I am, of course, referring to ships. A lot of people immediately dismiss a cruise on something less the size of a floating building but they have their positives. Less people, great atmosphere, can get into ports others can’t, lots of lovely deck space instead of balconies. The main cruise lines seem to think everyone wants a balcony so they add more. Princess went further with the current Royal Princess by having NO oceanviews at all, only insides and balconies. Dear cruise lines, if people didn’t want pitch darkness or a window they wouldn’t book them. While balconies are nice, you only have to be on a big ship during a sea day and trying to find a seat inside or on deck to discover hardly anyone is using them. Smaller lines with older ships would get hardly any bookings at all so clearly balconies are not important to many. It was a pleasant surprise when Silversea designed Silver Spirit with a tiered deck and still had balconies but wasn’t overwhelmed with them, still looking good. I wish more did instead of theme parks at sea.
I have currently taken 54 cruises on 28 ships varying in size from 20,000 tonnes to 158,000 tonnes. I’ll go on anything floating really but in 2014 will be sailing on Voyager (Voyages of Discovery, not the Royal Caribbean owned Voyager of the Seas as many think it is), which is just under 16,000 tonnes as well as Oasis of the Seas, so go to a mega monster from something which could be one of her tenders! But which am I looking forward to most? The baby, no question. Out of my 28 ships, only a handful can been considered small (the following tonnages are either rounded up or down).
I’ve also visited a few, including Black Watch and Bouddica before I sailed on them.
Sadly, Saga Ruby retires from the Saga Fleet in January 2014 but they transferred Quest For Adventure which is back sailing as Saga Pearl II.
Saga Sapphire is one ship I could definitely see myself cruising on when I’m old enough. I really liked what they’d done and she felt very cosy. Meanwhile, Fred Olsen still have Braemar and even though she was stretched in 2008, is still small.
P&O also have Adonia, an adults only ship and sister to Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest. Ocean Princess, Pacific Princess, Regatta, Nautica and Insigia.
Cruise & Maritime have Marco Polo, charter Astor and now run Discovery.
While Holland America have their boutique ship, Prinsendam.
There is also the choice of ships sailing for Thomson, Louis Cruise Lines and others which have been a dumping ground for older tonnage in various countries.
One thing which does tend to put people off the smaller ships, regardless of better itinerary, is the price. On the smaller lines, the price is considerably higher particularly for singles yet these are more like to have solo cabins. There are the odd no or low supplement offers but you need to catch them fast. My Voyager cruise was only one of two with no supplement. In my opinion, if you have booked a solo cabin, there should be no supplement as there is only one bed. It’s bad enough often paying double for a twin but technically you are taking up space for two so understandable. For instance, while on Discovery, we were told of a great cruise in 2013 going to Murmansk. Single cost £4000! Fantastic itinerary but priced out of my league. I did the maiden of Royal Princess the same day instead. Silversea will be forever a dream unless I win the lottery while sailing on Funchal is an ambition for hopefully 2015.
Big ships have a lot to do but if you just want to relax, visit more interesting ports and see the same people again, then small ship cruising is ideal and I cannot wait to board the tiny Voyager next year, hope to do Marco Polo and am impatient to try my first Saga cruise!