Ocean Liners vs. Cruise Ships
Are Cruise Ships the same as Ocean Liners?
Do you know the difference between Ocean Liners and Cruise Ships? Many people don't!
The airline industry brought about the decline of the need for regular transatlantic crossings by passenger vessels, and that decline might be credited with the eventual birth of today's cruising industry. But today's beauties are not simply modern versions of the grand ladies of the golden age of sea travel.
Luxury liners have a storied past, and many have disappeared into the annals of history. A few are still in regular use. However, most people who 'go cruising' do so on a cruise ship, NOT an luxury passenger vessel like those that once crossed the ocean regularly.
So, then, what IS the difference? After reading this lens, you'll know a little more. Then, next time you hear someone refer to a cruise ship as an ocean liner, you'll be able to educate them about these two classes of "transportation." (One really was. The other - not so much.)
Some Basic Differences
Between the Two
Look closely at the two photos in the introduction. The first is of the Queen Mary 2, an ocean liner. On the bottom is the Carnival Triumph, a cruise ship. You can clearly see the difference in the freeboards of the ships in those two pictures.
Do you see the row of orange lifeboats in each photo? Notice that they are higher up, and thus farther from the water line in the QM2? The lifeboats on each ship are on the first (lowest) 'open' deck. The distance from the water to the lowest open deck is called the FREEBOARD. Ocean liners have a higher freeboard than cruise ships. They need this for the rougher waters of open seas.
Another difference is in the construction of the hull.
The Hull of an Ocean Liner
The hull of an ocean liner is heavier, thicker, and stronger than that of a cruise ship. It is contoured to afford the vessel both speed and stability in open seas, particularly the rough North Atlantic shipping lanes. Remember - at one time, ocean liners were the only transport between England and America, so speed was important. Even today, ocean liners are built to sail at faster speeds than cruise ships.
Such concentration on the hull construction also makes that part of the ship a much bigger expense for ocean liners than for cruise ships.
A MOST Famous Ocean Liner - The RMS Titanic
Yesterday's Titanic vs. Today's Oasis of the Seas
In her day, which was so tragically brief, she was the largest ocean liner ever built, and also one of the most opulent. However, she would have been absolutely dwarfed by today's cruise ships. Here is a comparison of some statistics for the Titanic and the Oasis of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean's newest ships, which debuted in late 2009.
46,328 grt; 9 decks; 884 ft long; 92 feet wide; ~ 3500 passengers and crew
MS Oasis of the Seas:
225,282 grt; 16 decks; 1,187 ft long; 198 ft (widest point); ~ 8400 passengers and crew
Because the Titanic had been billed as unsinkable, the sinking of the RMS Titanic, just four days into her maiden voyage in 1912, was world-wide news. Her story has riveted generations of sea-farers and non sea-farers alike.
The ship rested, disturbed only by sea life, on the ocean floor, until her discovery in 1985 by an American and French expedition funded for the purpose fueled renewed public interest in her story. A subsequent movie was seen by millions, and has spawned a new generation of titanic afficianados.
Titanic - The Movie
Have you seen the 1997 movie, Titanic?
For Titanic Fans
The fascinationwith the story of the Titanic continues today. And if you are one of the fascinated ones (or know someone who is) then you may be interested in this book, published to commemorate the one hundreth anniversary of the tragic ocean liner's sinking.
If you're old enough to remember LIFE, you'll know photographs were a particular strength of that magazine. So it is with this book. But, there's compelling information accompanying the stunning photos, too.
Transportation vs. Destination
A Difference of Purpose
Ocean Liners are purpose-built for transportation. These remarkable and stately vessels still make regularly scheduled point-to-point 'runs,' most commonly round trip Southampton to New York. However, they ply other itineraries from London's or Southampton's docks, such as Northern Europe and the Med, as well as the occasional World Voyages. In true ocean liner tradition, these are voyages on vessels made for voyaging, and elegantly so.
Cruise ships, on the other hand are often seen as destinations in and of themselves. They are floating resorts. Some offer non-stop entertainment and an endless array of venues for excitement and gratification.
The picture at right? Well, that's one of the roving entertainers who greeted us shortly after we boarded the Mariner of the Seas cruise ship a few years back. I don't think you'd find such a thing on an ocean liner!
Photo: my own (all rights reserved)
On an ocean liner, there seems to be an emphasis on sophisticated elegance while maintaining the best of the tradition of the golden era of the great ships of the past. You'll find the best of appointments and décor, and guests who appreciate the nicities of decorum. Walk across the gangpank, and enter a world gone by, yet not passed by where modern conveniences are concerned. The ships are the finest built today, with meticulous attention to detail.
This is a Cruise Ship
Atmosphere - Cruise Ships
CRUISE SHIPS There's no single way to describe a 'general' atmosphere on a modern cruise ship. Some are laid-back, casual, and quiet. Others are mamouth non-stop playgrounds for young and old alike. The one thing the industry as a whole offers is variety. This means it sometimes takes a bit of research to find the line and class of ship that best suits you personally. But, rest assured, it's there for the finding.
Below, you'll find two segments - a video and a slide show - which will give you a taste of the world of the ocean liner and that of the cruise ship. Just bear in mind that the cruise ship slide show represents only one type of ship atmosphere out of the many to choose from.
Cruising and Cruise Ships 2014 Edition
Travek author Douglas Ward spends more time at sea than he does on land. His comprehensive revielws of cruising ahd cruise ships will give you detailed answers to questions you didn't even dream of asking. If you want to know which cruise line and ship is the best fit for you, look here.
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 - A Modern, Classic Ocean Liner
Cunard's Queens - Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and the new Queen Elizabeth - carry on in the tradition of the ocean liner. They are all about voyaging in sophisticated elegance. There's something quiet, comforting, and timeless about the world that Cunard creates aboard their liners. It's a world apart, and while it's not for everyone, those who sail Cunard are loyal Cunarders... and there are many more who would like to be!
On Board the Queen Mary 2
Allure of the Seas - Focus on FUN
In colorful contrast to the video of the Queen Mary 2, this one, showcasing Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas gives you an idea of how different the focus is on a large cruise ship. The focus is on fun, fun, fun - with almost limitless choices of things to do.
Not all cruise ships are as large (or as busy) as the Allure of the Seas. Some are smaller, and more intimate. Some cater more to active families, and others to older adults. So, just as there are many choices on this particular cruise chip, there are also choices in styles of cruising from line to line, and even from ship to ship within some lines!
On Board the Allure of the Seas
Vote Your Preference
Now that you've seen a little bit about the differences between Cruise Ships and Ocean Liners, let's see what everyone's preferences are.
Would you prefer to sail on an Ocean Liner or on a Cruise Ship?
Please leave a comment, even if it's just to say hello. I do read - and appreciate - all comments!