A cruise ship is a passenger ship used commercially for pleasure cruises. But believe it or not, while cruises are the most popular form of vacation travel today, the concept of a pleasure cruise would have been unusual 100 years ago.
So when did cruise ships became so popular? While the popular 70s TV show “The Love Boat” had a lot to do with the increase in popularity of cruises during the disco decade, it is estimated that somewhere between 1900-1901, the S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise was built specifically for the purpose of pleasure voyages.
Called a “screw steamer,” S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise was built by Blohm und Voss, Hamburg, for the Hamburg-America Line, and it was used for cruises in the Baltic and Atlantic. This luxury yacht carried up to 180 passengers and the design incorporated features from the most expensive first class luxury liners without allowing for second-class passengers or steerage. The ship, which was popular among German and English passengers on both sides of the Atlantic, featured a dining room and lounge covered by a glass dome, along with a gorgeous library and writing room. The S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise cruise ship also housed a state apartment.
This exclusive cruise ship didn’t stay in commission for long. In 1906, she became stranded on an uncharted reef (raised from a recent earthquake) at Plum Point near Kingston, Jamaica. The cruise ship was declared a total loss on December 16, 1906.
Following Prinzessin, cruise ships continued to compete with one another in order to become the best luxury liner at sea and some competed to become the fastest. Today, cruise ships are more determined than ever to be the biggest and the best. In fact, some of the largest vessels in existence today are nothing short of floating luxury hotels, and with each new release, the cruise ships just keep getting bigger and more luxurious.
There are currently more than 150 cruise ships in existence today, some weighing in at more than 100,000 tons and others spacious enough to accommodate 4,000 passengers or more. Some of the latest releases include Royal Caribbean’s 18-deck Liberty of the Seas. Liberty of the Seas made her debut in May 2007 and she can 4,370 passengers, served by 1,360 crewmembers. Royal Caribbean also plans to release another mega-liner in Fall 2009. The Genesis Class will accommodate 5,400 passengers.
While Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships are the largest in the world, a new crop of ships just might take the crown. The Freedom Ship by Freedom Ship International Inc., if completed, will be the largest ship ever constructed.
Designed by a team 24 engineering firms & consultants, this “floating city” will house 50,000 residents, 15,000 employees & 20,000-day guests. This cruise ship will measure nearly a mile long and 750 feet wide and it will have a 25-story superstructure topped with 2 aircraft runways capable of handling 40 passenger jets. The Freedom Ship will also have its own railway transportation system and its own marina. According to the Freedom Ship website, this ‘City At Sea’ will “circle the globe every two years following a route to keep its residents in perpetual sunshine.”
While cruise ships’ popularity experienced a slow climb in the earlier years, today’s cruise ships are more popular than ever, with their popularity continuing to grow at a rapid pace each year. It is estimated that more than 12 million passengers will take a cruise each year, and the number continues to grow. So, it’s safe to say that cruise ships are here to stay!