Passenger travel on ships has evolved and grown through the last century in terms of size of vessels as well as their amenities. Get to know cruise industry statistics such as number of cruise ships in operation, cruise ships that made history, the cost to build them and operate them, the busiest cruise ports and many other interesting cruise industry facts.
Size of Global Cruise Ship Fleet
Biggest Cruise Ship in the World (History)
1893 – Luciana and Campania are both launched by Cunard (12,950 GRT)
1897 – Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse is built by Norddeutscher Lloyd (14,349)
1899 – Oceanic is launched by White Star Line (17,272 GRT)
1901 – White Star Line launches Celtic (21,035 GRT)
1907 – Cunard launches Lusitania and Mauretania (31,550 GRT and 31,938 GRT)
1911 – White Star Line launches Olympic (45,324 GRT)
1912 – White Star Line launches Titanic (46,328 GRT)
1931 – Compagnie Generale Transatlantique launches Normandie (79,280 GRT)
1936 – Cunard Line launches Queen Mary (81,237 GRT). It retires in 1967.
1961 – Compagnie Generale Transatlantique debuts France on maiden voyage (66,343 GRT)
1980 – NCL buys and rebuilds France, changes name to Norway (76,049 GRT)
1984 – Norwegian modifies Norway, increasing her size to 70,202 GRT.
1988 – Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign of the Seas is launched (73,192 GRT)
1990 – NCL rebuilds Norway again, adding tonnage (76,049 GRT)
1995 – Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess is launched (77,499 GRT)
1996 – Carnival Cruise Lines launches Carnival Destiny (101,353 GRT)
1998 – Princess Cruises launches Grand Princess (109,000 GRT)
1999 – Royal Caribbean launches Voyager of the Seas (138,000 GRT)
2006 – Royal Caribbean launches Freedom of the Seas (154,407 GRT)
2009 – Royal Caribbean launches Oasis of the Seas (225,282 GRT)
2010 – Royal Caribbean launches Allure of the Seas (225, 282 GRT)
2015 – Royal Caribbean launches Harmony of the Seas (227,000 GRT)
Cost to Build a Cruise Ship
Cruise Ship Operation Facts
*Figures based on a two-week cruise on board the P&O Ventura (3,092 passengers and 1,230 crew.)
An average ship’s main laundry consumes around 40,000 litres of water per day washing and processing 1,200 tablecloths, 1,200 bed sheets, and 6,700 towels.
The total number of toilet paper rolls consumed during a two-week cruise is 15,600.
For a two-week cruise, approximately 300-350 tonnes of stores (frozen, fresh, dry, dairy, etc) are loaded.
During a two-week cruise, passengers consume 3,470 litres of ice cream, 2,800 kg of bacon, 19,500 boxes of cereal, 7,200 dozen eggs, 18 tons of potatoes, 10,000 bottles of wine, and 20,000 bottles of water.
An average 3,000-passenger cruise ship uses 100 to 175 tons of fuel per day which equates to about 700 to 1,200 tons of fuel used on a 7-day cruise. With bunker fuel costs about $620 per ton (June 2012), the cost of a fuel for a 7-day cruise could be around $744,000. That’s around $248 per person per week.
A typical cruise ship has more than 60 safety, environmental and health inspections each year.
Number of Cruise Ports in the World
Royal Caribbean: 233 ports in 72 countries
Princess Cruises: 330+ ports with 35 embarkation ports
Holland America Line: 350 ports in more than 100 countries and territories
Silversea Cruises: 582 destinations listed on their website
Busiest Cruise Ports of the World
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), more than 13 million North Americans took a cruise in 2015. Add that to the 5.76 million Europeans that chose a cruise holiday in 2015 reported by the European Cruise Council (ECC). It is also estimated that an average of 1.5 million children under the age of 18 cruise each year. Here are some of the busiest ports where cruise ships visit.
Note: Cruise line guests can contribute around $100 per person per day in a ship’s port of call. Those are dollars spent to generate jobs for local citizens.
History of Cruise Industry Firsts
1818: First Fixed Schedule for Passenger Voyages Sailing packet ships led the way for ocean travel as emigrants found their way to new countries on board ships that carried mail such as Black Ball Line with its route between New York and Liverpool. In 1818 Black Ball Line offers the first fixed schedules for mail ships.
1833: First Ship to Cross Atlantic by Steam Quebec and Halifax Steam Navigation Company sends their steamship, Royal William across the Atlantic. It is the first steamship to cross the Atlantic almost entirely by steam. It would be purchased by the Portuguese government.
1838: First Blue Riband for Transatlantic Crossing This is the first time that a ship is recognized formally for a speed record in crossing the Atlantic. The steamship Sirius, operated by the British and American Steam Navigation Company completes the crossing in less than 19 days and the next day the record is broken by paddle steamer, Great Western.
1842: First Passenger Ship to Offer First Class Cabins When many steamships referred to passenger accommodations as “steerage” and “cabin class”, P&O’s Lady Mary Wood is one of the first paddle steamers to feature 60 first class cabins and 50 second class cabins.
1870: First Running Water in Passenger Cabin White Star Line’s Oceanic and Atlantic are two of the first passenger vessels to offer running water in their first class cabins.
1875: First Cruise to North Pole President Christi is the first steamship to be chartered for a cruise to the North Pole (organized by Thomas Cooke).
1881: First Passenger Ship to Have Electric Lights Cunard’s steamship, Servia is the first passenger vessel to be lit with electric lights throughout.
1901: First Ocean Liner with Wireless Radio Technology Cunard’s Luciana is equipped with wireless radio, the origins of news and weather transmissions.
1907: First Swimming Pool on a Passenger Ship White Star Line’s Adriatic is the first passenger ship to feature a pool for the first class.
1907: First Electric Elevators on Passenger Ships Hapag Lloyd’s Amerika along with Cunard’s Mauretania and Lusitania feature some of the first electric passenger elevators on passenger vessels.
1911: First Bathrooms on Passenger Ships White Star Line’s Olympic is one of the first ocean liners to feature bathrooms in some of its first class cabins.
1914: First Version of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Following the disaster of the Titanic, the first version of SOLAS is signed. It includes chapters on navigation, ship construction, fire protection and life saving appliances.
1922: First World Cruise Cunard’s Laconia embarks on her maiden voyage and what will be one of the first circumnavigation cruises. The six month cruise started in New York, transited the Panama Canal, visited the Orient, traveled through the Suez Canal, continued through the Med and back to New York.
1931: Largest Ocean Liner Launched in the United States United States Lines launches Manhattan. It was one of the largest cruise ships ever built in the United States at 24,000 GRT. In 1952, they would launch United States a 53,000 ton passenger ship.
1933: Mandatory Lifeboat and Life Raft Capacity for Passenger Ships Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1929 comes into force requiring all new ships to be able to accommodate 125 per cent of all persons on board in lifeboats and life rafts.
1951: Introduction of Tourist Class Passengers Classes on cruise ships begin to diminish. Holland America Line is one of the first cruise lines to offer tourist class fares enabling passengers to have access to practically all passenger areas.
1960: First On Board Salon Operated by Steiner Steiner is awarded their first contract as a concession onboard the ocean liner, Andes (operated by Royal Mail Lines).
1963: First Alaska Cruises Canadian Pacific owned and operated the Princess Patricia on some of the first cruises offered to Alaska. The ship featured 347 first class passenger cabins. It would later be chartered by Princess Cruises as their first ship.
1965: First Mexican Riviera Cruises Canadian Pacific chartered the Princess Patricia to Princess Cruises for cruises from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera.
1966: First Antarctica Cruise Lars-Eric Lindblad (founder of Lindblad Travel) leads the first commercial Antarctica cruise in 1966. In 1969 the expedition vessel Lindblad Explorer is built to operate cruises to Antarctica.
1966: First Low Cost Cruises to Caribbean The Kloster family (predecessors to Norwegian Cruise Line) partners with Ted Arison (founder of Carnival Cruise Lines) to offer Caribbean cruises from Miami on board the Sunward, a ship originally designed as a ferry.
1968: First Buffet Restaurant on a Cruise Ship Holland America introduces the Lido dining concept on board their ships.
1970: First Cruise Ship Built for the Caribbean Royal Caribbean’s Song of Norway is one of the first cruise ships designed and built for warm weather cruising.
1973: First Regulations to Protect Marine Environment MARPOL (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) is adopted to provide regulations regarding pollution by oil, chemicals, sewage and garbage.
1975: First Television Series about Cruising The Love Boat television series is developed and begins filming featuring the Pacific Princess and Island Princess. It first airs in 1977.
1978: Basic Requirements of Seafarers First Established The Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW78) is originally adopted.
1978: First Cruise Ship to be “Stretched” Royal Caribbean’s Song of Norway is lengthened by cutting the ship in two increasing her size to 23,000 GRT and increasing its capacity by an additional 300 berths.
1984: First Cruise Ship to Have All Outside Cabins Princess Cruises introduces the Royal Princess with all outside cabins.
1986: First Private Destination for a Cruise Line Royal Caribbean leases Labadee, a coastal property in Haiti that will be offered to their passengers on Caribbean cruises. Princess Cruises would introduce their Princess Cays in 1992 and Holland America would purchase their private island in 1997. Disney Cruise Line was one of the last, opening their island, Castaway Cay, in 1998.
1990: First Cruise Line Loyalty Program Princess Cruises is one of the first cruise lines to formally introduce a passenger loyalty program, Captain’s Circle.
1992: First Environmental Program by a Cruise Line Royal Caribbean formalized their “Save the Waves” program that focuses on reducing, reusing, and recycling.
1996: First Environmental Officer on a Cruise Ship Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to employ an environmental officer on each of their ships.
1997: First Cruise Line Website Norwegian Cruise Line is the first cruise line to launch a website.
1997: First “Black Box” Installed on a Cruise Ship Star Cruises is the first cruise line to install voyage data recorders (VDR).
1998: First Telemedicine Program on a Cruise Ship Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess introduced the industry first telemedicine suite to provide real time audio visual medical care with shore side specialists. SeaMed directly links the ship’s medical staff with emergency physicians and specialists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on a 24 hour on call basis.
1998: First Wedding Chapel on a Cruise Ship The Grand Princess is the first cruise ship to feature a wedding chapel on board, enhancing their weddings at sea.
1998: First Non-Smoking Cruise Ship Carnival Cruise Lines launches the Carnival Paradise as the industry’s first non-smoking ship.
1998: Largest Fine for Dumping by a Cruise Line Royal Caribbean is fined $18 million dollars for illegal dumping of waste.
1999: First Internet Cafe on a Cruise Ship NCL’s Norwegian Sky is the first cruise ship to have an internet cafe.
1999: First Rock Wall and First Skating Rink When the Voyager of the Seas enters service it is the first cruise ship to feature a skating rink and a rock wall.
2000: First Gas Turbine Engines on a Cruise Ship Celebrity Cruises installs gas turbine engines on its new Millennium in an effort to reduce exhaust emissions. Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas also incorporates this technology when it enters service in 2001.
2001: First Cruise Ship to Use Shore Power Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess first plugged into Juneau, Alaska during the summer in a green initiative referred to as cold ironing.
2002: First Wireless Internet on a Cruise Ship NCL is the first cruise line to offer remote wireless internet access for their guests.
2002: Largest Suite on a Cruise Ship Norwegian Cruise Line introduces the Norwegian Dawn’s enormous accommodations. The Garden Villa is a whopping 5,750 square feet and features three bedrooms each with its own bathroom. The multi-tiered outside deck has a hot tub and space for entertaining 100 guests.
2004: First Two-Story Suite on an Ocean Liner Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 features two story suites called the Balmoral and Sandringham Duplexes. They each have a winding staircase to the bedroom and feature 2,249 square feet of living space.
2006: First Bowling Alley on a Cruise Ship Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl is the first cruise ship to feature a bowling alley.
2006: First Cruise Ship Suite to Accommodate 14 Passengers Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas offers the Presidential Suite which can sleep 14 passengers. Indoor and outdoor living space amounts to over 2,000 square feet.
2006: First Cruise Line to Implement Cell Phone Service Norwegian Cruise Line is the first cruise line to implement cell phone service on all their ships.
2007: First Mega Cruise Ship to Visit Antarctica Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess is the first mega cruise ship to visit Antarctica.
2007: First Female Captain of a Major Cruise Ship Royal Caribbean’s Karin Stahre-Janson is the first female captain to command a major cruise ship, the Monarch of the Seas.
2008: First Growing Grass on a Cruise Ship Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice is the first cruise ship to feature real growing grass.
2010: First Ice Bar at Sea NCL’s Norwegian Epic features the first Ice Bar at sea.
2011: First Cruise Line to Introduce No Smoking Bans Carnival Cruise Lines is the first cruise line to roll out its no smoking in staterooms rule. More cruise lines would follow suit in 2012.
2012: First Cruise Ship Passengers Disembarked for Not Attending Drill As cruise lines adopt and enforce a stricter muster drill policy, both Holland America Line and Seabourn make headlines for disembarking guests for not attending the passenger muster drill.