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Benefits of small ship cruising - plus best small ports in Northern Europe

Author: Sophie Chichester

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Oceania Cruises has much to shout about but one huge perk of sailing with the line is its small and luxurious cruise ships.

Cruise holidays on such vessels mean guests are able to access to boutique, less crowded harbours that larger ships cannot enter.

Consequently, they have the opportunity to visit more off-the-beaten-track destinations and enjoy authentic travel experiences in locations, taking time to mingle with locals and forge lasting memories.

Another benefit of small ship cruising is quicker embarkation and disembarkation, as lines are shorter and there is a higher guest to crew ratio.

- READ MORE: Why sailing with Oceania feels like a private country club -

As for dining, this impressive ratio of culinary staff to guests again sees huge benefits for those sailing with Oceania Cruises, as it enables each dish to be created à la minute and makes every meal a gourmet culinary experience.

What's more, Oceania Cruises’ guests can feel right at home onboard thanks to the intimate onboard ambience and the warm personalised service. You'll also meet like-minded seasoned travellers with whom you can explore ports of call should you choose.

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Northern Europe is particularly rich in smaller ports ideal for small ship cruising with Oceania Cruises.

These are just a handful some of the amazing places, Oceania Cruises’ guests could choose to visit:

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is a beautifully preserved medieval town split over two levels. Visitors here might well feel they have stepped back in time!

Be sure to check out the guild houses, the churches and squares, the famous apothecary shop, the exquisite town hall, the delightful parks, Baroque palaces and the ruined 15th-century convent. The city is also home to many great restaurants.

Meanwhile, the lovely recreated rural Estonian village by the sea is worth a visit.

Oceania Cruises offers a whopping 22 cruises which include Tallinn in their itinerary.

Tallinn is a beautifully preserved medieval town split over two levels. Credit: Shutterstock

Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Torshavn is a great port for nature lovers thanks to the region's birdwatching opportunities. It has stunning natural scenery, rugged shorelines, beautiful villages and a very laid-back lifestyle.

The old part of the town is called Tinganes. Here you can find rustic turf-roofed cottages and historic red stone and timber buildings. Enjoy a walk along the seafront and the harbour where you can spot fishermen bringing in their daily catch.

Away from the town, take a drive around the stunning, craggy island to admire majestic waterfalls, beautiful fjords, farms, villages, enigmatic sea stacks and panoramic views of the neighbouring islands.

The ancient Viking settlement in a valley of lakes makes for an intriguing stop.

There are eight Oceania Cruises itineraries that call at Torshavn.

Torshavn is a great port for nature lovers thanks to the region's birdwatching opportunities. Credit: Shutterstock

Paamiut, Greenland

Paamiut is a small colourful fishing village rich with Inuit culture and a strong connection to the sea located in southwestern Greenland in the Sermersooq municipality.

It's very small and easy to walk around, making it ideal to explore in just one day. One of the best aspects is the friendly and inviting locals who often welcome guests into their homes to see how they live and travellers can explore the local way of life.

Visitors can also learn about the town’s history and culture on a guided tour revealing archaeological discoveries that indicate the area was inhabited as far back as 1500 BC.

Wildlife watching is excellent here, too. Why not explore the stunning coastline by ferry and be in with a chance of glimpsing the minke whales, fin whales, humpback whales and orcas that swim in pods in the surrounding waters?

Oceania Cruises offers five cruises that visit Paamiut.

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Leknes, Norway

If there’s any place in Norway that proves the tourist board’s slogan "Powered by Nature" it must be Leknes. The town, located in the Vestvågøy municipality, is in the centre of the dramatic Lofoten Islands which boast towering, jagged peaks and sheltered bays.

Leknes is a gateway to unspoiled beaches, as well as traditional fishing villages and outdoor adventures on nearby islands.

The stunning main Lofoten islands are Austvågøy, Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy which are separated from the mainland by a long fjord, but all are connected by bridges and tunnels.

The unique quality of light has long drawn artists to the archipelago, so travellers will find countless galleries featuring everything from glassware and sculptures to jewellery.

If you’re yearning to experience a Lofoten-style city, head to the unofficial capital of Svolvaer.

There are three Oceania Cruises itineraries to choose from if you want to visit this gorgeous spot.

Leknes is a gateway to unspoiled beaches, as well as traditional fishing villages. Credit: Shutterstock

Molde, Norway

Molde is a charming fjord city with oodles of charm and atmosphere, and it’s known as the City of Roses thanks to the many lush rose gardens around the city.

Molde is also home to a week-long International Jazz Festival, one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe.

The city's third claim to fame is its football team - one of the best in Norway – and the Aker Stadium is impressive. Drawn by local architect Kjell Kosberg, this grand building has a granite exterior made of stone and glass.

Visitors should be sure to seek out the Varden viewpoint, a towering 407m above sea level, to experience the Molde Panorama from where you can see a remarkable view of no less than 222 partially snow-clad peaks.

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