When looking at the news and main headlines about cruise holidays over the past few years, it appears that the most popular stories which constantly hit the headlines are always about bigger ships, or Mega ships or amazing activities you can do on-board ships due to their enormous size!
Whilst for many cruisers, be it people new to cruising, or seasoned sea travellers, this is all very exciting, vessels more commonly referred to as Mega Ships, are not the only attraction to sea travel. It seems very unfair that smaller, and at times far more attractive, luxurious and intimate vessels are ignored as they seem less 'newsworthy' than their larger and you could say, more intimidating sister ships.
Smaller ships come with a whole host of advantages of their own and these must not be ignored, by seasoned professionals or first time cruisers alike. Firstly, and for some, most importantly, a smaller ship means a smaller 'draft' which means the vessel does not need as deep water in ports. This opens up a whole host of additional destinations and itinerary options, for example, very few large ships can offer itinerary options to the beautiful island of Bermuda, or certain Caribbean or Mediterranean ports which are quieter and more off the beaten track. In addition, there are many ports world wide where smaller ships are able to pull right up to the dock and passengers can alight by foot as opposed to the lengthy process of tendering which means taking a smaller boat as a 'ferry' to get ashore.
A great example of this would be in the South of France where larger ships dock outside of the beautiful port of Villefranche, passengers tender into port and then can spend time wandering around the pretty little town, take the train themselves along the coast to visit more famous destinations (although not necessarily any prettier!) of Monte Carlo, Eze or Nice or an organised shore excursion. However, if they chose a small ship itinerary, such as those offered by cruise lines like Azamara Club Cruises, they will literally be transported and delivered direct to shore. A couple of years ago, an Azamara vessel was even seen in Cannes, as part of the legendary Film Festival, because of her ability to literally 'park' right at the waterfront. This ability to get so close to shore also makes life and your holiday so much easier and hassle free and therefore so much more enjoyable.
Also, small ships being able to sail right into port means that guests onboard can maximise their time ashore without the fear of missing the last tender and therefore the ship sailing without them.
In addition, guests can expect to enjoy a more intimate atmosphere onboard, staff who will remember their names, their favourite tipple, if they want extra black pepper on their dinner and how they take their tea. There is also the added bonus that you will get to know other guests onboard, share experiences and make new and perhaps, life long friends.
All in all, don't discount taking a cruise holiday on a smaller ship, for many, it can be a far more pleasurable experience to a mega giant vessel, and can offer the holiday experience of a lifetime!
By Ian Gilder