When you think of the largest cruise ship in the world, you probably think of one of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class cruise ships, including Wonder of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas.
But back in 1912, the most infamous cruise ship of all time, RMS Titanic, was the world’s largest cruise ship. Built by the White Star Line, Titanic departed Southampton for its inaugural (and final) voyage in April 1912.
You might wonder how the Titanic compares to modern cruise ships. Like most things in history, a lot has changed since the Titanic was built. Engineering has revolutionized the cruise ship industry, with ships being built wider, taller and more technologically advanced than ever.
Ocean Liner or Cruise Ship?
Most people assume that the Titanic was a cruise ship, but this actually isn’t true.
In fact, the Titanic wasn’t even considered a cruise ship at the time it was built; the ship was actually classified as an ocean liner.
This is an important distinction because ocean liners are meant to transport passengers across the ocean. Ocean liners are engineered and built to be used for the purpose of regular transportation across the ocean.
However, the White Star Line chose to make both luxury and comfort key components of the Titanic. This helped differentiate Titanic from other ocean liners being built by Cunard Cruise Line, which was the White Star Line’s biggest competition at the time. Both companies were racing to dominate the Atlantic, but Cunard focused on making ships that could cross the ocean quickly while White Star Line focused on building a ship full of luxury.
Because of this, the Titanic would be more comparable to a cruise ship today than an ocean liner.
As a matter of fact, ocean liners are becoming a thing of the past with an overall preference shift towards cruise ships. Currently, the RMS Queen Mary 2 is the only operational ocean liner that regularly transports passengers across the Atlantic.
When Titanic was built, she was considered massive for that time in history. The ship was able to hold 3,353 passengers, which included 900 crew members.People were astonished by the sheer size of Titanic - of course, she was also considered to be unsinkable. We all know how that aged.
When it comes to Titanic’s length, she was 882 feet long. In comparison, Wonder of the Seas is 1,187 feet long, which is around 35% longer. As the world's largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas holds 8,000 passengers.
Keep in mind that Wonder of the Seas is substantially larger than most modern cruise ships. It’s tough to compare Titanic to cruise ships that are being built to out-compete one another in terms of size.
Some modern cruise ships are actually quite comparable in length to Titanic. In fact, some modern cruise ships are even shorter in length than Titanic!
For example, Carnival’s smallest operating cruise ship (as of 2022) is Carnival Paradise. This cruise ship measures at 860 feet long, which is shorter than Titanic. Similarly, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas measures at 915 feet long, which is only 33 feet longer than Titanic.
While Titanic holds her own when it comes to length, the ship’s width is substantially smaller than modern cruise ships.
Titanic’s length from one side to the other measured 92.5 feet. Modern cruise ships are typically around 120 feet today, which is about 22% bigger than Titanic. Wonder of the Seas is an astonishing 210 feet wide and clocking in at more than double the width of Titanic.
Deck and Height Comparison
Titanic’s height is where she really starts to show her age in comparison to modern shipyard engineering. When it comes to Titanic’s height, she was nearly 104 feet tall with only 9 passenger decks.
Modern cruise ships are double that size, averaging around 190 feet tall with 12-14 passenger decks. The largest cruise ship in the world is 235 feet tall with 18 passenger decks, which is double the number of decks that Titanic had.
Because of engineering limitations at the time, Titanic had to be built in one piece, which limited the overall height of the ship. Today, cruise ships are built in smaller sections and loaded onto large cranes. These chunks are pieced together one by one, which allows the engineering process to be much faster than traditional building methods.
The Titanic did not have a single balcony cabin, while today's cruise ships, particularly Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class vessels, have multiple categories of balconies: Oceanview, Central Park, and Boardwalk. The Titanic's most luxurious suites were comprised of two bedrooms, ensuite bathroom, and separate parlor room.
Cruisers today would never fathom paying to share a bathroom like second and third class passengers on this ocean liner did!
Titanic’s Gross Tonnage Comparison
Although smaller than most modern cruise ships, Titanic was a historic 46,328 gross tonnage for its time.In comparison, modern cruise ships have a gross tonnage around 120,000. This is more than 150% heavier than Titanic.
The largest cruise ships in the world come in at a whopping 230,000 gross tonnage. This means Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships are nearly 4 times as heavy as Titanic.
This isn’t surprising, as cruise ships are being built bigger than ever before. Nearly every major cruise line has been building cruise ships that are bigger than anything built before.
Efficiency is the reason why, as cruise ships are operating bigger ships at lower costs. Royal Caribbean investors mentioned recently they can breakeven at 35% capacity on their biggest ships compared to 50% capacity on older, smaller ships.
Titanic Speed Comparison
Titanic can hold its own when comparing its speed to modern day cruise ships. Titanic’s maximum speed was 23 knots, which is roughly 26.5 miles per hour. Historical records show that the Titanic sailed around 22 knots on average.
In fact, it’s believed Titanic was sailing around 22 knots when the ship unfortunately struck an iceberg, causing her to start sinking into the frigid Atlantic waters.
Most modern day cruise ships have a maximum speed of 30 knots and an average speed of 20 knots. The largest cruise ships in the world have a maximum speed of 22 knots, which is slower than Titanic.
Titanic’s Legacy Lives On
After Titanic’s tragic sinking, the White Star Line was merged with Cunard Cruise Line, which is known for currently operating Queen Mary 2. Cunard is now operated under Carnival Corporation.
There's been rumors of the Australian-based company Blue Star Line building a Titanic II, which will set sail as a replica of the RMS Titanic. Its estimated gross tonnage, however, is projected to be roughly 9,600 more than the original vessel. The project has been delayed multiple times since its intended 2016 launch, but the company claims the ship will be able to set sail as early as 2022.
Is there a ship like Titanic today? ›
Titanic II is a planned passenger ocean liner intended to be a functional modern-day replica of the Olympic-class RMS Titanic. The new ship is planned to have a gross tonnage (GT) of 56,000, while the original ship measured about 46,000 gross register tons (GRT).Is Titanic 2 built yet? ›
Some relatives of passengers who died on RMS Titanic condemned the project to build a replica ship as insensitive. Blue Star Line was flooded with inquiries from potential customers, some offering up to GBP 640,000 to book Titanic 2's inaugural cruise. The replica ship is expected to enter service in 2024 or 2025.Is there a ship bigger than the Titanic now? ›
Not only is Wonder of the Seas larger than Titanic, all of the Oasis Class cruise ships are larger than the Titanic in gross tonnage, as well as size.What is the largest ship ever built compared to the Titanic? ›
Comparing the Symphony of the Seas vs the Titanic, Royal Caribbean's biggest ship categorically dwarfs the Titanic's size in every way, more than doubling its passenger capacity and nearly quintupling its gross tonnage. The Titanic's length, however, is still competitive at about 75 percent of Symphony's.Will the Titanic 2 ever sail? ›
A century after the original sank to the bottom of the ocean, a new Titanic ship will set sail across the Atlantic Ocean. The replica is the passion project of Australian businessman and politician Clive Palmer and is expected to make its maiden voyage in 2022.Will Titanic ever be raised? ›
After several trips back to the drawing board, it turns out that raising the Titanic would be about as futile as rearranging the deck chairs on the doomed vessel. After a century on the ocean floor, the Titanic is apparently in such bad shape that it couldn't withstand such an endeavor for various reasons.Why did it take so long to find Titanic? ›
Efforts to locate and salvage the Titanic began almost immediately after it sank. But technical limitations—as well as the sheer vastness of the North Atlantic search area—made it extremely difficult.Was the Titanic bigger than the Olympic? ›
Titanic was fractionally larger than the Olympic with best estimates being only some 3 inches favouring the Titanic but over 1000 tonnes heavier in gross tonnage than Olympic.How much were tickets on the Titanic? ›
The prices of tickets on the Titanic in 1912 ranged from £870 or $4,350 for a first-class parlor suite to a maximum of £8 or $40 for a third-class passage, according to The Washington Times. A century later, in 2012, those ticket prices equaled a range of $50,000 to $460.How cold was the water when the Titanic sank? ›
The lookouts along with the officers on the bridge knew that a calm ocean would make icebergs hard to see with no breaking water at the base. It was also extremely cold that night with sea surface temperatures reportedly at 28 degrees -- a lethal temperature for any person.
How many people could the Titanic hold? ›
There were 20 life boats on board, which would have held a capacity of 1178 people. Meanwhile the capacity of Titanic was 3320 people.Can a cruise ship survive a tsunami? ›
Experts agree that a cruise ship sailing out over a body of water is not likely to feel any impacts from a tsunami's waves.How big was the iceberg that hit the Titanic? ›
The iceberg that sank the Titanic was relatively large at the time of impact at 42°N. Reports from survivors claimed the iceberg responsible was some 50–100 feet high (15–31m) and 400 feet (122m) long.What was the top speed the Titanic could travel? ›
The ship's length was 882 feet, 9 inches, and it weighed 46,328 tons. Its top speed was 23 knots.Why did the Britannic sink? ›
At 8.12am on 21st November 1916, while steaming in the Aegean Sea HMHS Britannic struck a mine and sadly sunk in only 55 minutes with the loss of 30 lives.What if Titanic hit the iceberg head on? ›
When a ship hits an iceberg head on, all the force would be transferred back to the ship, so it wouldn't have ripped open, but crumpled round, so only 2-3 compartments would have been breached. It was built to survive with 4 compartments breached.What would it cost to build the Titanic today? ›
Built at an estimated cost of $7.5 million in 1912, in today's dollars it would cost roughly $400 million to construct.What date will Titanic 2 set sail? ›
A replica of the world famous Titanic ship, dubbed Titanic II, will set sail in 2022 as it retraces the route of the original ship.Where is the closest Titanic ship? ›
Both the American and British inquires found that Californian must have been closer than the 19.5 miles (31.4 km) claimed by Captain Lord, and that each ship was visible from the other. Indeed, when Carpathia arrived at the wreck site, a vessel was clearly seen to the north; this was later identified as Californian.