Re: Help me select a ship
Why not use an Intrepid-class (Voyager) vessel, or a post-VOY derivative?
Fast, armed, obviously capable of exploration, modest-sized crew, kind of a post-TNG analogue to the TOS Enterprise, but definitely not a battleship.
"The way that you wander is the way that you choose. / The day that you tarry is the day that you lose. / Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder / Where the fair wind blows ..."
-- Lyrics, Jeremiah Johnson's theme.