1,000 to 2,500 passengers
You should pay: $50 to $75 per day
(Carnival Pride, Noordam, Queen Elizabeth, Pride of America)
"These boats cater to the traveler who is interested in fine dining and service — not rock climbing at sea," says Clem Bason, president of the online travel service Hotwire. Before ships like the Oasis set sail, these were the megaships. Now they can be an excellent value for travelers who want to enjoy traditional cruise-ship amenities. "They're more cozy," adds Brown. "You get to know your bartender."
Everything's a tad smaller: Rather than a Times Square theater, the stage venue on a ship like Holland America's Noordam more resembles a good Las Vegas lounge.
You'll find more than one, but they can be small, and it's harder to escape the poolside games.
Most of these ships, built before cabin balconies became hot in the 2000s, have added them.
In addition to the formal dining room, there are several eat-on-the-run spots. The Noordam's casual dining area is a typical buffet, though with tablecloths and linen napkins.
Midsize ships can go almost anywhere, from Bora-Bora to the St. Lawrence River.