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You’ve decided to book a cruise so aside from choosing the itinerary you should really consider what size ship you want to be on, but what size is better? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a mega-ship as compared to a mid-sized ship? Let’s dive in and compare the differences!
On a mega-ship you will likely have a choice of venues each night ranging from shows in the theater to comedy to dueling pianos whereas on a mid-sized ship there may just be the one show each night and your only choice is whether to go to the early show or the late one. Some of these will require making a reservation so you’ll want to take care of that early to ensure you don’t end up waiting in the stand-by line.
If you plan to go to main dining every night and not visit any of the specialty dining options onboard then this isn’t likely a deal breaker for you as these ships almost always have a couple of choices for main dining as well as a buffet. Again, on a mega-ship you will likely have more options to choose from than on a mid-sized ship. The specialty restaurants do get booked up and sad to say, some guests decide not to use their reservation but fail to inform the restaurant in order to free up the space. Again, best to book your reservations early to avoid dining after 9:00pm!
Number of Passengers
A mega-ship is typically classified as one that can carry 3500+ passengers while a mid-sized ship passenger count ranges from 1500-2500. Obviously with more people comes more crowded areas, more waiting for shows, dining, elevators, guest services, embarkation and disembarkation as well as going off the ship in ports and coming back again (think tendering). More passengers onboard also means more work for the crew as well, so service may suffer slightly with greater numbers of passengers onboard.
A mega-ship will obviously have more decks, and likely more pools and even water slides and other fun things to do like race cars on the race track or fly through the air on a zip-line. Mid-sized ships still have lots of beautiful deck space around pools and hot tubs as well as ping-pong, shuffleboard and other onboard entertainment options. Another consideration is NCL’s The Haven which on mid-sized ships may or may not offer the full experience that a mega-ship can offer. The Haven restaurant is often smaller and sundeck space more limited on mid-sized ships.
So maybe I’ve prompted more questions than I’ve answered, but this honestly comes down to what sort of a cruise you are interested in booking. There are specific experiences to be had on both mega-ships as well as mid-sized ships so the key is knowing where your interests and priorities are and hopefully I’ve helped you to see what each size of ship has to offer. – René
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Rene, I took a cruise on the Norwegian Dawn recently and won’t go on her again. It’s in the mid-ship range and is not in the best of shape. We took a cruise late last year on the Breakaway and had a much better time. We thought the smaller ships were more comfortable and cozy but have changed our minds. The Dawn had precious little space to sit inside and look out to the sea whereas the larger ships have Observation Lounges. We’ll try to stick with the larger ships.
@John – The Dawn, and many of her sister ships, had the fantastic Spinnaker Lounges turned into “family suites” and that really hurt the ships. They are nice suites, and I am sure make the ships more money, but did hurt the experience overall.