When thinking about cruise vacation options, you may be most interested in itineraries and ports of call. But, the size of your ship can be just as important to your decision. That’s because there are major differences in the experiences delivered by large and small ships – size determines a lot, such as how many people you’ll share the ship with, the variety of onboard activities and entertainment, and the number of dining options.
Dividing cruise ships into “large” and “small” categories may be too simple because passenger capacity ranges from less than 100 to more than 6,000. But, we can loosely define small ships as those that carry up to 2,000 passengers and large ships as those that carry more.
To figure out if large or small is best for you, here are a few things to consider.
Do you like to meet lots of new people, or get to know a few new friends? Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Costa have ships that carry more than 5,000 passengers, where you’ll see different people each day. These ships are also more likely to host families and other groups, too. On mid-size and smaller ships from lines like Oceania, Holland America, and Viking, you’re more likely to mix with the same passengers each day, with more adults and fewer children on board.
Do you want to have lots to do on board, or do you enjoy a quieter atmosphere? Large ships have spaces for an amazing array of activities, from theaters and water parks to go-kart tracks and escape rooms. (If you need a break from the excitement, large ships often have some quiet, adult-only spaces as well). Small ships still have lovely amenities like pools, spas, and lounges, but there’s usually more emphasis on the destination than on onboard thrills.
Do you want to enjoy dinner in a different restaurant every evening, or are you happy trying different dishes from a single dinner menu? Large ships have multiple dining options, from casual to formal, featuring a variety of cuisines. Small ships may have just one or two dining venues, but menus will be varied (and delicious).
There’s more to consider about cruise ship size, including differences in the available destinations – some ports that welcome small ships can’t accommodate large ones, and vice versa. To decide what size of a ship is right for your next cruise, talk it all through with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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