Incredible Cruise Facts
Over 28 million people take to the seas every year to enjoy a cruise, meaning there's a good chance you too have vacationed on board a ship (or are planning to do so someday).
But how much do you really know about these extraordinary vessels?
We've compiled some interesting facts and figures that may surprise you — including intel on just how much food ships serve, the fascinating way they're built and the secrets they hold.
The First Cruise Ship Dates Back to 1900
When did cruising become such a popular pastime? It all began in 1900, when the German Prinzessin Victoria Luise debuted as the first official, purpose-built cruise ship. The ship was modeled after the imperial yacht of German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, and was so opulent — features included a gymnasium, a library and a dark room for developing photos — that Kaiser himself was reportedly jealous.
In 1901, the ship known as the "Princess of the Seas" took her maiden voyage from Hamburg to New York, before heading south to the Caribbean. Alas, her life on the seas was short; in 1906, she ran aground outside Jamaica, and never sailed again.
Oasis of the Seas Is 5x Bigger Than the Titanic
At the time it was built in 1911, the Titanic was the world's largest passenger cruise ship. It weighed nearly 53,000 tons and stretched almost 900 feet in length. Unfortunately, it may also be the world's most famous due to its sinking after hitting an iceberg on its maiden sail.
Today's super cruise ships are being built to be bigger and better than every competitor's newest ship. In comparison, nearly 100 years after the Titanic, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas debuted at 225,282 tons, 210 feet wide and more than 1,100 feet long. In terms of tonnage, it's five times larger than the Titanic.
But Harmony of the Seas Is the World's Biggest Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean couldn't leave well enough alone and created a ship even bigger than Oasis of the Seas. When Harmony of the Seas debuted in 2016, it weighed 227,000 tons and measured 1,188 feet in length. (Nearly four football fields long!)
It is made up of 2,747 cabins, 23 swimming pools and 20 restaurants across its 18 decks that are filled with more than 10,000 plants.
A Mile-Long Cruise Ship Is in the Works
Because ships clearly just aren't big enough as is, Freedom Cruise Line International has proposed a ship that would be the largest in maritime history. And its stats wow:
- 4,500 feet long
- 250 feet wide
- 20 stories tall
- 100,000 population
The ship will carry 10,000 overnight guests, 30,000 daily guests, 40,000 residents and 20,000 crew — at a to-build price tag of $11 billion.
There Is a Ghost Ship Floating Around
Russia's MV Lyubov Orlova sailed the Antarctic for three decades before it was decommissioned in 2010. As it was being towed to a junkyard in 2012, the ship broke away from its tow lines and has been drifting at sea ever since.
The ship still releases distress signals every now and then, and was last spotted off the coast of Ireland in 2013.
You'll Spend an Average $212 Per Day
How much will a cruise cost you? In a typical 7-to-8-day cruise, the average passenger spends nearly $1,293 on the cruise ticket, $274 at the bar and casino, $100 on shore excursions, $50 at the spa and another $75 on miscellaneous items — a cool $1,791 total. Per day, passengers spend an average of $212.
And that doesn't include your airfare to get there!
You Won't Go Hungry
When people say there's a lot of food served on a cruise ship, they're not joking. The 6,000-passenger Symphony of the Seas released an example of the food it serves during each seven-night cruise, and the figures are staggering:
- 6 million coffee beans
- 60,000 eggs
- 20,000 lbs of potatoes
- 15,000 lbs of beef
- 12,600 lbs of flour
- 12,000 lbs of flour tortillas
- 9,700 lbs of chicken
- 5,300 lbs of bacon
- 5,000 lbs of french fries
- 2,500 lbs of salmon
- 2,100 lbs of lobster tails
- 2,000 lbs of wings
- 700 lbs of ice cream
Bring some stretchy pants!
It's not just food spilling out of the kitchen on cruise ships. More than 840 bottles of vodka, 400 bottles of champagne, 312 bottles of gin and 285 bottles of scotch get sipped each week on a typical cruise ship.
It's Not All About the Cocktails
While plenty of people love cruising for the tropical cocktails, those who are avoiding alcohol can find sober cruises and on-board Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, including on some Royal Caribbean ships.
Ships Have Morgues
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but when you are essentially a floating city carrying nearly 7,000 passengers, it is a reality that something could go wrong. It is estimated that 200 people per year pass away on a cruise ship, mostly due to natural causes. This means ships need a place to keep bodies safe until they can get to shore; hence, most large ships have dedicated morgues on board (carefully kept out of sight of passengers, of course).
For nearly 100 years, cruise ships have been blessed for their inaugural sail by designated "godmothers." These specially selected civilians, usually women, attend a ship's launch, where they officially name the vessel and crack open up a bottle of Champagne to celebrate its first sail (on larger ships, they may pull a lever or push a button to release a bottle that crashes onto the bow).
This tradition "gives life" to a ship, and as godmothers do, provides guidance and good luck. Of course, Disney Cruise Line has lots of fun with its godmothers, including having Tinker Bell sprinkle pixie dust on Disney Wonder.
Over the years, many celebrities have also served as godmothers, including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (who aptly blessed the Royal Princess), Queen Latifah (who presided over a ceremony for the Carnival Horizon) and Pitbull, a "godfather" who anointed Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Escape.
Seasick? Visit the Casino
You may not feel up to a rousing game of craps or betting on black at the roulette table, but if you are one of the many people prone to seasickness on a ship, the casino is where you want to be.
Seasickness is caused by a balance issue when a ship is riding the waves, so finding stable ground is key. Enter the casino, designed to be the most stable spot on the ship in order to keep games in check and passengers spending money.
Mega-Ships Cost Over a Billion Dollars to Build
Building behemoth ships doesn't come cheap.
The most-expensive cruise ship ever built, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas — which set sail for the first time last year — cost $1.35 billion to erect.
Previously, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 held the distinction of being the priciest ship, costing £460 million at its launch in 2004. That ship weights 151,400 tons, is 1,132 feet long and can speed along at 35 miles per hour — making it also the fastest of any cruise ship in the world, an honor it still holds today.
Every Person in Australia Could Have Cruised in 2018
According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 28.5 million cruised in 2018 — more than three times the population of New York City and more than the entire population of Australia. Considering cruise ships hold an average of 6,000 passengers, the entire city of Singapore could take a cruise together, and still have room for more passengers.
You Can Buy a Cruise Ship Residence
For those who really like to sail, private residences can be purchased on cruise ships. The largest private residential ship, The World, offers 165 residences, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The ship's itinerary is determined by residents each year so every day is an adventure. Residences range from $825,000 to $7.3 million.
Bonus: You'll never have to mow the grass.
The Most Luxurious Bed at Sea Costs $200,000
If you're looking for a few killer nights of sleep, consider booking passage on Regent of the Seas' Seven Seas Splendor. The ship is set to debut next year with an opulent suite featuring a bed worth, yes, $200,000. Custom-made by Swedish brand Hästens, the bed features, according to CNN, "a streamlined pinewood frame, steel springs and a mattress that's perfect for sinking into — apparently composed of horsetail hair, cotton and wool batting."
Worth it? You decide. Just be ready to spend $11,000 a night for the suite, which spans over 4,400 square feet and also includes a private dining room, sauna, steam room and spa treatment area.
Ship Crew Speak in Secret Codes
In order not to panic the thousands of passengers aboard a ship, especially when making emergency announcements on the loudspeakers, crew members have a secret code. If you hear the following, you'll now know what they mean:
- Code Adam: a child is missing
- Code Alpha: there’s a medical emergency
- Code Oscar: man overboard
- Code Bravo: fire on the ship
- Code Operation Rising Star: a passenger has died
- Code Red: an illness outbreak
- Code Charlie: a security threat
Virtual Views Are a Real Thing
Interior staterooms and cabins have long been the "middle seat" of cruising. Cheaper, but tight squeezes no one really wants to endure — especially for days on end!
Interior cabins do not have windows, so to make up for it, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are adding virtual windows and balcony views that provide actual, current-time views, helping passengers to not feel claustrophobic.
There Isn't a 13th Deck
Just as hotels avoid having a 13th floor, cruise liners often skip having a 13th deck. The superstition harkens back to lucky sailors who avoided the number 13.
Miami is the Busiest Cruise Port in the World
Miami's cruise port had nearly four times the population of Barcelona stand on its docks in 2017, when it welcomed 5.6 million passengers. On December 9, 2018, PortMiami welcomed 52,000 passengers in one day — the largest number ever handled in a single day.
Florida is also home to Port Canaveral (4.5 million passengers in 2017), Port Everglades (3.8 million) and 10 other ports, making it the busiest cruise departure destination in the world.
Cabins Aren't Built with the Ship
While a ship is being built in a shipyard, the cabins in which you sleep are being constructed via assembly line in another location as pre-fabricated rooms. Once built, these rooms get slotted onto ships as modules.
They Are Super Slow
It's not about how fast you get there on a cruise ship, but that you enjoy the ride.
Something as massive as a cruise ship requires a lot of oomph to get it to move, and for today's massive vessels, that means traveling at an average speed of 23 miles per hour (20 knots).
Symphony of the Seas is Taller Than Notre Dame
Royal Caribbean's need to be the best lands them on this list once again for offering a cruise ship that stands 238 feet high. That's two inches taller than Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Symphony of the Seas is also nearly as long as four football fields.
The Titanic Is Returning to the Seas
In 2022, the Titanic will have a chance to complete its original route from the United Kingdom to the United States.
A nearly exact replica called Titanic II, being built in China to the tune of $500 million, will fulfill Australian billionaire Clive Palmer's dream to sail the Titanic.
Commendably ambitious or totally insane? You decide.
And More Than 50 Ships Are Coming, Too
Cruising is in such high demand that cruise lines have ships-in-the-works scheduled through 2027.
Viking cruises, for example, is constructing 11 ships, Royal Caribbeans is adding six more vessels over the next seven years, and MSC Cruises is adding 11 new ships, at a cost of $10 billion.