Over roughly the past decade cruise ships have gotten big… real big. As one line makes a ship that’s larger, carries more passengers, and offers eye-catching activities, others then play catch-up in the “arms race” to build ships that everyone is talking about.
Large ships offer several advantages over smaller ones. For one, larger ships carrying more passengers mean that each trip can generate more revenue for the cruise line.
And it’s not just cruise fare. With larger ships also packing more onboard, there is an opportunity to increase the spending of those passengers on the ships with more restaurants and for-pay activities.
Today’s mega ships also can increase the economies of scale, creating more efficiency for the cruise line. Last but not least, rolling out a ground-breaking new ship also serves as a marketing device as the vessels get major coverage, which can lead to increased buzz and bookings.
So it’s no surprise that in recent years ships have only gotten larger. Of the major cruise lines listed below, all of their largest ships were built within the last three years. With that in mind, here are the current largest ships in each fleet, as of the time of this writing.
Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Celebration
Officially listed by Carnival Cruise Line at 183,521 gross tons, Carnival Celebration — built in 2022 — takes the crown as the largest ship in the fleet. It is just slightly larger than sister-ship Mardi Gras, which comes in at 180,800 gross tons.
So what do you get for that sort of size? Carnival Celebration measures 1,130 feet long and carries 2,687 staterooms. That gives a capacity of 6,631 passengers when at full occupancy.
Across the 15 passenger decks there are nearly 20 different places to grab a bite to eat. Activities include a complete waterpark with three slides, sport court, and even an 800′ long roller coaster that goes up to 40 mph. There are also live versions of game show classics like Deal or No Deal and Family Feud.
- Year Built: 2022
- Gross Tonnage: 183,521
- Length: 1,130 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 6,631
Royal Caribbean: Wonder of the Seas
When it comes to the largest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean takes the crown. Their Oasis-class ships are currently the biggest on the planet, with all five of the largest cruise ships in the world being part of that group.
While these ships are similar, the largest of the class (and therefore the world) is Wonder of the Seas, which first began sailing in 2022. Coming in at 235,600 gross tons and measuring 1,188 feet, the ship is about 28% larger than Carnival Celebration.
As for passengers, Wonder of the Seas can carry a staggering 7,084 when completely full in all of its 2,867 cabins. And those passengers have no shortage of things to see, do, and eat. Wonder of the Seas has more than 20 places to eat, features activities like the Flowrider standing wave, multiple pools, an AquaTheater for performances utilizing high-divers, and even a zipline across the back of the ship.
Note: When Royal Caribbean debuts Icon of the Seas in late 2023, it will take the title of world’s largest cruise ship.
- Year Built: 2022
- Gross Tonnage: 235,600
- Length: 1,188 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 7,084
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Encore
Norwegian Cruise Line is an outlier of the major cruise lines in that its newest ships are actually going smaller. The current newest ship is Norwegian Prima, which first started sailing in 2022. But the largest ship in the fleet is Norwegian Encore, which debuted in 2019.
Encore is part of the cruise line’s Breakaway-Plus class. The ship measures 169,116 gross tons, or about 70% of the tonnage of Wonder of the Seas from Royal Caribbean. The ship measures 1,094 feet and carries 3,998 at double occupancy. (Note that NCL provides a double occupancy figure, which is typically smaller than a full capacity figure.)
While the ship may not be the biggest in the world, it does stand out when it comes to amenities onboard. For one, it’s built with an outdoor focus, including The Waterfront — a quarter-mile outdoor promenade that brings you closer to the ocean.
Then there is Ocean Loops, an intense waterslide that takes you out over the edge of the ship (complete with clear tubes) before bringing you back in. Perhaps the most eye-catching feature is the Encore Speedway, an actual go-karting track at the top of the ship.
- Year Built: 2019
- Gross Tonnage: 169,116
- Length: 1,094 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 3,998 (double occupancy)
Princess: Discovery Princess/Enchanted Princess
Princess is well-known for offering a more luxurious experience than mass-market lines, and that typically means smaller ships. In fact, the largest ships in the fleet are smaller than what you see from other major cruise lines but are still substantial.
In this case, Discovery Princess comes in at 145,000 gross tons, which is actually a tie with sister-ship Enchanted Princess. Discovery is 1,083 feet long and boasts 1,830 cabins. At double occupancy, the ship carries 3,660 passengers, although that figure would rise when three or more are put in a cabin.
Perhaps surprisingly, the size of Princess ships hasn’t increased as drastically as seen with other lines. While Discovery and Enchanted take the crown, they aren’t that much longer as other ships in the cruise line’s Royal class. This class of ships debuted in 2013 with Royal Princess, which is just slightly smaller at 142,229 gross tons.
That said, the cruise line will welcome a new class of ship when Sun Princess debuts in 2024. This ship will measure nearly 180,000 gross tons and carry 4,300 passengers at double occupancy.
- Year Built: 2022
- Gross Tonnage: 145,000
- Length: 1,083 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 3,660 (double occupancy)
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Beyond
Celebrity is known for being a mix of luxury combined with still offering up a mega-ship with lots to experience. Case in point — its largest ship, Celebrity Beyond, ranks as one of the top 50 largest cruise ships on the planet.
This vessel, part of the cruise line’s Edge class, measures 140,600 gross tons according to the cruise line. It also boasts a length of 1,073 feet. Onboard, Beyond can hold 3,260 guests at double occupancy in its 1,646 cabins.
To give some sense of just how large cruise ships are today, Celebrity Beyond would have to increase in tonnage by about 67% to match Wonder of the Seas — the largest cruise ship at the moment.
- Year Built: 2022
- Gross Tonnage: 140,600
- Length: 1,073 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 3,260 (double occupancy)
MSC Cruises: MSC World Europa
Stateside, MSC is still making inroads, but it’s a major brand globally. And it also takes a special position in having the largest cruise ship in the world outside of Royal Caribbean.
The title of MSC’s largest ship goes to MSC World Europa. This massive vessel comes in at a staggering 215,863 gross tons and was launched in late 2022. It features 2,626 staterooms onboard across its 1,093 feet of length.
At full occupancy, World Europa can carry 6,762 passengers, putting it just shy of the 7,000 guest mark.
Of course, on a ship that large there can be no shortage of things to do. Surprisingly, the ship has “only” 13 dining venues but has a 340-foot promenade indoors, an 11-deck slide that takes passengers spinning down on a thrill ride, bumper cars, and seven different swimming pools.
- Year Built: 2022
- Gross Tonnage: 215,863
- Length: 1,093 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 6,762
Costa Cruises: Costa Toscana
A sister to Carnival, Costa is a popular cruise line in Europe and the Middle East. In fact, the largest ship in Costa’s fleet shares similarities with Carnival’s largest class of ships that include Celebration and Mardi Gras.
In this case, the LNG-powered Costa Toscana is roughly the same size as Costa Smeralda. The ship was built in 2021 by Meyer Werft, coming in a 185,010 gross tons. That’s roughly the same size as Carnival Celebration.
All told the ship measures 1,105 feet (337 meters) and can carry up to 6,554 passengers when completely full. Those passengers stay in a staggering 2,612 cabins.
- Year Built: 2021
- Gross Tonnage: 185,010
- Length: 1,105 feet
- Passenger Capacity: 6,554
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