Cruise ships seem to be getting larger and larger all the time with new ships seeming to be breaking previous records with reassuring regularity. The trend for larger ships has grown so much in recent years that only one ship of the 50 largest cruise vessels in the world took to the seas before the year 2000 (1999’s Voyager of the Seas). Here we have a look at the 10 largest cruise ships in the world and look forward to upcoming record breakers.
Allure of the Seas & Oasis of the Seas
The two current ships (there’s two more to come, but more about those later) of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class have kept the title of the world’s largest cruise ships since they first took to the seas in 2009 and 2010. Although officially the same size and built to the same plans – reports suggest that the Allure of the Seas actually measures a few inches longer than her sister. The shipbuilders claim that this size difference is not intentional and could be the result of steel stretching slightly in high temperatures.
Like all the ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, the two Oasis Class vessels have been designed to offer family-friendly cruises – splitting the public areas into seven distinct districts similar to theme park planning: Central Park, The Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk, Royal Promenade, Youth Zone, and Entertainment Place.
These two behemoth ships are still quite far ahead of the competition in terms of size and structure.
Gross Tonnage: 225,282
Double Capacity: 5,412
Maximum Capacity: 6,296
Quantum of the Seas & Anthem of the Seas
The newest members of the Royal Caribbean fleet are the most technologically-advanced cruise ships in operation. Offering the quickest internet speeds and a selection of unique features including the first skydiving experience at sea and robotic bartenders; the Quantum Class ships are aimed at the modern cruise audience.
Despite both ships only taking to the seas in the last 12 months, two new Quantum Class ships built to the same measurements have been ordered. Ovation of the Seas will be added to the class next year before an as-yet-unnamed will enter into service in 2019.
Although the two ships did not measure up to the Oasis Class ships – they still tower above all non-Royal Caribbean vessels.
Gross Tonnage: 168,666
Length: 1,139 and 1,141ft
Double Capacity: 4,180
Maximum Capacity: 4,905
The first non-Royal Caribbean entry on the list is Norwegian Cruise Line’s flagship: the Norwegian Epic. As well as packing in more cabins and beds than any other ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet – the Norwegian Epic was painstakingly designed to ensure that this did not compromise personal space or create an overcrowded experience. Norwegian Cruise Line ensured the Epic offered 60% more passenger space than their next largest vessels.
Currently the largest ship to homeport all year round in Europe, sailing out of Barcelona, the Epic is a popular sight for cruise fans visiting port cities on the Mediterranean.
Original plans from Norwegian Cruise Line included the development of a second ship the same size as the Epic, with an option for a third. However a dispute between NCL and the shipyard led to the cancellation of the second ship and the refusal of a third. So the Epic marches on alone as the world’s largest non-Royal Caribbean ship (for now).
Gross Tonnage: 155,873
Double Capacity: 4,100
Maximum Capacity: 5,183
Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas & Independence of the Seas
The three sisters of the Freedom Class of ships from Royal Caribbean were the largest cruise ships in the world from 2006-2009 – ruling the waves until the Oasis of the Seas took their collective crown. Not to be trumped by the Oasis and Quantum Class of ships – the three Freedom Class vessels have undergone refurbishments during dry docks over the past few years to update their offerings in line with newer members of the fleet.
With two of the ships homeporting in Florida and the other in Texas, all three ships offer itineraries around the Caribbean and Bahamas – becoming regular sights circumnavigating the paradise islands. Despite the upgrades and refurbishments, the three sisters have remained similar to each other in design and amenities.
Gross Tonnage: 154,407
Double Capacity: 3,634
Maximum Capacity: 4,375
Queen Mary 2
One of the most iconic cruise ships in operation and the oldest member of the top 10 – Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the classic old girl of the cruise industry’s super ships (despite being barely over a decade old). The flagship of the Cunard fleet is considerably larger than her two sister ships – and was built to replace the aging but legendary Queen Elizabeth 2.
Instantly recognisable by her dark blue hull wrap – the Queen Mary 2 is the world’s only transatlantic cruise liner in line service between Southampton and New York, operating for part of every year. Additionally, her full title, RMS Queen Mary 2, signifies that she is the largest cruise vessel in operation to have the Royal Mail Ship title conferred upon her.
As one of the oldest names in the cruise industry, it’s always reassuring to have a Cunard ship in this list.
Gross Tonnage: 148,528
Double Capacity: 2,592
Maximum Capacity: 3,090
Just edging out her sister ship, Norwegian Getaway, for a place on this coveted list – the Norwegian Breakaway will not be in the top 10 for much longer. Over the next five years, at least 15 larger ships are planned to enter into service.
The first member of the Breakaway Class from Norwegian Cruise Line, the ship will soon be joined by four Breakaway Plus ships. But for now, the ship does still hold some records and titles – including the honour of being the largest ship to be based year-round in New York City.
Gross Tonnage: 146,600
Double Capacity: 3,988
As mentioned above – this list will probably be unrecognisable in just a couple of years as a number of cruise lines are planning to significantly increase their capacities. Here we take a look at some of the ships set to shake up the largest cruise ships in the world list.
Oasis Class 3 and 4
The current largest cruise ships in the world will be joined by two new sisters over the next three years. The Harmony of the Seas is planned to enter into service in 2016 and the still-unnamed fourth sister is due for 2018 sailings.
Despite being members of the same class – the two new ships are set to outstrip their older sisters with slightly increased statistics.
Royal Caribbean are also planning two new Quantum Class ships – Ovation of the Seas to launch in 2016 and an unnamed fourth ship in 2019.
Gross Tonnage: 227,000
Double Capacity: 5,479
Maximum Capacity: 6,360
Carnival Corporation’s Big Four
The Carnival Corporation have announced that two of their cruise brands will receive record-breaking fleet additions in 2019 and 2020. AIDA Cruises and Costa Crociere will be the recipients of the super ships which will offer the largest maximum capacities of any cruise ships in the world. This is despite measuring up short on other statistics compared to Oasis Class ships – so we imagine they’ll employ liberal implementation of bunk beds.
None of the ships have been named as of yet.
Gross Tonnage: 183,200
Double Capacity: 5,176
Maximum Capacity: 6,600
MSC Cruises’ Fleet Expansion
With four new ships planned over the next four years – MSC Cruises are planning on increasing their fleet significantly. Two of the ships, the MSC Meraviglia and her as-yet-unnamed sister, are set to become the fleet’s largest vessels when they enter into service in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Gross Tonnage: 167,600
Double Capacity: 4,500
Maximum Capacity: 5,700
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Images sourced via Royal Caribbean Press Center and Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Boris Kasimov, Kees torn, El Coleccionista des Instantes, Johann Visagies, Pat Hawks, Tronghem Havn, Wessel Blokzijl