Posts Tagged ‘Biggest cruise ships’

Which is the World’s Biggest Cruise Ship?

July 10, 2017

Allure of the Seas passes under the ‘Great Belt Bridge’ (RCI)

It’s quite amazing how big some of today’s  cruise ship are. However most of the  future newbuilds will be even BIGGER.

200,000+ gross tonnes, carrying 6,000+ passengers will not be unusual within five years.  Remember the RMS Titanic was only around 45,000 gross tonnes.

The ‘official’ way of comparing a ships sizes is  ‘Gross Tonnage’ which is a measurement of internal volume, not weight.

However occasionally the layman (and the Press) talk about the biggest ship being the one that carries the most passengers. This is a little misleading as the ‘Oasis class’, for example, is the biggest ship in terms of gross tonnage, but there will be slightly smaller ships in the future which will cram more passengers on-board.

(Please note that some of the figures below are  based on rather sketchy details about newbuilds).


By Gross Tonnage

230,000 GT (estimate): Symphony of the Seas, 2018, and another unnamed Oasis class ship, 2021.
226,963 GT: Harmony of the Seas.
226,963 GT: Oasis of The Seas and Allure of the Seas
204,000 GT (estimate): “Global Class”: 2 Genting/Star Cruises ships, due 2020 and 2021.
200,000 GT (estimate). “World Class” – 4 MSC “World Class” cruise ships.
185,000 GT: Carnival brands will get 6x ships 2019-21.
171,598 GT: MSC Meraviglia 171,598 GT
168,666 GT: RCI’s Quantum Class Ships.


MSC’s World Class (Courtesy MSC)

By passenger capacity

6,870 passengers: Symphony of the Seas, due in 2018.
6,850 passengers (estimate): 4 MSC “World Class” ships.
6,780 passengers: Harmony of the Seas.
6,600 passengers (estimated): Carnival brands will get 6 ships.
6,360 passengers: An unnamed RCI Oasis class ship, due in 2021.
6,296 passengers: Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

(“Global Class”: 2 Genting/Star Cruises ships, 5,000 lower berths, upper berths unknown.)

A total of 17 ships which will accommodate at least 5,000 passengers are currently under construction.

(Source: The Times)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Oasis of the Seas Review: HERE

XXL – Is The New Standard

October 30, 2016
(Genting's Global Class)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Have you ever noticed how cruise lines tend to build similar sized ships?

O.K, there are exceptions where a luxury line will build a smaller ship. There are also exceptions when a cruise line will be building a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember some 20 years ago (mid to late nineties), when many mega-ships were being built at around the 75,000 gross tons, in size. For example, RCI’s five ‘Vision’ class ships and NCL’s ‘Sun’ and ‘Spirt’ classes. Although Carnival (Destiny, 1995) and Princess (Grand Princess, 1998) pushed the boundaries with vessels over 100,000 gt.

In about 2005, many megaships built for NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard etc. we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

Royal Caribbean’s 225,000 gt ‘Oasis of the Seas’, which entered service in 2008, was the world’s largest cruise ship. She was considerably larger than anything else. The ‘Oasis’ class (Oasis, Allure and Harmony) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We now see a new wave of ships in the order book for 2019 onwards, which are 180-200,000 gt in size. These new mega-ships, or maybe they should be called ultra-ships, will each carry up to 6,600 passengers.

  • Carnival has announced that they have ordered seven 180,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting Hong Kong announced they have ordered two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises announced that they would be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These would be around 200,000 gt and would be delivered between 2022 and 2026.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class.

However this constant race for size, is not without its issues.

Older/smaller tonnage will be retired. Cruise ships rarely have a life longer than 30 years. This means that most of the cruise lines fleets, have ships growing in size. What was once a megaship (say 70,000gt) look like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaship are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms and multiple entertainment venues, even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Bumper cars. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks lack intimacy and a ‘connection’ with the sea. Arguably the world’s best cruise experiences, in terms of fine-dining and attentive service, are not to be found on-board mega-ships.

Megaships are also limited to what ports they can visit as they need long berths, deep water and extensive shore-side terminal facilities to deal with the thousands of passengers that they carry.

There is also much debate about the impact thousands of passenger arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) has on the local environment.

Irrespective of  any negative aspects, the big ships are still coming and the masses love them. They almost generate their own publicity. A new “Giant Ship” makes a great headline.  A new “Small Ship” does not.

As a result the existing smaller/older ships will be facing extinction. However there will always be some intimate ships on offer, but these are likely to get rarer and will become an increasingly expensive option to cruise on.


(There are reviews of some of the world’s biggest ships, menu right)

4x 180,000gt: Carnival Is Back In the ‘Big Ship’ Game

June 15, 2015


When ‘Carnival Destiny’ entered service in  1996, she was the first cruise ship to be built over 100,000 gross tonnes.   In 1998  ‘Grand Princess’ (‘Princess Cruises’ brand) at 109,000gt was the largest cruise ship afloat.  Again in 2004, the ‘Queen Mary 2’ (‘Cunard’ brand) at 148,000gt  was the world’s biggest cruise ship.

Since 2004 Carnival have dropped out of the “my ships bigger than yours” game, blaming the unfavourable US Dollar to Euro exchange rate.  Since 2004, NCL, RCI and others have built increasingly bigger vessels. However  Carnival are back in the game with plans to build the world’s second largest class of ships*, only eclipsed by RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class. (*Based on the gross tonnage, the sandard measurement to compare ship sizes.)

However if your criteria to compare ship size is ‘passenger capacity’, these newbuilds can  legitimately be called the ‘worlds biggest’ ships.


Carnival Destiny (Image courtesy of Carnival)

News – 15 June 2015

180,000gt (Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

180,000gt (Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

Carnival Corporation today announced it has finalized a multi-billion dollar contract to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the industry.

The contract with Meyer Werft is part of larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022.

The four new ships will also feature a new “green cruising” design. The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The company said two of the ships will be manufactured for AIDA Cruises at Meyer Werft’s shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Additional information about the ships, including which new ships will be added to each brand, will be made available at a later date.

Based on Carnival Corporation’s innovative new ship design, each of the four next-generation ships will have a total capacity of 6,600 guests, feature more than 5,000 lower berths, exceed 180,000 gross tons and incorporate an extensive number of guest-friendly features. A major part of the innovative design involves making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces, creating an enhanced on-board experience for guests, said Carnival.

The four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored on-board and used to generate 100 percent power at sea.

Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulphur oxides.

In addition to the two ships being built in Germany, Meyer Werft – which had the capacity to accommodate these four ship-building orders in its production schedule — will also build the two additional ships detailed in today’s announcement at its shipyard in Turku, Finland.

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said: “We are looking forward to executing on the next step in our fleet enhancement plan,” said Donald. “At a cost per berth in line with our existing order book, these new ships will enhance the return profile of our fleet. These are exceptionally efficient ships with incredible cabins and public spaces featuring a design inspired by Micky Arison and Michael Thamm and developed by our new build teams.” Arison is chairman of the board of directors for Carnival Corporation & plc and Thamm is CEO of the Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.

“These ships will expand our leadership position for the Costa Group, the market leader in all the major European markets,” said Thamm. “These will be spectacular ships designed specifically for our guests who sail on our Costa Group brands.”


Malcolm Says: This is very exciting news. The press release is a bit ambiguous, but it looks like AIDA and Costa will get two of these big ships each.

So, these will be the second biggest class of ships, just 45,000 gt smaller than the ‘Oasis’ class, yet with a bigger passenger capacity of  6,600 compared to Oasis’s 6,296, all berths. (Space ratio, Oasis = 35, Carnival Newbuild = 27). Even though Carnival say they will be “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces” I would still expect this to make the Carnival newbuilds feel more crowded than Oasis.

I bet that these new ship shave some sort of ‘flexible’ dining, with multiple dining rooms, like RCI have now adopted, in line with NCL

Carnival tend to retain their ship designs for many years, just making slight modifications over time. Therefore I would not be surprised if we don’t see P&O and/or Cunard and Princess, getting one of these new ships, sooner or later.

Liquefied Natural Gas: Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea.  However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly a megaship design. 

The most attractive aspect of LNG to the cruise line is cost.  Under the right operating conditions LNG can reduce fuel costs.

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Large tanks for the gas are located on deck, to save space in the hull (See image below). Will the Carnival newbuilds mimic this feature, somehow?

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

More information about LNG: HERE