The 15 Largest Cruise Ships in the World

The size of the ship may not seem important, but bigger cruise ships offer more activities and amenities. Whether you’re a cruising connoisseur or a first-timer ready to test your sea legs, you’ll be shocked at the size of the world’s largest cruise ships. The biggest of them all is so enormous it’s divided into luxurious “neighborhoods” (page 15).

15. Britannia

A general view of one of the largest cruise ships in the world, the Britannia, ahead of the naming ceremony for the P&O Cruises vessel.

Britannia may be the smallest of the largest ships, but it’s an award-winner. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

P&O Cruises, 2015
Gross Tonnage: 143,000
Length: 1,083 feet
Beam: 144 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,324

As the winner of the “Best New Ocean Ship” in the Cruise International Awards, 2015, the Britannia has proven itself worthy of being the flagship of the P&O fleet. What else would you expect from a ship named by Queen Elizabeth II herself?

Next: A cruise ship with a sandy shoreline

14. Norwegian Getaway

Employees of the Meyer Werft shipyard watch the Norwegian Getaway cruise

The Norwegian Getaway boasts a two-story private beach club with 24-hour butler service. | David Hecker/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line, 2014
Gross Tonnage: 145,655
Length: 1,068 feet
Beam: 169 feet
Max. Passengers: 3,963

The Norwegian Getaway boasts the Waterfront, a quarter-mile oceanfront promenade blurring the line between boat and beach. Other famous features include the Illusionarium, a dinner theater featuring some of the world’s best magicians, and Haven, a two-story private beach club with butler service.

Next: The Getaway’s sister ship takes things 1,000 times further.

13. Norwegian Breakaway

The Norwegian Breakaway cruise liner leaves the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany

The Norwegian Breakaway has won numerous awards. | Carmen Jaspersen/AFP/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line, 2013
Gross Tonnage: 146,600
Length: 1,068 feet
Beam: 169 feet
Max. Passengers: 3,963

With about 1,000 extra tons on its sister ship, the Norwegian Breakaway is one of the most acclaimed ships to date with an impressive list of awards and accolades:

  • Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment, Cruise Critic, 2015
  • Best Cruise Ship for Families, USA Today, 2015
  • Best Cruise Ship for Families, Yahoo!, 2013
  • Best New Ship, Cruise Critic, 2013
  • Best Rookie Cruise Ship, Travel Weekly, 2013

Next: Age is just a number for this Cunard cruise ship.

12. Queen Mary II

Cunard, 2004
Gross Tonnage: 148,528
Length: 1,130 feet
Beam: 148 feet
Max. Passengers: 3,090

As the oldest ship on the list, the Queen Mary II has remained relevant and competitive with its younger rivals. The flagship of the Cunard cruise line (and only representative on this list) was refitted inside and out, giving it a modern and luxurious appeal.

Next: Have you cruised on this massive ship?

11. Independence of the Seas

A helicopter flies over the Independence of the Seas cruise liner

Independence of the Seas | Terje Bendiksby/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2008
Gross Tonnage: 154,407
Length: 1,112 feet
Beam: 185 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,375

While the Independence of the Seas is the smallest of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class, it still offers many of the same features as its sister ships — an extensive spa, four swimming pools (including the adults-only Solarium), cantilevered whirlpools, a mini-golf course, and the Royal Promenade.

Next: This ship gives you the “freedom” to relax.

10. Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean, 2006
Gross Tonnage: 154,407
Length: 1,112 feet
Beam: 185 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,515

Roughly the same size as the Independence, the Freedom of the Seas beats out its sister due to its greater passenger capacity. The Freedom of the Seas has a 3D theater, vintage wine bar, and art gallery. The Freedom was the first to offer the DreamWorks Experience, which includes parades and meet-and-greets with characters from Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda.

Next: If you like Norwegian’s cruises, then this is the ship for you.

9. Norwegian Epic

The Norwegian Epic, one of the top 10 largest cruise ships in the world, dwarfs the Statue of Liberty as it sails past.

The Norwegian Epic sails past the Statue of Liberty. | Don Emmert/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line, 2010
Gross Tonnage: 155,873
Length: 1,081 feet
Beam: 133 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,100

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic has racked up awards in its six years at sea. Best Cruise for Sea Days (Cruise Critic, 2012), Best Mega-Ship (Porthole, 2012), and Best Overall Individual Cruise Ship (Travel Weekly, 2012) are just some of its trophies. Built in 2010, Epic was recently refurbished in 2015.

Next: If water parks are your thing, you can slide at sea on this ship.

8. Liberty of the Seas

The Liberty of the Seas arrives at the Port of Southampton

At first sail, the Liberty of the Seas was the largest cruise ship in the world. | Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2007
Gross Tonnage: 160,000
Length: 1,112 feet
Beam: 185 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,960

The last and largest of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class, the Liberty of the Seas has a Splashaway Bay water park with three exhilarating slides. Along with the usual Freedom Class attractions (including the DreamWorks Experience), the Liberty has special itineraries for children, including the Royal Tots, Royal Babies, and Adventure Ocean youth programs.

Next: If you’re into art, then this is your ship.

7. The Norwegian Escape

Pitbull performs onstage at the Christening Ceremony for the Norwegian Escape

The hull of the Norwegian Escape features a 1,000-foot marine wildlife mural. | Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line, 2015
Gross Tonnage: 164,600
Length: 1,069 feet
Beam: 136 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,266

The Norwegian Escape offers a little something for everyone in entertainment, dining, and recreation. Conservationist artist Guy Harvey made excellent use of the larger-than-life ship hull by painting a gorgeous 1,000-foot mural of marine wildlife.

Next: We give this cruise line a standing ovation for technology.

6. Ovation of the Seas

Ovation of the Seas anchored in the Waitemata Harbour

Ovation of the Seas is the smallest member of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class ships. | Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2016
Gross Tonnage: 167,666
Length: 1,138 feet
Beam: 136 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,905

Size does matter for Royal Caribbean; it boasts the six largest cruise ships in the world, starting with Ovation of the Seas. This ship earns excellent reviews with modern technology and attractions. Among its high-tech activities: the iFly’s RipCord skydiving simulator and the North Star capsule that takes passengers 300 feet in the air for breathtaking views.

Next: Passengers appreciate its modern take on dining at sea.

5. Quantum of the Seas

A visitor takes a photograph from the North Star observation capsule onboard the cruise ship Quantum of the Seas

A view from the North Star observation capsule on board Quantum of the Seas | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2014
Gross Tonnage: 168,666
Length: 1,139 feet
Beam: 136 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,905

A few years older than the Ovation, Quantum of the Seas was Royal Caribbean’s original high-tech ship. It still impresses with the RipCord and North Star attractions, along with environmentally efficient lighting. Their “Dynamic Dining” layout swaps a central dining hall with many smaller venues, so passengers can try new culinary experiences.

Next: You can learn to trapeze at sea on this ship.

4. Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean, 2015
Gross Tonnage: 168,666
Length: 1,142 feet
Beam: 136 feet
Max. Passengers: 4,905

Beating out Quantum of the Seas by a few feet, Anthem of the Seas is the largest of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships. It has the RipCord, North Star, bumper cars, trapeze classes, and Broadway-level musicals. When it was built, this ship had the biggest indoor sports/entertainment complex at sea.

Next: This cruise ship is one of the world’s most popular.

3. Oasis of the Seas

People taking pictures of Oasis of the Seas, one of the world's largest cruise ships, while it's anchored.

Oasis of the Seas is one of the most popular cruise ships. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2009
Gross Tonnage: 225,282
Length: 1,186.5 feet
Beam: 215 feet
Max. Passengers: 6,296

Oasis of the Seas has over 50,000 more gross tonnage than Anthem of the Seas. It has 78% positive feedback on Cruise Critic; we’ve even listed it as one of our Top 10 Best Cruises to Take. This voyage is so popular, it often sails at 100% capacity. One of its secrets to success is its division of “neighborhoods,” divvying the ships’ population into like-minded sections.

Next: We find this ship to be especially “alluring.”

2. Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas dwarfs all of the buildings nearby while anchored in port.

Allure of the Seas only has half a foot on its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas. | Boris Horvat/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2010
Gross Tonnage: 225,282
Length: 1,187 feet
Beam: 215 feet
Max. Passengers: 6,296

Allure of the Seas beats out Oasis of the Seas by only half a foot! This behemoth mimics Oasis’s neighborhood concept, with an ice-skating rink, a three-deck bar, surfing simulation, and an outdoor high-diving AquaTheater. Allure also has one of the biggest, most popular children’s programs for a cruise line.

Next: The largest cruise ship in the world is a small, floating city.

1. Harmony of the Seas

The cruise liner Harmony of the Seas is towed by tug boats into its new moorings at the STX Shipyards

Harmony of the Seas only made its maiden voyage in spring 2016. | Georges Gobet/Getty Images

Royal Caribbean, 2016
Gross Tonnage: 226,963
Length: 1,188 feet
Beam: 215 feet
Max. Passengers: 6,780 

The single largest cruise ship on the planet: Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. It has the same design as its sister ships — except bigger. With a maximum capacity of nearly 7,000 people, this cruise ship is basically a small, floating city. Its attractions are luxurious and versatile, divided along the same “neighborhood” structure as Allure and Oasis.