Quite often we are asked what is the difference between a mid-size ship and a mega ship when it comes to cruising. To answer that question, let’s begin by defining the difference.

A mid-size ship is one where the passenger complement is from 1000 to about 2600 guests. These ships are usually found in the contemporary and premium class cruise lines. In fact, one cruise line, Holland America, specializes in midsize ship cruising. The mega ships house from 3000 all the way up to 6200 guests – veritable floating towns.

So what’s the difference?

For starters, the crew to passenger ratio is usually closer on the smaller ships which tends to raise the service levels and gives you a more personalized experience. Hence why luxury lines generally have even smaller ships. These small ships are very well equipped with the usual amenities, pool deck, theatre, casino, and shopping – just on a smaller scale. You are unlikely to find multiple pool decks, zip lines, waterslides, outdoor theatres and so on as you would on a mega ship. Mega ships are more like self contained resorts.

Smaller ships also have more of an actual “ship” feel and atmosphere about them. The motion of the ship is more evident. The layout will remind you that you are on board a vessel as opposed to being in an ice skating rink – for example – on one of the resort ships.

So how do you decide what type of cruise ship is for you, especially if you are a first time cruiser? Well, that depends. Having sailed both types, I can tell you that you can have an equally great time on either size so it all depends on what is important to you in a cruise. When deciding between a midsize and a resort ship, you should think about them in the following fashion.

If you are looking for a more relaxed and intimate experience, perhaps an increase in personal attention from the crew, and more opportunities for those unique moments where you and your loved one feel like you are aboard your own private yacht, I would choose the smaller ships.

If you want to live life to the fullest, take in lots of activities, many dining choices and varied evening entertainment, than perhaps you should opt for a resort ship.

No matter what your choice, you will have a great time as a cruise vacation is always a memory maker!

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Article written for The Topeka Traveller by K. Lorencz of compassmedia.us.