As Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas begins sea trials ahead of launching in December, a few people have asked about the size of modern cruise ships today, and if bigger is really better.
Allure is the twin-sister of Oasis of the Seas. Oasis is currently the world’s largest cruise ship, weighing in at over 225,000 tons and carrying a whopping 5,400 guests at double occupancy, although with multiple berths in staterooms she often pulls out of Port Everglades with more than 6,000 enthusiastic cruisers on board.
When I attended the launch of Oasis last November, Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Adam Goldstein, said that bigger wasn’t necessarily better, but in the case of this ship it provided immense possibilities in terms of what it could offer guests; a greater variety of accommodation types, impressive leisure facilities, and a greater choice of dining venues among them.
This is certainly true, and for many people new to floating holidays it does offer a “soft” alternative to the traditional high seas cruise; a behemoth which won’t be troubled too much by rough seas, with no formal nights, and activities to have people of all ages on the go 24/7.
But big ships have issues. Some are unable to access certain ports and channels due to their size, and moving over 5,000 people on and off a ship can be a nightmare, especially if tendering is necessary. Not to mention the hike back to your stateroom after you’ve bagged a spot around the pool only to realise you forgot your iPod!
The appeal of smaller ships is obvious, even if they might lack the bells and whistles of their bigger sisters. For a start there’s fewer people on board, so moving about and finding quiet spots is easier, and their size means they have fewer restrictions accessing ports, bays and narrow channels.
So is bigger really better? Ultimately it boils down to personal choice. If you are a person who like space, quiet times and is happy reading a book on a sea day, a smaller ship is more likely to suit. Conversely, if you like to be constantly on the go, and enjoy the challenge of choosing which of eight or more restaurants to dine at, bigger may be better.
The important thing, especially for new cruisers, is to do your research. Just as cruises come at many price points, they also come in all shapes and sizes. And making the wrong decision for you and your family could make your dream holiday at sea turn into a nightmare. Happy cruising!