The first thing you will want to consider is the various sizes of cruise ships that are available to book. The size of cruise ships can make your cruise holiday a success or a disaster. Choosing the right size of ship and cruise operator is essential to get it right for your first time as cruise ships vary from small to extremely large! Read on to find out more on the various sizes of cruise ships. Also, visit our tips on the Best time to cruise.
River Cruise Ships – 50 to 200 Passengers
These cruises are much different to the ocean-going cruise ships as they tend to cruise through the day and stop in the evenings in the various ports of their itinerary. Entertainment will be limited as will the catering and cabins tend to be on the small compact but adequate side.
River cruising is much smoother so very little if any sea sickness and can take you through many beautiful cities and continents. Consider River cruising in Europe to see the Danube, Rhine, Moselle and the Volga to name just a few. In Africa opt for the famous River Nile Cruise and see the ancient Temples of Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. In China, you can experience a cruise down the YangtseRiver and in America consider a cruise down the Mississippi River on a paddle steamer.
Small Ships – Under 10,000 tons up to 500 passengers
Normally in this category of cruise ships, you will find; sailing ships, luxury yachts, coastal ships and adventure ships. Some of these ships will have transoms that fold down to offer a water playground of water sports such as jet skis, windsurfers etc. These boats tend to move a lot in the swell of the water of rough seas so if seasickness is a concern for you these may not be the best option.
They often only have one dining option due to their size and limited evening entertainment. Ships such as the Star Clipper offer a sailing experience with fine wines, good food and old-fashioned entertainment such as charades or cards.
Companies with ships of this size to consider are; Star Clipper, Windstar, Seabourn, Crystal, Hebridean and Norwegian Coastal Voyages and expedition ships.
Small to medium ships – Under 25,000 tonnes up to 1000 passengers
These are very similar to the smallest of cruise ships but tend to have a deeper draft so better in rough seas. The will have less of a crowded feel to them and offer fine dining, spa and casino but very little other entertainment to those of the larger ships.
Operators to consider for these ships would be Fred Olsen, MSC, Orient, Cruise and Maritime, Silverseas and Fred Olsen, Hurtigruten, Oceania, Saga Cruises, Viking, Classic International Cruises.
Medium Ships – Under 70,000 tones up to 2000 passengers
These ships can tend to be older (built in the 80’s/90’s) than the new large cruising ships that are being built, but still offer a lot of entertainment although on a smaller scale. They will offer a choice of entertainment, Casino, spa and have more than one swimming pool.
Operators with ships of this size to consider would be; Thomson Cruises, NCL, Holland and America, Silversea, MSC, Fred Olsen, Costa Cruises and Radisson.
Large Ships – Under 100,000 tons and from 1000 to 2000 passengers
These ships are built with entertainment in mind, offering a choice of several swimming pools, kids clubs and other onboard activities such as rock climbing. Designed and built to give you a resort feel with lots of activities for families and children including evening and day time entertainment. These ships will offer a variety of restaurants to choose from with various options of dining from “freestyle”, “dine around” to allocated dining times and a set table size. The ships are also fitted with stabilizers so for those worried about seasickness, they are a perfect choice.
Operators with these ships include: Royal Caribbean, Costa Cruises, Holland and America, Celebrity, Princess, P&O Cruises and NCL
Ultra Large Ships – The modern style, Over 100,000 tonnes, over 3000 passengers
These ships are new to the cruising scene and are a growing breed offering unlimited entertainment, restaurants and shopping experiences. These ships are very similar to the large ships, but with more room for passengers, shops and restaurants as well as ice rinks and wave surf simulators on ships such as the Royal Caribbean.
There are roughly 20 of these ships available with operators such as Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean, NCL Cruises, Queen Mary 2 and Princess Cruises.
For a full guide to cruise ship sizes, you can read this chart of cruise ship sizes.
Cruise Ships to Suit your Budget
If you are looking to book a cruise ship then you may wish to consider which operator will suit your budget. Cruise Operators often offer early booking discounts but as a whole, the following guidelines will help you to decide which cruise line suits you best.
Budget to standard price cruises
– Thomson Cruise, Costa Cruise, Carnival Cruise, Royal Caribbean, NCL, The River Cruise Line, U by Uniworld, Riviera Travel, Cruise & Maritime.
Mid Range cruise to Luxury
– Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, NCL, Carnival, Costa Cruise, MSC and Fred Olsen, Emerald Waterways, Viking River Cruises, Saga Cruises, Hurtigruten.
– Windstar, Holland America, P & O, Celebrity, Cunard, and Radisson, Scenic Cruises, Regent Seven Seas.
A Touch of Class
– Silversea, Azamara, Sea Dream, Cunard, Seabourn, Hebridean, and Crystal Cruises, Uniworld, AMA River Cruises.
Adults Only Ships
– P&O have two adult-only ships in the Oriana and Arcadia. Saga Cruises offer adult-only cruise experiences as well as Fred Olsen and Cruise and Maritime.
All-inclusive cruise lines
– Not all cruises need to come with a very large bill at the end of your cruise. Look out for the new range of all-inclusive drinks packages with; Celebrity, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, NCL, MSC, Remember that most of the Touch of class and luxury cruise companies will include wine and beer with meals in their standard price.