How the Titanic Compares to Modern Cruise Ships

In case you've ever wondered, we share some surprising facts and figures about the Titanic vs modern cruise ships.

The most famous passenger ship of all time is a title that still belongs to the Titanic, more than a century after its maiden voyage in 1912. Unfortunately, it’s because the sinking of the Titanic is still one of the worst maritime disasters in history, immortalized forever in museums, books, film and pop culture.

It’s understandable, then, why so many wonder how the Titanic compares to modern cruise ships sailing today. It might be baffling to imagine, but while cruise ships have leapt in size since the world called Titanic the largest ship of its time, they have also drastically reduced their chances of sinking.

How the Titanic Compares to Modern Cruise Ships

Current technology and enhanced safety features all but ensure that any major malfunctions are prevented when it comes to the integrity of a ship’s hull and structure. And of course, all cruise ships must have enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone onboard — a very glaring oversight that contributed to the Titanic’s avoidable death toll.

What else is there to know about the Titanic vs modern cruise ships? Read on for some surprising facts and figures.

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Titanic Vs Modern Cruise Ships

What is the size difference between the Titanic and modern cruise ships?

The Titanic was technically an ocean liner, operated by the White Star Line. This means it was designed to transport passengers across the ocean (in this case, Southampton to New York). When built at the turn of the 20th century, the Titanic was a feat of modern engineering. It measured 882 feet long and 46,328 gross registered tons (GRT), which is a measurement that incorporates the ship’s total enclosed volume. It featured 10 total decks.

In comparison, the modern cruise ship version of the Titanic — aka the world’s largest passenger vessel — is Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas at the time of publication. It is 1,198 feet long and measures 250,800 GRT — a staggering five times the size of the Titanic by volume. It also boasts more than twice the number of decks, with 20.

How big is a cruise ship?

While it only sailed one fateful voyage, the Titanic had a passenger capacity of 3,353 people (2,453 guests and 900 crew) while Icon of the Seas is capable of carrying 2,350 crew members alone, along with up to 7,600 guests.

Average Size of Modern Cruise Ships

It’s important to remember that while cruise ships are remarkably bigger, Royal Caribbean’s mega-ships are an exceptional example. The average size of a cruise ship is much closer to that of the Titanic in length and capacity, though gross tonnage has grown.

Another recent build, Norwegian Viva, measures 965 feet long and carries 3,099 passengers (plus crew). However, at 142,500 GRT, even Norwegian Viva is three times the size of the Titanic.

The only ocean liner sailing as a cruise ship today is Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which offers a similar and historic transatlantic route. Actually, Cunard Line purchased the White Star Line (which built the Titanic) in 1950. In comparison, the QM2 is 1,132 feet in length, 148,528 GRT and consists of 18 total decks. The liner carries up to 2,691 guests and 1,292 crew members.

How the Titanic Compares to Modern Cruise Ships

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How do modern cruise ships compare to the Titanic?

Size isn’t everything, although it was a significant part of what made the Titanic so noteworthy for its time. The passenger experience on cruise ships is significantly different now than it was more than 110 years ago — to say the least.

For starters, while there are cabin categories (like suites) that earn passengers additional perks, all paying passengers onboard a cruise ship today have access to most of the ship’s public spaces and services, including restaurants and entertainment.

This was not the case aboard the Titanic. There were first-, second- and third-class cabins with separate dining rooms, shared bathrooms, and little else to occupy those not in first class. Most passengers were relegated to third class, and cabins — often in unsavory locations like near the engine room in the bowels of the ship — accommodated up to 10 people!

The “first class” you might be imagining was also far from the plush staterooms available these days. Even though they had up to two bedrooms, a parlor, and an all-important ensuite bathroom (for the very top tier), there were no balconies in any cabin.

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Titanic Vs Modern Cruise Ships’ Amenities

Despite everything aboard cruise ships today, from waterslides and racetracks to multi-story theaters, the Titanic was actually the most comfortable and amenity-packed ocean liner when it debuted. Some of that glamour can be seen in the 1997 film “Titanic,” which dramatized the ship’s first and only journey. Décor included ornately carved woodwork, European furnishings, and gilded touches.

While it was far from the sprawling spas and fitness centers found at sea today, Titanic did feature a gym with workout gear of the time, as well as a Turkish-style bath, steam room, and treatment room. Other diversions included a pool, promenade, reading/writing room, smoking lounge, and squash court.

While companies over the years have tried and failed to replicate the Titanic as a modern cruising attraction, the classic design of Cunard Line’s ships is about as close as you might come to the experience of formal dress and traditional decor — albeit in a bit more comfort.

Like Titanic did for its time, modern cruise ships are mostly concerned with staying on top of trends, whether it’s the newest fad in dining or design, to keep passengers happy. But, most importantly of all, they are also well equipped to avoid icebergs and keep passengers safe.

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Do you have anything to add when comparing the Titanic vs modern cruise ships? Do you enjoy geeking out over these engineering marvels? Drop us an anchor below to share your upcoming cruise plans.

Brittany has covered cruising professionally for more than a decade. She embarked on a world cruise as a college student aboard Semester at Sea, and never stopped sailing. Formerly a Cruise Critic editor, Brittany now writes about ships and their many destinations for various industry and consumer outlets. She is a lifelong resident of the Jersey Shore.
Brittany Chrusciel, Contributor
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1 comment on How the Titanic Compares to Modern Cruise Ships

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  1. Titanic was not a cruise ship. It was an ocean liner.

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