Screen Shot 2024-05-24 at 9.29.38 PM

An Update Before Heading To Africa & My Thoughts On Big Ships Vs. Small Ships!

Hello from Exotic…

…Connecticut!! 🙂


As you know, often when I write these posts it’s from somewhere Exotic or talking about somewhere Exotic I just got back from, etc. so no doubt me being in Connecticut probably has you scratching your head! 😉 


**Click/Tap Image to expand**

The reason I’m here though is much more interesting…

…recently, “Tauck” asked me to be a member of their Advisory Board (So I’m in CT for meetings at their Head Office) which is for sure an honor & exciting for me personally… but, more importantly, it’s going to arm me with even more knowledge to help my valued & loyal clients get the most out of their Tauck trips &, on the rare occasion if things go wrong, it gives me access to even more contacts at Tauck/to their “Head Honches”, etc. to make sure you’re 150% taken care of any time it’s needed!! 🙂


FYI, between Tauck’s River Cruises, Small Ship Ocean Cruises & Land Tours, I book my clients on more Tauck trips than with any other company due to the highly, highly rated reviews I get from my clients on their trips & the fact that almost all my clients who travel with Tauck go on them again & again.


Including me!!


If you want to check out my personal Tauck trips you can see my Danube River Cruise I did with them here, you can check out my Venice/Dalmatian Coast & Iceland & Antarctica “Small Ship Ocean Cruises” I did with them here (#s 65 & 80 & 83) and here you can see all the Land Tours I’ve done with Tauck in Japan, Morocco, Australia & New Zealand, India & the US Pacific Northwest.


As you’ll see from all those trips, Tauck does an AMAZING job showing their guests the World in an in-depth/seamless way… no doubt their 100 years in the business makes them a GREAT company to travel with as their immense experience provides second-to-none Vacations!!


Mountain Gorilla Safari: Kenya, Tanzania & Rwanda
**Click/Tap Image to expand**

Speaking of traveling with Tauck, after being done with my meetings tomorrow, I’ll hang out in “Times Square” for a couple of nights to see some Broadway Shows but way more exciting than that is on Saturday I fly to Tanzania to do this “Kenya, Tanzania & Rwanda Safari” in Africa that’s going to be highlighted by Trekking to see Mountain Gorillas!




As you’ll see here, this isn’t the first time I’ll be heading to Africa to do some Safaris/7 years ago I did an amazing “River Cruise & Safari” in South Africa/Botswana/Namibia/Zimbabwe with “AMA Waterways” but I’m SUPER excited to be heading to East Africa this time for this once in a lifetime experience!! 


The first time I’d heard about this unique “Mountain Gorilla Trekking” experience was from a 75-year-old/VERY well-traveled man who never got too excited when telling me about his travels since he’d “seen it all” but when he described his experience with the Gorillas he “lit up” & it brought tears to his eyes

…after that, I knew this experience had to go onto my “Bucket List”!! 🙂


Anyway, let’s just say my next update here on my site next month should be an exciting one as I share that experience!! 🙂 



Hawaiian Islands
**Click/Tap Image to expand**

Speaking of sharing my experiences, as you’ll see in my recent updates, towards the end of April/early May I spent 3.5 weeks enjoying 2 Cruises to/from Hawaii with a few days in Honolulu sandwiched in between… a few more thoughts regarding that trip:

1. The day before I boarded the above 2 Cruises I sent out my “What You Can See & Do In Hawaii” blog post… well, since I did some new things while in Hawaii during those 2 Cruises, I updated that blog post so if you’re considering a trip to Hawaii in the future make sure to check out this post again to give you even more ideas to make your trip to Hawaii an awesome one! 


**Click/Tap Image to expand**

2. Further down this post I talk about how my first Cruise during this trip was far superior to the second Cruise when it came to my room, the food, service, inclusions, etc. BUT, on my first Cruise, it was just myself & a friend who sailed on that one whereas for the second Cruise, 10 of my family & friends joined us which made it a TRULY fun & great experience!! If you’ve never done a “Group” Cruise before, do yourself a favor and start planning one as, as I talk about here, they’re a WONDERFUL way to experience a Cruise with those who matter to you the most!!




Multi Cruises Tours Trips
**Click/Tap Image to expand**

3. As I talk about above, when I recently went to Hawaii I took a Cruise to there from Vancouver on Explora Journeys’s “Explora I” ship (922 guest capacity, you can see my Gallery of that Cruise here) and then I took a Cruise back from there to Vancouver on “Celebrity Edge”. (2,908 guest capacity, you can see my Gallery of that Cruise here)

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve done “back to back’ Cruises before (As I talk about here “Mutli” Cruise and/or Land Tour trips are my favorite!! 😉) and it’s not even the first time I was on a “Luxury/Small/All-Inclusive” ship and then got right onto a “Big ship” but…




…the “differences” between these 2 classes of Cruiselines seem to be getting bigger & bigger every time I experience them!!


And, since by far the majority of my clients sail on “smaller” ships than bigger ones and are VERY happy with them, I figured I’d spell out a few of the differences for those of you still “on the fence” with if you want to go on a smaller ship or not.


When it comes to the “Small Ship/Luxury/All-Inclusive” Cruiselines you can simply read this post of my experience on “Explora Journeys” which was simply an absolutely awesome experience!! Like sailing on Regent/Silversea/Seabourn, sailing with “Explora Journeys” is pretty much as good an experience you can have in the Cruising industry when it comes to room quality, service, food, inclusions, etc.!!


On Celebrity though, it was a VERY different story!!


My room was about 40% smaller than the “starting” size rooms onboard “Explora”

I felt “nickeled & dimed” to death onboard… $4+20% tip for a Coke, $4+20% tip for a Water, $9+20% tip for a domestic beer (They were even charging this for non-alcoholic Beer?), $17+20% tip for a Martini, $12+20% tip for a basic glass of Wine, $35 per day for Wifi, $18 per person per day for gratuities for the staff, I spent $800 eating at the “Specialty Restaurants” (In my opinion you have to go to all these to get a good food experience onboard as their “Main” dining rooms are too much of the same each night!), Room service had a $10 fee, you had to pay to go to Gym Classes, a bag of Laundry was a small fortune, etc., etc.  

I was being “Sold” to the whole Cruise… for example, literally every time you go to the buffet someone is approaching you to eat in their “Specialty Restaurants” for an expensive fee. Or, they’re trying to sell you a drink package or to get you to go to the spa, the shops, etc. On a “Small Ship/Luxury/All-Inclusive” Cruise though there’s virtually no selling as you’ve paid for pretty much everything in your upfront price!

The crew were WAY less personable onboard/didn’t interact with us nearly as much as on “Explora”… don’t get me wrong, the majority of the staff were very friendly but they simply don’t have the time to deal with so many people at once… here under “Explora Journeys Hosts” I explain the difference between having 1 staff member for every 1.25 guests compared to every 2 guests or so on the “Big Ships” (It was 1 for every 2.25 on this Celebrity ship)… it definitely makes a dramatic difference to the overall service you receive!!

It was BUSY!! Since there were just about 3,000 people onboard (And due to the nature of this sailing there were virtually zero kids onboard/if you go on a “big ship” with lots of kids and 3rd/4th people in the rooms it gets much busier!) the line ups were crazy! 🙁 

Multiple times I stood in line for 15-20 mins to get a sandwich at “Eden Cafe”, the buffet was always super busy & it was always a challenge to find a seat, we had to go to the shows 40 minutes early to get a good seat, coming back from shore on the “tender” boats took over an hour at times, etc., etc.

Let’s just say, it seemed like running into big lineups was a multi-time each day/daily ritual… not fun compared to being on what felt like a Private Yacht the week before! 🙁 


So overall, at least to me, I find the “Small Ship/Luxury/All-Inclusive” Cruise experience these days is FAR more superior to the big ships than it’s ever been as the big ships get busier & busier and charge more & more for EVERYTHING!


And yes, you do pay a lot more upfront to get on a “Small Ship/Luxury/All-Inclusive” Cruise compared to a big one but if you add up everything you’ve spent, in the end, the price is way closer than you’d ever imagine but your experience will be a MUCH more relaxed & prosperous one where you won’t feel beat out from the crowds and “nickel & diming”, etc.


5 star quality high quality
**Click/Tap Image to expand**

Like anything in life, you get what you pay for and I doubt your goal in the past was to buy the cheapest car, cheapest house, cheapest clothes, etc. as you want quality over the lowest price so the next time you’re deciding on a Cruise don’t be afraid to take the plunge into the higher quality/small ships as I’m confident you’ll be VERY happy with your decision once you get onboard & experience the difference!! 🙂 



With all that said, when it comes to “Big Ship” lines with 1,000s & 1,000s of others onboard, I still think Celebrity is the highest quality of the 6 major “Big Ship” lines (Carnival, Royal, Norwegian, Holland, Princess, Celebrity) and when you sail on “Celebrity Edge”…

…or her “sister” ships “Celebrity Apex”, “Celebrity Beyond”, “Celebrity Ascent” or “Celebrity Xcel”…

…I think you’ll agree with me as these modern designed/modern “feeling” ships are truly Beautiful and if you stay in a “Retreat” Suite your experience will be much better as you can get away from the crowds & get some “exclusivity” onboard!!


For an “in-depth” look at what makes Celebrity’s “Edge Class” ships unique, check out my blog post from when I first sailed on “Celebrity Edge” 5 years ago as in that post I point out “what’s new” on those ships including the exclusive “The Retreat” areas, the new types of rooms, new technology, “The Magic Carpet”, “Eden”, the new restaurants onboard, the “individual” main dining rooms, “The Resort Deck”, the new entertainment, etc. 


Again though, on the big ships dealing with crowds & “nickel & diming”, etc. is par for the course whether on Celebrity or any of the others… so, if you’re considering a “small ship” Cruise, give it a try, I know you’ll have zero regrets!! 


Alright, enough from me for now until I get back from Africa after having “Trekked” to see the Mountain Gorillas…

…looking forward to telling you all about that soon! 🙂 


And no worries with me being “on the road”… as A LOT of my clients mention here, if you have a question or want to book a River Cruise or Ocean Cruise or Tauck Land Tour, no matter where in the World I am you can contact me here to answer your questions, book your trip, etc. and you’ll still get a very speedy reply from me! 😉 


I Appreciate You!!

Shawn Power
Your Trusted Cruise & Tauck Tour Expert!

Get The Latest Updates!

Sign up here to receive reviews from Shawn’s Personal Cruise & Land Tour Vacations as well as his “Cruise News” & “Top Cruise Deals”, all delivered right to your email inbox. (On average you’ll get 1 email per month)

Plan Your Next Adventure

Interested in taking a River Cruise, Ocean Cruise or Tauck Land Tour? Contact Shawn and he can help you with your planning & booking of your next great Vacation!