Cruise Ships

*Cruise Ship: A passenger ship used commercially for pleasure cruises.

From small ships to tall ships, from naval ships to cruise ships, there’s something beautiful and magical about the sight of a vessel sailing beneath the rising sun. Even more beautiful is a voyage around the world aboard a luxury cruise ship. While cruise ships are one of the most popular forms of vacation travel today, more than 100 years ago this concept would have been considered unusual.

So when did cruise ships became so popular? When did man realize he could (or should) transform something functional into something to be used 100% for pleasure? While the popular 70’s TV show “The Love Boat� had much to do with the increase in popularity of cruises during the disco years, somewhere between 1900-1901, the S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise was built specifically for the purpose of pleasure voyages.

S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise, called a “screw steamer� 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. This luxury 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. It was on December 16, 1906, that Prinzessin Victoria Luise became a total loss.

Many cruise ships, post Prinzessin, continued to compete in order to be the best luxury liner at sea and some competed to become the fastest. Today cruise ships are nothing short of floating hotels, with each new vessel designed to top the latest and greatest.

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 3,000 passengers or more.

Some of the latest upcoming releases will accommodate 4,370 passengers served by 1,360 crew (Royal Caribbean’s 18-deck Liberty of the Seas, May 2007) and 5,400 passengers (Royal Caribbean’s Genesis Class, Fall 2009).

Further evidence of the race to be the biggest and the best is The Freedom Ship (Freedom Ship International Inc.). The Freedom Ship, if completed, will be the largest ship ever constructed.

Designed by a team 24 engineering firms & consultants, this “floating cityâ€? will house 50,000 residents, 15,000 employees & 20,000-day guests. This cruise ship will measure almost a mile in length, it will be 750′ wide and have a 25-story superstructure topped with 2 aircraft runways capable of handling 40 passenger jets. The design doesn’t stop there—Freedom Ship will have its own railway transportation system, as well as its own marina. Will it move, you ask? Well according to the Freedom web site, this ‘City At Sea’ will “circle the globe every two years following a route to keep its residents in perpetual sunshine.â€?

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 a staggering 12.62 million passengers will climb aboard a cruise ship in 2007, with 12.12 million passengers cruising last year—a 4 percent increase over the 11.18 million in 2005. I guess it’s safe to say, cruise ships are here to stay.

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