Big Ship or Small Ship?

Mar 27th, 2009, 08:26 AM
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Posts: 10,192
Big Ship or Small Ship?

Yesterday, I wrote about the difference between my big-ship cruise on NCL last year and my small-ship cruise on Cruise West a few weeks ago. In concluded that I seem to be more of a small-ship person. Having said that, I'm very intrigued by the new Royal Caribbean and NCL ships that are coming down the pike. I definitely want to sail on Oasis of the Seas to see the "Central Park", and I am looking forward to seeing what NCL can do with the Norwegian Epic. I think Royal Caribbean has been a bit more successful in its big-ship designs, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

I'm curious about your preferences, and I think a discussion of big-ship versus small-ship would be helpful to those posters who might be on the fence about cruising. Here's a link to my column (
doug_stallings is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 09:01 AM
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I am a "smaller" ship person. One of the main reasons is when we are in a smaller port it seems overwhelming when disembarking and sometimes (like on the Alaska cruise) the town is filled with so many passengers you can't get into any of the local shops or restaurants (not that we needed food!!! -just atmosphere of the pubs) Also tendering is so much slower. We have done over 50 cruises and to me 1500 passengers is the limit when I choosing our next cruise. The Prinsendam is just about perfect for us.
traveller69 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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To me 700 is the max and I prefer the 150 and 350 passenger ships.

The getting on and off is long and tiresome on the big ships. Maybe there is more entertainment, but the pools, etc. are always so crowded.

On the smaller ships you can always find a nice deck space to sit & read a book. Also the crew knows you and your likes very quickly. You can get into small ports that the big ships can't go. We also prefer the resort casual dress and open seating for dinner.

Our preferences are "Windstar" and "Star Clipper" lines, but we're considering "Oceania" for a little different itinerary.

The best part of cruising is seeing so many places(even if it is for a short time) without changing hotels.
TPAYT is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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I think I don't have to worry as much about sea sickness on big ships, besides, they are cheaper.

Small ships can go places where large ships can't, so this is a big advantage.
Dayenu is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 09:32 AM
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Our first cruise was over 25 years ago on a comfortable sized ship, the Sitmar Fairsea. This was followed a few years later on Royal Caribbean's Song of Norway, a bit larger but suited us fine. We did a couple trips on NCL's Starward, again a reasonably sized ship and enjoyed both. We sailed twice with a now defunct line, did a Greek Isle cruise (we absolutely loved), and then after some years we went to Bermuda on the RCL Nordic Prince, the biggest ship we had traveled on. We loved Bermuda but the ship left me cold for the most part. I had entered the era of ship "glitz" with the several deck atrium (a must to some cruisers), Las Vegas decor, a two level dining room, all the amenities so many now demand.

When the ships started growing after Carnival entered the picture, and the bigger is better mindset prevailed we pretty much stopped cruising. We finally found a ship we loved, the Regal Princess (sadly no longer in the fleet) a bit larger than we were accustomed to, but she was a ship, not a floating Disneyland. We had the pleasure of her company to Alaska and then through the Panama Canal. We miss her.

We will be sailing in three weeks from San Francisco to the Mexican Riviera for 10 days on the Star Princess, once again much larger than I would prefer. I'm not sure I will love the ship, but I'm ecstatic about once again leaving from San Francisco, a 40-60 minute drive from home.

As you can see, I'm not thrilled with the direction cruising is taking, but I'm sure I'm in the minority. Small ships suit me better and I much prefer beautiful wood and shiny brass, to skating rinks and climbing walls.

I agree with the others that 2,000+ passengers make port visits very difficult. I've also been a visitor in cities when cruise ships were in port and very happy when they left. I can't imagine cruising with the huge passenger complement on the behemoths RCL and NCL are launching. We'll never cruise with either line again as their ships are all too big. At least with Princess and Holland America they have smaller ships to choose from.

Cruising is a wonderful way to travel and I wish all bon voyage on the ships of their liking!
Giovanna is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 05:52 AM
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Definetely a small ship person. As a senior now i'm not into rock climbing, ice skating or bowling.Our next cruise will be the Pacific Princess which is probably the smallest and I think at one time we did sail the Brilliance of the Seas.. Recently we sailed the Century, Galaxy and Constellation and they were big enough and comfortable for us. That we will be doing the NCL Gem t/a the end of November because of ports, price and reputation. With more than 20 cruises under our belt I don't want to spend time walking from venue to venue..I'm not into glitz and as the Captain of the NCL Majesty told me... People want bigger and better like cars".. I don't agree. I wish I could afford the smaller ships like Oceania, Regent, etc. Two years ago our cruise ship took us on the way back from Europe to the Caribbean and Nassau, St. Martin, etc... Okay.. call me a snob.. but the five to seven ships lined up with passengers rushing into jewelry shops and disembarking the ships was something I don't want to occur on my cruises..Cruising for the masses and I include myself is very affordable, but it doesnt have to mean does it.. the more you stuff onto a ship the more $$ the cruise lines want to make
ParrotMom is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Me too ParrotMom! Do you suppose the race to build the hugest ship and pack the most stuff on it (that actually should remain on land) will ever end? I sure hope so, but at least we do have some choices left for the smaller ships that are more to our liking. Where will the Pacific Princess take you? We're thinking about another Panama Canal cruise on the Royal Princess or Sea Princess (bigger but under 2,000 passengers).
Giovanna is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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From what I've heard the Pacific Princess is a non-nonsense cruise.... The cruise we are taking is going from Manaus, Brazil all the way up the Amazon two Brazilian ports, St. Barts, Devils Island, Dominica, St Barts, Tobago, St. Lucia and end in Ft. Lauderdale at the end of two weeks.. These are the old Ren. ships and Azamara maybe have two of them too.. They definetely don't seem glitzy, more english clubby.. I really have to laugh when Princess cruisers say Celebrity is stuffy.. this I have to see... In that category of the 670 passenger ships Princess has the Ocean/Tahitian and Royal I thin the Sea maybe bigger and it does the Panama Canal, but I can't find what the ports are.. We have done one full transit and three partials...
ParrotMom is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 09:29 PM
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Your cruise sounds wonderful! Would be a great one for us, as even the islands you are visiting we've not been to. Hope you have a wonderful time.

We've done one full transit and really enjoyed it. On the cruises we're interested in the Royal starts in Ft. Lauderdale, after several sea days direct to the canal Fuerte Amador, Puntarenas CR, Puerto Chiapas (which I think would allow for a visit to Palenque, a Mayan ruin we've wanted to visit for a long time), Huatulco, Acapulco, Cabo, San Francisco and ends in Seattle. I think we could probably arrange to leave the ship in SF.

The Sea Princess also sails from Ft. Lauderdale, several sea days, Cartagena, Fuerte Amador, Puntarenas, Huatulco, Acapulco and again ends in SF.

So many cruises and so little money(LOL), though I must admit there are some great fares out there now Hope it continues for a while. The Canal cruise would be for sometime next year.
Giovanna is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 05:35 AM
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Cartegena is one of our most favorite ports..Many years ago we spent a week there and have cruised there twice now and just love the place. The "old city" has been renovated privately and is gorgeous.. We love the "dungeons".. Puntaranes we h ired a taxi with others to go up to Sarchi and a butterfly farm.. but there was a lovely little market right at the end of the dock. We have never been to Huatulco and my recommendation is to get there before it becomes ruined like Cabo. Don't know what the situation is in Acapulco..but it is true.. hire a taxi and see the cliff divers.. they are loco..I think it's $5.00 and that includes either a beer or coke...We took a tour of Acupulco and ended up in the flea market where Parrot Pop bought beautiful leather belts.. To visit S.F. for one day is a crime.. so much to see and do.. The highlight of our partial many years ago was visiting the San Blas islands.. this was probably 20 years ago.. BTW if y ou leave the ship in S.F,. and plan to stay there a few days.. I've got a great little boutique hotel..our favorite..
ParrotMom is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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SMALL SHIPS!!!!!We started cruising more than 25 years ago, have been on 50++ cruises. Our 1st cruise was on the little (about 750 passenger), tiny Dolphin. At the time the only ship of Dolphin Cruise lines. We loved that tiny ship, spent the New year's Millenium on her. What a differrence now! Every night we had a bottle of red and white wine on our table - free. Three times we had dinner with the captian- they ate every night in the dining room with passengers. When Premier bought the Dolphin line and her other small ships, Cape Carnaveral Cruise Line bought the Dolphin. Unfortunately the Dolphin was eventually sent to India as it would have cost too much to fix her engines.
On small ships you are much more likely to met people because you see them more than once. We are still in contact with friends we met on Dolphin's SeaBreeze - which sank off our coast (NC now) a few years ago.
Now we have cruised on ships that have more passengers than our home town in NJ! We hate NCL but love their Majesty, about 1200 passengers and its leaving NCL for Louis Cruises in November. The small luxury ships are not in our budget. Any suggestions for small ships that cruise the Caribean and don't cost mega $$$?
bonniejns is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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OH.. The Ocean and Seabreeze.. we cruised them We even cruised the last one from Boston before it was seized and sunk off the coast of Virginia.. The last time we cruised the ship we had that huge cabin in front of the ship..with a full bathroom.. we went to Canada on it..Let's not even talk about the Royal Majesty.. yes, it was an elegant ship owned by a Greek company and run l ike the Greek Navy.. the service and food were by Apollo. We cruise it the week NCL took it over and the designers were there looking at the pool and gift areas, etc. etc.

We are cruising Pacific Princess..670 passengers next Friday from Manaus to Ft. Lauderdale..Princess has several of the Ren. cruise ships. the smaller ones.. We have been able to ddo the Celebrity Galaxy, Century and Constellation (our favorite of the three) and they are do-able.. Do you remember the comic on the Dolphin.. Lennie ??? Found him on the Celebrity Century..still doing the same stuff and still as funny. As a matter of fact one of the other boards has a CD who was on the ships.. BTW do you remember Robert and Mandy France from the Majesty?
ParrotMom is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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My wife prefers big ships because they have better entertainment and more night-life.

Small ships can get into ports the big ships have to skip and getting off the ship isn't as much of an effort.

I can go either way.
bdjtbenson is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 10:03 AM
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ParrotMomL We are fortunate to live across the bay from SF so just have to cross the bridge to visit. That's why I'm so happy our next cruise starts and ends there. No flying, which I used to love but has become so uncomfortable it's only a means to get from Point A to Point B now.

bonnie: Princess has several ships that might appeal to you. Pacific Princess 670 passengers; Royal Princess 710 passengers; Ocean (formerly Tahitian) Princess 670 passengers.
Giovanna is offline  
Mar 31st, 2009, 04:02 AM
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NCL's Majesty was built by Dolphin Cruise Lines in, I think, 1992, as the Royal Majesty. On a Dolphin cruise we were on, the maitre'd had his wife and kids on board because he was going to the Royal Majesty as their 1st maitre'd, their 1st sailing. It was docked across from us when we got back from our cruise. The SeaBreeze and OceanBreeze were sold to Premier - who had the Big Red Boat. I don't know what happened to the IslandBreeze which was an OLD Carnival ship.
We were on the Ocean Breeze 3 times. Bert Strattton was in a big lounge and he is now on Princess's newest ship. We were on the Seabreeze 5 times. When it sank it was a local news story, our Coast Guard responded. We live on the NC coast. I watched them pulling crew members up by the pool I had been in the year before. Those were the good old days!
bonniejns is offline  
Mar 31st, 2009, 05:22 AM
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Oh for some of the good old were on the Royal Majesty the first year and sailed on it for 12 (once twice to Bermuda). I hated flying to pick up a cruise ship, especially to Miami. Now,wth the port of Boston, we leave our home and 45 minutes later the most we are at the Black Falcon pier. If I remember right we took the SeaBreeze and OceanBreeze from Aruba!! At a travel show in Boston Premier was setting up and I immediately went to them and told them I wanted to book a cruise..they looked at me..and wanted to know what and what and It was several weeks before they "captured" the ship in Halifax...One of the entertainers was a young man who was also a magician and was invited to I want to say "magic mountain" or something like that to perform. One of the things I remember is during disembarking they had a show/discussion.. Lenny? was talking about writing for Benny Hill.. and when they called your color or you were ready to get off.. you just left..
ParrotMom is offline  
Mar 31st, 2009, 02:27 PM
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Personally, I like both. Both has its advantages and charms. If you can beleive it, there are times that I find big ship less crowded.

With the designs of the bigger new ships, they have lots of open common area. You don't feel like you are at a ship with 3000 fellow passengers. Many times I have met and chat with very interesting people and never see them again durng the entire cruise. We were on the Ruby Princess on their maiden voyage and after 7 days, I think there are palces on the ship that I have not been to yet.

On a smaller ship, you come across the same people all the time, you feel like you are in a more confined space. There are also less places to explore.
Eschew is offline  
Mar 31st, 2009, 04:55 PM
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Interesting..have NEVER felt confined on a ship...the biggest we have cruised I think was the Brilliance of t he Seas... I just don't want to feel like I'm in a city on water..then again we are older..
ParrotMom is offline  
Apr 1st, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Agree with ParrotMom, I have never felt confined on a smaller ship. In fact, feel more crowded when trying to disembark on port days when there are large passenger populations. This is particularly true if tendering is required.

I don't like feeling I'm in a city on water either (I think I covered that a bit in my original post). And honestly ParrotMom I don't think age has anything to do with it. It's just a preference and desire to feel you're on a ship at sea, rather than on a floating Las Vegas hotel or as time goes on "a small city!"
Giovanna is offline  
Apr 1st, 2009, 03:11 PM
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Would love cruising with you Giovanna...After this cruise we are scheduled on the NCL Gem the end of November,..okay a bigger ship.. but the price was more than right.. the ports wonderful and I haven't been on an NCL for years...and heard this was the best of all the NCL ships..
ParrotMom is offline  

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