Go big or go home? Not always.
Photo by Marcin Ciszewski on Unsplash
Since 2002, I have taken thirteen trips with Intrepid Travel, an Australian adventure travel company. This year, for the first time, I went on a boat-based trip (in Iceland). Their trips at sea are quite different from traditional cruises. The ship was a yacht, and could hold up to fifty people. Our travel group had eighteen people, and there were about fifteen staff from the ship. The ship lacked a lot of the flashy bells and whistles of traditional cruises: casinos, karaoke rooms, pools, stand-up comedy, etc. However, it was a more personalized experience; the staff can get to know you as a person rather than as a mere number. It is easier for a smaller ship to dock, and it can go places that are prohibited for large ships. It is much easier to get people on and off the boat, so a lot more time can be spent on land.
When I took a traditional cruise over a decade ago, we were given about two or three hours maximum on land; it wasn’t possible to see much in such a short amount of time. During this trip, on the other hand, we often spent eight hours on land. It was possible to drive into smaller towns and see remote areas. The day-time activities on this trip were not significantly different from the land-based Intrepid Travel trips. The land trips often have to spend long days driving to the next city, while on this trip, this traveling could be done at night, on the ship.
However, one clear advantage of traditional cruises is that the individual rooms can be much larger. On a small ship, it isn’t possible for the cabins to be very large. The room size was definitely an adjustment. I shared a room, and I had to be very careful opening the door of the bathroom; it was very easy to hit my roommate if he was out of his bed. The shower was also extremely small; I was constantly pushing against the shower curtain and it wasn’t possible to hang up a towel on the curtain. I had to stack many items on top of my suitcase, due to the lack of space.
From a personal point of view, I missed having karaoke on the ship. I was able to sing almost every evening on the traditional cruise. The yacht had some board games, but those don’t hold the same joy for me as karaoke.
However, the main purpose of my trips is to explore the culture, scenery, history, etc. As I have mentioned, it is much easier to do this with a small group on a yacht. Therefore, overall, the small adventure cruises are much more suitable for me than traditional cruises.