An intimate way to cruise coastal waters is on a yacht, motorised catamaran, or traditional wooden gulet to explore secluded bays and tiny islands that most of the larger cruise ships cannot readily access.
Every night brings authentic experiences docked right in the heart of a small town while time on board includes lazing on deck, helping hoist the sails, and snorkelling.
Small catamarans can also take in remoter locations, including the Galapagos Islands. Peregrine Adventures has a six-day cruise to the Galapagos on its modern new catamaran Queen Beatriz, that carries up to 16 passengers with an onboard naturalist and crew, from $2825 per person twin-share, peregrineadventures.com.au
The idyllic water off Tahiti is another location to explore on a luxurious catamaran, with onboard skipper and chef, as well as water toys, including kayaks, snorkels, fishing equipment and windsurfers. Itineraries are tailored to the preferences of the six guests. Onboard accommodation, food, drink and hire of yacht from Australian company The Moorings is $3505 per day, flights extra, moorings.com.au
On the home front, Aurora Expeditions' freshly refurbished catamaran Coral Princess carries up to 44 guests on 11-day voyages along the Kimberley coast between Darwin and Broome with an expedition leader, Aboriginal art expert, and naturalist on board. En route, passengers discover gorges, tiny islands with abundant wildlife, thundering cascades, boab trees and ancient Aboriginal art. Prices start from $7190 per person twin-share, auroraexpeditions.com.au
Peter Sommer takes small groups for week-long cruises around the Turkish coastline on a traditional gulet. One cruise sails the historic Lycian coastline and visits Patara, birthplace of St Nicholas (Father Christmas), and costs from $3084 per person, including transfers, accommodation, all entrance fees, expert guides, with flights extra. Another cruise sails to Ephesus taking in the temple of Apollo at Didyma and the ancient city of Priene, from $3084 per person, petersommer.com
Intrepid Travel's small-group adventures on yachts carry up to eight passengers on regular sailings to Greek islands in the Cyclades and Ionian Sea, as well as to Croatian waters from Dubrovnik. A 10-day skippered cruise from Santorini takes in Ios, Amorgos, Syros and Mykonos, from $1850 per person.
Between May and October, Intrepid also has skippered yacht cruises in the Adriatic, sailing along the Croatian coastline from Dubrovnik to Primosten, from $1450 per person, intrepidtravel.com
A relaxing Thai escape is a three-day cruise along the Chao Phraya River to the ancient royal capital Ayutthaya. The teak boat has four luxury guest cabins, with a butler and chef on board, from $2153 for a couple sharing a double room, bangkok-cruises.anantara.com