At any given time you’ll find everything from ice rinks, water slides and rock climbing walls on the ocean. Cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, to match the Aussie appetite for cruising – and they have all the bells and whistles to match. So why would you choose a smaller ship over a bigger one?
After a few days aboard P&O’s newest ship, the Pacific Aria, I’ve got five very good reasons why bigger is not always better. Here’s my guide to cruising on a small ship:
The Pacific Aria holds just 1,500 guests – compare that to the 5,000 guests capable of sailing aboard the Ovation of the Seas, the biggest ship based in Australia, and the Aria is practically a boutique hotel. This means you’re likely to see the same people more than once. You’ll become friends with the other trivia players and will find gym buddies at the morning stretch class. You’ll never see a real crowd at the bar and you won’t have to wait in line behind what feels like the entire population of Canberra for your morning omelette.
Major renovations included an overhaul of Pacific Aria’s public spaces by Tillberg Design. The Swedish designers have done a very good job of turning small spaces into cool, quirky spots to hang out – the Swedes are well known for making the most of small spaces but there’s nothing Ikea-ish about the bars and restaurants dotted around the ship. Start your evening with a pre-dinner drink at Ocean Bar, a cocktail lounge with an art deco vibe and duck feet lamps I’d like to pack in my suitcase. Dine at the dark and moody Dragon Lady, the ship’s specialty Asian restaurant, before moving on to the Blue Room, a New Orleans style speakeasy full of plush lounges, silver trumpets and live music sessions. There’s also the very purple Mix Bar, The Dome, The Bar and Oasis. These fun, quirky spots are all very different so a night at each one feels like you’ve been exploring the watering holes of a much bigger vessel.