Small ship cruising is something that often doesn’t even make the radar when people plan their high seas adventures. With so many commercials featuring the massive amusement park ships, some people might not even KNOW that smaller ships exist, or they might not think of them at all. This is especially true of people who have never been on a cruise before. And while the huge ships can be a ton of fun, there are some major benefits to small ship cruising, as well.
Small Ship Cruising can Sometimes be a Better Fit
While cruising on a smaller ship may not be on your radar, there are times when it can be the right fit. Neither is better than the other necessarily, and they both offer wonderful cruising experiences. But each style of cruising is different with unique benefits. So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of cruising on a smaller ship, especially for first time cruisers.
A Perfect Introduction to Cruising
Small ship cruising can be the perfect first time experience. Small ships offer almost all of the amenities of those huge ships but without the ginormous theme park areas. It’s the perfect way to dip your feet into the cruising water and get a feel for the experience. Our first ever cruise was on the Carnival Pride, one of the older Carnival ships at the time. It was ideal for us on our first time at sea.
When I refer to the large ships we all recognize from commercials as amusement park ships, it’s not an exaggeration. Those ships are absolutely massive. They are cities on the water, and they can be difficult to navigate. First time cruisers or those who are cruising with kids for the first time may find small ship cruising to be less stressful because it is so much easier to navigate the smaller vessels.
I know several people who can ONLY take cruises on smaller ships. The smaller size makes for less anxiety because they are easier to navigate and don’t feel quite so overwhelming. Because of that, they make the perfect cruising experience for people who have anxiety disorder. In fact, recently I noticed a huge difference in my girls. Our last cruise in January was a smaller boat and the kids found it super easy to find their way around and be more independent than they have been on previous cruises. As some of you recall my oldest has anxiety disorder, which sometimes leads to a lot of discomfort in new social situations. That is dramatically less on the smaller ships.
A Personal Feel
On large ship cruises, it’s easy to feel lost. The sheer number of people can leave you feeling like just another face in a sea of bodies. Small ship cruising offers a much more personal feel. You’ll get to know members of the staff and other cruise members just by virtue of there not being SO MANY people on the boat.
Staff to Passenger Ratio
That personal feel I just mentioned with small ship cruising can come down to numbers. On a small cruise ship, the staff to passenger ratio can sometimes be smaller. We have always had good service on ships, but on the two smaller Carnival ships we have had exceptional housekeeping and service. Sometimes on smaller ships, it feels like you get to know the staff and the staff gets to know you. Often times, they will end up knowing what you want before you even ask.
Our last cruise experience had the most amazing housekeeping ever. Viktor was always nearby. We loved that and appreciated his great suggestions about which meal to choose, or what to see or do in port.
A Different Port Experience
Small cruise ships can dock in smaller ports. You might be thinking, “big deal”. Well, it can be. Those massive, mega-ships need bigger, deeper ports in order to safely dock. When they don’t have that, they either have to skip that port or they have to ferry passengers from a location further off the coast to the port. Small ship cruising offers an easier port experience at the least and a unique experience you sometimes can’t get with other big ships.
The food is a huge draw on any cruise. Buffet is important for breakfast and lunch often. Dinners are fancier and typically by reservation or walk in. When you think about the massive number of people who cruise, especially on the huge cruise ships, it’s not hard to imagine the mad lineups at breakfast and lunch. Oh, there are still food lineups even on small ships. But small cruise ships sometimes have the luxury of bringing on better quality food. And if you’re on a European cruise, they have the advantage of bringing on FRESH local ingredients at the various ports.
Small Ship Cruising Offers Big Time Benefits
I love large and small ship cruising. My family has been on both, and they each offer their own unique benefits. For first time cruisers or cruisers who are sailing with kids for the first time, I recommend small ship cruising as a great introduction. With a smaller, easier to navigate ship, a personal feel, and just a less crushing crowd on the boat, it makes an excellent starter experience.
For a video on our latest cruise ship experience click here – Carnival Sensation.