Cruise Ships Then and Now

Published by Darron Toy on

There was a time when even the biggest passenger vessels were sleek and streamlined to cut through the waves. They often had gracious curves and elegant superstructures. But those days are long gone. As cruise ships have gotten bigger over the years, they’ve also gotten boxier and less appealing to the eye. Some might even call them ugly — at least as they appear from the outside. Here, Royal Caribbean’s one-year-old Harmony of the Seas — the world’s biggest cruise ship. Capable of carrying up to 6,687 passengers, Harmony of the Seas is not only the biggest cruise ship at sea but the fattest. It has a width of nearly 216 feet. Soaring 18 decks high and built with little sloping to its stern and sides, it’s one of the boxiest ships afloat. Harmony’s sister vessels Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are similarly boxy. It’s no accident that cruise ships are getting bigger and boxier. The trend is being driven by the cruise industry’s focus on adding ever more on-board activities to vessels — everything from multiple pool zones (Harmony of the Seas has four) to giant water slides. Bigger ships also are more efficient to run. Harmony of the Seas isn’t the only recently unveiled Royal Caribbean ship with a notably boxy appearance. The two-year-old Anthem of the Seas features a stern that rises almost vertically. Anthem’s sister vessels, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, have a similar look. Royal Caribbean’s latest ships are far taller, wider and boxier than such early Royal Caribbean vessels as Majesty of the Seas, which has been sailing since 1992. It’s currently the oldest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Even Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class of ships, rolled out between 1996 and 1998, have a much slimmer and more elegant profile than the line’s newer vessels. On the flip-side, they hold far fewer passengers and offer fewer public venues. Royal Caribbean isn’t alone in churning out ever bigger and boxier ships. Even more boxy in some cases are the recent ships of Norwegian Cruise Line. The seven-year-old Norwegian Epic, shown here, is famous for a blocky, two-deck-high suite complex at its top that seems like an afterthought and gives the vessel a top-heavy look. Even bigger than Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line’s two-year-old Norwegian Escape also has a blocky suite area at its top as well as rows of balcony cabins along its side that gives the ship a condominium-at-sea look. A view of Norwegian Escape as seen from its front. The 4,248-passenger vessel is chock full of amusements ranging from a massive water park to the largest ropes course at sea. Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the China-based Norwegian Joy, has a similar profile to Norwegian Escape. The vessels are sisters from the same series. The boxy look of today’s mega-ships is in stark contrast to the graceful profiles of the grand passenger vessels of the 20th century. Here, Cunard’s original, super-sleek Queen Mary, an icon of the 1930s that survives as a hotel and museum in Long Beach, Calif. Like other grand passenger ships of its time, Queen Mary cut an elegant profile with a long and narrow hull that boasted a piercing bow. At 118 feet, its beam was nearly half that of world’s biggest cruise ship Harmony of the Seas, giving it a slender look. A few cruise lines in recent years have bucked the trend to boxier vessels with new ships that evoke the elegant profiles of the past. Cunard’s 14-year-old flagship Queen Mary 2, for instance, shares the long, piercing bow of the original Queen Mary and a gracefully raked stern. While still among the 20 biggest passenger vessels in the world, Queen Mary 2 retains a sleek and streamlined profile that would have been more common half a century ago. To the frustration of some Cunard fans, the line’s next new vessel, the 2007-built Queen Victoria, did not have the same graceful exterior lines as Queen Mary 2. The ship was built on the same boxy Vista Class frame used for several ships at sister lines Holland America and Carnival. Another line that has taken great pains to design its ships with an elegant exterior profile is Disney Cruise Line. Disney’s 1,750-passenger Disney Magic, shown here, was given an extended bow, twin funnels (one is faux, just for looks) and a raked stern to evoke ocean liners of old. Some cabins near the front of the vessel that could have had balconies were given port holes to preserve the vessel’s look. A later Disney ship, the 2,500-passenger Disney Dream, also boasts a relatively sleek and streamlined profile that was consciously designed to mimic the elegance of earlier passenger vessels. Another line that has been rolling out bigger and boxier ships in recent years is MSC Cruises. Here, MSC Cruises’ new MSC Meraviglia, the fourth largest cruise ship in the world. The boxy look of MSC Meraviglia is a result of the enormous amount of public space that it offers, including a massive water park area on its top deck. As is the case with other mega-ships, MSC Meraviglia’s boxy exterior is the secret sauce that allows for more space for interior and deck-top public areas, including this massive pool area. Another new crop of mega-cruise ships scheduled to debut over the coming year will continue the trend toward boxier ships. Here, an artist’s drawing of Norwegian Cruise Line’s next new ship, Norwegian Bliss. It’s scheduled to debut in April 2018. While it may look boxy from the outside, Norwegian Bliss will boast a wide array of fun zones in its interior and deck-top spaces that include a two-deck-high racing track — a first for a North American-based vessel. Boxy in a similar way to Norwegian Bliss will be a new Norwegian Cruise Line ship to be called Norwegian Encore. It’s due in 2019. The boxy look of Norwegian Cruise Line’s recent ships is in sharp contrast to the slender profile of one its early icons, the SS Norway. Originally built in the 1950s as the SS France, the ship sailed for Norwegian from 1980 to 2003. Another early Norwegian Cruise Line ship with a far sleeker profile than the line’s modern vessels was the Skyward. It sailed for the line from 1969 to 1991. A new Celebrity Cruises ship scheduled to debut in December will have an even more bizarre exterior profile due to the presence of a movable bar, lounge and entertainment space that will be cantilevered over its side. Dubbed Celebrity Edge, the vessel will be the first in a series at Celebrity. As cruise ships get bigger and boxier, some lines are embracing the new look as a feature. In marketing its new Seaside Class of ships, one of which is shown here in an artist’s drawing, MSC Cruises touted a “Miami Beach condominium” style to their design. MSC Cruises’ new Seaside Class features rows of balcony cabins that evoke the condominiums that line the waterfront of Miami Beach. The profile of cruise ships is about to undergo another evolution as cruise lines experiment with new bow designs that are expected to improve stability and hydrodynamics. Here, an artist’s drawing of a new class of ship that MSC Cruises plans to launch starting 2022. It’ll be able to hold up to 6,850 passengers. Start-up line Virgin Voyages, scheduled to debut in 2020, also is building its ships with a new bow design that will give it an unusual profile. Some smaller ships that have been developed by niche lines in recent years have bucked the boxy trend and retain an elegant profile. Here, a small expedition-style ship called National Geographic Orion that originally was built in 2003 and now is operated by adventure-focused Lindblad Expeditions. A feature of older ships that has been disappearing in recent years is a raked, or sloped, stern as seen here on luxury line Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony. Visually pleasing when seen from a distance, the raked stern allows for a cascade of sun decks down the back of a vessel — a feature not found on many newer ships. Sailing since 1995, Crystal Symphony is considered one of the loveliest of today’s luxury ships with a sharply raked bow, sleek lines and relatively low, well-proportioned superstructure. In contrast to the sculptural raked stern found on Crystal Symphony, newer ships such as MSC Cruises’ MSC Meraviglia often have sterns that are almost completely squared off. The boxy design allows for more interior public space and cabins. Seen from the side, many of today’s mega-ships, such as as Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, have the look of land-based condominiums. In general, older cruise ships have a sleeker profile with fewer decks rising from the hull. Here, Windstar Cruises’ 1989-built Star Breeze. Designed by Oslo-based architects Yran and Storbratten, it offers a graceful, nuanced look marked by a unique funnel casing at its back. Carrying 212 passeners, Windstar’s Star Breeze originally was built for luxury line Seabourn. Seabourn sold the vessel and two sisters to Windstar as it transitioned to larger ships. Seabourn Cruise Line’s newest ship, Seabourn Encore, is more than twice as big as the older vessels the line sold to Windstar and carries nearly three times as many passengers. While sharing some exterior design features, it is much more boxy than its predecessors. The enormous width of recent vessels such as Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas is evident when looking at them from the front. Iconic passenger ships of half a century ago, such as the SS United States, offered a much narrower profile than recent vessels such as Harmony of the Seas. Long retired, the SS United States currently is tied up at a dock in Philadelphia. Another trend that is changing the way cruise ships appear from the outside is the development of elaborate “hull art” for vessels. Here, Norwegian Cruise Linne’s Norwegian Breakaway, which is emblazoned with art showing a New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty designed by artist Peter Max. The extra space created by making ships boxier has resulted in a new crop of unusual features on ships, including interior play zones with bumper cars. Bumper cars first debuted on a ship in 2014 with the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. The great changes that have occurred in ship design over the decades is clearly evident when looking back at photos of the original Pacific Princess, the ship used in the filming of the famed ‘Love Boat’ television series in the 1970s. Contrast the sleekness of the original Pacific Princess of ‘Love Boat’ fame to the chubbiness of one of Princess Cruises’ newest vessels, Royal Princess. Here, the vessel’s stubby bow is shown in the background with ‘Love Boat’ captain Gavin MacLeod and a phalanx of ‘royal princesses’ in the foreground.


Outback Car Detailing · February 16, 2018 at 9:52 am

cool i miss the old day

philip L · February 16, 2018 at 10:40 am

Old ships had elegance, not Las Vegas tacky like a lot of the new ships.

P.S. That computer voice is bad, gets on your nerves.

adamjw24 · February 16, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Jimmy ur mom is dead.

Boat Axe · February 16, 2018 at 1:05 pm

You people need to learn the difference between a cruise ship and an ocean liner, ocean liners were built to maintain a scheduled transportation route across the Atlantic year round, therefore they were built much stronger, had a deeper draft and were much faster than cruise ships. Also any computer that’s programmed to talk about ships should be programmed to pronounce the word ‘Bow’ properly, it’s not what you put on a Christmas present!

Nicole Shirman · February 16, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Comparing cruise ships of the 21st century to ocean liners of the 20th is just plain stupid! The two serve very different purposes. Ocean liners were a way to get from point A to point B across the Atlantic in decent time and comfort. Modern day cruise ships have only one purpose: vacations.

RMS SHIPS MOVIE · February 17, 2018 at 1:55 am

i missed the old style ship and my like is the stern style

RMS SHIPS MOVIE · February 17, 2018 at 2:12 am

8:43 thats not 1st style of that bow Promteo had 1st style of that bow

WD Harris · February 17, 2018 at 3:33 am

Great material….bad computer voice….unwatchable

Manuel Schneider · February 17, 2018 at 4:25 am

….. Awful computer voice! Can't someone just read a script?

Laura Leckemby · February 19, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Was able to cruise the S.S.Norway back in 1986. Was Wonderful!! So Sad She Is Gone Now…….

Chuck Finley · February 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Interesting video, I thought there’s a difference between a ocean liner and a cruise ship. The robot voice sucks on ice!

GavinGames · February 21, 2018 at 11:11 pm


GavinGames · February 21, 2018 at 11:13 pm


randyb555 · April 13, 2018 at 5:24 am

Tbh I like how cruise ships looks now don’t see anything wrong with them

SkyStudios · April 17, 2018 at 1:18 am

Can you stop complaining how old ships are more """ELEGANT"""
scratch that.

Protege Legions · August 8, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Ummn.. You do realize Cruise ships and ocean liners are both completely different Cruise ships are supposed to be big and bulky because there designed for entertainment and space for as much passengers as possible and cruise ships are made for short-term Cruises for example: from Florida to the Bahamas, ocean liners are streamlined and there hull and bow are designed to undergo harsh Atlantic waters and usually they travel from South Hampton to new york….so do research m8.

Nils Hedstrom · October 31, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Sadly this is true, the old ocean liners were beautiful ships! Todays cruise ships are just ugly, they are not real ships! They are just floating apartment complexes full of landlubbers! At least there are still some pretty good looking cargo ships being built today(Eventhough they are few) but still:(

Aelvir · December 8, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Queen May? I mean yeah, she had decent exterior and while great for comparing to today’s passenger ships, the QM1 compared to other liners of her time was rather standard looking.
Honestly the better passenger liners to compare to today’s cruise ships would be the ones of true undying elegance, like “Old Reliable” RMS Olympic, “Atlantic Greyhound” RMS Mauretania (who actually sailed as a cruise ship later in her life), and “The Ship Beautiful” RMS Aquitania. The Queen Mary herself didn’t deserve to be preserved compared to the ships I mentioned. The QM1’s interior, as well as SS Normandie created the trend still going on today where proper luxurious and elegant decor is replaced with austere, plain, and garish decor and rooms. Elegant rooms are now just what you’d find in a run-of-the-mill hotel. And even cruise ships interiors today are nothing special.
And my issue with today’s cruise ships is the fact that they have the superstructure being the same width (if not wider) than the width of the deck of the hull, and I also hate that hardly any of them have spacious decks. Nearly all of them have NO poop deck, and they don’t have much of anything for a deck on the bow and worst of all no boat deck (the superstructure seems to usually only have one outside deck and that’s at the top of the superstructure).
The worst part about how boxier they’re becoming is it will be making larger berths being required and soon enough required to be made.

Aelvir · December 8, 2018 at 4:11 pm

As for Celebrity Edge has a good thing going for it. After the SS Normandie and RMS Olympic and other 20th century ocean liner based restaurants were removed in 2015 they announced the Celebrity Edge will have the removed Normandie restaurant included to it. I’m hoping the other ships of the Edge class will add the Olympic Restaurant from Celebrity Millennium that was based off of Olympic’s Á la Carte restaurant and even having its actual original paneling.

Joe Mancini · December 19, 2018 at 10:16 pm

3:46 looks 10000 times better than a cruise ship

KitCat Tv Official · January 10, 2019 at 11:39 pm

ive never heard anyone call modern day cruise ships ugly or boxy, but i do agree they are boxy.

blewyd · March 23, 2019 at 3:26 am

Fuck this fucker and this shitty computer voice. Think and look at your like to dislike.

Coronation anna · April 15, 2019 at 4:48 am

Symphlny of te seas is the largest today

Snakelady · May 27, 2019 at 5:15 pm

The new ships are ugly AF! They look like a skyscraper floating on it's side.

Snakelady · May 27, 2019 at 5:18 pm

You could have fixed this lousy robot narration. 😠

T.P · July 18, 2019 at 1:30 pm

the difference is, the older ships were ocean liners, built to transport passengers and their belongings such as mail to other places, cruise ships are used as holidays so they need a boxier look to fit entertainment like water parks and pools etc.

Chuck Beickel · October 31, 2019 at 3:06 am

soshiangel90 · November 22, 2019 at 9:41 pm

here i thought I was going to get an objective video simply showcasing the growth of the industry…instead I get to Microsoft Sam bitch about new cruise ships…..

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