We all know that cruise ships these days are big. Real big.
It’s not unusual for a ship to carry 4,000 passengers at a time, with the largest ships carrying 7,000 passengers or more.
On top of that, there are all the amenities and things to do for those people onboard. That includes restaurants, theaters, pools, casinos, and some ships even have things like go-kart tracks, waterslides, and roller coasters.
It’s easy for a modern cruise ship to have 20 decks and thousands of cabins. If you’ve ever sailed on one of these ships — or even seen them in port — then you know how imposing they can be. They seemingly take up the entire landscape.
As a passenger, it can take days until you get your bearings getting around the ship, and you might not even see the entire thing during your cruise.
But when it comes to the absolute largest cruise ship in the world, it is something in a class all its own…
The Largest Cruise Ship in the World
The title of largest cruise ships on the planet goes to Royal Caribbean.
For years the cruise line has been able to boast Oasis-class vessels that all measure more than 1,180 feet and are capable of carrying around 7,000 passengers (plus more than 2,000 crew members) at full capacity.
But now the cruise line is going even bigger. In 2024, Royal Caribbean will begin sailing the first of its new Icon-class cruise ships. The initial entry is dubbed Icon of the Seas.
This ship marks the new largest cruise ship on the planet (giving the cruise line the top six largest cruise ships in the world). Measuring 250,800 gross tons, Icon of the Seas is 1,198 feet long. The vessel has 2,805 staterooms, for a completely full capacity of 7,600 cruise passengers.
Onboard, there are seven swimming pools, eight different “neighborhoods” around the ship, and more than 20 spots to eat. Icon of the Seas will also have the Category 6 waterpark, featuring six different waterslides — a first at sea.
Put simply, anyone that’s been on a cruise ship knows how much can be packed onto a ship. But Icon of the Seas takes it to a whole other level. There is simply nothing else that quite compares.
Comparing the Largest Ships in the World to Landmarks
When it comes to the size of cruise ships, however, it’s extremely hard to visualize. Unless you are standing next to the ship, you can’t appreciate just how large they really are.
To give people a better idea of just how big the world’s largest cruise ship actually is, we took them out of the water. We’ve taken an overhead view of Icon of the Seas and scaled it next to some famous landmarks, including places like the White House and Disney World.
If you’ve never had the experience to see one of these ships in person, it will give you a better idea of their massive size.
JFK Airport (New York)
This gives you a good idea of the size of a cruise ship compared to the largest airplanes. Here, we’ve positioned Icon of the Seas at one of the gates. As you can see, it stretches all the way across the tarmac.
And compared to the largest airplanes? The new ship completely dwarfs anything in the air. You can see some large aircraft to the left of the picture — planes capable of carrying hundreds of passengers. Compared to the largest cruise ship in the world, however, they look tiny.
At about 1,198 feet long, it’s no wonder the ship looks so large. It is nearly a quarter-mile in length.
The White House
The White House is big, but if you placed this cruise ship next to it, it would dwarf the iconic landmark. In this case, it could stretch all the way from the front door of the White House to the middle of The Ellipse at the south end of the complex.
If you wanted to go all the way to the Washington Monument, it would take about three ships laid bow to stern.
Home of the Red Sox, Fenway is a classic ballpark. Even this classic park is tiny compared to a present-day cruise ship. Fenway’s length from home plate to the right-field wall is 380 feet long (though a quirk means the foul pole is only 302 feet away). That’s only about 1/3 of the length of the Oasis-class vessels.
In fact, the ship would extend past not just the outfield wall, but all the bleachers with lots of room to spare. Even if a ball player hit a mammoth 500-foot homerun, it would take two of them end-to-end before they even came close to the length of this ship.
Finally, something that can compete with the size of a new cruise ship — the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn — two areas that are separated by about 1,900 feet of the East River. The bridge is massive, but the Icon-class ship is hardly dwarfed by the landmark. Turned sideways, the ship would take up most of the bridge.
Even so, the Brooklyn Bridge carries way more people than the ship. While the largest cruise ship can carry about 10,000 passengers and crew at full capacity, more than 150,000 people cross the Brooklyn Bridge on a daily basis.
Anyone who has been to Disney World has no doubt come away with a new appreciation of its size after a full day of walking in the Florida heat and humidity.
Well, Icon of the Seas can hold its own versus Disney World. In fact, if you were to lay one of these ships at the entrance gates of the Magic Kingdom, it would reach all the way past Cinderella’s Castle. That’s big.
Rose Bowl Stadium
If you’re a college football fan, then you know the Rose Bowl is arguably the most famous stadium in the country. It has hosted famous concerts, Super Bowls, and the annual Rose Bowl Game. And while most people are in awe of its size, the stadium is no match for the Icon-class vessels.
A regulation football field with endzones measures 120 yards, or 360 feet. That’s only about a third of the length of this ship.
Central Park is the most visited city park in the United States and one of the largest. The park covers 843 acres in the middle of Manhattan. The Onassis Reservoir in the center of the park covers more than 100 of those acres. The body of water would be large enough to fit the cruise ship easily, but there wouldn’t be much room to maneuver (or many ports to visit!). However, in this case you could at least play on the six waterslides on the ship while in the middle of the city.
Bellagio Fountains (Las Vegas)
Most people that have visited Las Vegas have stopped and watched the nightly shows at the Bellagio fountains. And while the fountains seem to go on forever when you’re walking past, the largest cruise ships in the world goes on for even longer.
In fact, it would span the entire length of the “lake” in front of the casino, with room to spare. For anyone that’s walked in Las Vegas from casino to casino, you know how surprisingly long the distances can be. That gives you a better idea of the size of this class of ship.
Golden Gate Bridge
Above we compared the largest cruise ship in the world to the Brooklyn Bridge, but there is no bridge more famous than California’s Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate bridge is nearly 9,000 feet long, spanning from San Francisco to the Marin Headlands. That size makes it one of the few man-made structures that can make the biggest cruise ship look small. In fact, this ship looks almost normal in size compared to the length of the iconic bridge.
The Taj Mahal
It’s one of the most famous sites in the world and shows just how massive Royal Caribbean’s biggest ship really is. While the Taj Mahal complex is definitely larger, the ship can still hold its own.
One place where the Taj Mahal wins? Nearly 8 million visitors visit the spot each year. By comparison, “only” about 400,000 passengers could sail aboard an Icon-class vessel annually.
While the Taj Mahal is one of the new wonders, the pyramids in Egypt make up one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World. No one is quite certain how the massive structures were built thousands of years ago, but people are still awed by their size. Today, another wonder would fit neatly between two of the largest pyramids.
Note the Great Sphinx sitting in the bottom right corner of the satellite image.
More on Icon of the Seas:
- Photos: See the New World’s Largest Cruise Ship (Icon of the Seas) Sail for the First Time
- Guide to Thrill Island & Category 6 Waterpark on Icon of the Seas
- Icon of the Seas: What to Know About Royal Caribbean’s New Ship (Read Before Booking)