Cruise Ship Vacations

Cruise Ship Vacations: Small Ships Vs. Big Ships

It’s perfectly reasonable for a cruise novice to think that the biggest, newest and most extravagant cruise ship is going to offer the best cruising experience, but that isn’t always the case. Smaller ships offer cruise ship vacations unlike their big brothers and for some vacationers, that’s a very good thing.

Those who make cruising a part of their lifestyle often rave about small ships with river itineraries because they allow for a more intimate cruising experience where the people you’re cruising with become part of the fun and overall experience.

Big Ships; Floating Amusement Parks

Cruise Ship Vacation

Cruise Ship Water Slides are fun for kids

Looking for a really good time for the whole family? An IMAX movie theater, a go-kart track and a 40 foot rock climbing wall are just some of the things you’ll find on the biggest ships these days. For families, the ability to keep kids occupied while Mom and Dad relax is a huge part of deciding which cruise is the right one. Big ships offer no shortage of activities and even though there may be several thousand people on board, the sheer amount of things to do keeps you having fun, not waiting line. Ocean itineraries offer a more impressive array of shore excursions that tend to be more active, like zip lining or jet skiing. For adventure seekers, these side trips can sometimes be the highlight of the whole vacation. You’ll certainly meet new people and make new friends on a big ship, but they aren’t necessarily optimized for that purpose.

RELATED: What are the Best Cruise Ships for Kids?

Small Ships; An Intimate Experience

Cruise Ship Vacation

A River Cruise in Prague, Czech Republic

Far away from the water slides, all you can eat cheeseburger buffets and surfing simulation pools is a cruising experience that’s a bit more…low key. Smaller ships pale in comparison to large ones where 5,000+ people is normal. Small ships have far fewer passengers, 50-100 in some cases, and for those looking for a relaxing, interesting and educational cruising experience, that’s ideal.

River ships are generally smaller because, obviously, rivers are more narrow and shallow than the ocean. When cruising on a river ship through locales like Europe or Asia, interacting with your other guests enriches the experience immeasurably. From more intimate meals and cocktail hours to smaller shore excursions at museums, wineries and other attractions, the people you cruise with become a pivotal part of the overall experience. Guests often rave about the fun and interesting people from all walks of life you meet aboard smaller cruise ships because you’re all searching for similar cruise ship vacations.

RELATED: Vitamin Sea: Relaxing on the River

Which Cruise Ship Vacations are the Best?

Whatever your style, there’s no shortage of ships and itineraries to choose from to make your cruise ship vacation a special one. Choosing the best one depends entirely on who you are and what kind of travel vacation you’re looking for. The best tip: do plenty of research to find great deals and the most fun options for your needs.

-Evan Gove