My wife and i are searching cruise tours for Alaska-the smaller ships(under 120) seem to have some advantages in where they can go I am told, but they seem to be more expensive. The large ships like Royal Carribean seem very large and I wonder what it is like to get to a port and have 1800 people leave the ship.
Any advice on large vs. small ships?
I have never done the smaller ships but I understand sometimes some of the excursions are included in the price. I have done the Sun class of Princess ships in Alaska and there was never a problem getting on and off even thought there were thousands of people. The only time there was a line backed up was when they were changing which deck to get on and off of due to the change in tide. The towns can get rather crowded especially if there are several ships in port.
We've looked at small ships such as Cruise West...generally experienced travellers who enjoy the informality of a small group of people that you can get to know easily...including the crew. They don't care about gourmet food, shows, casinos, piano bars, TV, etc. They like the fact that these shallow draft boats can go right up to the shore, drop a bow gangplank, and let people off to tour the country side...something big ships can't do.
If Alaskan waters were always smooth sailings, small ships might be an idyllic cruise. But do you really want to be on a flat bottom, shallow draft boat in a North Pacific storm?
The good big ships with 2000+ passengers arrange their excursions so that everyone is not leaving at once. They work like very well-oiled machines. Small ships may have 20 or so excrusions included in their fare. Big ships can have 200 excursions from which you can select. And...since excursions aren't included, you're free to arrange your own at what is usally a much lower price.
If I were going to Alaska for the first time, I pick from Princess or HAL, the two lines with the most experience and the most options for seeing Alaska. If you have a lot of cruising experience, you may find the limitations of small ships right up your alley. Worth a shot.
Your reference to "cruise tour" - do you want to consider a land cruise tour or is this just a reference to shore excursions in various ports???? As for the later, I never book any ship excursions and always book direct independently. I am never on any massive excursions. I have been wait listed on Cruise West twice without success, but it is of interest to me. However, for the deep discounts of the major lines I have been able to go many times for what one trip on Cruise West would have cost. I would take the smallest ship on a major line you can get that goes to where you desire. Then just take your savings for the excellent not to be missed excursions and a return trip.