The Evolution of Cruising

Take a look into the evolution of cruising over the years!

Cruising has certainly changed dramatically over the years.  From the Mayflower, to Mardi Gras and Anthem of the Seas, cruising has evolved dramatically over the course of history.  With the changes in lifestyle, communication, and what people do for entertainment, it’s always different and constantly changing.  Cruise lines understand that, and change with that.  Here, we give you a look inside the evolution of cruising throughout the years.

1. Noah’s Ark

artist depiction of how the ark may have looked
Artist depiction of how the ark may have looked. photo: YouTube
  • Date launched: ~2500BC-2300BC
  • Tonnage: over 22,000 displacement tonnage
  • Passenger Capacity: 8 people plus 2 of every kind of land-based animal
  • Fun Facts: All of the animals only required less than 30% of the space on the ark; meaning there was lots of breathing and wiggle room for everyone.  The going estimate for how long the ark probably was is 450′ long, 75′ wide, and 45′ high.
  • Wow Features: The construction was on a 1:6 ratio, which naval architecture reveals is the most stable ratio for a vessel at sea.  It would have been nearly impossible to capsize.  No one built ships that exceeded the size of the ark until the 1800’s!

2. Mayflower

painting by William Halsall
painting by William Halsall
  • Date launched: sometime before 1609
  • Tonnage: 180
  • Passenger Capacity: ~102
  • Fun Facts: The mayflower only 3 primary levels, and was only 12 feet longer than a tennis court.  There was 25-30 crew members on the iconic voyage of the pilgrims coming to America.  Before carrying the pilgrims to the New World, the Mayflower had been engaged in the wine trade in the Mediterranean and the fur trade in Norway.
  • Wow Features: The three main levels of the ship were the main deck, gun deck, and cargo hold.  The ship had many cannons, including a Minion Cannon which could shoot a 3.5 pound cannonball almost a mile.

3. Titanic

photo: wikipedia
  • Date launched: May 31, 1911
  • Tonnage: 46,328 GRT
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,435
  • Fun Facts: The titanic only had 20 lifeboats that could hold 1,178 people; less than half the passenger capacity not even including crew.  Built in Ireland, it was the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners for White Star Line, the first being Olympic and the third being Britannic. 
  • Wow Features: Titanic‘s interior design was a departure of the usual manor or English country house type of styles typical of ocean liners.  Instead, it was modeled after the Ritz Hotel, with the Empire, Renaissance, and Victorian styles in various spaces throughout the ship.  The ship had amenities such as a telephone system, a Turkish bath, a barber shop, and a lending library.
  • Titanic II is scheduled to launch in 2018, you can read more about it here.

4. Queen Mary

photo: wikipedia
  • Date launched: September 26, 1934
  • Tonnage: 81,237 GRT
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,139
  • Fun Facts: It’s worth noting that even though Queen Mary was larger than Titanic, the passenger capacity was smaller.  This is partially due to the fact that there were so many crew on the Queen Mary – in fact, the passenger to crew ratio was about 2:1.  The ocean liner was named after Queen Mary, the wife of King George V.
  • Wow Features: The largest room onboard was the first-class dining room, which was 3 decks tall and anchored by large columns.  The first-class swimming pool facility was 2 decks high.  It was the first ocean liner to have its own Jewish prayer room, which was part of a policy to show that British shipping lines were avoiding racism during the time of Nazi Germany.

5. Carnival’s Mardi Gras

  • Date launched: 1961 (as Empress of Canada for Canadian Pacific, Carnival acquired in 1972)
  • Tonnage: 18,261 (after sold to Carnival and refurbished)
  • Passenger Capacity: 1,048
  • Fun Facts: Mardi Gras was Carnival Cruise Line’s first ship.  They bought Mardi Gras from Canadian Pacific, then when Carnival sold her, she was operated under 4 more cruise lines before being scrapped in 2003.
  • Wow Features: Before acquired by Carnival, Mardi Gras was a dual purpose ship, used for liner service and cruising.  When Carnival bought it, only the first-class cabins were suitable for the cruising public, so the tourist class cabins were upgraded.  The company was low on capital, so often for the first two years the ship would carry workers while operating a cruise vacation at the same.

6. Sovereign of the Seas

photo: wikipedia
  • Date launched: January 16, 1988
  • Tonnage: 73,192
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,852
  • Fun Facts: Her refurbishment in 2004 was the subject of the Travel Channel’s mini series Dry-Dock, a Cruise Ship Reborn.  In 2008 Sovereign of the Seas was transferred to Pullmantur after 20 years with Royal Caribbean, and her name was shortened to just Sovereign.
  • Wow Features: At the time of her maiden voyage, she was the biggest cruise ship to be built since Queen Elizabeth.  It features nine bars, five restaurants, four pools, a spa, and casino.

7. Carnival Destiny

photo: wikipedia
  • Date launched: November 15, 1995
  • Tonnage: 101,353
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,642
  • Fun Facts: When Carnival Destiny began service, she was the first passenger ship to be over 100,000 tons as measured by gross tonnage.  She went into dry dock in 2013 in Italy to be refitted, and was renamed Carnival Sunshine.  
  • Wow Features: Before the refurbishment, she featured a movie screen on the lido deck, three pools, a spa, and a casino.  After becoming Carnival Sunshine, she was outfitted with a racing themed waterpark, featuring one of the biggest waterslides in Carnival’s fleet.

8. Norwegian Epic

photo: wikipedia
  • Date launched: July 10, 2009
  • Tonnage: 155,873
  • Passenger Capacity: 4,100
  • Fun Facts: When built, Norwegian Epic was the third largest cruise ship in the world.  All outside cabins include balconies, and it also features interior studio cabins for solo guests, including a shared “living room” for socializing.
  • Wow Features: The ship’s Aqua Park has the only tube and bowl waterslide at sea.  Norwegian Epic also has a rappelling wall, bowling alley, and an ice bar where the constant temperature is a cool 17 degrees.

9. Oasis of the Seas

photo: wikipedia
  • Date launched: November 30, 2009
  • Tonnage: 225,282
  • Passenger Capacity: 6,296
  • Fun Facts: Oasis of the Seas set a new record of being able to carry over 6,000 passengers, and was also the largest cruise ship in the world at the time she was built.  Her sister ship, Allure of the Seas, built in 2010, is a mere two inches longer.  Oasis was ordered and designed under the name “Project Genesis,” which means “beginning” or “formation.”
  • Wow Features: The ship features a massive promenade on the interior of the ship, called Central Park.  There are balcony rooms that overlook this space, as well as regular balcony rooms on the exterior that overlook the ocean.  The ship also features the AquaTheater; an amphitheater surrounding a freshwater pool, an ice skating rink, a zip line, and 5 swimming pools.

10. Quantum of the Seas

photo: Royal Caribbean
photo: Royal Caribbean
  • Date launched: October 30, 2014
  • Tonnage: 168,666
  • Passenger Capacity: 4,905
  • Fun Facts:  Quantum of the Seas is the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class.  It’s the second largest class of passenger ships after the Oasis Class, based on gross tonnage.  She spent her inaugural season sailing from Cape Liberty in New Jersey, but has relocated to Shanghai, China.  During relocation, several changes were made including resizing the casino and modifying menus to include more Asian food.
  • Wow Features:  The most notable feature of Quantum of the Seas is the NorthStar; a glass-walled capsule on the end of a crane arm that lifts guests over the edge of the ship at 300 feet above sea level.  The ship also includes a H2O Zone kid’s waterpark, RipCord by iFly; an indoor skydiving simulator, a FlowRider surfing simulator, and a rock climbing wall.

There are even bigger and badder ships on the horizon so stay tuned!

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