Cruise Ships: Does Size Matter?

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booking cruise ships holidays

Booking your first cruise holiday can sometimes seem like a minefield with so many decisions to make. From the big decisions, like which region of the world you wish to explore, to the small decisions, like should you choose the early or late dining time, cruisers are faced with a lot of choices.

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One important thing to think about when beginning the search for your perfect cruise, is whether you’d like to cruise on a big ship or a small ship. Many frequent cruisers will have a certain ships size that they always stick to. The new action-packed megaships can be very marmite, with cruisers either actively seeking out the biggest new ships, or, avoiding them completely. There are some cruisers who say that they only ever choose ‘medium-sized’ ships. So, does size matter?

Large cruise ships

The world’s biggest cruise ship is Symphony of the Seas. Owned by Royal Caribbean International, this huge ship has the capacity for 6,680 passengers plus 2,200 crew.

The ship has 18 decks, 24 guest elevators and even a ten-storey slide. On a ship like this it’s impossible to be bored with never-ending activities like water slides, laser tag, ice skating, zip lining, rock climbing and mini golf. It’s easy to see what attracts families to these floating resorts which are also very popular with honeymooners and younger couples.

So, what’s not to like about a massive cruise ship? Well, some people find mega-ships a little too busy. If you prefer relaxation to a thrill a minute, it can all seem a bit much. Plus, the price of each of the on-board activities is included in your cruise fare. So, if you’re not going down the water slides or up the rock climbing wall, you’re essentially wasting a lot of money by choosing a ship that has all of this included.

Small cruise ships

At the other end of the scale are small cruise ships. With space for fewer than 500 passengers on-board, small cruise ships don’t have booming nightclubs, queues at the buffet or loads of kids on-board. What they do have, is style, grace and elegance.

Many of the small cruise ships are luxury vessels, and you’ll often find that there are almost as many crew members on-board as there are guests. This low guest-to-staff ratio makes for excellent service. Staff are able to remember not only your name, but also your favourite drink, and have it ready for you as you sit down for dinner.

Small ships are also able to navigate into ports which larger ships simply can’t, making them the perfect choice for exotic cruises or expedition voyages to the polar regions.

Mid-sized cruise ships

If you’re not sure which sounds best, perhaps you should go for a medium-sized ship for your cruise? Many cruise fans claim that there’s a sweet spot around 2,000-3,000 passengers where ships are big enough that you can enjoy a great choice of restaurants and entertainment, but no so big that you’re going to get lost.

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Medium-sized cruise ships are often some of the cheapest. Small ships can be expensive because of the emphasis on six-star luxury service, and the biggest ships can be expensive because of all the fancy facilities on-board. What you’ll often find with mid-sized ships is that they have the best prices of all cruise ships. If you’re on a budget, don’t go for the biggest and newest ships. Instead, take a look at some slightly older, smaller ships and you’ll find some great deals available.

Which size ship to choose?

Choosing a ship very much depends on who you’re cruising with and what you plan to do during your time on-board. Couples and solo travellers will likely want completely different things than parents looking for a family cruise. If you plan to spend lots of time on-board your ship and want an action-packed family holiday then you’re bound to be excited by the activities you can enjoy on shops biggest cruise ships. If, on the other hand, you prefer to gaze out at the ocean and have your glass refilled without leaving your sun lounger, then a small cruise ship could be just the ticket.