Why are the big ships so much cheaper? Volume probably has something to do with it, and they charge you for lots onboard the ship (instead of small ship’s all-inclusive up-front pricing) – but they’re also not registered in the United States. There are a few reasons for this:
#1 – They are avoiding US taxes, although the current US congress is trying to deal with this issue. Originally these big companies were given exemptions on taxes because it was assumed that they would be paying taxes in their country of origin. Of course, this hasn’t proven to be true. Companies register in countries other than the US for economic reasons, and congress has finally noticed.
#2 – They are avoiding paying employees US wages. Those people who are serving you and answering to your every whim are not always properly paid, and do not get great vacation packages. You’d think it would be a great opportunity to see the world, but really its just like working all day in a hotel.
The itineraries on big ships are long and varied. Did you know that ships not registered in the US have to include a non-US port in their cruise itinerary? If a ship is going to cruise to Hawaii, for example, they usually come from or return to Mexico. That makes for a long trip out on the open ocean. But we have US-registered ships that can stay year-round in Hawaii and provide a more in-depth Hawaiian experience.
In 2015, new regulations will govern cruise ships visiting the United States and Canada. For ships that run on fuel with too-high of a sulfur content, there will be a fine. Basically, the more time a ship stays close to shore, the more it will have to pay. That means costs for the big ships could be going up in 2015. One solution is for the ships to use new technology to make their fuel fit the guidelines. Another solution is to go away from shore and not make stops in the United States, like on a cruise that starts in Boston and heads South to the Caribbean. But that would mean missing the entire East Coast of the country – only looking at it from afar.
Small ships get you in the towns, visiting the locals, seeing what makes the destinations unique. Big ships are about staying onboard the ship. Small ships are about the destinations. Take an Alaska cruise and actually see Alaska! Get in those small bays and inlets that a big ship couldn’t even get close to, let alone in. Cruise on a ship that can pull up straight to the beach and let you off!