The 10 Largest Cruise Ships

allure of the seas

Never before have so many mega-shops been at sea. With their obvious success formula for passenger enjoyment and the cruise industry’s profits, there are more on the way.


Cruising dates back further than most people realise to the 19th century, where passenger ships transported people across the Atlantic. The largest cruise ship of that time held only 241 passengers.

The first pleasure cruise ship would naturally be the largest and the man who had the vision to pursue this further was Albert Ballin. Constructed exclusively by Hamburg-America Line in 1900, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise was geared towards luxury travellers and was known as a large yacht rather than a steam ship. It was the largest cruise ship built up to that point at 4,409 gross register tons.

White Star’s RMS Celtic in 1901 was one of the first ships to weigh over 20,000 GT. It was later surpassed by White Star Line’s very own Cedric, being 100 tons heavier. Cedric retained the tile of the world’s largest ship not only in weight but biggest ship in length.

As the popularity of transatlantic crossings increased, so did the size of the ships. Perhaps the best known ship of this era and the largest was the RMS Titanic. With a length of 269.06 m and a weight of 52,310 gross tons, the Titanic famously sank before she could complete her journey.

In 1961 it was the SS France who ruled the seas as the largest passenger vessel in the world, at 1,035 ft. and 66,343 GT. She was later purchased by NCL and became the SS Norway and was considered the first ‘mega-ship’ to sail in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean unveiled their first Sovereign-class ship, Sovereign of the Seas at 73,192 GT. Sovereign was at the top of the biggest cruise ship ranking at the time of her maiden voyage on January 16, 1988.

They and Carnival were the pioneers that added plenty of glitz and glamour and included the now commonplace glass elevators and multi-story atriums.


NCL’s CEO, Colin Veitch tells it straight as to why there are more mega-ships than ever before. “The thing that’s attractive about bigger ships is you have more choice and variety on board. We make a lot more money on them. Ticket revenue and on-board revenue is dramatically higher on larger ships than on smaller, older ships.”

Those on a holiday onboard a mega-ship can experience on-board activities, dining and accommodations that could rival the most luxurious resorts on the ground. Cruise lines are getting bigger: currently, there are more than 60 cruise ships with a gross tonnage exceeding 100,000.

Gone are the days of the old squeezed in steam ship cabin as seen in the Marx Brothers ‘A Night at the Opera’. Dining  options are amazing and there may be simulators onboard for instance where you can learn to surf or maybe take part in some rock climbing. The best part for any passenger booked on these floating hotels is that they get to experience a number of destinations too.

Both RCCL and Norwegian Cruise Line rank as having the most ships on the 10 largest cruise ships list at present. Other lines have taken notice of their success and are experimenting with the ‘bigger is better’ concept.


The list is ranked by gross tonnage rather than length or passenger count. As of this writing the 10 largest cruise ships are:

1. Allure of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2010): 225,282 gross tonnage; 5,412 passengers.

2. Oasis of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2009): 225,282 gross tonnage; 5,412 passengers.

3. Quantum of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2014): 168,666 gross tonnage; 4,180 passengers.

4. Norwegian Epic (Norwegian Cruise Line 2010): 155,873 gross tonnage; 4,100 passengers.

5. Freedom of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2006): 154,407 gross tonnage; 3,634 passengers.

6. Liberty of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2007): 154,407 gross tonnage; 3,634 passengers.

7. Independence of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2008): 154,407 gross tonnage; 3,634 passengers.

8. Queen Mary 2 (Cunard 2004): 148,528 gross tonnage; 2,592 passengers.

9. Norwegian Breakaway (Norwegian Cruise Line 2013): 146,600 gross tonnage; 3,988 passengers.

10. Norwegian Getaway (Norwegian Cruise Line 2014): 145,655 gross tonnage; 3,910 passengers.


Will these 10 hold the record? There are new ships debuting soon not only from RCCL or NCL but other companies as well. Some of them will knock a few off of the list.

Anthem of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2015) 167,800 gross tonnage; 4,100 passengers.

Britannia (P&O Cruises 2015) 141,000 gross tonnage; 4,100 passengers.

Norwegian Escape (Norwegian Cruise Line 2015) 163,000 gross tonnage; 4,200 passengers.

Ovation of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International 2016) 167,800 gross tonnage; 4,100 passengers.

TBA (Star Cruises 2016) 150,000 gross tonnage; 4,500 passengers.

TBA (Royal Caribbean International 2016) 227,700gross tonnage; 6400 passengers – scheduled to be the largest in the world.

The cruise lines continue to flourish and thrive with technological and societal innovations and will continue to do so.

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New Ships planned for 2013

Since it’s the beginning of the new year I thought we could take this as an opportunity to look ahead to the new, exciting ships that are planned for 2013 and beyond. There are a host of new ships set to launch in 2013 so why not take a closer look at just a few of them and see what features are set to be hits with passengers.

MSC Preziosa

MSC Preziosa is the latest ship set to become the latest addition to the Italian company’s fleet at the end of March 2013.

The ship had an interesting start in life- she was originally commissioned by a wealthy Libyan who had originally planned for a 120 tonne shark aquarium to be built within the ship! When Libyan civil war broke out the contract was cancelled and MSC took on the ship, neglecting to keep the shark aquarium within the design!

MSC Preziosa is set to be full of stylish design features to appeal to both children and adults. For adults there is an  infinity pool, an adult only solarium and the relaxing haven of the MSC Aurea Spa. To keep children entertained there is set to be an aqua park intriguingly titled Doremi Castle and the longest single rider waterslide at sea.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line are set to launch their huge 4,000 passenger ship Norwegian Breakaway in May 2013, with sister ship Norwegian Getaway to follow in April 2014.

Norwegian Breakaway will have a quarter mile long outdoor stretch of deck which will be lined with eight al fresco dining spots and lounges which is sure to be something to please passengers who like to enjoy the fresh sea air.

Norwegian Breakaway will also feature The Ice Bar, following in the footsteps of increasingly popular ice bars on land. It will have ice sculptures and speciality cocktails and be kept at a delightfully chilly temperature.

Royal Princess

Princess Cruises announced the launch of their brand new ship, Royal Princess, for June 2013. She’ll have room for 3,600 passengers and have a host of modern and innovative features.

The Sanctuary Retreat will be an exclusive adult only space with a pool and private stylish cabanas for sumptuous relaxation.

One of the most exciting new features is the Seawalk, a glass enclosed walkway which will be cantilevered 128 feet over the sea, to provide passengers with dramatic and inspiring views.

All outside staterooms will have balconies and be spacious and inviting, providing passengers with a comfortable home away from home.

These are just a few of the larger ships planned to launch in 2013 and beyond. There are many more smaller ships being launched by more intimate cruise companies such as Avalon Artistry II, Scenic Jewel and Voyager.