I have just completed a wonderful cruise on Radiance of the Seas. What a great ship. She is by far the most elegant ship in the fleet.
The Captain mentioned the philosophy of building bigger and bigger ships will most likely not continue. After the current contracts are fullfilled smaller vessels between the Nordic Empress size and the Vision Class size will be looked at.
I think now there will be 5 Voyager Class and 5 Radiance Class total and then we will see if this talk of smaller ships goes into action. Furthermore the merger with P&O and 9-11 may have an effect on future contracts.
I have found on the smaller ships like the Nordic Empress everyone seems to gather in the same places, like the disco in her case. On Radiance there were so many clubs and spaces to hang out every where I went seemed empty. (The ship was 200 less than full capacity)
What do you think is smaller better or is bigger better??
Before I cruised on Explorer of the Seas, I definitely would have been in the "smaller is better" club. Now I am less sure. I don't think it is size as much as how the size is used that makes the difference. Traffic patterns, numerous and varied public areas (lounges, shops, snack areas, etc.) can make quite a difference in how you perceive a particular ship. On the Explorer, you rarely feel overwhelmed by its size or the number of passengers it carries. On some smaller ships the difficulty of getting from one area of the ship to another, because of a poorly designed deck layout, or a limited number of public rooms, can make the ship seem crowded, confusing, or difficult to maneuver around. What we really need is a variety of different sized ships so that a wide range of itineraries can be offfered. Some ports cannot handle the massive crowds that disembark from the megaliners. Other ports can handle and disperse large numbers of passengers without noticeable effect.
We've cruised on the Grandeur and Spendour on RCI, ships of similar size on other lines, and ships of only about 600 pax on other lines. We've never been on RCI's bigger ships. But even after a couple of cruises on ships the size of the Grandeur in a six month period, we become more than a little tired of the lines and crowds. Sure there's a market for the big ships, but we are favoring the smaller ones the more we cruise. So, for our next cruise, we've booked on a ship of only 320 pax, with a high space to pax ratio. Only problem is, to do this, one has to go to an "up market" line and spend a bit more than we can do on a regular basis. I think there is definitely a market in the mid priced cruise lines for smaller ships-- by which I mean those with 1000 pax or less.
BillG hit on something I think is interesting... Personally I feel that the Voyager class ship is more of a social and personal ship. The reason is the ship layout. Older ships, Carnival Fantasy class or RCI Sovereign class, everything is in a million places and totally random....The disco is stuck on some strange deck, the casino in another, and the Atrium area isn't really the perfect concept. You play heck ever catching up with someone and it doesn't happen on accident a lot either.
Now, Voyager class... you're much more likely to see people you've met due to the new Promenade concept, even though there are more people on board. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the Royal Promenade concept has completely changed cruising, at least speaking for myself (25/M/Single). It is a totally functional and useful area with something for most everyone. Not even similar to the Atrium areas on the other ships. The Voyager class almost remind me of a Las Vegas resort....there is a sing-a-long piano bar in NY NY that reminds me a lot of the English pub on the Voyager class among other things.
I think the new smaller ships have some appeal for different types of cruisers. I think it just depends on what you're looking for.
I opt for the smaller ships, but not too small. My first two cruises were on the old Nordic Prince (1st cruise they hadn't put in the casino yet). I think it held about 1200 pax. It was big enough that you knew you were on a cruise ship but small enough that you easily saw a lot of folks more often. Lately have cruised the Sovereign, Grandeur and Carnival's Inspiration and that's about as big as I would like to go. Don't think I want to do the mega ships. Just too big.
I like the design of the Grandeur and hope they keep the Centrum and Solarium, just in a smaller version, say 1500 pax.
Unquestionably -- SMALLER ships.... but a minimum of 35,000 tons.
I was on the old NCL Skyward (17,000 tons) and there were not enough public rooms. i.e. not enough concurrent activities. The Stella Stolaris (at 25,00 tons) was a unique European cruising experience where 7 languages were spoken for ship board announcements and entertainment.
Overall, small ships are more intimate, better personalized service by the crew, better food, and fewer lines. By the time the cruise ends you can recognize the faces of most of the passengers as you see them while in port.