2,500 to 6,000 passengers
You should pay: $75 to $100 per day
(Norwegian Epic, Queen Mary 2, Carnival Dream, Disney Dream, Golden Princess)
The best news for vacationers is this: More cabins require more passengers, and given the current economy, that means megaship deals are getting easier to find. After reigning as one of the Caribbean's most expensive ships a year ago, Oasis of the Seas is down to just over $100 a night per person.
"Families take over these cruises," says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic (cruisecritic.com). "There's something for everyone."
In the 1980s I sailed on Royal Caribbean's upscale Song of Norway, and one night's featured entertainment was, no kidding, a guy playing the entire 1812 Overture on an accordion. Today's megaship features at least one Broadway-type theater — and a show to match: Royal Caribbean has been staging the musical Chicago, and the Queen Mary 2 offers a domed star show created with NASA.
Take your pick: You'll find at least two and as many as five.
Even on the biggest ships, cabins aren't much larger than the one the Marx Brothers spilled out of in A Night at the Opera. But the days of little portholes are gone — in an outside cabin, chances are you'll enjoy a nice balcony or large windows.
You can still head to the formal dining room, but the biggest ships pride themselves on offering countless dining options, from sprawling buffets to poolside grills. You'll also find premium restaurants that offer a fine dining experience worthy of a big city. Three-Michelin-starred chef Georges Blanc runs Carnival's upscale eateries, while Holland America Line's Pinnacle Grills are headed by noted chef-author Rudi Sodamin.
Because of their size, megaships largely stick to ports with big facilities — places like the Bahamas, Mexico and the Mediterranean.