The World’s Largest Cruise Ships

It’s true that size is not everything – stop laughing at the back, it is true. But for some, the true epic scale of a mammoth building or edifice makes their head spin. The excitement of seeing a truly huge piece of architecture – whatever the setting – can be genuinely impressive. For some people it is the ambition of the project that enchants, for others it is the sheer mechanical magnitude. When the Titanic was developed, its size was one of the things that impressed everyone, but what was truly astounding was that something so big would actually work from a mechanics point of view.

Just as there is no shortage of cities worldwide bringing architects in to conceptualize and build ever taller buildings, in a never-ending race to build the world’s tallest (and you can be sure that once one city builds the tallest, another will try to beat it), there seems to be a tendency among cruise lines to build the biggest ship. This race is currently headed in terms of length by Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary 2, a 1,132 foot, 148,528 tonne behemoth that regularly crosses the Atlantic and has carried former world leaders such as Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and George H.W. Bush, the US Olympic Basketball “Dream Team”, and the first US copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Although shorter than the Queen Mary 2, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom class (consisting of the Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas), are all heavier than her, weighing an astounding 154,407 tonnes. Built in Finland, these ships are the current holders of the record for largest passenger ships by tonnage and sail to the Caribbean, serving Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Haiti – the final location being Royal Caribbean’s private resort in Labadee. Both titles, for longest ship and heaviest ship, though, are set to be given up in this coming year, and will be held by Royal Caribbean’s latest development.

Again built in Turku, Finland, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class will stretch the record yet further. 1,180 feet (360m long – that’s three football pitches including endzones!), and weighing 220,000 tonnes, the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas) will be without any shadow of a doubt the biggest passenger liners that have ever been built. This will come to pass in the late stages of 2009, and if there’s one thing of which you can be absolutely certain it is that once these ships hit the waves, there will be a company looking to find a way to build something longer, heavier and more remarkable.

The centre of the ship, incorporating a sliding roof, will have what amounts to a set of apartment blocs with a central area featuring a park (based on New York’s Central Park) with its own microclimate to ensure that plants and trees can survive. The most amazing levels of innovation, the most ambitious ideas in shipbuilding have been put in place to ensure that this latest record-breaking ship takes its place in the press, and in the minds of lovers of luxury cruises.

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