Large ships come with a host of amenities, and as their length, width, and number of staterooms climb, so do the variety of offerings. While the one-upmanship battle between cruise lines seems to have leveled off — monster-sized cruise ships are now limited by ports that can accommodate them — these ships still offer unprecedented features such as water shows, cantilever arms, zip lines, rock walls, interior balconies, ice skating, and bumper cars.
Just how big are these ships?
Royal Caribbean, with 14 of the 30 largest cruise ships in the world, seems to be the size king. Currently, there is a three-way tie for largest cruise ship based on tonnage: Royal Caribbean’s three sister ships Harmony of the Seas (2016), Allure of the Seas (2010), and Oasis of the Seas (2009). All with nearly identical architecture, they each tilt the scale at more than a quarter million tons each — that’s almost a half a billion pounds. They span 1,187 feet long (nearly a quarter mile) and 215 feet wide.
The number of state rooms totals up to 2,748, carrying more than 4,000 passengers if you only count them as double occupancy. And, if every bunk bed was used in every family cabin, that number could rise to as high as 6,780 passengers.
Royal Caribbean has two more ships under construction that will nudge the tonnage up a bit, to 230,000 tons. In all, Royal Caribbean has nine of the 11 largest cruise ships based on tonnage. (The other two belong to Norwegian Cruise Lines.)
Other large entries
Carnival, the largest cruise company in the world, boasts four ships in the 130,000- to 135,000-ton category: Vista, Dream, Magic, and Breeze. The Vista is 1,055 feet long and 158 feet wide. Compared to Royal Caribbean’s giant ships, that’s about 90 percent as long, but nearly one-third less wide, explaining the huge difference in tonnage. Still, that’s enough room for 4,980 passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Lines’ top offerings are the Escape, at 165,000 tons, and the Epic, at 155,000 tons. Compared to the top-size Carnival ships, they are just a few feet longer and a few feet wider, nudging up the tonnage. The ships’ 2,090 staterooms can accommodate up to 5,183 passengers.
Cunard Line, the oldest cruise line in the world, has the Queen Mary 2, which is another biggie at 149,000 tons. It’s a different type of ship, though — an ocean liner that is very long at 1,132 feet, but not as wide at 147 feet. It’s designed to slice like a knife through the rougher waters of the Atlantic Ocean as it shuttles passengers from New York to London.
The ship has a capacity of 2,695 passengers, following a 2016 refit.
Many of the other top 30 ships are with lines you may not be familiar with, since they cruise and market to Europe and Asia.
Dream Cruises’ Genting Dream comes in at 150,000 tons, making it No. 12 in rank. It departs from Hong Kong and Singapore.
P&O Cruises’ Britannia weighs in at 143,000 tons, giving it the No. 16 rank. It has a broad spectrum of European cruise itineraries.
MSC Cruises has four ships in the lower end of the top 30 ranking globally. These include the Preziosa, the Divina, the Splendida, and the Fantasia, all in the 137,000- to 139,000-ton range. Their destinations are extensive in the Mediterranean, but also cover Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and northern Europe, as well as global cruising options.
The Costa Diadema weighs in at 133,000 pounds, giving it the No. 29 rank. The Diadema can be found in the Mediterranean Sea.
As we rank No. 30 out of 30, we add a new cruise line, Disney, with the Fantasy, just 250 pounds shy of 130,000 tons.
No matter how you look at it, there are a ton of large ships (pardon the pun). All are about 130,000 tons or larger, about a fifth of a mile long or more, and between 120 and 220 feet wide. Even the most petite among them can hold 3,000-plus passengers.
If you’re looking for a slew of onboard activities, no matter where or when you wish to cruise, one of these large ships can accommodate your every desire. It’s time to do some research for that next trip.