Cruise ships come in all sizes and can have an impact on your cruise experience. The number of passengers, itineraries, dining options and activities are just a few things that differ. What are the top differences that can make a great cruise an exceptional experience?
Generally speaking, the bigger the ship, the more amenities one has access to. Bigger ships offer a wider variety of staterooms, a lower cruise fare, but bigger ports and bigger crowds. Big ships are as much of the overall experience as the ports of call. Small ship cruises focus more on the destinations and what happens off the ship, therefore offering fewer amenities but more intimate travel with like minded people. Those who want a bit of adventure in their vacation don't mind trading in some comforts to get it.
Big Ships (500 - 5000 passengers)
- Like floating resorts; often as much or more of the experience than the ports of call
- Itineraries include large ports that can accommodate the ships; often in port with a number of other large ships which equates to a large number of people in port
- Lots of amenities, activities and evening entertainment
- Multiple dining venues and specialty restaurants
- Wide variety of staterooms to suit all tastes
Small(er) Ships (100 - 500 passengers)
- Small ships focus on the destinations and off ship experiences
- Itineraries include smaller ports, off the beaten path where the big ships can't go
- Luxury ships will have a number of amenities and live entertainment, but casual and expedition type cruises focus on educational lectures, naturalists and historians
- Luxury ships have multiple dining venues; casual and expedition ships generally have one main dining area with top quality menus
- Luxury lines have beautiful suites and staterooms; casual and expedition cruises have cabins that are comfortable and functional but generally not defined a luxurious
Adventure Yachts (<100 passengers)
- Adventure cruises focus on the destination. Many times there are no ports of call, instead exploring secluded bays, nature and wildlife up close and personal
- Entertainment is focused on what takes place off the ship during the day and relaxation and enjoying the scenery while on board
- Gourmet meals are offered in a very casual and intimate setting and may include fresh fish caught that day
- Cabins are functional and comfortable but smaller space wise
Big and small ship cruising offer exceptional experiences, however the experiences are very different. Which one to take all depends on what you are looking for out of the cruise.
Download an in-depth comparison between ship sizes (including river cruises) here.
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