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So its time to look at 2022 holidays and cruises are my current number 1 choice.  We have only cruised three times in past couple of years but do have another two booked all going well for this year.  My question is around ship size and indeed how busy.

 

Cruise number 1 was on Rhapsody of the Seas.  Loved the ship, the number of nationalites on board.  We have booked to do Rhapsody again this year.

 

Cruise number 2 was Navigator.  We didn't enjoy it much for a number of reasons.  Didn't enjoy the central "street".  Felt it was like shopping in Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.  We travelled during English School holidays which is a mistake we won't make again.  Found the ship far too busy.

 

Cruise number 3 was Ventura.  Enjoyed the ship, entertainment etc.  We are doing Azura later this year.

 

The cruises I can see for 2022 in early July which is our only real time to go to avoid English Schools are all a bit done that before.  My impression is that Iona would be too big for us.  It was nice to see the same people around the ship on Rhapsody and indeed Ventura.  Navigator felt like a floating town.

 

What is confusing me slightly is that Navigator is not that big compared to Ventura as far as I can see.  Clearly cabin occupancy matters and if its schools out then there may be far more people.   We did speak to people about Britannia and got two compeletely different tales. One of having to get to shows very early to get a seat the other the opposite.

 

I think our gut is to go smaller but there is a lack of choice if we do.  We could do other cruise lines but nothing is jumping out.

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Always a difficult one as we all have different ideas, sometimes a ship seems busy other times deserted, a lot of factors come into play. Age, interests time of year, weather, itinerary to name a few. We have cruised on ships with 500-700 people and on Independence of the seas (twice) and enjoyed them all, the small ships have more flexibility and we have been to some wonderful place the mega ships cannot get in. Some people just like the ambience and hustle and bustle of the bigger ships. We were always of the opinion lets give it a go, as we decided we didn't like big ships, until we went on one. Sadly a lot of the smaller ships have now been scrapped so there is less choice unless you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the high class lines. Good luck whatever you choose, all part of life's rich tapestry.

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Interesting timing in this as we are seriously looking at Iona for the Fjords cruise.

 

We definitely prefer smaller ships so not what we would prefer, however, in this case where it is more about the itinerary and scenery (more unique and 'one-time' itinerary for us coming from Canada) we are less concerned with the size of the ship.

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13 minutes ago, rodndonna said:

Interesting timing in this as we are seriously looking at Iona for the Fjords cruise.

 

We definitely prefer smaller ships so not what we would prefer, however, in this case where it is more about the itinerary and scenery (more unique and 'one-time' itinerary for us coming from Canada) we are less concerned with the size of the ship.

The itinerary is amazing, we have been to the Fjords many times in the summer. We were supposed to be on Iona this past summer on Iona but alas it was not to be.

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I tend to think that small, mid size and large ships are akin to living in a village, a small town and a city respectively.

On a small ship with less than 1000 passengers you learn to recognise your fellow residents fairly quickly, and get to know them easily by dint of regularly seeing them around the ship. An onboard camaraderie develops. But facilities are limited.

On a mid size ship with say 1000 to 2000 passengers however, recognition diminishes and largely limited to those who regularly frequent the same places at the same time as you do. There are more facilities but social interaction is practice reduced; people shoot from show to show rather than socialising in public spaces like they do on a small ship. On large ships this trend is amplified. Relatively few people socialise in the bars and lounges, most affording themselves of the entertainment provided instead. Very much like living in a city where you may not even know your next door neighbour!

So it is very much horses for courses. If you are not bothered about formal entertainment but prefer a more sociable enviroment, choose a small ship. If entertainment is your thing and you are not particularly interested in socialising and getting to know your fellow passengers, choose a large one.

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53 minutes ago, Dinglebert said:

So its time to look at 2022 holidays and cruises are my current number 1 choice.  We have only cruised three times in past couple of years but do have another two booked all going well for this year.  My question is around ship size and indeed how busy.

 

Cruise number 1 was on Rhapsody of the Seas.  Loved the ship, the number of nationalites on board.  We have booked to do Rhapsody again this year.

 

Cruise number 2 was Navigator.  We didn't enjoy it much for a number of reasons.  Didn't enjoy the central "street".  Felt it was like shopping in Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.  We travelled during English School holidays which is a mistake we won't make again.  Found the ship far too busy.

 

Cruise number 3 was Ventura.  Enjoyed the ship, entertainment etc.  We are doing Azura later this year.

 

The cruises I can see for 2022 in early July which is our only real time to go to avoid English Schools are all a bit done that before.  My impression is that Iona would be too big for us.  It was nice to see the same people around the ship on Rhapsody and indeed Ventura.  Navigator felt like a floating town.

 

What is confusing me slightly is that Navigator is not that big compared to Ventura as far as I can see.  Clearly cabin occupancy matters and if its schools out then there may be far more people.   We did speak to people about Britannia and got two compeletely different tales. One of having to get to shows very early to get a seat the other the opposite.

 

I think our gut is to go smaller but there is a lack of choice if we do.  We could do other cruise lines but nothing is jumping out.

Navigator is my least favourite Voyager class ship and is 138,000 tons.

Ventura is 116,000 tons.

If you liked Royal Caribbeans Rhapsody of the seas which is a Vision class ship  you will like Vision of the seas which does some really nice itineraries.

Brilliance of the seas is a really nice ship and is between Rhapsody and Navigator in size.

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32 minutes ago, yorkshirephil said:

The itinerary is amazing, we have been to the Fjords many times in the summer. We were supposed to be on Iona this past summer on Iona but alas it was not to be.

We never had the Fjords on "the list" until we were looking at YouTube videos for a Marella ship that we wanted info on, and one of them was from a Fjords cruise - but when we saw it, I HAD to add it to the list. So many places, so little time.....

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1 hour ago, Dinglebert said:

So its time to look at 2022 holidays and cruises are my current number 1 choice.  We have only cruised three times in past couple of years but do have another two booked all going well for this year.  My question is around ship size and indeed how busy.

 

Cruise number 1 was on Rhapsody of the Seas.  Loved the ship, the number of nationalites on board.  We have booked to do Rhapsody again this year.

 

Cruise number 2 was Navigator.  We didn't enjoy it much for a number of reasons.  Didn't enjoy the central "street".  Felt it was like shopping in Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.  We travelled during English School holidays which is a mistake we won't make again.  Found the ship far too busy.

 

Cruise number 3 was Ventura.  Enjoyed the ship, entertainment etc.  We are doing Azura later this year.

 

The cruises I can see for 2022 in early July which is our only real time to go to avoid English Schools are all a bit done that before.  My impression is that Iona would be too big for us.  It was nice to see the same people around the ship on Rhapsody and indeed Ventura.  Navigator felt like a floating town.

 

What is confusing me slightly is that Navigator is not that big compared to Ventura as far as I can see.  Clearly cabin occupancy matters and if its schools out then there may be far more people.   We did speak to people about Britannia and got two compeletely different tales. One of having to get to shows very early to get a seat the other the opposite.

 

I think our gut is to go smaller but there is a lack of choice if we do.  We could do other cruise lines but nothing is jumping out.

Navigator has only 150 more passengers than Ventura, but is quite a bit larger, at 140,000 GT vs 115,000 GT for Ventura.

We have been on both and Navigator felt far more spacious, with more sunbed space, and much easier to find your way around, with far fewer pinch points.

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14 minutes ago, terrierjohn said:

Navigator has only 150 more passengers than Ventura, but is quite a bit larger, at 140,000 GT vs 115,000 GT for Ventura.

We have been on both and Navigator felt far more spacious, with more sunbed space, and much easier to find your way around, with far fewer pinch points.

Interesting.  It really does seem to depend on time of year.  We would Navigator far busier with next to no sunbeds available whereas Ventura was quieter and easy to get a sunbed.  Did find that beds were being "kept" on Navigator as compared to Ventura which is a whole different topic.  I think my main problem with Navigator was the shopping street.  It did seem that therefore the communal events had no focal point.

 

Many thanks for all the thoughts.  Nothing bigger than Ventura for us it would seem is our way forward.

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As others have said, there are many factors affecting an individual's experience of a ship. My experience of large ships is limited to Azura, which of course is Ventura's sister-ship. I have sailed

on her twice and on both occasions found her to be too busy and noisy for my tastes. I have found that ships in the region of 80k tons with up to about 2000 pax are about as big as I want to go.

Personally, I feel Iona will be a game changer for P&O, with quite different entertainment and a plethora of dining options (quite a few for an extra charge) and probably quite a different ambience on board. That's just my personal feeling however.

If you liked Rhapsody of the Seas, it might be worth trying Arcadia or Aurora, as they are similar in size. The passenger demographic however tends to be a bit older as they are adult-only.

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5 hours ago, Dinglebert said:

Interesting.  It really does seem to depend on time of year.  We would Navigator far busier with next to no sunbeds available whereas Ventura was quieter and easy to get a sunbed.  Did find that beds were being "kept" on Navigator as compared to Ventura which is a whole different topic.  I think my main problem with Navigator was the shopping street.  It did seem that therefore the communal events had no focal point.

 

Many thanks for all the thoughts.  Nothing bigger than Ventura for us it would seem is our way forward.

I agree that Navigator does have its faults, personally I quite like the Royal Promenade, although it does get very congested when they have the music events on there.  It also lacks the large entertainment venues that Ventura/Azura has, like Tamarind, Havana, Metropolis and even the Atrium, RCI just don't seem able to utilise their show lounge as well as P&O, and having events on the Royal Promenade is not the same, and Bolero was far too small.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Dinglebert said:

 

We did speak to people about Britannia and got two compeletely different tales. One of having to get to shows very early to get a seat the other the opposite.

 

 

We have found second shows easy to get into, but more people eat earlier so want the earlier show, hence difficult to get a seat for that unless you arrive pretty early.

 

Edited by tring
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Space per passenger and ship layout is more important.

 

Grand Princess was far better than Ventura as it has one less deck of cabins.  However it is generally accepted that Grand Class ships are poorly designed in terms of layout, passenger movement options around the ship and lack of public spaces.  Not having a Crows Nest bar was a particular problem when they removed the large 'rear spoiler' bar from the design.

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39 minutes ago, Thejuggler said:

Space per passenger and ship layout is more important.

 

Grand Princess was far better than Ventura as it has one less deck of cabins.  However it is generally accepted that Grand Class ships are poorly designed in terms of layout, passenger movement options around the ship and lack of public spaces.  Not having a Crows Nest bar was a particular problem when they removed the large 'rear spoiler' bar from the design.

What was the reason for removing the rear spoiler design do you know? It’s always intrigued me! 

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26 minutes ago, joeecco said:

What was the reason for removing the rear spoiler design do you know? It’s always intrigued me! 

Grand Princess was built in 1998/99 and the first in it's class. The "Spoiler" was heavier than later ships (Golden and Star) and affected the ship's ballast and fuel efficiency. Removing it helped.

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My personal experience is that when you go is every bit as important as which ship you choose.Large ships can be great off season but I generally find them too crowded during high season. In early July you get the Scottish school holidays (as you will know) so the ships are still very busy.

 

We did a school holiday period once in early July And I dont recall it being horrendous but then we didn't eat in the MDR most nights. Access to shows was not an issue in the theatre but was in the second venue which was always packed.


In terms of other lines have you considered the mid range ships in other fleets. Celebrity ships don’t tend to feel as crowded as I have found RCI or P&O to be (though we still enjoy them).

 

Fred Olsen do some lovely cruises itinerary’s in their smaller ships with departures available from Rosyth or Newcastle which might be closer to you depending on where you are in the Borders. There are fewer facilities onboard and an older crowd but on the plus side more interesting ports, closer docking etc.


Have a look at Disney which is perhaps another option. The ships never feel crowded and are great fun.

 

Hope you find something suitable.

 

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16 minutes ago, Eglesbrech said:

My personal experience is that when you go is every bit as important as which ship you choose.Large ships can be great off season but I generally find them too crowded during high season. In early July you get the Scottish school holidays (as you will know) so the ships are still very busy.

 

We did a school holiday period once in early July And I dont recall it being horrendous but then we didn't eat in the MDR most nights. Access to shows was not an issue in the theatre but was in the second venue which was always packed.


In terms of other lines have you considered the mid range ships in other fleets. Celebrity ships don’t tend to feel as crowded as I have found RCI or P&O to be (though we still enjoy them).

 

Fred Olsen do some lovely cruises itinerary’s in their smaller ships with departures available from Rosyth or Newcastle which might be closer to you depending on where you are in the Borders. There are fewer facilities onboard and an older crowd but on the plus side more interesting ports, closer docking etc.


Have a look at Disney which is perhaps another option. The ships never feel crowded and are great fun.

 

Hope you find something suitable.

 

Thanks.   We were booked for Cruise and Maritime last year but that didn't go well.  The in-laws go Fred Olsen all the time (not too sure if that is a plus or not!).  Oddly we are stuck with early July and there are no FO cruises early July showing.  Before and after but not July.

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1 hour ago, Esprit said:

Grand Princess was built in 1998/99 and the first in it's class. The "Spoiler" was heavier than later ships (Golden and Star) and affected the ship's ballast and fuel efficiency. Removing it helped.

Ah thanks a lot for sharing that. Makes sense now I’ve heard it!

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3 minutes ago, Dinglebert said:

Thanks.   We were booked for Cruise and Maritime last year but that didn't go well.  The in-laws go Fred Olsen all the time (not too sure if that is a plus or not!).  Oddly we are stuck with early July and there are no FO cruises early July showing.  Before and after but not July.

I had a quick look, that is odd. Perhaps they are sold out already but I doubt it.

 

Have you thought about Marella as an option? They have fly cruises in July 22. Again you could fly from Edinburgh or Newcastle. We have been on several cruises with them and enjoyed them, others on here don’t like them. Depends on what is important to you. There are many threads comparing them with other lines which would make useful reading to make your own judgment.

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17 minutes ago, Eglesbrech said:

I had a quick look, that is odd. Perhaps they are sold out already but I doubt it.

 

Have you thought about Marella as an option? They have fly cruises in July 22. Again you could fly from Edinburgh or Newcastle. We have been on several cruises with them and enjoyed them, others on here don’t like them. Depends on what is important to you. There are many threads comparing them with other lines which would make useful reading to make your own judgment.

I have looked at Marella and found them to be expensive compared to RCI.  I know I have to pay for gratuties etc with RCI but I was surprised by how much more expensive they were.  Of course half the fun is in the looking!

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1 minute ago, yorkshirephil said:

Another alternative is Cunard, mid size ships more traditional cruising, worth checking out?

Absolutely.  They are showing a reasonable New York trip in the July.  I am a bit torn.  I enjoy our sea days but not too sure everyday being one would be for us.  Also like to be somewhere different when we wake!   There is a bit of me and I need to be wary of it chasing status.  Went North last cruise to Fjords last time and while we really enjoyed it would prefer going to med.  Will look.

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27 minutes ago, Dinglebert said:

Absolutely.  They are showing a reasonable New York trip in the July.  I am a bit torn.  I enjoy our sea days but not too sure everyday being one would be for us.  Also like to be somewhere different when we wake!   There is a bit of me and I need to be wary of it chasing status.  Went North last cruise to Fjords last time and while we really enjoyed it would prefer going to med.  Will look.

And docking in New York usually no fun either. Lengthy waits at immigration.

 

Cunard is however a lovely line to try one day, they have some nice touches. Again there are comparison threads to see how it compares to P&O.

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