Does Size Really Matter? Big Ships vs Small Ships

Are you an “old salt” who already knows the ins and outs of cruising or an unsure first time cruiser? It’s already clear that cruising includes so much – accommodation from solo cabins to suites, multiple dining options and entertainment galore. Transport is taken care of to multiple destinations as you set sail onboard a floating hotel. Plus there’s the added bonus of unpacking only once!

There are a few things to consider before deciding if size really matters…
STEP 1: Think about who is actually coming along… a group of friends, a family with/without kids, a romantic couple or solo cruisers?
STEP 2: Your holiday expectations are important – are you looking for a relaxing, adventure, discovery, romance, or a dance all night and party all day type of cruise?
STEP 3: What floats your boat? Action-packed, fun-filled, popular ports or a complete immersion to get up close and personal with people, cultures, nature?
STEP 4: Are we talking a 2-3 day getaway, a 7-14 day cruise around the islands or do you have time on your hands for a world cruise or longer sojourn to parts unknown?

Now you have an idea of what you want from a cruising holiday we can focus on whether size REALLY does matter. Let’s compare the two…

LARGE SHIPS: From luxury liners to the newest, all-singing, all-dancing “Mega-ships” catering for 1600 up to 6700+ passengers. Each ship is designed as an integral part of your holiday experience, combining a huge, floating resort with everything onboard that you could need or want and more!

Most are jam packed with a wide choice of restaurants, bars and spaces to hang out. Fun-filled entertainment ranges from Broadway-style shows, piano bars, big band and dance all night through disco’s to family-friendly movies, and many features you wouldn’t find on a smaller ship like ice-skating, Flowriders®, ziplines, climbing walls, mini-golf, bowling, a selection of pools and even thrilling waterslides … not to mention kid’s clubs, shopping malls, luxury spas, gyms, and so much more. Each ship is different, and the list is almost endless.

Popular ports and major destinations are chosen to accommodate the physical size of the ship as well as to appeal to the widest range of cruiser expectations. The atmosphere onboard is one of fun for all, with something to do every moment of the day, whether it is planned or not. Unless, of course, you just want to chill out – then that’s fine too!

Some passengers feel that the ship is simply TOO big, that they are just another face in the crowd or that the service is impersonal. Yet, with such a large ship, and a seemingly huge amount of people and nooks and crannies to explore, others find it more of a benefit to be a little anonymous. It’s all about how you look at it… do you see too many people, or all the new friends you are yet to meet?

Many cruisers love the variety a large cruise ship offers and see it as one of the destinations. Others though, are looking for a more exclusive and intimate experience.

That’s where small ships come in…
SMALL SHIPS: Vary from the extensive, multi-cultural destinations of a European river cruise, to specific country cruises through to ultra-luxurious sea-going vessels providing unique experiences.

The spotlight is definitely on the destinations visited with a smaller ship. It’s a chance to immerse yourself. Pristine shores, secluded islands, age-old cultures, Zodiac excursions landing on the seemingly inaccessible Kimberley or the Antarctic… Getting up close and personal with the environment, nature and exotic cultures – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And while some small ships give their passengers the best of the best with ultra-luxurious accommodations, gourmet cuisine, high-end style and more, they also provide, along with river cruises, access to a wide selection of regions, lifestyles and landscapes. From the age-old history of world-class European cities to the more unique and exotic Asian discoveries of golden temples, floating markets, soaring mountains and more. With a little bit of luxury and a whole lot of adventure, every holiday palate can be satisfied.

It is however, unlikely that your onboard entertainment choices will include glitzy broadway-style shows. To enhance your cruise experience smaller ships will focus on exclusive cultural highlights – Ukrainian dance troupes, whirling dervishes or the magical strains of a Japanese Shamisen for example. In addition to captivating shore excursions that are often already included in your cruise price, knowledgeable local experts will charm you with their fascinating narrative, personal insights and exciting adventures. Imagine a winner of Alaska’s Iditarod speaking of her astonishing experiences, or an environmental biologist discussing the life-cycle of the Blue Whale… all designed to expand your own knowledge and understanding of the world around us.

Most smaller ships will gravitate towards the informality of comfort over high fashion – at most, dress codes will require limited “formal or semi-formal” attire. Dining will usually be in one main dining, with separated areas for Captain’s Table, Chefs Table or a Wine Connoisseurs… to name a few. The chef is likely to take advantage of any regional speciality and the availability of fresh lobsters, seafood, produce, cheeses, wines… and if you have special requirements, say an anniversary or dietary options, these are simple and easy to organise!

One of the features of a smaller ship, of course, is that you are closer to the motion of the ocean. Cruises may hug the coastlines, though there is always that longer trek across open water that may mean seasickness for some or a romantic ideal for others. And being closer to the ocean also leads to spectacular views and those wonderfully fresh salty breezes.

It has to be said that with a smaller cruise ship a more intimate experience is gained. A close knit crew will treat you as part of the family. New friends and camaraderie are easy to find, and you are guaranteed to be seeing their familiar faces everyday (which may or may not be a good thing).

So, does size really matter? Yes… and No! All ships and cruises are unique. Each holiday is fun-filled, action-packed, have spectacular ports ripe for exploring. Our suggestion – book a cruise today and get onboard!

Ready to go cruising? Which way will you go Big or Small, we wonder?
Let us know when you call one of our Travel Solution Specialists to organise your next cruising holiday on 1300 830 786

Do you have a travel experience you would like to share? We may publish your tale here in the blogs, and elsewhere online. Send your story to traveltales@discover365.com.au

Post written by Jacqueline Hamilton

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