Cruise Ship Tips

Cruise like a pro, right from the get-go!

reasons to cruise on a smaller ship – bigger isn’t always better

Every cruise line has different classes (sizes) of ships to choose from. The older the ship, the smaller it tends to be because the trend is to build larger ships with every new release. Depending on your perspective, bigger isn’t always better. Here are some reasons to cruise on a smaller ship.

Less Crowded

A smaller ship means less people on board. Obviously, the more people, the more lines you will encounter at the buffet, the elevators, and in general. On a smaller ship, you won’t have the massive crowds you’d see on a mega ship. Trying to grab a pool lounger can be challenging when you’re competing with 5,000+ people, especially on a sunny day at sea. So if you’re a person who values their personal space, I’d recommend a smaller cruise ship.


With less people comes less need to pre-book all your activities, such as a show you’d like to see. Just show up a few minutes early and grab a seat. On the larger ships, it’s suggested that you plan out all your dinner reservations and show times or you may not get to participate in those activities. This means committing to a schedule, and that takes some of the spontaneity out of your vacation. On a smaller ship, it is usually unnecessary to do any planning/pre-booking, so you can be more spontaneous on your vacation.

Service Staff 

The staff on board a cruise ship will always be accommodating and kind, no matter the size of the ship. They are trained to make your vacation the best one ever, and act accordingly. However, on a smaller ship the staff is likely to be in charge of less people, meaning they can focus more on you and your needs. It will be more manageable for them to remember your names, food and drink preferences and needs in your stateroom. Your favorite bartenders will have an easier time remembering your specific drink requests, and your waiter(s) will have less people to serve and will likely remember your allergies or food preferences quicker.

Docking in Ports

Some of these mega ships being built today can’t go to certain places simply because of their large size. They can’t fit in smaller waterways, or pull up and dock in a location where the water is too shallow. If specific ports of call and a varied itinerary is important to you, consider looking at smaller ships. Another thing to consider is if they do decide to visit some of the smaller ports, they may decide to dock away from the actual port and you will need to tender in.

Tender boat in Grand Cayman

Tendering is when a smaller boat takes you from your cruise ship to shore and back again in small groups. Think of it as a water taxi. You’ll need to wait your turn and factor in the commuting time it into your schedule. If this isn’t something you’re particularly fond of, consider a smaller ship because they will be able to dock right in port and you can avoid all that.



Getting Around

This may seem obvious, but worth mentioning. The larger the ship, the longer it will take you to get from one end of the ship to the other. On a smaller ship, this commute time will be lessened, making it easier to get from point A to point B. There won’t be as many decks (floors) to maneuver and you’ll be able to take the stairs easier. Elevators will take less time as well, as they have less floors to cover.  Some of these new mega ships have 18+ decks and getting around can take some real time! Smaller ships will allow you to relax more and not have to factor in a “commute” when going from activity to activity.

Getting to know people

If you’re a friendly person who likes to make new friends on vacation, a smaller ship is a good choice for you. This is because you will have more of an intimate setting and see the same people more. Larger ships have so many people, you’re all just faces in the crowd. But on a smaller ship with less people, you will likely encounter each other multiple times in all areas of the ship. This can lead to friendly conversation and new friends!

Starting Out

If you’re new to cruising, I would absolutely recommend booking your first cruise on a smaller ship. Anything will seem large to a newbie – I mean, lets face it, none of these smaller ships are actually SMALL.. just smaller. They are floating cities/hotels and offer everything you could want. As a newbie cruiser, you will be amazed at how awesome cruise ships are and will likely want to work your way up to larger ships as you become more accustomed to cruising. Some experienced cruisers tire of the larger ships after they’ve experienced both and actually prefer smaller ones for all the reasons I just mentioned. They tend to offer a more relaxing cruise.

There are many reasons to book a cruise on a smaller cruise ship.  I’d love to hear your reasons for choosing a smaller ship versus a mega ship. Thoughts? Feel free to comment your experiences below. -Kate


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