Incredible Facts About the The Largest Cruise Ship in the World
There’s more than one way to define “large” when it comes to ships. Typically, the two main criteria when looked at largest include the overall length of the vessel or the gross tonnage. It’s possible for a longer ship to have a lower gross tonnage than another ship. When that happens each could technically be considered larger than the other if the condition aren’t well defined. For our purposes, we’re looking at both length and gross tonnage to determine the largest cruise ship.
The biggest cruise ship in the world changed in the year 2022 when Royal Caribbean unveiled their Wonder of the Seas, one of their Oasis-class line of cruise ships of which there are five with a sixth one in construction. It measures a stunning 1,188 feet in length. If you Google it, the answer you may get is a slightly outdated Allure of the Seas, a sister ship of the Wonder of the Seas that is about the same length but has a lower gross tonnage.
What Makes the World’s Largest Cruise Ship?
The Wonder of the Seas clocks in with a gross tonnage of 236,857. This is significantly higher than a former title holder Allure of the Seas which had a gross tonnage of 225,282. That also includes 18 decks making this essentially a condominium on the seas. That said, the number of features that are available on Wonder of the Seas are remarkable. By the numbers, here’s what goes into making the largest cruise ship in the world.
- Length: As mentioned, the Wonder of the Seas is 1,188 feet. It has a sister ship called the Harmony of the Seas that is actually 0.1 feet longer overall as a result of the way the steel used in the construction of a ship this large can expand during the production process. The gross tonnage of that vessel was 226,963 which put it ahead of the Allure but still behind the Wonder.
- Beam: The Wonder of the Seas is also 215 feet or 65 meters wide making it wide enough to park more than five city buses end to end across the deck.
- Draft: The vessel also has a draft of 30 feet which is around 10 times your average sailboat’s draft.
- Deck Height: The height of the deck is about 236 feet above the waterline although this is based on data about the Oasis-class cruise ships in general and not specifically the Wonder of the Seas.
- Displacement: The vessel has a displacement of around 100,000 tons. This is roughly the same as a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the US military.
- Capacity: The Wonder of the Seas has an occupancy of 5,734 guests assuming double occupancy in each room. However, they can max out their occupancy at a remarkable 6,988 passengers. Add to this a crew complement of 2,300 people and the Wonder of the Seas is capable of accommodating 9,288 people.
- Decks: Of the 18 decks on the vessel, 16 of them are meant to accommodate passengers. They can be navigated by 24 different elevators.
Propulsion and Power
- Thrusters: The Wonder of the Seas features 4 bow thrusters. Each of these engines produce an impressive 7,500 horsepower.
- Engines: There are also three 20,000 kw azipod main engines.
- Props: Each of these massive engines rotates a 20-foot propeller.
- Speed: That gives the ship a cruising speed of 22 knots.
- Power Generation: To generate the power needed to run the vessel there is a massive power plant located inside. This includes 4 separate 14,400 kW (19,300 hp) Wärtsilä 12V46F engines, plus 2 separate 19,200 kW (25,700 hp) Wärtsilä 16V46F engines and then another 2 different 2,070 kW (2,780 hp) MTU 16V4000 engines for a total power production of 71,340 kW (95,670 hp).
- Fuel Consumption: The amount of fuel used in a ship of this size is almost unbelievable. The engines listed above are either 16 cylinder or 12 cylinder. There are four 16 cylinder engines and then four 12 cylinders. The 16 cylinder engines burn fuel at a rate of 1,377 US gallons per engine per hour. The 12 cylinder engines go through 1,033 US gallons per engine per hour. If even one 16 cylinder engine runs for 24 hours straight, that’s 33,048 gallons of fuel used per day for just that one single engine.
- Fuel Capacity: In terms of capacity, Oasis-class vessels have been lauded for their fuel efficiency. Previous versions of the vessels had a fuel capacity in the neighborhood of 5,000 cubic meters which works out to 1,320,860 US gallons of fuel on board. It’s possible the Wonder of the Seas carries much more fuel than that but details on the vessel’s fuel capacity are not easy to find.
- Construction: As you can imagine, building the world’s biggest cruise ship is not a cheap endeavor. The vessel is reported to have cost $1.35 billion USD to produce.
- Passenger Costs: For those who wish to stay on board, costs are about as high as you might expect. Costs can start around $125 per person per night for 7 day cruises. But you can also invest in something like the Royal Loft Suite which is a two-floor suite that costs $20,000 per person per week.
What Do Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Do With All That Space?
So why exactly is an Oasis-class ship so big? What is all that Wonder of the Seas space for? On a normal fishing boat or cruising vessel you might be happy to have space for things like a live well, maybe a berth below deck, room to stow fishing rods and things like that. Obviously a cruise ship offers a lot more and the biggest cruise ship in the world offers things you probably would never expect.
- The Wonder of the Seas has 2,867 cabins for passenger use
- There are 25 different restaurants including a Starbucks on board.
- There are also 11 different bars and lounges available for passengers.
- There are four different swimming pools on board plus 10 whirlpools.
- A zip line that is 10 decks high is available to travel almost completely across the length of the vessel.
- There is an ice-skating rink on board
- There is a waterpark on board
- Passengers can use a full-sized basketball court
- There are two rock-climbing walls that measure 43-feet
- There is a theater with a 1,400 person capacity
- The ship has been built with what they call eight distinct neighborhoods that include:
- Central Park
- Pool and Sports Zone
- Entertainment Place
- Royal Promenade
- Vitality Spa and Fitness Center
- Youth Zone
- Suite Neighborhood
- Other features include laser tag, mini golf, a jogging track, a solarium, an aquatheater, a casino, a card room, and a surf simulator among other things
Royal Caribbean is currently building a sixth Oasis-class vessel called the Utopia of the Seas that is expected to hit the water in 2024. This vessel is set to be the same length as Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas but it will have fewer cabins due to the fact it will run on liquid natural gas and extra space is required to accommodate the tanks. This will be the largest LNG powered cruise ship in the world when it’s done. We won’t know if the gross tonnage is greater than the Wonder of the Seas thereby making the Utopia larger until production is finished.
Other Massive Cruise Ships
Oasis-class ships are all made by Royal Caribbean International and have dominated the seas in the cruise industry for some years now. But they are not the only cruise ships at sea and the competitors do offer some rivals to the crown. The world’s largest cruise ships from other cruise lines include the following.
Another popular cruise line, the largest ship in the Carnival cruise line fleet is called the MS Iona.
- This ship features a gross tonnage of 184,089
- It measures 1,130 feet in length
- Features abeam of 138 feet.
- It’s able to handle 5,206 passengers with a crew complement of 1,762.
- It features 18 decks and runs on liquid natural gas rather than diesel.
The Costa Smeralda is the largest ship that operates for Costa cruises and was launched on its maiden voyage in 2020.
- The ship has a gross tonnage of 185,010
- It measures 1,105 feet in length
- The beam just under 138 feet.
- It has a maximum passenger occupancy of 6,554 though at double occupancy it’s 5,224. It’s also designed for a crew of 1,646.
The MSC Virtuosos started service in 2022
- It features a gross tonnage of 181,541.
- It measures 1.087 feet and features
- Beam of 141 feet.
- At double occupancy it’s designed for 4,842 passengers with a maximum of 6,334. The crew is 1,704.
Aida’s largest ship is called the AIDANova
- It has gross tonnage of 183,858.
- The ship’s length is 1,105 feet
- Beam of just under 138 feet.
- It’s designed to accommodate 5,252 passengers at double occupancy to a total of 6,654. There is also room for 1,646 crew.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The largest cruise ship in the Norwegian cruise lines roster is the Norwegian Encore.
- It has a gross tonnage of 169,116
- Clocks in at a length of 1,094 feet.
- There is a passenger capacity of 4,004 at double occupancy.
The Bottom Line
The largest cruise ship in the world is the Wonder of the Seas which comes in at 1,188 feet in length and a gross tonnage of 236,857 and a displacement of about 100,000 tons. For comparison, the largest ship ever was a supertanker known as the Seawise Giant that was just over 1,500 feet with a gross tonnage of 260,951 and a displacement of over 646,000 tons when at capacity.