When you hear the term “luxury cruise liner,” images of great ships like the Titanic, Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth 2 probably come to mind. Each vessel was a legendary name in the annals of the world’s largest and greatest cruise ships.
Now, in the 21st Century, a whole new generation of massive ships is sailing the seas. Like floating cities, the new generation stretches the boundaries of size and luxury as each one ferries passengers from port to port. Here are the five largest ships currently on the water.
5. (Tie) Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas & Independence of the Seas
All three “Freedom” class cruise ships are owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International, which owns seven of the ten biggest cruise ships in the world. The Freedom, Liberty and Independence each are 154,407 gross tons (GT) in weight, 1,112 feet long and 184 feet wide. By comparison, the ships are as long as the height of a 90-story skyscraper building and wider than a football field.
Making these ships even more impressive is their 209-foot above-water height. A wide hull makes it possible for each massive vessel to not only stay afloat but remain relatively smooth in rough seas and right itself quickly if a wave ever attempted to knock it over.
2. Norwegian Epic
At 155,873 GT in weight, the Norwegian Epic by Norwegian Cruise Line is the second largest passenger ship in the world today. At 1,081 feet by 133 feet, the Epic is shorter and thinner than the Freedom Class ships of Royal Caribbean. But what it lacks in depth it makes up for in capacity, holding up to 5,183 people.
The cruise ship was built in France and delivered to Norwegian Cruise Line in 2010 by STX Europe shipbuilders. It has 19 decks and operates in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
The Epic’s luxury includes balconies for all outside cabins and a water park with the only tube and bowl slide at sea. Going over-the-top, the Epic also features an ice bar, where the temperature is kept at 17 degrees Fahrenheit, where drinks are served in ice glasses, and where patrons have to wear thick coats even in the tropics.
1. (Tie) Oasis of the Seas & Allure of the Seas
Royal Carribean is the owner of the world’s two largest passenger ships, each one staggering in size at more than 75,000 GT larger than second place. In fact, both the Oasis and the Allure, commissioned in 2009 and 2010, respectively, are more than twice the size of the largest ship afloat in 1998, the Grand Princess.
Both vessels are 1,187 feet long, longer than an aircraft carrier, and 213 feet wide. They rise more than 20 stories above the waterline (236 feet) and each carry up to 6,296 people. The first ship, Oasis, was also the most expensive commercial ship ever built, reportedly costing $1.24 billion (US). That price bought luxury, and the newest ship, Allure, has an ice skating rink, two-deck dance hall, and a 1,380-seat theater.