You will hear me talk a lot about cruising, the biggest tourism phenomena of the past 30 years. With so many options, how do you decide which cruise ship is the best one. The reasons are as varied as the personalities of the traveller. Let’s look at ocean cruising and how the size of the ship can influence, or at least narrow down your choice. There are a number of cruise companies who only sell through licensed travel agents, so you are much better off using a travel agent to get the best experience and value for your dollar.
We generally look at cruising in four categories: mega, large, mid-size and small ships. Larger ships have more passengers, amenities and activities, which generally brings the cost per passenger down. If it’s bars, nightlife, entertainment, waterslides, kids’ zones etc., then the larger ships are perfect. Smaller ships have fewer guests, higher staff to guest ratios, all suite staterooms with luxury amenities and therefore tend to be more expensive.
Entertainment on large ships is often Broadway style in theatres, cafés and bars with casual music performances, casinos and themed nightclubs. On a small ship, you will have more enrichment programs with world-renowned speakers, wine tastings and elegant entertainment all included in the price. Guests on smaller, luxury ships are getting younger due to port activities, which appeal to all ages (although you often find fewer children and age restrictions on some smaller ships.)
Dining options range from free-for-all buffets, optional specialty dining at an additional cost on larger ships, to virtually no line ups and culinary/wine pairing cuisine all included in the cost on the smaller ships.
Port experiences will vary according to the size of ship. Large ships often have their own ports and onshore entertainment areas, with large bus tours for shore trip excursions. Smaller ships offer more exclusive, private events with fewer people and expert local guides.
Remember, one is not better than the other, only different. Your choice depends solely on your expectations, personality and budget.