Does size matter? Why bigger cruise ships may not be better
Small might be beautiful on the ocean wave
When planning that cruise you’ve promised yourself, it’s not as straightforward as choosing an itinerary, seeing which company offer it and then organising travel insurance for your cruise. You also need to consider the size of cruise ship you’ll take to the high seas on.
When it comes to cruising, size matters in that there are definite advantages and disadvantages to the larger and smaller cruise ships.
The size categories
Cruise ship size generally falls into four categories based on the number of passengers the ship can accommodate.
Small – anything from a handful of people to just under 1,000
Mid-size – between 1,000 and 2,000 passengers
Big ships – from 2,000 to 3,000 passengers
Mega-ships – over 3,000 passengers
The big ship option
In general terms, the larger ships tend to fall into the ‘ship as destination’ category where it’s the sheer convenience and plethora of entertainment, activity and eating and drinking options that appeal as much as the ports of call.
Larger ships tend to be more affordable and offer a variety of dining, drinking, entertainment and activity options. Also, simply because of the diverse age range of passengers, it is usually easier to find like minded people and make new friends. This can be a big plus with younger families where children often enjoy their holiday more when making new friends.
Small can be beautiful
On smaller ships, cabins tend to be more ‘suite-like’ – or even full blown suites as opposed to the smaller cabins that tend to all look the same on larger ships. The service is likely to be far more personalised as there are fewer passengers on board, and this will result in a lot less queuing at embarkation and when dining.
Small ships are usually far less regimental in terms of meal times and so on. With such huge numbers of passengers on a large ship, a degree of standardisation is necessary, whereas on a smaller ship things can be less ordered and thus make for a more relaxing experience.
Also related is the time it can take on a larger ship to simply find your way around. On some ships, such as the mammoth 6,000 passenger Oasis Of The Seas, which is three times larger than the QE2, you’d definitely need to consult a map of the ship for the entire length of the cruise.
If you prefer the quieter life, young families are less likely to travel on smaller ships. Indeed, some operators of these ships have a minimum age stipulation.
For the itinerary aspect, there are likely to be more options and the use of smaller ports that larger ships can’t gain access to. This in turn makes for a more original travelling experience as you might find yourself more off the beaten track than on a larger ship cruise trip.
Generally speaking, more diverse and exotic itineraries are offered with smaller ship cruises. This makes for a more satisfying experienced for the committed traveller.
The seafaring experience
Perhaps the real crux of the matter is the whole experience of being at sea. On a smaller ship you’re always reminded of the fact you are actually travelling on water with the motion of the ocean a pleasant presence and a part of the travel experience.
On a larger ship it’s all too easy to forget you are actually on the ocean – it sometimes feels more like you’re in a small town such is the scope and size of the vessel.
For some, the sheer choice of where to go and what to do, eat and drink on a large or mega ship is almost intimidating. The Oasis Of The Seas mentioned above has an amazing 37 bars and 20 restaurants to choose from along with 10,000 square metres of retail space. Some cruise lovers might fear they’d never be able to choose whereabouts to eat and drink or what to do next.
With the extremes of choice available, it’s easier than ever to choose a cruise that suits you and your tastes closely. Of course, the sheer choice can also make it a bit daunting, but smaller ship cruising definitely has many advantages over the big and mega ship offerings.
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