Contributor Level: Captain

Bigger Ships, Bigger Problems ?

well, I could have written "More Problems",  but I went with Bigger.      Anyway, as Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbbean await their newest mega-ships to hit the water, I was wondering, are these ships good for the cruising experience ?

When we first started sailing back in '92 on the Carnival Holiday, she was one of the largest in the fleet.  A couple of years later, we were on the Victory & the Triumph, slightly larger ships.   These all held about 2K pax, and we're easy to get around.  Cruising was fun, and becoming more affordable.

This past February we were on the Breakaway for SB ( Roman Numeral whatever ) and though the ship was really nice and the food was great, we found her, not difficult to get around, but really big.  Lots of walking between venues.  The only reason we would go back on her is because the Thalossotherapy Spa is really well laid out.   

So, I was wondering.   Do you prefer the bigger city-ships that are on the horizon ?  Or do you prefer the intimacy of the smaller ships ?  Which, by the way, seem destined to go the way of the grand midnight buffet of days past.   Will smaller ships become just a memory ?

Another thing to think about, is in the past, on smaller ships, norovirus was unheard of. Now, it seems we hear about outbreaks all the time.  And those are the big ones.  What about the minor outbreaks we don't hear of ?   I would bet, someone gets sick on almost every cruise.  We just don't hear about small cases of noro.

Another problem with the big ships, is the impact on the oceans and ports.  Ports have to be dredged to accommodate these behemoths.   Is it worth it ?   Then, the port cities themselves get flooded with tourists.  How many ships / tourists can ANTIGUA or St. Kitts handle ?

What do you guys think ?


4 Answers

Contributor Level: Captain

The old adage may be true, bigger is not always better. On the three cruise I've been on, the largest ship was the Golden Princess with 2600 passengers this was the perfect size for us. We have thought about going on one of those mega ships, but for now sticking with the devil you know makes more sense.

I have read many articles regarding the work it takes to get these mega ships into some of the more environmentally sensitive areas, and the damage they can cause. Venice , for example is suffering from damage caused by cruise ship, even the mid size ones.

I would be concerned for some of the smaller tropical spots.

I'm guessing that the growing market demand is driving the construction of the Behemoths. If the areas that accept the vast numbers of tourist start to demand smaller ships, then the market may change.

Contributor Level: Captain

I have been on ships from 37.5K ton and 800 guest up to 137K ton and about 3,300 guest. Both were fun for different reasons. The big ship is a floating resort with lots to do and lots to see, you do not get bored but may find it difficult to find a quiet place to sit down with a good book.

I find the small ships more relaxing and able to get to ports that the mega ships can not get into, get closer to the glaciers in Alaska, able to port and not need tenders and to fit through the Panama Canal. The boutique high end lines use the smaller ships. The big ships are the the lower priced family fun (think twice the guest for same amount of high paid officers. The Love boat had one Doc to 800 guest the mega liners 2 Doc's for 3000 or more guest).

It all depends what your looking for in your vacation. I tend to like the mega ships for trans Atlantic sailings, more to do and see over a long cruise and smoother cruise. For a short 7 night cruise I'm good with a small ship. I used to love being on the Song Of America, still one of my favorite ships and it is small by today's standards at 37.5K ton.

Norovirus happenes on smaller ships also, think HAL. It has hit form small sips up to mega liners from budget lines up to Disney. I think now it is just more publicized then before, though with a larger population more chance of somebody spreading it and with more kids on board more chances of colds.

Mega ships just have more people for everything, getting off the ship, buffet lines, show lines, finding bags at the end of cruise and lines at the front desk for for service.

The new ships are having to meet more requirements for the environment and are cleaner then some of the old ships still running. I think that both mega and smaller ships will survive as they target different demographics.

Contributor Level: Captain

We’ve been on A LOT of cruises – everything from the largest ships to the smallest river boats – and we think that’s one of the best things about cruising.  There’s something for EVERYONE!

The giant ships won’t go to the ports that can’t accommodate them (like Grand Cayman) or don’t want them (like Venice).

If a cruiser is looking to visit specific ports, they’ll sail on the ships with that itinerary.  If a cruiser is looking to experience a specific type of ship, they’ll have to visit the ports on that itinerary.

The downside for those who miss “the smaller ships of yesterday” may be the price.  That size ship is fading from the mass-market product.  But we’ve embraced the inclusivity of the cruise lines that still have those smaller ships and found it to be a great value.

We understand the appeal of the mega ships and have enjoyed cruising on them but our hearts are mostly with the smaller vessels.  Fortunately they’ll be taking us to new destinations for a long time to come!

Contributor Level: Admiral

I like the mega ships because of the greater variety of amenities.  Since they are usually the newest ships, they have facilities on board to recycle their wastes.  They actually aren't worse for the environment.  I like the grander nightly shows in the theater - some perform Broadway plays.  In fact, my two favorite ships are the Allure & the Oasis. I wouldn't want to take a small ship transatlantic though.  I like the stability of the larger ships.


On the other hand, I enjoy taking river cruises.  I have two Back-to-Back ones on Vantage going to France this spring.  I also am booked on a Paddlewheeler ship in the fall.


So, variety is good.  I don't think that small ships are going out of style.  Viking is coming out with the Viking Star, it's their first cruise ship and it is small.   


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