10 Reasons Why Small Cruise Ships Are Better than Big Ones - Cruise with Leo

10 Reasons Why Small Cruise Ships Are Better than Big Ones

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small cruise ships

Have you noticed that, in recent years, all cruise lines are building increasingly larger ships?

The reasons for this change are quite obvious. Large cruise ships can carry more people, thus representing a greater income for the cruise company.

Additionally, more spaces can be dedicated to entertainment and specialty food on board, and many of these come with an additional fee.

But are we sure that a bigger ship is necessarily better? From my personal experience, I must tell you that this is not always the case.

But let’s look in more detail at why smaller cruise ships are often the best choice.

1. Personalized service

Small cruise ship buffet
Small cruise ship buffet

The first positive thing about small cruise ships is the highly personalized service offered to passengers.

It’s a matter of numbers, with fewer guests on board, crew members can dedicate more time and attention to each individual.

On small ships, I’ve seen crew members remembering the names of the guests, as well as their preferences.

For example, there was a bartender who always remembered my favorite drink. It’s usually not possible on big ships, where you meet so many different people every day.

2. Access to remote destinations

Sunset cruise ship
Sunset cruise ship

In my opinion, one of the most positive aspects (maybe my favorite one) is that small ships can navigate into smaller, less accessible ports that larger ships cannot reach.

This means passengers can explore new and remote destinations, different from the ones you usually find in conventional cruise itineraries.

These ships can also venture into narrow channels and shallow waters, and can offer close-up to some amazing natural landscapes.

For example, you can view isolated islands in the Galapagos, hidden beaches in the Caribbean, or you can sail through the Corinth Canal in Greece.

3. No long lines

Empty pool on a small cruise
Empty pool on a small cruise

If there’s one thing I hate about cruises, it’s the lines!

When you’re on a big ship, and it’s completely full, there can be really long queues, especially at the buffet.

As I said in the article of the 10 things you must never do at the buffet on a cruise, try not to stop at the entrance and move toward the end of the buffet, it should be less crowded.

However, as I said before, if the ship is very large there could still be queues everywhere.

I have to be honest, I’ve seen lines on smaller ships as well, but they were much shorter compared to the other ones.

4. Intimate atmosphere

Restaurant Explora Journeys
Restaurant Explora Journeys

Some people really like an intimate atmosphere when they go on vacation, especially if they’re traveling with a partner.

The smaller number of passengers usually creates a more relaxing and calm environment.

It’s easier to find free loungers near the pool, a free spot in the hot tub, or a table for two at the restaurant.

In addition, I’ve noticed that it’s way easier to make friends on smaller cruise ships. I think that’s because you’ll run into the same people multiple times, and there will be more occasions to chat.

5. In-Depth Destination Focus

Small cruise ship
Small cruise ship

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it too, but it looks like small cruise ships tend to emphasize the destinations they visit rather than onboard entertainment.

This means that the itinerary is designed to provide a more in-depth exploration of each port of call.

From what I’ve noticed, these ships have longer stops and more frequent overnight stays.

6. Cost efficiency

Small cruise ship outdoor deck
Small cruise ship outdoor deck

It’s always difficult to analyze cruise price trends, however, from an analysis I had done last year I noticed that smaller cruise ships have a higher initial fare but a better overall value.

They often include more in their upfront price, such as some included shore excursions and gratuities.

In addition, I’ve seen that sometimes they even include beverages, and it’s possible to book them with an “all-inclusive” formula.

7. Flexible itineraries

In case of adverse weather conditions or any other unexpected event, small cruise ships can change their itinerary more easily.

This is a very good thing, especially because some ports of call are often canceled because of strong winds.

Small ships have more flexibility because all their aspect are easier to arrange. Think about rescheduling excursions for 5,000 people and think about rescheduling them for 1,000-there is a big difference!

8. Eco-friendliness

Explora I
Explora I

Small cruise ships often have a smaller environmental footprint compared to larger ones.

There are several reasons for that. First, they can navigate using more fuel-efficient methods.

Second, it’s easier to implement greener technologies on them. And third, they reduce the congestion and environmental strain on popular destinations.

9. More luxurious

 Explora Journeys cabin
Explora Journeys cabin

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, you should definitely opt for a small ship.

Some of them are renowned for their boutique hotel-like experience on the water.

It’s a completely different type of cruise compared to the one you can have on Royal Caribbean or Carnival.

They usually offer exceptional service, butlers for all passengers, gourmet dining, and prestigious stores on board.

I have never been on one, but would certainly like to try. Some of the most famous luxury cruise lines are Regent Seven Seas, Explora Journeys, and Silverseas.

If you’ve been on one of their ships, let me know in the comment how it was and if you would recommend it!

10. Docking convenience

The last positive thing that I have found is their ability to dock directly at the pier in basically all ports.

If you’ve been to one of the ports with small piers, you’ve seen that large ships anchor offshore and tender passengers to land, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome.

Here you can see the list of tender ports, but you won’t need it if you’re traveling on a small cruise ship.


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