What is the largest cruise ship?
The Oasis class cruise ships are the largest cruise ships with Symphony of the Seas, surpassing her sisters Harmony of the Seas (above), Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas (respectively below). Allure is physically longer than Oasis by about an inch, which led to the claim that Allure was the largest cruise ship. However, gross tonnage is the recognized standard of measurement and since the two ships had the same gross tonnage for many years, they were considered to be the same size. Now, due to a refit, Oasis' gross tonnage exceeds Allure's.
Above: Costa Smeralda is the largest of the four LNG-powered ships delivered to Carnival Corporation's lines. (Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises).
Below: Iona of P&O Cruises is the largest passenger ship built for the British market. (Photo courtesy of P&O Cruises).
Above: AIDAnova. (Photo courtesy of AIDA Cruises).
Below: Mardi Gras (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).
MSC Grandiosa (above) (photo courtesy of MSC Cruises) is an enhanced version of MSC Meraviglia (below).
While the world's largest cruise ship remains Symphony of the Seas, the ships making up the top ten largest cruise ships changed considerably during 2020. Carnival Corporation, which had for several years seemed to be no longer interested in building very large cruise ships, came back with a vengeance with a series of LNG-powered cruise ships for several of its constituent lines. MSC Cruises also expanded its presence in the top ten while Norwegian Cruise Line, a traditional member of the club, dropped out of the top ten.
More changes can be expected in the future as the world's shipyards are working on sister ships to some of the members of the top ten. This includes Wonder of the Seas, which may take the title of world's largest ship. Due to the impact of the world-wide pandemic, when these ships will enter service is unclear. Indeed, Wonder of the Seas's scheduled date for entry into service has been pushed back from 2021 to 2022.
In past updates of this page, we have only considered ships that were actually in service with the cruise lines. However, again due to the pandemic, there are now ships that have been delivered to the cruise lines that have never had a passenger aboard. Therefore, our standard will be ships that have been delivered to the cruise lines.
As in the past, we will use the standard for measuring the size of cruise ships (and ocean liners) gross tonnage.*
The highest gross tonnage is Symphony of the Seas, an Oasis class cruise ship, with 228.081 gross tons. She just slightly surpasses her sister ship Harmony of the Seas (227,000 gross tons) Due to a refit, the lead ship in the class, Oasis of the Seas (226,858), has now surpassed younger sister Allure of the Seas (225,282 gross tons). (Note that it is not all that unusual for ships of the same class not to have the same gross tonnage).
The next largest cruise ship in terms of gross tonnage is one of Carnival Corporation's new LNG-powered ships. Part of Costa Cruises' Excellence class, Costa Smeralda is 185,000 gross tons and can accommodate more than 6,500 passengers at full capacity.
Approximately, the same size is P&O Cruises' Iona. She was built by Meyer Werft in Germany and is another of Carnival Corporation's LNG ships.
The first of the Carnival Corporation LNG-powered ships to be completed was AIDAnova (183,900 gross tons). She was built by Meyer Werft and sails for the German-speaking brand AIDA Cruises.
Bearing the name of its first ship is Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras. An LNG-powered ship, she is 180,000 gross tons and was built by Meyer Turku.
MSC Grandiosa is next at 181,541 gross tons. Built in Saint Nazaire, France, she is the lead ship in the Meraviglia-Plus class.
MSC Cruises' Meraviglia rounds out the top ten at at 171,598 gross tons. She has an identical sister, MSC Bellisima, and so there is a tie for the title of 10th largest cruise ship.
The largest ocean liner - - as opposed to cruise ship - - remains Queen Mary 2 at 151,000 gross tons.
To give a sense of how this compares to the great ocean liners of the past, Titanic was 46,000 gross tons, Normandie was 79,280 gross tons, the first Queen Mary was 81,237 gross tons, the first Queen Elizabeth was 83,673 gross tons, the France was 66,343 gross tons (subsequently 76,049 as Norway) and the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) was 70,327 gross tons.
*Note: Creating some confusion, the size of warships and cargo ships are measured in tons. However, gross tonnage is different than the measures (i.e., displacement and dead weight) used for those other types of ships. (see separate article).
Queen Mary 2 is the largest ocean liner but no longer in the top ten largest passenger ship.
Top Ten Biggest Passenger Ships
1. Symphony of the Seas
2. Harmony of the Seas
3 Oasis of the Seas
4. Allure of the Seas
5. Costa Smeralda
8. Mardi Gras
9. MSC Grandiosa
10. (tie) MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellisima
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