Small is Beautiful
20 Reasons why small ship cruising is better
Is bigger better? That’s the question cruise lovers are asking as large cruise lines scramble to outdo each other with forever bigger mega-liners carrying over 9000 passengers and crew. But while giant ships grab the headlines, boutique cruise lines are quietly launching more and more smaller ships carrying less than 500 guests for the increasing number of people, including Australians, who love life at sea on a smaller scale.
There are now dozens of small ship cruise lines catering to cruisers who don’t want to sail aboard floating theme parks complete with surfing and parachuting simulators, merry-go-rounds, twisting slides, go-cart circuits, rock climbing walls and, soon, roller coasters. These mass-market behemoths have their fans but there are now growing numbers of seasoned, discerning cruisers for whom less is more…
Smaller ships are more intimate and exclusive with private spaces where you can relax away from the maddening crowd.
Boutique vessels are more agile and can more easily negotiate narrow fjords and reach less visited, more enticing destinations where you can enjoy richer, more authentic experiences without the presence of thousands of fellow cruise passengers – often from multiple liners.
Many small villages or fragile places limit the number of passengers that can visit. In Antarctica, for example, only 100 people are allowed ashore at any one time. This rules out large cruise ships so smaller vessels get you to more interesting places.
4. Up Close
You’re closer to the scenery and it’s easier to spot wildlife ashore or in the water aboard a smaller ship. Larger vessels stay further away at sea and can only sail past places like Antarctica but on expedition vessels, Zodiacs can take you ashore so you can immerse yourself in the scenery.
Small ships often have biologists, astronomers, historians, rangers and wildlife experts onboard who offer lectures and help interpret what you are seeing. You can also meet them and ask them questions.
6. Park it right here
In many ports, smaller ships can dock in the heart of a city or town, allowing you to step off and explore straight away whereas on bigger ships, docks are some distance away and buses are needed to get you into town, reducing time for sightseeing
7. Finding yourself
It’s far easier to find your way around smaller ships. No need for confusing maps or confounding, digital gadgets to find your cabin or the buffet and it’s easier to find your cruise companions or friends.
8. What Queue?
Large ships come with long queues – for everything – including embarking and disembarking and for shore tours but on smaller ships – what queue?
9. Just relax…
Large ships can be bewildering, overwhelming, noisy and frantically busy with lots of announcements. So many choices, options and schedules and needing to book so many activities and restaurants in advance. We thought cruising was supposed to be relaxing?! And good luck finding a spare deck chair around the pool!
10. Really sailing
You’re more connected to the sea on a boutique ship, enhancing the experience. But there are so many distractions on bigger ships that it’s easy to forget you’re even at sea!
11. What’s in a name?
The service aboard smaller ships is far more attentive and personal. You learn the names of your waiter, cabin steward and bar staff and they remember yours and what you like to eat and drink etc.
12. Visit the bridge
On many small vessels, you can chat with the captain, freely visit the bridge and on sailing ships, even help to hoist the sails – it’s more hands-on and carefree.
Yes there are fewer restaurants, cafes, pools and lounges and fewer choices in entertainment but small ships still offer all those things so you’re not really missing out.
14. Less little people
There are usually fewer children on smaller ships, creating a quieter and more relaxed mood aboard. (Although there are some cruise ships that lend themselves perfectly to family and multi-generational cruising).
15. Cards but no Casino
Small ships are often without a casino too – to the delight of small ship lovers!
16. Rest easy
Big ships are big because they have decks and decks – and decks – of cabins. That means long walks from the pool to your cabin. If you forget your sunnies on a small ship, you can duck back to the cabin but on a large vessel you may not bother!
17. More time ashore
With fewer passengers, excursions are smaller in scale too, with less herding onto fleets of buses.
On smaller ships you’re treated like a VIP guest (because you are), not a number.
19. Style and substance
Smaller ships are often more luxurious with superior dining and as you are so important to them, nothing is too much trouble.
20. Like minded-ness
And, finally, smaller ships attract compatible passengers who share your love for a more intimate and customised experience. This builds a special camaraderie amongst passengers and lasting friendships can result.
At Cruise Traveller, size does matter! We love small cruise ships – that’s why we represent dozens of cruise lines that offer small ship voyages and expeditions to all corners of the planet. Our ships may be small, but they deliver big and enriching experiences that last a lifetime. Share your big holiday dreams with us and we’ll match you with the perfect small ship and itinerary just for you.
Call us today on 1800 507 777 or visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au.
Article by Andrew Mevissen