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A Fijian man on Beqa Island
A Fijian man on Beqa Island (Photo: Captain Cook Cruises)

Fiji Cruises: Big Ship vs Small Ship

A Fijian man on Beqa Island
A Fijian man on Beqa Island (Photo: Captain Cook Cruises)
Contributor
Tiana Templeman

Last updated
Jun 6, 2024

Read time
7 min read

On This Page

  • Big-ship cruises to Fiji
  • Small-ship cruises to Fiji

Fiji is known as a 'flop and drop' destination. White sandy beaches, palm trees and clear blue waters enhanced by a relaxed vibe. But what if you could flop and drop knowing you will wake the next morning, or from your afternoon snooze, to look at a new magical destination?

That is the appeal of a cruise to Fiji. One day you can be anchored in a small cove sheltered by a rocky mysterious island, the next tendering ashore to a remote village and visiting a school. The best part is you only have to unpack once. But should you choose a large or a small ship?

There are many cruise options around Fiji and the South Pacific, so there’s plenty to consider before you book. Do you want to enjoy the experience from an elevated vantage point on a large ship's top deck? Are you happy to use a tender (smaller boat) to get ashore? Or do you want to be able to jump straight off the back of the ship and swim to a beach or explore from a kayak?

To help make your decision easier, we've compared the features and cruise experience offered by large mainstream ships and small ships to help you decide — is a big ship Fiji cruise for you or are you more suited to smaller ships?


Big-ship cruises to Fiji

Number of passengers

Norwegian Sun
Norwegian Sun

Pro: Fiji cruises on the large mainstream lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line tend to attract a broad demographic, so you'll be able to share the fun with other travellers of all ages. There are plenty of new friends to be made when you're sailing on a ship with thousands of other passengers.

Con: On a large ship, you'll constantly be surrounded by other travellers – and their kids – which may not suit everyone. You'll also be sharing your holiday and all of your ship's facilities with loads of other travellers. Pack your patience, as you might need it sometimes.

Cabins

A woman stares out of an infinite veranda window on Celebrity Edge
Celebrity Edge Infinite Veranda (Image: Celebrity Cruises)

Pro: Cabins on a larger ship, such as Celebrity Edge, are generally more modern and spacious than on a small ship. There are also more cabin categories, including inter-connecting rooms for families, balcony cabins, suites and cheaper accommodation without windows (known as inside or interior cabins).

Con: Big ships sailing in Fiji can carry upwards of 3,000 passengers so you'll need to get orientated on the ship to remember where your cabin is and be prepared to do some walking to get there.

Dining

Crown Grill on Royal Princess (Photo: Cruise Critic)
Crown Grill on Royal Princess (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Pro: If you prefer a variety of dining options, a larger cruise ship, such as Royal Princess, is the way to go when cruising Fiji. Larger ships offer everything from Italian to Asian, casual and fine dining when it comes to onboard cuisine, and there's a choice of dining venues.

Con: It's unlikely all of these restaurants will be included in your cruise fare. When you're sailing on a larger ship, it's surprisingly easy to spend more than you'd planned on for-a-fee specialty dining.

Shore excursions

white sand beach and palm trees in Dravuni, Fiji
Paradise. found in Dravuni, Fiji (Photo: NCL)

Pro: On a large ship, such as Carnival Luminosa, you'll have a broad selection of shore excursions to choose from and a team of staff at a shore excursions desk who can help you choose an excursion that suits your interests, preferred activity level and holiday budget.

Con: Due to the length and depth of most larger ships, the accessible ports of call in Fiji are limited to Lautoka and Suva. At other stops, you'll have to travel to shore on tenders, which can take a long time to load and unload, meaning you won't get to enjoy as much time at Fiji's smaller ports.

Entertainment

Live music on Celebrity Edge takes place in the main Atrium
Main Atrium on Celebrity Edge (Image: Tiana Templeman)

Pro: The major perk of a large ship is its sheer size as this means there's a lot more to do onboard. From casinos, nightclubs, theatres and bars to sports areas and multiple swimming pools, there is an abundance of activities and entertainment on offer.

Con: With so much fun to be had on the ship, it can be tempting to skip time on shore in favour of chilling out by the pool, joining a trivia quiz or enjoying the onboard facilities without the crowds. 

Family

Waterslide on P&O Cruises Australia Pacific Encounter
Waterslide on P&O Cruises Australia Pacific Encounter

Pro: You won't hear those dreaded words “I'm bored!” when you're travelling with kids on a large ship such Pacific Encounter or Pacific Adventure in Fiji. Kids club spaces that cater to every age from tots to teens, and facilities, food and activities tailored to appeal to children ensure that everyone in your crew has fun.

Con: With so many exciting new things onboard your ship, spending time together can be easier said than done. This is especially true if you're travelling with older kids who can't get enough of zipping down the waterslides and hanging out with their new friends.  


Small-ship cruises to Fiji

Number of passengers

Reef Endeavour (Photo: Captain Cook)
Reef Endeavour (Photo: Captain Cook)

Pro: The lower number of passengers on a small ship such as those in Captain Cook Cruises' fleet makes this type of Fiji cruise feel like you're at a house party with well-travelled friends or sailing with a big family group.

Con: Like any family, there are some people whose company you'll enjoy more than others. On a small ship, it can be difficult to avoid those you would prefer not to spend so much time with.

Cabins

Fiji Princess
Fiji Princess

Pro: The best thing about a smaller ship's cabins, such as those aboard Fiji Princess is there are fewer of them, so there's no trekking down long corridors to find your room after a day out exploring.

Con: Small ships may only offer a handful of cabin categories. In some cases, there may be no choice of cabin type at all, with the only difference being what deck everyone's room is on.

Dining

Pro: Mealtimes on a small ship can be memorable as local produce is often sourced from ports of call to create tantalising meals. With a smaller number of people on board, it doesn't take long to get to know your fellow cruisers while dining together.

Con: With only one restaurant onboard, you won't have much choice when it comes to meals. If what's on the dinner menu doesn't suit you, there's no option to dine somewhere else on the ship.

Shore excursions

A woman stands in the water next to a fishing boat in Druvani, Fiji
Druvani, Fiji (Photo: Adam Coulter/Cruise Critic)

Pro: Shore excursions on smaller ships are what make cruising in Fiji unique. A small ship is designed so you can get so close to shore that the ship can sometimes be tethered off to a palm tree. As the passenger numbers are fewer, the experience ashore can be tailored to suit individual cruisers.  

Con: Small ship cruising means shore excursions often focus on more intimate, low-key experiences, like a shore excursion to a local school where you can interact with the students. While these types of tours offer plenty of cultural immersion, they may not suit every type of cruiser.

Entertainment

Pro: On a small ship cruise in Fiji, such as Ponant's Le Paul Gauguin the onboard entertainment has a strong destination focus with the crew singing traditional songs, cultural lectures, and a kava ceremony after dinner.

Con: If you love production shows with all the bells and whistles or enjoy hopping from one venue to another to check out different bands each night, you could be disappointed.

Family

Pro: If you would rather not share your cruise with someone else's kids, some small ships sailing in Fiji are adults only (apart from a few select sailings each year when children are allowed onboard).

Con: There is generally no kids club or special programming for kids on a small ship where the focus tends to be on cultural immersion and making your own fun.


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