As much as I (and you) might love starships, fleets, the idea of engaging in battle with aliens, we cant explore the Universe if we are tied down to the concept of the starship. For Star trek, the limits of the ship, the idea of crews, a quasi-military expeditionary force going boldly into the heavens, on the slow arc of human evolution. The age of the starship is almost done for Star Trek, Science Fiction, and for us.
A Drone Carry-All Future
We ditch the current concept of manned starfleet vessels, and we separate the naecelles and reactor from the crew pod. suddenly our AI controlled Carry-all can move a 'saucer' filled with crew, a box filled with cargo, or even a Transporter room so we can transport people. For a shuttle pod, maybe the future involves ditching the passenger pod all together. If a force field is good enough then we only need a small naecelle and reactor unit and a force field bubble to get us there. So we have eliminated most of the ship mass by simply going with a shield. The only reason we needed the ship was as habitat in case of environmental issues.
The Holographic Ship
With an entirely holographic ship, we need what? The capacity to create and project the ship around us. So we reduce our ship down to the reactor and AI with holographic projector. Now the away team are simply picked up and taken to their destination by a warp core with a holographic projector that creates the ship. Considering photons and matter are particle and wave, how about an entangle of strings projecting an entire starship. If its that simple, then its the same whether the carry-all moves a hundred people, or just one.
The End of the Starship Era
If we can be picked up by the idea of a starship, transporting us alone out into the Universe...sustaining us as we go visit the Borg. Humanity. Starfleet. These concepts fail, left behind with the Idea that there needs to be a hierarchy with a Captain making decisions for the rest. the fact is its a Remnant of the same primitive beliefs that hold us back and having captains impose their fears on future generations will only harm us. Humans...one, then more begin going out in groups and smaller and smaller as humanity disapates across the galaxy, exploring increasingly alone. The Starship ends with our freedom from one another. To boldly go and explore and discover.