Three Reasons to Choose an Older and Smaller Royal Caribbean Ship for Your Next Cruise

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Brilliance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International
Brilliance of the Seas - Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

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Royal Caribbean International is known for delivering the wow-factor with its state of the art new ships. Look no further than Icon of the Seas which will set sail with guests for the first time early next year.

icon of the seas, royal caribbean international
Icon of the Seas – Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

I’ve sailed on Royal Caribbean’s large Oasis Class ships, including Allure of the Seas (3 times) and Harmony of the Seas (1 time). They’re a marvel of engineering, and the logistical achievement of moving that many people by sea without making the ship feel insanely crowded is impressive to me. The variety of entertainment and dining options available make these ships a great vacation destination in and of themselves. That said, there are reasons to seek out one of Royal Caribbean’s smaller ships for your next cruise vacation. This isn’t an exclusive list, and there are surely more than three reasons, but here are my top three in no particular order.

The Chance to Sail from a Port Closer to Home

The Port of Baltimore is 26 miles from my front door, and Royal Caribbean homeports a ship there all year. Vision of the Seas may not be the newest ship in the fleet, but she’s received a lot of updates including the addition of Royal’s steakhouse, Chops Grill, along with Giovanni’s Italian and Izumi. I like the fact that these ships also have enclosed solariums, which makes taking a dip in the pool a little more tolerable when departing Baltimore in the cold months.

The opportunity to sail on a Royal Caribbean cruise without the hassle of flying to another port city is a good reason to consider sailing on one of Royal’s smaller ships.

rhapsody of the seas, royal caribbean international
The pool deck aboard Rhapsody of the Seas – Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Less People, Less Opportunity for Drama

I know, I said Royal’s big ships don’t feel that crowded. That’s generally true on Oasis Class vessels, with some exceptions noted after shows end, around the main dining room after dinner service, and basically anytime there’s an event on the Royal Promenade. But let’s face it, even with all that well designed space, 6,000 guests is a lot of people and they’re going to be just as busy vacationing as you are. A ship with 2,000 guests is just going to feel a bit more sedate for lack of a better word.

Brilliance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International
Brilliance of the Seas – Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Better Service?

OK, this may be my favorite reason to choose a smaller ship. It isn’t universally true, but in many of my cruising experiences I’ve found the crew members, especially in the main dining room, to be among the best service providers at Royal Caribbean. My wife and I still rave about the main dining room on Grandeur of the Seas sailing from Baltimore a few years ago. Best dining room experience I’ve had to date on any Royal Caribbean ship. I can’t explain it, but sometimes I think the crews of the smaller ships know they are competing with the bells and whistles of the biggest ships and they just try harder. It’s anecdotal at best, but that’s my experience and I’m sticking to it!

So these are my top three reasons to preference a smaller Royal Caribbean ship over the newest and biggest ships. I’m sure there are other good reasons too. In the end, I love all of Royal Caribbean’s ships from the smallest to the largest and appreciate having lots of options to choose from.

-MJ

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I will not sail on Icon…ever and I highly prefer the older ships. You forgot the most important thing about sailing smaller ships…they allow bright and airy sunshine in. Walk around Grandeur..you fill like you on a cruise vacation. Walk around Harmony…shopping mall in a tourist area.

  2. Just got off the Adventure last week, and the entertainment and service was generally poor and understaffed. It seemed to us that Royal is moving their highly rated workers to the new and more expensive ships. The ship is also in a declining maintenance state. And you’d think there would be less drama, except for a few hundred Pinnacles over the age of 80 complaining about everything from the Diamond/Crown lounge not being reserved just for them to (I’m serious here) one Pinnacle loudmouth yelling at the waitstaff in the Windjammer that the captain is piloting the ship wrong. There are pros and cons to each ship type, but we cancelled our Explorer cruise for next December because of this cruise.

  3. Really insightful article on why to choose an older and smaller Royal Caribbean ship for cruising! It’s an eye-opener for those of us used to thinking bigger is always better.

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