Last week I covered what I think is one of the most important aspects of cruising: the itinerary. This week I want to talk about something equally important: the ship that you get to live on for the length of the trip! There are really three different sizes of ships in my opinion: large, small, and tiny.
When I say large, I mean huge! Some of the ships in this category are over 1,000 feet long and can fit almost 6,000 people on-board These ships can naturally be crowded at times, but being that they’re so large, there are lots of different areas to hang out. The biggest ships from Royal Caribbean offer amenities that I wouldn’t have even thought possible before reading about them. Things like an ice rink and a simulated surfing wave! Norwegian meanwhile offers a water slide with tubes along with two other water slides – all on one ship! These large ships can be a great way for a family to spend a vacation because there are so many different things to do to keep everyone busy. At the same time, they can be almost too busy so if you’re looking for a quieter cruise, these large ships might not be the best choice.
I consider any ship less than 2,000 passengers to be “Medium” sized in the sense that they aren’t huge like the ships I described above, but they still offer a lot of different activities. They may not have ice rinks, but they’ll have multiple restaurants, a couple pools, fitness centers and spas, and sometimes even mini-golf. They’re in the “sweet spot” of size and activity.
What these medium sized ships give you that the large ships don’t is better service. In my experience, the smaller the ship the better the service offered. When there are 6,000 people on a ship, it’s pretty hard to serve everyone well. There’s just too many people. However, when the numbers get more reasonable such as on these medium sized ships, the service levels really starts to pick up. I also find that the entire atmosphere of the ship changes – from a more party-esque atmosphere on the big ships to a more relaxed, easy-going atmosphere on these ships.
Some ships are very, very small. There’s likely to be a pool, maybe a casino, and a dining room, but not much else in terms of entertainment activities. If you’re looking to go rock climbing or play at the water slide, these aren’t your type of ships. Cruise ships of this size have the ultimate in service and attention and are usually upscale in nature.
Some ports are too small to handle the large and medium ships, but are amazing places. These tiny ships are able to take advantage of their size by stopping places that are hidden gems in the world of cruising. Finally, these small ships can be subject to motion much more so than the larger ships so if you’re not steady on the water, I’d definitely avoid the smaller ships in favor of the much larger, but steadier ships.