If you’re a seasoned cruiser, you’ll undoubtedly know a lot about what it means to be onboard one of these floating palaces. Going out on the high seas again and again means you’ll quickly become an expert on how to cut costs, skip queues and get the very best cruise ship deals.
But still, we bet there are some things you didn’t know about cruise ships that’ll have you wide-eyed with wonder. Read up on our collection of top facts and commit them to memory for your next cruise holiday!
1. Retirement options
Believe it or not, data shows that it may be cheaper to retire onboard a cruise ship than it is to pay for some assisted living facilities for the elderly. Data on this has been conducted across the globe, although in the USA it’s become a particularly attractive choice for retirement, even being recognised by the National Institutes of Health. Who wouldn’t love to travel around the Med in their later years, after all?
2. Living on The World
The World is a ship dedicated to full-time residents only. Imagine waking up every morning with a different view out the window of your luxury apartment, plus a pace of life that suits you. Your lifestyle is uninterrupted, yet you get to see a new part of the world every single day. It’s a luxury option though, with even the most conservative of cabins beginning at around £1 million. The World may not have the same fancy gadgets or entertainment of traditional cruises, but with just 165 residences onboard, it’s perhaps one of the most exclusive accommodation options in the world.
3. The world’s largest cruise ship
It’s Royal Caribbean® that set the benchmark here. First making waves with Oasis of the Seas® – the previous record holder for World’s Largest Cruise Ship – Allure of the Seas® then came along in 2010 with an incredible length of 1,187 feet. What you might not know is that Royal Caribbean has again beaten their own record with Harmony of the Seas®, which is a whopping 1,188.1 feet long. It’s a size shared by newcomers to the fleet too, such as the immense Symphony of the Seas℠.
4. The fake fourth funnel
Many traditional cruise ships were seen sailing with four funnels. While these look grand and magnificent, it’s a little known fact that the fourth funnels were solely an aesthetic choice, in order to look prestigious. The funnel itself was not functional and was used instead for storage.
5. More electrifying facts on Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas remains to be one of the most impressive cruise ships on record – altogether, the ship uses more than 5,310 kilometres of electrical wiring. To put that in perspective, America is only 4,313 kilometres wide from coast to coast!
6. Size Isn’t Everything
François Zanella, a French mine builder, spent 11 years on an eccentric personal project from 1993 to 2005. This came in the form of a scale model of Majesty of the Seas®, one eighth of the size of the original. Measuring just 33.5 metres in length and weighing in at 90 tons, as well as being a replica, the vessel is also a fully functional canal boat.
7. Never a bridge too far
Allure of the Seas did something remarkable in 2010 by sailing under the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark. Not impressed? Well, the cruise ship sailed under the bridge with just 1.5 inches to spare.
Allure of the Seas, which is the size of about four football pitches and cost over £1 billion to build, made the trip in broad daylight with no traffic restrictions on the bridge. Weather conditions meant the vessel had to speed up, lowering its placement in the water, in order to squeeze through. It required a steady hand and nerves of steel, yet it shows just how agile even the most grandiose cruise ships can be.
8. X marks the spot
Those who have sailed with Celebrity Cruises® may have seen their chosen cruise ship from the side and noted the big bold ‘X’ emblazoned across her funnels. What you may not know however is that it’s actually the Greek alphabet character chi, short for Chandris. That’s the organisation behind Celebrity Cruises’ founding back in the 1980s – a subtle marker of which lives on through the illustrious X.
9. Mysterious number 13
There are lots of cruise ships sailing today and throughout history that have chosen not to number a deck 13. Whether this is now an in-joke or genuine superstition is unclear, but next time you’re onboard see if your ship has elected not to include that number.
10. Painstaking craftmanship
We’re turning to Oasis of the Seas for one more glimpse into the meticulous attention to detail that distinguishes this cruise ship. More specifically, the adorable and fully functional fairground carousel at its centre. It’s entirely hand-carved from wood, a process that took almost two months to finish.
11. Straight from the art
If you’ve got a cultured streak, it can be appeased with more than just the stunning destinations you cruise to. Onboard Britannia from P&O Cruises, there exists a magnificent art collection comprising some 8,000 pieces, with a total value of around £1 million.
12. Cosmopolitan staff
It takes huge teams of highly trained professionals to keep cruises running smoothly. All the top cruise lines know this, which is why service is consistently exemplary. Yet what might surprise you is that a single cruise ship can hold a staff complement of individuals from dozens of countries at once. The figure that usually surfaces is that cruise ships have personnel from 64 countries at a time on any given voyage.
13. Broadening horizons
Cruise ships travel worldwide, yet the most consistently popular destinations are the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the waterways of Northern Europe and Scandinavia. However, with Pacific and Asian itineraries growing in popularity, those demographics are starting to shift as cruise lovers seek ever-more exotic locales.
14. Business is booming
Cruising is the fastest growing leisure travel market in the world. While it might seem obvious at first glance, thinking about that more deeply brings up some stunning facts. For one, it means cruising is more popular year on year than the traditional package holiday or backpackers’ break. It also means that cruise lines are scrambling to build more ships that implement the most cutting-edge technologies around.
15. Letting the good fortune flow
Spilling red wine at home can be a bit of a nightmare for your carpet, and spilling it in a restaurant can be quite a to-do. Yet at sea, even on cruise ships, red wine spilt on deck is a symbol of good luck. Nobody’s sure why, as many of the maritime world’s finest traditions have been lost in their reasoning to the passage of time. All you need to remember is that if a tipple-related accident occurs, you can laugh it off as you giving the cruise ship your blessing.
16. A rogue Russian cruise ship
The Lyubov Orlova is a Russian cruise ship that spent years exploring the freezing waters of Antarctica. In 2010, she was seized in Newfoundland, Canada, before being sold to Caribbean buyers in 2012. However, on her way to the Dominican Republic she broke free from the towing rope – and has been adrift ever since. She was last seen 1,300 miles off Iceland’s west coast back in 2013, but not since…
17. An on-board farm
Everyone loves fresh milk for their tea and fresh eggs for breakfast – but perhaps Cunard took it a bit far. Back in 1840, the cruise line had a very special guest on board Britannia: a dairy cow. She lived in a hammock across deck and was brought on to provide fresh milk for all guests. With today’s cruisers consuming around 68,000 pints of milk on a 14-day cruise, you’d probably need a whole herd!
18.The Million Pound Cruise
Silversea’s 2013 Million Pound Cruise is thought to be the world’s second-most-expensive cruise. On board Silver Whisper, passengers spent four months visiting 28 countries. As you can guess, it cost around £1,000,000 per couple – but this included caviar for dinner and a lift to the ship by helicopter.
19. A not-so great start
The first modern cruise ship was launched in January 1901 from Hamburg, Germany. The Prinzessin Victoria Luise had an unfortunately brief career: almost five years from launch, her captain made a big mistake and ran the ship up on rocks off the shore of Jamaica.
20. Ship femininity
Along with all other boats, cruise ships are always referred to as ‘she’. No one’s exactly sure why, but there are several theories. Ships were once dedicated to goddesses, which could explain it, or perhaps it’s because male captains named their ships after the women they loved. Either way, it’s a centuries-old tradition that’s still practised today.
21.The importance of godmothers
For the past 100 years, all cruise ships have been given their godmothers. These women are thought to bless the ships and ensure good fortune for all their travels. Plus, there’s always a good bit of publicity involved! These days, cruise lines use the godmothers for promotions and a bit of fun: Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas has seven godmothers; Allure of the Seas’ godmother is Fiona from Shrek; and Norwegian Cruise Line broke the trend and appointed the rapper Pitbull to be godfather to Norwegian Escape.
22. Sturdy sea legs?
If you’re a seasoned cruiser, you’ve probably been told that you’ve got good ‘sea legs’. This means you can happily and easily maintain your balance on a pitching deck, without needing to hold on to something. It also likely means that you don’t get sea sick!
23. Titanic take two
One of the most iconic cruise ships ever, HMS Titanic, is set to be replicated in the coming years. An exact copy of the ship is being built, with its maiden voyage set to happen in 2019 between Dubai and the UK. After that, it will travel between Southampton and New York.
24. Find your niche
Themed cruises aren’t anything new – but the variety on offer certainly is. You can guarantee that whatever you love doing in your spare time will have its own cruise lined up. Cat lovers should book onto the Meow Meow Cruise; Norwegian Cruise Lines offer a seven-day ghost-hunter’s cruise for fans of the supernatural; and fans of The Walking Dead can hop on-board The Walker Stalker to sail alongside the show’s cast and have the undead make-up done by professionals.
25. Fancy a banana?
Since the 1700s, superstitious sailors have thought bananas bring bad luck to a ship. It all started when crews noticed ships that transported boxes of bananas were often wrecked or lost at sea. There’s a number of reasons for this: it could be down to poisonous spiders stowing away in the tropical fruits and poisoning the crew, and other say it’s the banana’s buoyancy, with boxes floating on top of the sea at wreck sites.
It’s a diverse world of facts out at sea, and there’s plenty more knowledge to be gained. Make it your own by booking that cruise you’ve always dreamed of, and watch your mind become broader than the horizons you’re chasing. Take a look at our latest Deals to see if there’s a sailing that catches your eye!
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