When it comes to choosing a cruise package, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is what size of cruise ship best suits your needs? Are you the type of cruiser that prefers the super-sized extravagance of mega ocean liners or are you more partial towards the intimacy and community vibe of smaller yet equally as luxurious vessels? To help you decide what sort of experience will be most enjoyable, we’ve come up with a list of key cruising aspects that you should consider before deciding which style of ship to go for.
For those that can’t stand lining up, steer clear of floating resorts carrying thousands of passengers. As well as facing hour long waits to get off the ship at ports of call, more passengers can mean queuing for restaurants, buffet services and ever pool lounges. That said, larger ships will always cater for additional passengers and do their best to ensure the waits are as short as possible.
There is no clear winner when it comes to dining on large or small ships as it completely depends on your personal preferences. The major draw card of mega liners is the huge range of choices on offer, with lines such as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International offering an array of extravagant options including elegant formal dining rooms, indulgent buffets and specialty restaurants serving up international cuisines. Yet while smaller ships may have fewer options, you’ll find delightful attention to detail and preparation in every dish. Passengers also enjoy the opportunity for intimate dining, personalised service and more exotic menu and ingredient choices.
Once again, the winner is determined according to your personal preferences. If one of your main cruising aims is to socialise and meet new people, a larger ship is your best bet, purely due to the fact that the passenger base is more diverse. If you’re seeking a more intimate experience where you can really get to know your fellow passengers and maybe even meet someone special, smaller ships take the cake.
Activities and Entertainment
As expected, the facilities on-board larger ships are generally much more extravagant than those found on smaller vessels. From water slides, volleyball courts, bowling alleys, cinemas, show arenas and state-of-the-art fitness centres, cruising on a large ship will keep you entertained for weeks on end. Some vessels even feature wave riders, skydiving simulators and rock walls! While smaller ships also offer a great range of activities and entertainment, they simply don’t have the space to compete with the variety found on larger ships. That said, the activities will often be more personal and specially tailored to each individual voyage. For example, small ships often offer informational port lectures, trivia nights, inter-passenger talent competitions and national cuisine cooking classes.
If you’re looking for unique and unforgettable experiences, some of the smaller ships offer wonderfully intimate shore excursions that simply aren’t available on larger ships which cater for mass passenger attendance. Smaller ships are also known to include less crowded and more unusual ports in their itineraries which can make for a truly memorable cruising experience like no other. That said, if you love crowds, atmosphere and world famous sights, larger ships will take you there in style!
Family Friendly Features
If you’re cruising as a family, large vessels have endless options when it comes to children’s entertainment. Depending on which line you go with, features will include playrooms, nanny services, kids clubs, teen hangout rooms, video arcades, pizzerias, ice cream stands and waterslides. In contrast, small ships are nowhere near as well equipped which means you’ll need to be prepared to entertain the kids. In fact, some boutique lines are reserved exclusively for adults. On the upside, this makes your decision a lot easier if you’ve got kids in tow!
In general, intimate cruise experiences will cost a little more. That said, if you do your research and book through a trusted cruise package provider such as Cruise 1st, you are guaranteed to find some fantastic deals for both small and large scale ships!
At the end of the day, it’s all about your preferences, individual needs and what is going to make your cruise voyage as enjoyable as possible. There are upsides and downsides to both styles of ships so the key is to think about what sort of experience you want and book a cabin accordingly.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit:Roger Wollstadt.