There have been an increasing number of articles the past couple of years that describe the differences between the large and small ship experience. Typically, you’re either in one bucket or the other. But with the number of mainstream cruisers looking for something different, small ship cruises are gaining increasing exposure.
But let’s be honest. The small ship experience is not for everyone. We at Sunstone Tours & Cruises would not benefit in sending someone looking to party on a small ship cruise.
The table below is geared to show some of the differences, illustrating the advantages and disadvantages between the two types of cruise experiences.
|Large Ship Cruises||Small Ship Cruises|
|# of Passengers||1000 – 5000||Less than 500|
|Where they sail / ports||Popular regions & ports that swell in population by 2000 to 20,000 depending on the number of ships in port on a given day.||A few popular regions & ports, along with many unique regions & ports that larger ships cannot visit due to their size (examples: California Wine region, Petersburg, Alaska).|
|Focus||Activities, entertainment, shopping, gambling, dining, drinking; the ship.||Scenery, wildlife, experiencing different cultures, activities; the destination.|
|Dining||Many options, venues. Features extravagant menus and presentations.||One seating per meal, only 1 or 2 options for dining. Regional fresh fare.|
|Family-friendly||Yes. Ships offer many options for both children & adults. Include children programs.||Not normally. With the exception of special family sailings, there is no focus on children’s needs or engagement.|
|Internet access||Yes, on most ships, either Internet cafe or Wi-Fi throughout the ship.||Only on a few ships. Most people access the Internet in ports.|
|The Ride||Smooth. Usually you’ll never know you’re on the water.||Smooth in sheltered waters, rough in open water, as most small ships do not have stabilizers.|
|Medical care||Doctor on-board with clinic-style facilities.||No doctor on-board. Medical care usually at next port or emergency air-lift to nearest hospital.|
|On-board Lifestyle||Mega-resort||Inn, or Bed & Breakfast|
|Shore Excursions||Optional. Need to be purchased separately.||Usually one excursion included in each port. Option excursions also available.|