Small Ship vs. Large Ship Cruising

Here is a list of the Top 10 Differences of Small Ship vs. Large Ship cruising according to webinar presented by Variety Cruises covering accommodations, dining, entertainment, itineraries, excursions, and more.  We’re going to focus on the small ship difference as big ship cruising get most of the press!

While the demand for big cruise ships continues to increase, there’s also an increased momentum for the intimacy of small ship cruising.   (Refer to our River Cruise article.)  Similar to the difference between a boutique hotel and a sprawling all-inclusive resort, large ship offerings innately differ from small ships, and the choice is based on YOUR preferences.

Variety Cruises M/Y Harmony G

Variety Cruises M/Y Harmony G

1) Accommodations Beautifully appointed boutique-style accommodations all have large windows or portholes and many river ships offer balconies.

2) Dining Think intimate, casual meals including delicious local recipes.  Smaller ships may restock the pantries on a daily basis from local markets with fresh goods. Many Variety Cruises itineraries are half board—breakfast and one meal—depending on the schedule, encouraging guests to explore the culinary offerings ashore. Why rush back to the ship for a free meal and miss out on the local cuisine and culture?

3) Service & Crew With a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1-to-2, service is about as personalized as it can get. By the first day you’ll find yourself on a first-name basis with the captain and the crew. On the ground, local reps are your personal ambassadors to every region.

4) Services & Amenities Small ships and mega-yachts have inside and outside dining areas, a spacious sundeck, a swimming platform, lounge areas, a bar and multiple observation decks. Some have a spa and fitness center. While there is on board entertainment, your vacation is all about what you experience on shore. The ships aren’t the destination—they’re only the best way to get there.

5) Itineraries Small ships take you to smaller, more authentic ports. The combination of famous with off-the-beaten-track is key, and it’s made possible because of the small ship size (i.e., well known Mykonos paired with Folegandros, also known as the “Secret Santorini”.)  Fewer countries are visited allowing a more in-depth experience of the cultures, the communities and the cuisine.

6) Swimming

Compare the sea to a large ship pool!  A quick swim stop in the Aegean Sea for guests aboard the Galileo.

Compare this to a large ship pool! A quick swim stop in the Aegean Sea for guests aboard the Galileo.

Your captain will drop anchor next to beautiful secluded beaches

or coves (weather permitting), where you can dive right off the yacht

from our modern swimming platforms.  Hint: our pool is actually the Aegean Sea!


7) On Board Entertainment  Vegas stays in Vegas: Variety Cruises offers a fancy Captain’s dinner, local cuisine night with local dances, daily lectures, a library room, free Internet, delightful daily swim stops, ample sun deck space and more  for an enjoyable on board stay.  Onshore, naturalists and on board experts help you explore the region through lectures and discussions.

Big ship cruising is great for families with younger kids.  There’s never a dull moment between the casino, the Vegas style shows, the arcades, the entertainment teams, the fitness classes, the rock climbing,  and much more.

8) Excursions Shore excursions are composed of small intimate groups—no waiting in line. Guests have ample leisure time at each of the ports and are encouraged to explore on their own, with the cruise director’s full help and guidance. Major cruise ships are usually too massive to dock directly in most ports. Time-consuming tenders are employed daily to help hundreds (or thousands) of guests get to shore…and back again.

9) Embarkation/Disembarkation Our yachts usually dock right in the village ports,where guests can walk on and off the ship at their own pace. No massive cruise ports; we opt for private yacht ports all the way.  Thanks to their size, large ships are only affected by very extreme weather conditions.

10) Weather High winds may impact scheduled itineraries; some might think this is a down side of small ship cruising. However, our Captains are experts at redirecting the itineraries when necessary in the best and safest way possible, often allowing guests to discover secluded, secret destinations. Variety Cruises, essentially sails with the wind, just like private yachts and sailboats.

Want to more information about Variety Cruises, river cruises, or something else?  Start planning your next trip today and complete our travel planning survey below.

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