Large cruise ships offer something for everyone.
If you’re looking for all the bells and whistles, large cruise ships, which have a capacity of 2500-6500 passengers, have all the latest and greatest rides and attractions. These cruises are generally aimed at the family market, and lines such as Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Carnival Cruise Line and P&O Cruises Australia each have their own unique offering.
There are a few key things to note if you are considering a large-ship cruise. Perhaps if you’re nervous about seasickness, the larger the ship, the less you’ll feel at sea. Also, if you’re looking to socialise, you’ll meet people from all walks of life.
A benefit of cruising on a larger ship is the variety. Depending on your price point, you can spend as little or as much as you like. Because of the size of these vessels, guests will find a range of accommodation. Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey-class ships have Royal Suites that can accommodate four adults and four children. These pimped-out suites include ping-pong tables, private hot tubs, a slide and a games room. The two-storey suite comes not only with access to a Royal Genie (a butler) but also private invitations to special events, complimentary specialty dining and more.
At the other end of the spectrum, Royal Caribbean has special interior suites, designed for solo travellers or cruisers on a budget. These suites have a virtual-reality screen that projects images of the ocean in real-time.
The other benefit of larger ships is the variety of activities – the kids will have a whale of a time. NCL’s Prima Class vessels have rides such as go-kart tracks, and virtual reality games and dedicated games areas. These lines also have special kids’ programs aimed at children of all ages. Carnival Cruise Line’s partnership with Dr Seuss means the kids can have a breakfast of green eggs and ham while Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 rove around the dining room for photo opportunities.
Particularly on longer cruisers, guests who are looking for a variety of dining options will be spoilt with choice on larger cruise ships. Royal Caribbean is where you can find dozens of included specialty restaurants. The line’s long-standing collaboration with Jamie Oliver means Jamie’s Italian can be found on board several Royal Caribbean ships, including Ovation of the Seas which homeports in Australia.
NCL has up to 15 dining venues featuring teppanyaki, Italian and French restaurants. Disney Cruise Lines themes its restaurants after iconic characters and movies such as Beauty and the Beast. At Rapunzel’s Royal Table, the room is decorated with lanterns and serves prime ribs, smoked pork loin and tuna tartare.
There are plenty of bars and watering holes to accompany dining venues. You’ll find the robot making cocktails at the Bionic Bar on Royal Caribbean; the Archie Rose gin bar on P&O Cruises Australia; and the Vibes Beach Club on Norwegian Cruise Line. These venues also stage live music and comedy shows.
Broadway-style shows and high-tech innovations are all part of the big-ship experience. With fabulous new theatre facilities available, the shows on larger cruise ships could rival productions on land.
Royal Caribbean has a huge variety of shows including Cats, Mamma Mia! Hairspray, Saturday Night Fever, We Will Rock You and Grease. On P&O Cruises, the entertainment team have enlisted the help of local producer Scott Maidment who has worked with the Sydney Opera House on original productions. He’s created bespoke productions such as Love Riot, which was previously on Pacific Explorer. A new show debuted in 2022, the risqué Purple Rabbit, and is full of magic and mischief.
While all ships of all sizes offer spa facilities, large vessels have more capacity for more treatment rooms and spaces such as thermal suites. On NCL vessels, guests can pay a fee per day to access Turkish baths, steam, sauna and salt rooms. The gyms, too, are well equipped and there are lots of cardio classes ranging from spin to Pilates.
And, of course, larger ships boast more pools and public spaces. There will be plenty of deck chairs – but bear in mind, there will be more people on board.