In this series we will try to understand the difference between cruise ships and cruising styles. We will talk about size and what that means, one sentence themes, styles, destinations and experience categories.
Size means many different things to clients when I describe a cruise ship. Essentially there are 3 size categories you should look at besides gross tonnage. Ships carrying over 4,000 passengers are the very largest ships. When a cruise line identifies how many passengers a ship carries, that is based on 2 persons in each cabin. Ships will exceed those numbers frequently during the busy seasons when school is out, due to the number of cabins occupied by 3 or more passengers. These ships have more of everything on board just to service the sheer number of passengers. This is a fact, but it does not mean those ships are the most crowded. Many times the ships are designed so that there are multiple venues that offer the same, or similar, attractions. An example is casual dining venues. A ship carrying 5200 passengers may have as many as 22 different dining venues, some of which are minor variations of the same type of dining. At least 1 cruise line advertises “Neighborhoods” where you will find dining, entertainment, shopping, and beverage venues all within one section. That is repeated in multiple areas on board.
Advantages of very large ships
Stability- These ships can weather rough seas somewhat better than smaller ships as there is more ship below water as ballast, against the tall structure above water. I personally was on a big ship when we were leaving harbor in south Florida. At departure time we noticed no other ships had left yet but our ship sounded the air horns right on time, and we began our departure. Even in the harbor we could see the Coast Guard and Fire Department boats were struggling against strong waves as they followed us through the breakwaters at the mouth of the harbor. On board I did not notice any movement at all in reaction to the waves and I was pleasantly surprised at the relative smooth departure. We later learned the wave heights outside the harbor exceeded 20 feet that evening, and most of the cruise ships waited until midnight to leave the harbor.
Variety- Simply because of the ship size, these ships can offer a bigger variety of extra “things” on board. An example is the multi story glass encased water slides that are so popular. You cannot have a 5 story high water slide on a 5 deck high cruise ship. These ships are advertising more and more “things” on board today such as “Wave Runner”, “Zip Line”, “Bumper Cars”, “Water Theatres”, “Rope Courses”, and so forth. They can also have more of each type of venue such as multiple theaters and dining venues.
Accommodations- Some of these ships offer a “Ship within a Ship” area for families, where each family can be in a cabin, and the cabins are congregated around a common area and pool just for those cabins. This can be a perfect answer for the extended family. You may also find classes of cabins on these ships that you will not find on the other classes of ships. An example is the 2 story Family Suite on board one Cruiseline’s ships. The suite can sleep up to six members, is 2 stories high, has a balcony inside the suite, as well as up to 2 large exterior balconies, and is serviced by a concierge. Ensuite dining is available in these suites. Most all cruise companies have increased the ratio of balcony cabins to accommodate the demand.
Check back next week when we discuss larger cruise ships.