(As opposed to Ships of the Desert ...)
The cruising "secret" is out, getting more and more exposure; see "Why a smaller cruise ship will steal your heart" by Ralph Grizzle on Cruise Specialists Blog. I might as well follow suit.
I've probably said it before, but for me, ocean-sailing is most pleasant on what the cruise industry calls small ships. The definition or size of a small ship may vary from one company to another, but generally means less than 500 passengers. Certainly there are even smaller ships catering to luxury clients or very specific destinations (expedition ships).
Mid-size ships seem to be considered by many as 250 to 600 passengers. To my mind, a ship of 800 or more passengers is on the verge of daunting; anything over 1,000 is a monster ship to me. I don't want a casino or a bowling alley or tennis courts. What I do want is enjoyment of a ship where faces quickly become familiar and a sense of community soon thrives.
My experience has been with the popular Voyager and its predecessor, Discovery, which each accommodated about 600 passengers. To the great sorrow of loyal cruisers, Voyager (and its sister ship Minerva) ceased to function early 2017 in a parent-company bankruptcy. Rumours swirl about its transformation into a luxury ship for Mexican waters. Ships get recycled, reconditioned, re-purposed.
British company, the Fred Olsen cruise line, has several ships in this category. Braemar and Black Watch are two I've experienced, or intend to. Carrying about 900 passengers, Braemar was that bit bigger that it took more time to get around the ship. Glass half full: the necessary walking back and forth from one section to another is nothing but beneficial.
And what have I done? Booked on the 1200 passenger Marina. With some trepidation about the size! But it's easy enough to get to know a ship in advance by studying deck plans. I'm hoping it's not too big to find ‒ when the mood strikes ‒ congenial, like-minded passengers or quiet reading space.
Why cruise at all?
Aging and/or arthritic bodies appreciate the "unpacking once" aspect, the "floating hotel" convenience. To me, the size or location of my cabin is scarcely relevant since it's only there for sleeping. Smaller ships often have itineraries where they can glide into harbours inaccessible to the monsters. They offer a satisfying variety of day excursions in or around each port visited, with local guides. Shipboard speakers give talks, preparing you with background, history, etc. But you're free to make your own arrangements at any given stop: advance research and planning highly recommended!
For those of us who can't completely vegetate, all these ships have a gym with exercise equipment, and there's usually a deck circuit for measured, brisk walking laps. Plus, of course, the programs for fitness, hobbies, amusement, and entertainment. Pick and choose. Or ignore, and just deep breathe the clean sea air in the sun.
© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman