Berlin - This ship really is a beast. With 362 metres of length to roam and 2 747 cabins, you’ll be hard pushed to find time to try everything the ‘Harmony of the Seas’ has on board in a single week.
The new addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet took the top spot as the biggest cruise ship in the world this summer, but it might not hold the title for long. Bigger is better is the buzzword in the cruise industry these days, and other shipyards are bulking up too.
The motivation is mainly economical – a big ship is cost effective and means deals are cheaper for customers. And the bigger the ship, the better cruise companies can accommodate all tastes. Whether it’s a spa for the parents, a water park for the kids, a theatre, area for teens or a presentation room for cultural events.
But that’s not the end of the story for the ‘Harmony of the Seas’. Royal Caribbean has ordered two sister ships, and other cruise companies are following suit: last year Costa Crociere announced that they would be putting two more ships into commission in 2019 and 2020.
Both of them are in close competition with the ‘Harmony of the Seas’, with 2,605 cabins. MSC’s fleet of World Class Generation ships is also going big, with 2 700 cabins.
Technically, there is no maximum size for a cruise ship. But shipbuilders of course need to be aware of the laws of physics. As one of Archimedes’ principles dictates, if you want to make a ship longer, you need to make it wider too. But the draught needs to be bigger too in order to maintain stability.
You need to think about the journey the ship will take as well. If a river has to be navigated, of course the size of the river needs to be taken into consideration.
If a ship is built to accommodate 3 000 passengers instead of 1 000, safety measures will need to be adapted. For example, by having more emergency exits and rescue equipment. And harbours are increasingly being faced with the challenge now that ships are growing.
The terminals and quays need to get bigger and bigger and the infrastructure needs to be continuously improved to accommodate the growing numbers of passengers, who need to be ferried from the station to the ship or the ship to excursions.
There also needs to be enough parking available for those who want to leave their cars at the harbour.
Big boats aren’t for everyone, though. Some travellers prefer a smaller ship and are willing to pay the extra cost. These holidaymakers are more interested in the destinations than being on the ship itself and want to have a more classic sailing experience.
How do you measure how big a cruise ship is?
There are different ways of gauging the size of a cruise ship. First of all there's the number of passengers. But the length, the height and the width are also important. Then there's the tonnage or the gross tonnage.
Depending on where you look, there are a number of lists ranking the biggest cruise ships in the world. But when it comes to the big three there is no room for debate: In size order, they are the 'Harmony of the Seas', the 'Allure of the Seas' and the 'Oasis of the Seas'.
The three cruise liners from Royal Caribbean's fleet tower above the rest in all categories.