Which Are Better – Bigger Ships or Smaller Ships?

Ships come in all shapes and sizes. Watch “Below Deck” on Bravo and you see yachting elegance. The largest mega ships can easily carry 5,500 passengers. What are the pros and cons?

Let’s consider small ships as a little bigger than the Valor or My Sienna, ships on the Bravo series. Let’s consider smaller ships like those operated by Silversea (300+ guests) or Seaborne (600+ guests). Bigger ships might be 2,000+ guests.

In doing comparisons, lets assume everyone can deliver luxurious cabins, upscale toiletries and fluffy bathrobes.

Smaller Ships – Pros and Cons

There are many people preferring a more intimate experience and are prepared to pay for it.

  • Pro: Less crowded.
  • Pro: Embarking and disembarking is easier.
  • Pro: Higher crew to passenger ratio.
  • Dock in more ports. No tendering.
  • More welcome in some ports that feel big ships overrun the town with day tripping tourists.
  • Pro: Dining is generally one seating. More flexibility when you choose to dine and with whom.
  • Pro: Since it’s upscale, food is generally better quality.
  • Pro: Most if not all cabins are outside with balconies. No inside cabins.
  • Con: The obvious one – Luxury has its price.
  • Con: Entertainment options are limited.
  • Con: Cannot deliver intergenerational entertainment like much bigger ships.
  • Con: Child care isn’t available at the scale and range of larger ships.
  • Con: Not as many bars. If you dislike someone, they aren’t as easy to avoid.
  • Con: Fewer alternative dining options than larger ships.
  • Con: Medical care options at sea are more limited than ships with larger infirmaries.

Larger Ships – Pros and Cons

Larger ships have been around for a long time. They just keep getting bigger and bigger.

  • Pro: Plenty of bars: You find your favorite and make it your place.
  • Pro: Entertainment options. There are floor shows. Piano bars. Clubbing. Easy listening venues. Different games taking place simultaneously.
  • Pro: Cabin size. If you pay enough, you can book a suite larger than your apartment back home.
  • Pros: Larger medical centers. Some ships even provide dialysis service at sea.
  • Pro: Multiple restaurants. Bigger ships offer a variety of higher quality dining for an additional charge.
  • Child care. Bigger ships are equipped to offer infant, young children and young teen programs.
  • Pro: Meet plenty of people. If you are the friendly type or looking to start a meaningful relationship, the numbers are on your side.
  • Con: Getting on and off. Big ships can be designed to “not feel crowded” but it’s evident when you stand in line to board or wait in a lounge for your departure group to be called.
  • Con: Smaller cabins. Although cruise ship cabins are often installed like LEGO blocks, there are still inside cabins. You might be a passenger on the ship, but your accommodations are smaller.
  • Cons: Early and late dinner seating. You conform to their schedule of when you will be dining, assuming you use the main dining room.
  • Cons: Getting back and forth in port. Many ports have built special docks for megaships. Others have not. You rely on a shuttle service of smaller boats to get you to land from your ship anchored in the harbor.
  • Cons: Deck chairs. People at sea want to sit in the sun. Deck chairs are often not able to be reserved. You need to get out early, claim you chair and leave enough personal items to discourage late arrivals.

There’s a case to be made for small (and big) cruise ships. Each cruise line has its own personality. You need to find yours. Your travel agent can help.

Editor’s Notes:

Cover photo: Carnival Splendor cruise ship and Disney cruise ship at dock in Port of Miami ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews

See more about ship sizes at these posts:

Small Intimate Voyages – What is Your Preferred Type, Expedition, Explorer or Yacht?

What is Your Preferred River Cruise Ship Size, from Extra Small to Small?

What is Your Preferred Ship Size – Small Luxury or Yacht? From Just 32 Guests

What is Your Preferred Cruise Ship Size, from Small to Large?

CruiseCompete travel agents can provide details/terms and about deals, availability of all types of ships and sailings (including cruisetours) at https://www.cruisecompete.com/.


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