The Pros And Cons Of Cruising On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 01:40 pm

Overall, the smaller size of the ship fosters a sense of community and closeness among passengers, enhancing the cruise’s intimate atmosphere. As well, the smaller ports that smaller ships visit will give you unique experiences not found on large cruise ships.
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Sailing on a smaller cruise ship has its own set of pros and cons, offering a different experience compared to larger cruise ships.

Popular cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival, in recent years, have tended to focus their efforts on their bigger vessels. This can mean that the quality of the ship and service can slide on their smaller ships.

Still, there are lots of good reasons to choose a smaller cruise ship.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider:

The Pros of Sailing on a Smaller Cruise Ship

A More Intimate Atmosphere On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Smaller cruise ships typically accommodate fewer passengers, creating a more intimate and personalized experience with fewer crowds. This can lead to better interaction with fellow passengers and crew members.

Smaller ships often have cozier public spaces, lounges, and dining areas, making it easier for passengers to interact and socialize.

With fewer passengers to attend to, the crew can provide more personalized service and build closer relationships with guests.

The atmosphere on a smaller cruise ship tends to be quieter and less hectic, allowing passengers to enjoy a peaceful and tranquil cruise experience.

Overall, the smaller size of the ship fosters a sense of community and closeness among passengers, enhancing the cruise’s intimate atmosphere.

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small cruise ship

Better Access to Smaller Ports On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Smaller ships can access ports that are inaccessible to larger vessels. This allows for a more diverse itinerary, visiting less crowded and more unique destinations.

Smaller ships have shallower drafts (the portion of the ship underwater), allowing them to navigate through narrower channels, shallow waters, and smaller harbors that larger ships cannot access.

Their smaller size and narrower width enable them to maneuver more easily in tight spaces and dock at smaller, less developed ports that lack facilities for larger vessels.

Smaller ships often have a smaller ecological footprint, which makes them more welcome in environmentally sensitive or protected areas.

Their ability to reach these less-traveled ports and destinations allows them to offer unique and off-the-beaten-path itineraries, appealing to travelers seeking more exclusive experiences.

The smaller dimensions of these cruise ships make them versatile and adaptable, giving passengers access to a wider range of ports and destinations.

Much Shorter Lines and Wait Times On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Smaller cruise ships typically have shorter lines and wait times because they have fewer passengers to accommodate compared to larger ships.

With a smaller passenger capacity, embarkation, disembarkation, dining, and other onboard services can be managed more efficiently, resulting in reduced congestion and quicker service for passengers.

With fewer passengers, there is less time waiting in line and more time that can be spent enjoying your cruise.

Less Crowded Spaces On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Public areas such as lounges, decks, and dining venues tend to be less crowded on smaller cruise ships, providing a more serene environment.

The advantage of less crowding on a smaller cruise ship is that passengers can enjoy a more peaceful and relaxed experience.

Fewer people are competing for amenities, shorter lines, more intimate interactions with fellow passengers and crew, and a generally quieter and less hectic atmosphere, allowing for a more enjoyable and personalized cruise experience.

More Personalized Service On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Smaller ships often provide more attentive and personalized service, as the crew can get to know passengers on a more individual basis.

Passengers tend to receive more personalized service on smaller cruise ships for several reasons.Smaller ships have a higher crew-to-passenger ratio, which means there is more staff available to passengers.

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Crew members on smaller ships often have the opportunity to get to know passengers on a personal level, allowing them to anticipate and cater to specific preferences.

With fewer passengers to serve, crew members have more time to interact with guests and provide tailored assistance. Smaller ships offer a cozier and more intimate setting, making it easier for crew members to establish rapport and provide attentive service.

Smaller ships can be more flexible in accommodating passenger requests and customizing experiences due to their reduced passenger load.

Overall, the smaller size of the ship and the lower passenger count create a conducive environment for delivering personalized and attentive service to passengers.

There Is A Community Feeling On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Due to the smaller number of passengers, it’s easier to connect with fellow travelers and form a sense of community on board.

A community feeling on a smaller cruise ship arises because of the close-knit atmosphere fostered by fewer passengers. With a smaller passenger count, passengers have more opportunities to interact, recognize each other, and form connections.

Smaller ships often have intimate common areas, creating a sense of togetherness among passengers. Passengers on smaller ships tend to participate in similar activities and excursions, facilitating bonding and a sense of camaraderie.

Crew members can engage with passengers on a more personal level, promoting a sense of belonging.

These factors combine to create a communal vibe where passengers often develop friendships and enjoy a shared cruise experience on a smaller ship.

The Cons of Sailing on a Smaller Cruise Ship

Limited Onboard Amenities On A Smaller Cruise Ship

The main con of limited amenities on a smaller cruise ship is that passengers may have fewer entertainment options, dining choices, and onboard facilities compared to larger ships.

This could result in a more restricted range of activities and experiences for passengers who prefer a wide variety of amenities during their cruise vacation.

Potential for Motion Sickness On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Smaller ships are more susceptible to the movement of the ocean, which could lead to increased motion sickness for some passengers.

Smaller cruise ships are generally more susceptible to the rocking and swaying motion of the sea, which can be more pronounced and felt more acutely by passengers.

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Less Diverse Entertainment On A Smaller Cruise Ship

While smaller ships might offer quality entertainment, they may have a more limited variety of shows and activities compared to the larger, more elaborate productions on bigger ships.

There are Fewer Dining Options On A Smaller Cruise Ship

The dining choices on smaller cruise ships might be more limited, offering fewer specialty restaurants and dining venues.

Cabins Might Be Smaller On A Smaller Cruise Ship

The size of cabins and staterooms on smaller cruise ships might be smaller than what you’d find on larger ships, potentially leading to less space and fewer amenities.

There Are Potentially Fewer Families and Activities for Children On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Smaller ships might attract fewer families, which could result in fewer kid-friendly activities and a less child-focused environment.

Smaller Cruise Ships Can Be More Impacted By The Weather

Smaller ships can be more affected by adverse weather conditions, potentially leading to itinerary changes or rougher sailing in certain conditions.

Final Thoughts

In summary, sailing on a smaller cruise ship can offer a more intimate and unique experience, with access to smaller ports and a more relaxed atmosphere. However, it might come with fewer onboard amenities, potential motion sickness concerns, and less diverse entertainment and dining options. Your preference would depend on your personal preferences for the cruise experience you’re seeking.

List Of Smaller Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas

Gross Tonnage: 78,491

Length: 915 feet

Passengers: 2,416

Carnival Elation

Gross Tonnage: 71,909 tons

Length: 855 feet

Passengers: 2,190

Viking Octantis

Gross Tonnage: 30,150 tons

Length: 665 feet

Passengers: 378

Emerald Azzurra & Sakara

Gross Tonnage: 5,175 tons

Length: 360 feet

Passengers: 100

MSC Sinfonia

MSC Armonia

Gross Tonnage: 65,542 (both ships)

Length: 275 (both ships)

Passsengers: 2,546 (Sinfonia) 2,520 (Armonia)

Silver Wind | Silversea

Gross Tonnage: 17,400 tons

Length: 515 feet

Passengers: 247

World Navigator – Atlas Ocean Voyages

Gross Tonnage: 10,000 tons

Length: 423 feet

Passengers: 196

Wind Star Cruises: Wind Star

Gross Tonnage: 5,703 tons

Length: 360 feet

Passengers: 148

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Flora

Gross Tonnage: 5,922

Length: 333 feet

Passengers: 100

If you want to try cruising on a unique small ship, try the legendary tall ship Preussen. It is a 439 foot tall ship that has a total of 42 sails that, combined, are 54,000 square feet. The ship holds 227 passengers and has a marine platform for ocean access. Find out more here:

Star Clippers Sailing Tall Ship Cruises – Royal Clipper


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Joy is the Co-Founder & Content Manager/Expert for and one of the founders of the site. She loves to travel, sing & bake.


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