Today's cruise ships keep getting bigger and bigger.
As of November 2023, the biggest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas; however, Icon of the Seas will surpass her when she debuts in January 2024.
Both of these ships are massive compared to one of the most infamous ships of all time: RMS Titanic. Back in 1912, she was the world’s largest cruise ship. Built by the White Star Line, Titanic departed Southampton for its inaugural (and final) voyage in April 1912.
Since her construction, a lot has changed in the world of shipbuilding. Engineering has revolutionized the cruise ship industry, with ships being built wider, taller, and more technologically advanced than ever.
That being said, it's interesting to see the comparison between the Titanic and modern-day cruise ships that are double, triple, and even quadruple in size.
How long was the Titanic compared to modern-day cruise ships?
When Titanic was built, she was considered massive for that time in history. The ship was able to hold 3,353 passengers, including 900 crew members. People were astonished by the sheer size of the "unsinkable" Titanic.
When it comes to Titanic’s length, she was 882 feet long. In comparison, Wonder of the Seas is 1,187 feet long, which is around 35% longer. As the world's largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas holds 8,000 passengers. Keep in mind that Wonder of the Seas is substantially larger than most modern cruise ships.
Carnival Celebration, for instance, is Carnival's newest cruise ship, as of November 2023. She measures 1,130 feet in length. Norwegian Viva, Norwegian's newest ship that launched in August 2023, is one of the shorter newer vessels at just 965 feet long. All three, however, are at least 80 feet longer than Titanic!
Of course, some of the older modern-day cruise ships are actually quite comparable in length to Titanic. In fact, some are even shorter in length than Titanic!
For example, Carnival’s smallest operating cruise ship is Carnival Paradise. This cruise ship measures 860 feet long, which is shorter than the Titanic.
Read more: How Big is a Cruise Ship?
How does the width of the Titanic compare to today's cruise ships?
While Titanic holds her own when it comes to length, the ship’s width is substantially smaller than modern-day cruise ships.
Titanic’s length from one side to the other measured just 92.5 feet. Wonder of the Seas, at her widest, is an astonishing 210 feet wide and clocks in at more than double the width of Titanic.
Of course, most cruise ships are not as wide as Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class. Referring back to Carnival Celebration, she measures 137 feet wide, and MSC's World Europa, the sixth largest cruise ship in the world, is 154 feet wide.
How tall was the RMS Titanic?
Titanic’s height is where she really starts to show her age in comparison to modern shipyard engineering. When it comes to Titanic’s height, she was nearly 104 feet tall, with only 9 passenger decks.
Modern cruise ships are double that size, averaging around 190 feet tall with 12-14 passenger decks. The largest cruise ship in the world is 235 feet tall with 18 passenger decks, which is double the number of decks that Titanic had!
MSC World Europa, while not the largest cruise ship in the world in terms of gross registered tonnage, has a whopping 21 decks, although only 16 are able to be accessed by passengers!
Because of engineering limitations at the time, the Titanic had to be built in one piece, which limited the overall height of the ship.
Today, cruise ships are built in smaller sections kind of like LEGOS and loaded onto large cranes. These chunks are pieced together one by one, which allows the engineering process to be much faster than traditional building methods.
Read more: How are cruise ships built?
Titanic's gross registered tonnage is where you can really see just how small this vessel was compared to modern-day cruise ships
Although smaller than most modern cruise ships, the Titanic had a historic 46,328 gross tonnage. At the time, this was considered huge!
The largest cruise ships in the world come in at a whopping 230,000 gross tonnage. This means Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships are nearly four times as heavy as the Titanic.
This isn’t surprising, as cruise ships are being built bigger than ever before. Nearly every major cruise line has been building cruise ships that are bigger than anything built before.
When Icon of the Seas launches in January 2024, she'll have a gross registered tonnage of over 250,000! That's pretty impressive.
Most cruise ships built today are measuring under 200,000 gross registered tons. Regardless, they're well over 100,000, that's for sure! Carnival Celebration, for instance, comes in at 183,521 gross tons, while Norwegian Viva measures 142,500.
How did the staterooms on the Titanic compare to those found on today's cruise ships?
The Titanic did not have a single balcony cabin, whereas today's cruise ships, particularly Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class vessels, have multiple categories of balconies: Oceanview, Central Park, and Boardwalk.
The Titanic's most luxurious suites were comprised of two bedrooms, an ensuite bathroom, and a separate parlor room. Even so, there were fewer first-class rooms than there are suites onboard newer ships.
Moreover, Titanic had separate dining rooms for first-, second-, and third-class passengers. Modern-day cruise ships often have separate facilities for suite guests to give them a more elevated and intimate cruising experience.
Cruisers today would never fathom paying to share a bathroom like second- and third-class passengers on this ocean liner did!
Read more: Jaw dropping cruise ships with family suites
Was the Titanic slower or faster than today's cruise ships?
Titanic can hold its own when comparing its speed to modern-day cruise ships, as she had a maximum speed of 23 knots, which is roughly 26.5 miles per hour. Historical records show that the Titanic sailed around 22 knots on average.
In fact, it’s believed Titanic was sailing at around 22 knots when the ship unfortunately struck an iceberg, causing her to start sinking into the frigid Atlantic waters.
Most modern-day cruise ships have a maximum speed of 30 knots and an average speed of 20 knots. The largest cruise ships in the world have a maximum speed of 22 knots, which is slower than Titanic.
The Titanic wasn't actually a cruise ship
Most people assume that the Titanic was a cruise ship, but this isn’t true. At the time she was built, the ship was actually classified as an ocean liner. This is an important distinction because ocean liners are meant to transport passengers across the ocean.
However, the White Star Line chose to make both luxury and comfort key components of the Titanic. This helped differentiate Titanic from other ocean liners being built by Cunard Cruise Line, which was the White Star Line’s biggest competition at the time.
Both companies were racing to dominate the Atlantic, but Cunard focused on making ships that could cross the ocean quickly, while White Star Line focused on building a ship full of luxury.
Because of this, the Titanic would be more comparable to a cruise ship today than an ocean liner and offered amenities that other ocean liners at the time did not.
Today, ocean liners are becoming a thing of the past with an overall preference shift towards cruise ships. Currently, the RMS Queen Mary 2 is the only operational ocean liner that regularly transports passengers across the Atlantic.
Where did Titanic sink?
Titanic's fate was sealed when she struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean while en route to New York.
The ship was located roughly 370 miles, or 600 kilometers, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
The exact coordinates where she struck the iceberg and eventually sank are 41.726931° N, 49.948253° W.
Titanic’s legacy lives on
After Titanic’s tragic sinking, the White Star Line was merged with Cunard Cruise Line, which is known for currently operating Queen Mary 2. Cunard is now operated under Carnival Corporation, which also operates other lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Costa Cruises.
Unfortunately, Costa Cruises' Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy in 2012. While not as deadly as the Titanic's sinking one hundred years earlier, this incident resulted in some modifications to the safety guidelines within the cruise industry.
Read more: What happened to the Costa Concordia?