Boom in small ship cruising: 'It's not about the slides'

Boom in small ship cruising: 'It's not about the slides'
This undated image provided by Ponant shows a rendering of the Blue Eye, a lounge that will be located beneath the water line on a Ponant expedition ship debuting later this year, Le Laperouse. The Blue Eye will have two windows and digital screens showing images from underwater cameras, and it will also transmit underwater sounds and vibrations. (Ponant via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Massive ships carrying thousands of people have gotten all the headlines in cruising in recent years. But there’s also been a boom in small ships, river cruises and what’s known as expedition cruising on ships designed to sail in places like the polar regions.

Smaller ships often emphasize more upscale, personalized service and more of a focus on sightseeing in the destination than big ships, which can feel like floating cities.

Ten new river ships are launching this year from brands like AmaWaterways, Crystal Cruises, Uniworld and Tauck. New expedition ships, designed for cruising polar regions and other places with spectacular scenery or environmental challenges, are coming out from Ponant and Scenic Luxury Tours & Cruises.