Picking the Perfect Ship for Your Cruise: A Comparison of the Largest Cruise Ships in the World

Ever since Carnival Cruise Lines broke the 100K gross ton mark with the Carnival Destiny in 1996, cruise lines have been releasing larger and larger ships. In fact, a ship that is around 100,000 tons,

Love it, or hate it, but the world is getting larger. Larger cruise ships that is.

Ever since Carnival Cruise Lines broke the 100K gross ton mark with the Carnival Destiny in 1996, cruise lines have been releasing larger and larger ships. In fact, a ship that is around 100,000 tons, carrying around 2,500 or so passengers, seems small in comparison. Especially now that the world’s largest cruise ship is weighing in at 225,000 gross tons.

While not all cruise enthusiasts are fans of these “mega ships”, we here at EatSleepCruise.com love them!

Given our penchant for mega ships, we felt it was only fitting to give you the breakdown of the biggest and best cruise ships in the world to help you decide which mega ship is perfect for you and your family.

OasisRoyal Caribbean International ®

The Current Largest Cruise Ship in the World

The distinction of the “largest cruise ships in the world” goes to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas (and their sister, the third Oasis class ship, who will be arriving in 2017). These ships are over 220K gross tons and carry about 5,400 passengers and another 2,100 crew. That’s about 7,500 people onboard.

With all of these people onboard to be entertained, it is only logical that Royal Caribbean has amped up their entertainment experience. These ships feature many unique amenities including an outdoor theatre that houses a water diving show, a full Broadway theater production on every cruise, and 25 dining options. Oasis class ships also contain a variety of different “neighborhoods” including Central Park an outdoor area in the middle of the ship with plenty of greenery and trendy shops and dining, which makes you feel like you are in NYC–without the noisy cabs. The Boardwalk is another outdoor area perfect for “kids” of all ages, from the Boardwalk-style food to the carousel.

Of course, Oasis and Allure also include some Royal Caribbean staples including a skating rink, as well as a sports deck with the largest rock climbing walls at sea, two Flowrider surf simulators, and a zip line.

Now, some cruise enthusiasts contend that these ships are more like floating amusement parks than actual cruise ships, but we definitely enjoyed our cruise on Allure and can’t wait to sail on Oasis.

Perfect For: Either way you slice it, the largest cruise ships have entertainment and experiences for everyone. This ship might be perfect for you if you are the person who is up for something new and different, wants to brag to your friends that you’ve sailed on the current world record holder for largest cruise ship, and are willing to handle the crowds and all the walking.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Goes Big

Currently, the title of second largest cruise ship in the world is held by the magnificent and massive Norwegian Epic. Sailing at over 155K gross tons and carrying slightly over 4,000 passengers she is definitely a mega ship with some impressive features.

Released a year after Oasis, the Epic goes toe-to-toe with the largest cruise ships in the world when it comes to entertainment and dining. NCL released signature entertainment on Epic including Blue Man Group, a one of a kind show that mixes art, pop culture, drums, and paint for an immersive and entertaining experience. You may feel like you are in Vegas as Epic also hosts the only Legends in Concert show at sea where world class impersonators pay homage to legends like Cher and Elvis. For laughs, Epic continues NCL’s partnership with Sin City for nightly comedy throughout the cruise. For a nominal fee, Epic offers Cirque Dreams, a dinner show in an intimate theater featuring acrobats and circus performers with a three course meal.

Over 20 different dining venues exist onboard, all of course with the NCL freestyle approach, 7 of which are complimentary, such as O’Sheehan’s, a 24 hour authentic Irish pub, and three traditional main dining rooms, each with their own distinct styling and decor. Couple those with 20 bars, including the Svedka ice bar, the first ice bar at sea, the loud and rowdy dueling piano bar Howl at the Moon, as well as a well-stocked cigar bar. With all these options, you may never find time to sleep while onboard.

With NCL’s free style approach, you can pick and choose what you do and when you do it. Epic is truly an impressive ship that offers travelers plenty of options. The decisions are all yours, but no matter what you choose, fun is sure to follow.

Perfect For: If you like flexibility and options when it comes to dining and entertainment, the Freestyle cruising on Epic might be your ticket to mega ship heaven.

Regal PrincessPrincess Cruises ®

These Ships are so Big They Could be Considered Queens

Not to be left out, in 2013, Princess Cruise Lines entered the mega ship business by releasing the Royal Princess and her sister ship Regal Princess earlier this year.

These 140+K mega ships carry around 3,500 passengers, but they do not have all of the bells and whistles of the other ships. No water slides or zip lines, but they are big on elegance.

Princess shines with their dining and subdued, sophisticated night life. On both Royal and Regal Princess, many of the restaurants and lounges are centered around the Piazza with its elegant décor. With a wide variety of free offerings, including a traditional main dining room, a seafood bar, and a wine bar voted one of the best at sea, these mega ships may entice foodies looking to set sail.

Families are welcome too as the ships also have the line’s largest outdoor screens for Movies Under the Stars. Cuddle with your loved ones as you watch first run movies while sailing the Caribbean. The SeaWalk, a glass walkway that it cantilevered over the side of the ship, is also fun for all ages. While these ships may not have the signature shows of Epic or Allure and Oasis, the main theater plays host to typical cruise entertainment and the first TV studio at sea. With less diverse bar and lounge offerings, the nightlife is solid, but does not have the variety and excitement of other mega ships found in the NCL and RCI lineup. But, maybe that is exactly what you want—a relaxing and sophisticated cruise experience.

Perfect For: If you are looking for a more relaxing mega ship, the Regal Princess or Royal Princess might give you the luxury and comfort you are looking for in your next cruise vacation.

Carnival_BreezeCarnival Cruise Lines ®

Your Dreams May Come True on Carnival’s Mega Ships

While Carnival has the most ships at sea, her largest ships are rather small when compared to other mega ships. The 130K gross ton Dream class comprised of the Carnival Magic, the Carnival Dream, and the Carnival Breeze, is a top contender for your next cruise vacation. While some of the amenities vary from ship to ship, all of these ships come fully equipped with a water park that contains some of the longest and fastest water slides at sea. Not to mention a complete sports deck with a basketball court, pool tables, foosball, and mini golf. Carnival Breeze also features a ropes course. With all these Carnival ships have to offer, you could spend days at sea and never run out of activities.

Of course, Carnival caters to all travelers, but focuses on families. With the Seuss at Sea on Carnival Breeze, the kids will be thoroughly entertained as they enter the world of Doctor Seuss.

For the adults, Carnival has rolled out a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements. Among them is the Redfrog Pub, a microbrewery that is exclusive to Carnival Cruise ships. There is also the Red Frog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, if beer is not your thing. Casual food offerings include Guy’s Burger Joint from celebrity Chef Guy Fieri and Fat Jimmy’s C-side BBQ. Don’t worry, Carnival has a traditional main dining room for more formal dinners and a first class steakhouse as well.

Entertainment is abounding on Carnival too. Playlist Productions, a new addition to Dream class ships, are high intensity musical reviews that provide top notch entertainment in roughly half the time of most other cruise shows, so you can enjoy all the ship has offer. Other night life includes the EA Sports Bar, a 4D Movie Theater, the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez. You might begin to wonder how they can fit all of this fun into one ship.

Perfect For: There is something for everyone here. With moderate price tags, these mega ships might be perfect for first time cruisers or those budget conscience travelers looking to maximize their travel dollars.

On the Horizon

The soon-to-be released RCI Quantum of the Seas will actually take the title of the second largest class of cruise ships when she sets sail in late 2014 sailing in at about 160k gross tons and hosting over 4,000 passengers. Royal Caribbean boasts Quantum as the most innovative ship to date, with many unique features including the new “dynamic dining” program, the North Star, and the SeaPlex.

Ready to debut in Fall of 2015, Norwegian Cruise Lines is set to release another new mega ship, the 160K gross ton NCL Escape which will usher in a new class, the Breakway plus. While details are light now on all of the Escapes features, it is set to include the quarter mile long Waterfront, an open air area that will be home to different restaurants and bars that offer al fresco dining. Escape will also be home to the NCL’s largest casino ever, housing more than 350 slot machines, 28 tables, and the new Sky Line Bar. Set to return is the exclusive Haven area, where suite guests have their own private ship within a ship experience.

So stay tuned!


Have any advice on how to pick a Mega Ship? Have you sailed on any of the ships above and want to share your experiences?  Drop us an anchor below to let us know about your previous sailings or knowledge of mega ships.

Don Bucolo, or “DB”, loves everything about cruising- the ocean, the food, and the atmosphere. While he may be obsessed with doing extensive amounts of research on ships and all elements of a cruise, Don enjoys sharing his new found knowledge with fellow cruisers. When he is not sailing the high seas, he does whatever his wife tells him to do-it only took 10 years to realize this.
Don Bucolo
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Picking the Perfect Ship for Your Cruise: A Comparison of the Largest Cruise Ships in the World

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