Bill and I will be taking our first cruise in almost three years in March 2016. The ship we will be on, Hebridean Princess, is tiny. It’s a former car ferry that mostly does itineraries in Scotland. Only 49 people cruise at a time. There is no pool or spa. And there is definitely no Flow Rider or rock climbing wall. There are also no rugrats, since kids under age 9 are not allowed.
What there is on Hebridean Princess is true all inclusive luxury and excellent service. The food is excellent. The excursions are leisurely and interesting and included in the fare. You get bagpiped onboard. And you are just very well looked after by a very professional staff.
This morning, I read a review of Royal Caribbean’s mega cruise ship Anthem of the Seas. The author of the review noted that the mega ship was “a little too mega at times”. I think I would agree. What Candyce H. Stapen describes is a floating shopping mall/amusement park/hotel with a bewildering array of things to do, restaurants to dine at, places to shop, and lots and lots of lines. No thank you.
I’m sure a lot of people love the huge ships. That’s why Royal Caribbean keeps building them. Bill and I once cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, which is among its smallest ships. We had a nice time and really enjoyed the itinerary. The nicest thing about it was that the ship, while large and impressive, wasn’t that large. And we didn’t feel like we needed to stay onboard and miss the ports just so we could try the bumper cars and waterslides (not that Bill would have wanted to, anyway).
I think if I were on a huge ship with over 4,000 passengers, I’d feel like I’d need to explore the whole damn thing. That’s not why I cruise. I cruise because I like to see new places. A ship of that size would overwhelm me. Besides that, I’d be constantly fretting about signing chits and the big bill at the end… and how much to tip. Of course, Royal Caribbean actually shows a video about how to tip on their TV station.
Hebridean Princess does not allow tipping. It’s not once of those lines that includes it but then says you can donate to the crew fund. They flat out say that tipping is potentially awkward and embarrassing and they don’t want you to do it. I have nothing against tipping as long as I know what I’m supposed to do, though given my ‘druthers, I’d rather the cruise line just pay their people appropriately so I don’t have to worry about it.
The only thing I don’t like about the smaller vessels is that I have a tendency to get seasick. I did not have a problem on Vision of the Seas because it had stabilizers, but I have been on SeaDream I three times and Hebridean twice (a back to back cruise). And yes, there was puking… though on Princess, I think it was more because we got bad news from home about one of our dogs and I was very upset.
Fortunately, we have a lot of choices when it comes to cruising and you can find something for everyone with budgets that run the gamut. I’m hoping that now that Bill has stable employment, we can try another cruise line sometime soon. But I can promise you, we won’t be on one of those miniature floating cities…