Monday, October 8, 2007

New Ships vs. Old Ships, Which Offer a Better Cruise Experience?

When it comes to choosing a cruise ship, do you assume that new is automatically better?

Well, it depends a bit what you're looking for. In some ways it's true that they "just don't build 'em like they used to."

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of new ships and older ships. Then you can decide which will offer the better cruise experience for you.

Advantages of older (pre-1980s) ships:

  • larger cabins with longer beds, since voyages used to be longer with more days at sea
  • sturdy, plated hulls that can withstand all sorts of weather conditions well
  • usually quieter and smoother than modern vessels, since they're mostly powered by steam turbines
  • often have portholes that actually open
  • large range of cabin sizes and shapes, often great for families with children
  • interiors are usually built from real materials (i.e. wood and brass) rather than synthetics

Disadvantages of older ships:
  • less fuel-efficient (and more costly to operate) than modern ships
  • deeper drafts which makes them smoother in open seas but means they can't get around well in ports and tight spaces (requiring tug boats and slowing things down)
  • less likely to comply to all modern international safety, fire, and environmental regulations
  • more likely to experience plumbing, air-conditioning, etc. problems since they're older
Advantages of newer ships:
  • all the latest high-tech electronic systems, entertainment, etc.
  • more interior public rooms
  • standardized cabin layouts (may be a disadvantage if you like lots of selection) and generally easier to navigate public spaces
  • more fuel-efficient
  • shallower drafts, which means they can navigate tight spaces and ports more easily (don't need tug)
Disadvantages of newer ships:
  • shallower drafts mean they don't "take the weather" as well and ride as nicely, especially in open waters
  • smaller cabins with smaller beds
  • thinner hulls
  • walls and decor made from synthetics instead of "real" materials (could be a problem if you have allergies to synthetic materials)
  • completely sealed cabin windows instead of portholes that can be opened
There you go, the lowdown on new ships and older ships. Now you know that they're not all the same and that new isn't necessarily better!

If you think you've developed a preference after reading this article, make sure to let your travel agent know when you book your cruise.

Source: Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships

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