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Biggest Cruise Ships in the World

Last updated on May 1st, 2024 at 03:10 pm

Cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, and the race is on to build ships with incredible features never seen before on ships. Are you ready to cruise on the biggest ships out there?
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Is bigger always better? This is a question one must ask themselves when it comes to cruise ships. We’re going to take a look at the biggest cruise ships in the world in this article and let you decide.

We think these ships are spectacular because of their vast amenities like skating rinks, waterslides, rock climbing walls and so much more.

Here’s our list of the biggest cruise ships in the world.

Royal Caribbean: Icon of The Seas

icon of the seas cruise ship

The world’s largest cruise ship, The Icon of the Seas, is Royal Caribbean’s first Icon class ship to join the RC fleet.

At nearly 1,200 feet long and 250,800 gross tons, Icon of the Seas nudged Royal’s Wonder of the Seas out of the top position of largest cruise ship in the world. This massive ship has 20 decks (18 for passengers) and can accommodate 7,600 guests and 2,350 crew members. 

Icon of the Seas took its maiden voyage in January of 2024 after having been christened by the ship’s godfather, Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi. 

It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

There are eight neighborhoods on Icon of the Seas, and each is is a distinct area. Neighborhoods range of entertainment and dining zones to kid’s play places. If you look carefully, you will also find a neighborhood that is an adults-only oasis.

Guests will have their choice of seven swimming pools, six water slides and whirlpools along with a myriad of other amenities.

There is a jogging track, mini gold, a rock climbing wall, an escape room, laser tag, a sports court and other neat places to experience. 

Be My Guest

With a ship this large, it might seem like boarding would be a day-long disaster. But this is not so. At the Miami terminal, Icon’s homeport, Royal Caribbean’s app makes the difficult processing points a breeze.

If you want to expedite the arrival process even more, check in on Royal’s app and fill out your health questionnaire within 24 hours of departing.

What Do I feel Like For Dinner?

If you can’t find something you like in one of Icon’s 40-plus restaurants, bars and lunges, then there is no hope.

Dining options are split between those venues that are included in your fare and the specialty restaurants that charge a fee.

If you have your mind set on a particular specialty restaurant, book ahead as they tend to fill up fast.

Save Your Seat

Months before sailing, Royal Caribbean will open up its reservation system. Once they do that, you can start filling up your social calendar.

Book ahead for your specialty restaurant, shore excursions, entertainment and onboard activities.  Doing so ahead of time will ensure that you get to see/go where you want.

Click here for more information on Icon of the Seas: the Icon of Vacations.

 

Carnival: Mardi Gras

Close up of Carnival Mardi Gras sailing through the waterkees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With a length of 1,130 feet and the ability to hold up to 5,282 passengers, the Mardi Gras operated by Carnival Lines has six themed areas onboard that feature dining, entertainment and attraction experiences.

One of those attractions was recognized by Popular Science magazine as being one of The top 100 new technologies of 2021. The first roller coaster at sea is on board Carnival’s flagship Mardi Gras. The BOLT is both fun and a feat of modern engineering. While there is no guarantee of level ground at sea, this creative coaster uses electricity to power the motorcycle-esque cars. One of the nice things about this coaster is that the rider controls the speed (up to 40 mph). Other than a plane, the BOLT is one of the most exciting ways to travel 187 feet above sea level!

The 600-foot long ropes course located in the Ultimate Playground takes the zip line to a new level. You will travel out over the ocean in this adrenaline rush of an experience.

The massive onboard waterpark is the largest in Carnival’s entire fleet. There are three water slides, including the 312-foot Blue Lightning. If at any time you feel the need to cool off, try the 150 gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket; it will do the trick!

You won’t find a shortage of pools aboard the Mardi Gras, there are four different outdoor pools and 5 whirlpools. The sports court with basketball (if you lose a ball off court, you are NOT going to retrieve it!) and jogging track will help you keep on top of your fitness regime. If you prefer something a bit more sedate, try out the mini golf course.

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The cuisine on the Mardi Gras is lacking in nothing, The Brass Magnolia, Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse, Palm Restaurant, Big Chicken, Lido Marketplace and Pizzeria Del Capitano are some of those included in your cruise.

For an additional fee, dine at Emeril’s Bistro 1396 or the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. There is no shortage of seafood, either. Don’t forget to try the Bonsai Sushi or Seafood Shack. Best of all, Mardi Gras has a free 24-hour ice cream machine in the Family Harbor Lounge!

Feeling lucky? Give your luck a whirl in the onboard casino, which is huge, so you won’t run out of options. Then head to the Grand Central Atrium, where you will find bars, shops and aerial performances.

Take a look at what awaits you on Carnival Mardi Gras:

Visit here for more information about Carnival Cruises.

Norwegian: Encore

Norwegian Encore from the side while sailing in the water
Credit: ncl.com

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Encore has an overall length of 1,094 feet and can welcome almost 4000 guests.

Encore serves a wide variety of culinary tastes, and is sure to have offerings for every palate at one of the more than 20 eateries on ship. There are three main dining rooms (one with a 24 hour soft serve ice cream stand!) with buffets, cafes, grills and on-the-go choices. You will have options 24 hours while on board, along with room service.

You won’t have to miss your fix of Starbucks, or you can choose from more than 50 different bottled and 22 draft beers at The District Brew House.

You can take in some entertainment, too. Winner of six Tony Awards, Kinky Boots (music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper) will have you clapping and singing along. Choir Of Man is all high energy with dancing and hit songs. The Social Comedy and Night Club has two talented comedians that will leave you laughing before you dance the night away as a DJ spins your favorite tracks. Last but not least, go back in time to the Cavern Club and enjoy an evening of great music with a Beatles cover band.

Aerial view of the Norwegian Encore, looking straight down on the top deck with pools and racetrack
Credit: ncl.com

Encore has an Aqua Park with two multi-story slides. The Aqua Racer is a tandem waterslide where you can race against your fellow park goer. The Ocean Loops is an extreme ocean water slide that moves you in a loop twice over the ocean and will take you around hairpin turns on the largest race track at sea. Not for the faint of heart!

It boggles the mind but the Encore also has the largest race track at sea. The Encore speedway offers over 1100 feet of go-kart action. High-speed curves are suspended 13 feet off the side of the ship. While you may have all the skills necessary to win, the revolutionary interactivity of the speedway allows guests to boost their favorite racer past the finish.

Not to be outdone, the Galaxy Pavilion takes you from the outside to inside a virtual reality world that has immersive VR experiences and thrilling simulator rides. Or, if you are one of the clever ones, you can solve the puzzle of an escape room that features holograms and enchanted artifacts.

The kiddos will not be lacking for things to do, either. They have their own Aqua Park with a tube slide and tipping buckets or water cannons. Teens will have Entourage to visit. A retreat all their own with movies, music, video games and dance parties. This is a place where parents are not allowed so teens can hang out with people their own age.

If you don’t want to leave your fitness routine behind, visit Encore’s state-of=the-art fitness center. Take a RYDE cycling class or attend a Pilates session. Yoga and guided meditation classes are also available. A spa and heat therapy in the Thermal Suite are sure to have you feeling your best while you are onboard.

Check out what awaits you aboard the Norwegian Encore:

Visit here for more information about Norwegian Cruise Line.

MSC: Grandiosa

Looking at a front aerial view of MSC Grandiosa as it sails through the water
Credit: MSC Press Area

One thing the MSC Cruise line has in spades is experience at sea. As a family-owned company, they have a global seafaring heritage that dates back to 1675. Today, almost 350 years later, this knowledge and experience is evident in the MSC Grandiosa. At 1,087 feet long, this ship can carry 6,300 passengers in style. And talk about style, the MSC Grandiosa was christened in Hamburg in November 2019 by Sophia Loren!

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The Grandiosa has one of the largest shopping areas on a cruise ship, and profits from items sold in the MSC Foundation shop go towards their marine protection program.

With 10 restaurants, you will have your choice of dining venues that serve fresh food, such as a sushi bar, teppanyaki restaurant, steak house tapas bar and several other bars and lounges.

The 21 bars and snack areas on the ship include some with live music and another has an exhibition of 26 original works by French Impressionist Edgar Degas. Incredibly, you will be able to have a first of its kind experience of fine art at sea.

The Grandiosa also has another one of a kind experience with its indoor promenade that is covered with a 305 foot long “digital sky”; the largest anywhere at sea. Images are projected on the ceiling 24 hours a day.

Insde the Grandiosa, located in the Promenade is the cafe L'Atelier Bistrot, complete with green and white striped awning and cafe tables and chairs
Credit: MSC Press Area – L’Atelier Bistrot located in the Promenade

Making your journey easier, Zoe, is a voice-enabled assistant that is in every cabin. And to make your ride to any deck level quicker, elevators are operated with an exterior screen. Once you select a floor, you will be able to see immediately which elevator will arrive first.

Not only can you pamper yourself in a spa, you can try the latest in gaming technology with the 164 slot machines or play at the live gaming tables.

Everything on the MSC Grandiosa is big, including a 4D cinema and full-size bowling alley. The Polar Aquapark is one of the most intricate and exciting water parks at sea, with three twisting slides, a “Himalayan Bridge” and a variety of pools.

MSC has become the Official Cruise Partner of Formula 1. Their cruises will collaborate with Formula 1 to bring their ships bort-side during select Grand Prix weekends. Grandiosa has a Formula 1 simulator on board for you to see what it would be like to be a driver. The steering wheel and dash electronics operate as their real-world counterparts would.

MSC has come a long way in the journey that began hundreds of years ago, as they now sail to more than 100 countries around the world and host guests from over 185 nationalities.

Take a look at what awaits you aboard the MSC Grandiosa:

Visit here for more information about MSC Cruises.

Costa: Toscana

Aerial view of the Costa Toscana sailing through the water
Credit: Costa Press Center

Built in 2021, the Costa Toscana is Costa’s flagship. At 1,106 feet long it can carry up to 6,338 passengers.

This ship is the third ship of the Costa Group that is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG is an excellent alternative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Costa Toscana has been designed to be a traveling “smart city” where sustainable solutions are applied to reduce environmental impacts, while at the same time bringing an unparalleled cruising experience to its passengers.

All the furnishings, lighting, fabrics and accessories have been made in Italy. Besides the Solemio Spa, the ship has areas dedicated to entertainment with themed bars and 11 restaurants.

Bar and tables on the open air deck at sunset
Credit: Costa Press Center

Specific restaurants are dedicated to families with children and in the LAB restaurant you can try your cooking skills under the guidance of Costa’s chefs.

Colosseo, a space in the center of the ship, spreads over three decks and is dedicated to the best shows. Huge LED screens on the walls and on the dome will tell a different story in each port of call.

An open-air balcony on the top deck features a crystal floor that lets you experience the thrill of “flying over the sea. One of the four swimming pools is indoors with a beach club and that pool contains salt water rather than fresh water.

There is also a vibrant waterpark with an amazing waterslide that will be a favorite for all ages.

You can dance the night away at the Disco or win big at the casino. Although your cruise will be stress-free, you may still want to visit the relaxation room, Turkish bath or get a massage.

Check out the Costa Toscana during its maiden voyage:

Visit here for more information about Costa Cruises.

AIDA: Cosma

AIDA Tosca from an aerial view, sailing through the water at sunset. The ship has its signature hull art - large lips at the bow and large eyes on the side, near the bow.
Credit: AIDA

AIDA is Europe’s largest German cruise line and the AIDAcosma, built in 2019,  is an impressive 1,105 feet long with the ability to carry 5,200 passengers. It is also the second liquified natural gas (LNG) powered ship in their fleet.

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You will feel that you have been transported to the future when you interact with the Pepper robots that dot areas of the ship. This latest cyborg technology is a “humanoid” robot that greets and guides passengers through embarkation. The Pepper robots will also assist passengers throughout the cruise by providing information and tips about onboard dining, entertainment, workshops, casino, shopping, shore excursions and tours.

These helpful robots are mobile and communicate in English, German and Italian. A little on the eerie side, Pepper can interpret human emotion by analyzing voice tones and facial expressions, but it doesn’t seem like their goal is to overthrow humanity. At least not yet:  Pepper the Robot – onboard Costa Cruises

While at sea, Pepper can direct you to the rock-climbing wall on the outdoor Sport Deck or the running track. To cool off, the large pool that extends across the width of the ship.

Open air bar and seating on deck at sunset.
Credit: AIDA

Take the kiddos to the Fun Park at the stern with a children’s pool, a twin water chute and water slide. Most impressive and relaxing is the infinity pool or the sea-view sauna.

With 17 restaurants and 23 bars, you won’t be short on options for delicious food. The new Beach House restaurant will serve summery, light dishes. Shops, a disco, gym area, the Theatrium and the lavish Body & Soul Organic Spa will make your time onboard fly by.

Take a look at what awaits you onboard the AIDAcosma:

Click here for more information about AIDA cruises.

P&O: Iona

Aerial view of Iona cruising through the water
Credit: P&O Ship Highlights

At 1,128 feet, P&Os Iona can hold 5,200 passengers on this luxury ship. Designed to invite the outdoors inside, the Iona has a stunning SkyDome, three-tier glass Grand Atrium and Conservatory mini-suite cabins.

One of the features that guests appreciate is that the artwork on the ship will tell you where you are at. Blue artwork indicated that you were at the forward, grey midship and red at the aft.

An Excel class ship, the Iona features an on-board craft gin distillery. Across the ship there are 30 different dining venues to choose from no matter the time of day.

Enjoy a rousing game of table tennis, football or basketball before hitting the spa.

With a focal point for rejuvenation, the Oasis Spa and Salon will allow you to de-stress in the hydrotherapy suite, or get a relaxing massage.

The movie theater has four screens to choose from and the acrobatic show is one of the favorites that regularly is at full capacity. Live music and dancing is a fun part of every night, or try the karaoke.

There are four pools, including an infinity pool, infinity whirlpool spas and a dozen regular whirlpools. A sauna, steam room and fully equipped gym along with fitness and dance classes give you plenty to do.

Once you have shopped, dined, swum and exercised, take a trip to the onboard library, grab a book and relax on deck.

Take a look at Cruise with Ben & David’s tour of the Iona:

Click here for more information on P&O Cruises.

Cruising Fun Facts:

On average, a commercial cruise ship covers about 84,007 miles each year, the equivalent of traveling around the world three and a half times.

If you love cruises and never want them to end, that is a real possibility. The World Residences at Sea gives you the opportunity to live on the largest private residential ship on earth. There are just 165 residences on board, so you may need to act fast.

Miami is the “cruising capital of the world” as more cruises depart from Florida than any other state. About 2,500 vessels arrive and service about 4.5 million passengers each year.

While cruise ships rarely use their anchors, they still have them. One cruise ship anchor can weigh up to 20,500 lbs, which is about the same weight as four adult elephants!

Most cruise cabin walls are made of metal, so before traveling, get some heavy-duty magnetic hooks and clips. Use them for hanging up light clothes or hats and free up storage space in your cabin.

A ship that has 3,500 passengers will use about 600 pounds of butter per day, 250,000 eggs per week and 170,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables per cruise. They bake bread every day and the chefs are professionally trained.

This page contains affiliate links for which we may receive financial compensation when a purchase has been made through one of our affiliate partners.

 

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About

Joy is the Co-Founder & Content Manager/Expert for CruisePortAdvisor.com and one of the founders of the site. She loves to travel, sing & bake.

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