You most probably grew up on the story of Tower of Babel. According to the biblical folk story, when humanity was in its early stages the Babylonian people tried to make a name for themselves and build what would later become the earliest skyscrapers. Humans (it might be just a male thing) never stopped trying to build the greatest, biggest and largest as a sign of power, ego, wealth and domination. But back to the real facts that history can back up: since the industrial revolution, when humans started understanding how to capitalize machines and harness their power and abilities to defy their own natural strength capabilities, they have tried to break records in speed, height and size. This is very true for the sea vessels commercial industry, which breaks size and amenities record almost on a yearly basis. Here are the biggest cruise ships currently travelling the seas.
1. Symphony of the Seas
With outstanding dominance, Royal Caribbean International is the biggest cruise company in the world, owning close to 20% of all cruise lines globally. And if that’s not enough, they own the first four biggest cruise ships in the world on this list. The Symphony of the Seas is the 25th cruise ship from the Miami based giant, and to give you a broad idea on how big it is, it is as big as the Empire state building (without its antenna). It can also engulf six Boeing 787 passenger jet aircraft in its length.
It has 18 decks, 42 bars and lounges, an ice rink, theatres, 22 restaurants and a park with about 20,000 tropical trees. All that space can accommodate a max capacity of 6,680 passengers and 2,200 crew members, spread across 18 decks on a ship that weighs more than 228,000 tons! If you wonder how much it cost to build a floating wonder as such, a decent amount of $1.35 Billion Washington green notes were well invested in its outstanding build. Unfortunately. in a highly competitive industry, records don’t tend to last very long – in 2021 it’s expected to be outsized by the Oasis-class’ 5th ship which is expected to enter service.
2. Harmony of the Seas
This ship was holding on to the title of ‘the greatest’ up until Symphony came and knocked her out in 2018, but don’t be mistaken, it provides the benefits, luxury, amusements and onboard services that her big sister does. It cost only a measly $1 billion in comparison, with a maximum capacity of 6,687 people and has one unique feature: the Ultimate Abyss slide, the tallest slide at sea which shoots guests down 10 decks high in just a few seconds.
3. Allure of the Seas
Let us start from the best that the Allure has to offer which is a top of the range theatre never before seen at sea. According to the official Royal Caribbean website, “They are the only cruise line offering awe-inspiring Tony Award®-winning Broadway musicals”.
She is a little bit older than her two sisters, having launched in 2010. But her capacity isn’t very far from the others, carrying up to 6,410 guests and 2,384 crew members that can enjoy its high-class features such as 5 swimming pools, an ice-skating rink, 9 jacuzzis and 28 lounges and bars served by 24 elevators across 16 decks that are accessible for all passengers. She was also $200 million dollars more expensive than the Harmony in manufacturing costs.
4. Oasis of the Seas
At the time of its manufacturing in 2006, the Oasis cost its owners $1.4 billion and held some pretty impressive records such as being the biggest cruise ship in the world, a record was later broken by her sister The Allure by just 2 inches! More records that were held are the first cruise ship to have a capacity of over 6,000 guests and the deepest high dive pool at sea. Out of the four Oasis ships ranked above, she was the first to be built. The ship features some cool amenities such as rock-climbing walls, 9 decks, high zip-line cable and the largest freshwater pool on any cruise ship.
5. Costa Smeralda
Stepping out of one company domination, we have at number five a boat from an Italian company that was founded way back in 1854. She was launched in late 2019 and unlike the other four that outranked her, the Smeralda has 20 decks and it’s one of only two cruise ships in the world that is fully operated by liquefied natural gas.
In January 2020 the ship had to be quarantined, along with all 6,000 passengers, at the Italian port of Civitavecchia when one of its passengers was suspected of being infected with coronavirus. They were tested and found to only have a common cold, so passengers were able to go on shore the following day.
We like records, and here is an impressive one that is beneficial for the environment as well: AIDAnova was the first cruise ship in the world that could be fully run on liquefied natural gas. Owned by the German cruise line AIDA Cruises, she was launched towards the end of 2018 and serves mainly the German-speaking market, with a maximum capacity of 5,200 passengers. Her main travel routes are around the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands.
7. MSC Grandiosa
The Grandiosa is owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A, based in Switzerland, Geneva. This international company is the biggest cruise company in the world that is privately held and contracts more than 23,000 people worldwide in 45 different countries. She entered service in late 2019, and is equipped with a highly advanced emissions reduction system that brings it down by 90% and includes other interesting animal protection and environmental safety features.
It has a maximum passenger capacity of 6,297 spread across 14 decks and 1,700 crew members in another 4 decks, making it 18 in total, all of which are named after famous painters. Passengers can also enjoy the high-class amenities that the ship offers such as 20 lounges and bars, 14 jacuzzis, 4 swimming pools and 12 restaurants, with the whole thing served by 39 elevators.
8 & 9. MSC Meraviglia & MSC Bellissima
With an exact matching size down to the millimetre, these two ships both measure at 315.83 metres with a weight of 171,598 tons – taking out equal place on our list. Though they have slight differences in passengers and crew capacity, they both provide high end cruise experiences as expected from the MSC cruise line standard, with various restaurants and bars, amusement water parks and much more.
10. Spectrum of the Seas
Closing down our list we have yet another Royal Caribbean’s vessel, about 14 meters shorter than her record-breaking sister The Symphony. Launched in mid-2019, this one costs only $940 million US dollars and can accommodate ‘only’ 4,905 passengers on maximum occupancy and equipped with ‘if you have the money’ amenities such as a family suite featuring a private 3D cinema, air hockey table and inner-room slide. There’s also an exclusive suites-only area with a private elevator, dedicated restaurant, outdoor space and shopping centre. A pretty cool feature that the Spectrum has is a Bionic Bar, with drinks that are crafted by robots!