Katarina Line.

“Our vessels hold a maximum of just 36 guests, so they are perfect for small groups, families and friends to travel from one island to another, swimming in secluded beaches that are approachable only by boat – all without the crowds of larger vessels.”

Katarina is a premier small ship cruise company with a fleet of 60 ships. It is Croatia’s leading cruise line and offers 35 different itineraries from active holidays where you can combine cruise and cycle from island to island on the Dalmatian coast or cruise and walking itineraries with local guides on the islands and mainland.

French luxury company Ponant is also getting ready to sail in France and the Mediterranean on July 11 – subject to the French Government’s approval at national, prefectural and port level. The “ministerial decree” is expected in the next few days.

Ponant has scheduled five itineraries for the summer season including Brittany, Normandy and Brittany, Bordeaux, the Mediterranean coast and Corsica.

Hurtigruten was the first expedition line to restart sailing the Norwegian fjords and coastline when MS Finnmarken departed Bergen to Kirkenes on June 16 following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Hurtigruten added three more ships on the popular Norwegian coast including MS Midnatsol, MS Richard With and MS Trollfjord.

Coral Expeditions, Australia’s small ship expedition company based in Queensland, is planning to restart its Kimberley cruises from Darwin to Broome on August 1 subject to WA opening its borders. Coral is also offering itineraries to the Great Barrier Reef and circumnavigation of Australia later this year. Coral’s fleet of small ships including the Coral Geographer, Coral Adventurer and Coral Discoverer can accommodate between 72 to 120 passengers.

In Asia, Genting Cruise Lines will resume sailing in Taiwan with Explorer Dream offering two and three-night Taiwan Island Hopping itineraries from July 26. The cruise will depart from Keelung with stops at Penghu, Matzu and Kinmen Islands.

“This is truly a remarkable achievement which was made possible by the Taiwan authorities’ swift and effective handling of the COVID-19 crisis and their foresight in resuming the tourism industry to benefit all the ports, the economy and the lifestyle if the people of Taiwan,” said Kent Zhu, president of Genting Cruise Lines.

Explorer Dream
Explorer Dream

Explorer Dream has undergone a thorough deep cleaning and strict quarantine for its crew. Passengers will have to undergo stringent health screening protocols at embarkation and disembarkation. They also have to practise social distancing while on board the ship and on excursions.