Last week we discussed the advantages of large cruise ships.
Disadvantages of very large ships
These ships are generally restricted where they can embark and disembark passengers. For initial embarkation and disembarkation, they must have port terminals with very large check in and exit security areas. They must have deep ports. They must have large parking areas. For port calls, the largest ships are restricted to deep water ports with modern piers. Taking passengers to a port by “tendering” is a slow and tedious process, so they often will not stop at ports where they cannot tie up at a pier.
Lines can be long and slow moving on embarkation and disembarkation, simply due to the number of passengers in process. Cruise lines are developing new ways to speed up embarkation and it appears to be working.
Service can be impersonal, simply due to the large numbers of passengers each crew member must service. Most Americans want to eat dinner between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Servicing 5200 people in that time frame can be daunting, and some companies do it much better than others.
The midsize class of ships today is generally considered 2,000 to 4,000 passengers. Many of these ships are purpose built in this size class. Others are older ships that have been renovated, and in some cases actually cut in half and expanded. These ships have several specialty restaurants on board that are boutique in size to capitalize on the intimacy factor. It is hard to have an intimate restaurant on a ship where 5,000 people may have the choice to reserve an “intimate dining experience”. You will find many of these restaurants still have more tables for two than large seating areas. You may also find the dining in these restaurants to be more of an “experience” than on the larger ships. The elevators have to service fewer floors and carry fewer occupants, so the wait for an elevator at peak times may be a better experience. Servicing fewer patrons, the entertainment may be more intimate, with sing along piano bars and intimate casinos an important feature on these ships. Generally speaking, these ships are easier on lightly handicapped people as the public areas tend to be less crowded, more single staterooms are available, a higher ratio of handicap cabins may be available, and most port stops have easier ramp disembarkation to the pier.
Check back next week when we talk more about midsize cruising.