As a hotly discussed topic between avid cruisers, whether to choose large or small ships has been debated since the existence of passenger cruising. Now with more and more large vessels making their debut on the seas each year, other smaller lines have been pushing for a different experience.
Choosing between the two depends on what you prefer and whether this includes intimate experiences or the thrilling activities and glam shows. So, to help you make the correct decision, here are a few pros and cons of both small and large cruise ships.
There are many companies that boast large ships with jaw-dropping amenities, including standouts Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises. The theory of ‘more is more’ appeals to a vast market and, with the promise of low-cost cruise fares and the chance to see beautiful destinations, there is plenty of choice in terms of larger ships.
Opting for a large ship can bring forth the glitz and glam of cruising, including high-flying shows, exciting activities and an abundance of dining options. More likely than not, you are going to stay well-entertained during your cruise.
An obvious positive (or negative for some) is the number of people who will be joining you throughout the cruise, this will usually range from 2,000 to more than 6,000, meaning there are plenty of people to get to know. Also, dining is no issue. Even the fussiest of eaters can find their new-found favourites with upwards of 10 dining venues on board, including Italian, Mexican and even Japanese Teppanyaki eateries.
Unfortunately, as with everything, there are some drawbacks when it comes to large ocean vessels too. This includes the previously stated fact that you’ll be sharing your cruising holiday with thousands of fellow cruisers, overcrowding destinations and creating queues for rides and meals.
Even though these can be avoided with some careful planning, some moments are just unavoidable. Other smaller inconveniences are getting lost, having to walk long distances between your stateroom and other facilities, and a lower crew-to-guest ratio.
Smaller ships doesn’t mean worse ships – there are plenty of bonuses to choosing something on a more modest scale. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is famed for keeping fares low, whilst still offering smaller ships and intimate experiences. Meanwhile, Silversea and Regent are ultra-luxury cruise lines and come with spectacular extras that are only possible due to the size of the ship. Keep in mind, smaller vessels can reach smaller ports. If you are planning on visiting somewhere exclusive, this can be an important point.
Choosing a smaller ship opens up a world of intimacy, tranquillity and exclusive experiences. Fewer passengers allow for closers friendships to be made, as you are likely to meet the same faces each morning and night. Dining will take place at set times and in one or two main restaurants, usually being able to cater nearly all of the guests within two sittings. There will also be more chance of securing a table at the speciality restaurant(s).
Not overwhelming the destination can be really essential to getting the best out of your experience. Due to the nature of the ports you’ll be able to visit, shore excursions will take you deeper into the heart of the culture in a particular region. While entertainment may be limited, this will be enhanced by seminars and local experiences that will be brought on board, showcasing first-hand the region’s history and culture. Finally, a higher crew-to-guest ratio can really add the cherry on top.
On the other hand, having less dining options can really affect your cruise, as you will likely eat in the same restaurant most nights. Entertainment can also be an issue. As there are fewer options, things could get repetitive, especially if you are planning on taking a world cruise.
One last con relates to cost. Smaller means smaller, apart from the price tag. Cruising on an ultra-luxury vessel with various added extras comes at a price.
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