Inside the Engine Room of Some of the Largest Cruise Ships

The engine rooms of today that are the heart and soul of large cruise ships would be confusing and unrecognisable to the engineers and operators from the past. The big ships are still run on turbine power, but the similarities end there. Steam has been replaced by gas and diesel. The new fuel systems burn cleaner and don’t require the use of oil or coal like the steam engines of the past. Since oil has recently gone up significantly in price this also means the new ships are more economical.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

The Conversion of Queen Elizabeth II

The QE2 was launched on September 20, 1967 as a steam powered cruise ship. Twenty years later she was converted to electric diesel to prolong her sea life. The engine room still looks the same as it did before the conversion. Only the fuel system and turbines have changed. With the conversion, QE2 sailed the seas for another twenty-two years. Don’t expect any cruise offers to travel on her this year, though. In 2010 she’ll be converted to a luxury hotel and remain stationary where she is currently docked in Dubai. A high end shopping and entertainment complex will be built around her.

Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)

The Safety of Life at Sea Act was actually passed in the United States back in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster. In 1948 it was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation and is generally considered the current standard by which ships are measured for safety. The Act has been modified a number of times over the years with the most recent change going into effect in 2010. It is these guidelines that are primarily responsible for the change from steam to gas or electric turbine power. The engine rooms on a steam ship tended to be somewhat less safe than their diesel counterparts.

2003 Boiler Explosion on the SS Norway

SS Norway
SS Norway

The SS Norway was crucial in bringing international attention once again to the dangers of using super-heated steam to power ships. On May 25, 2003, one of the four boilers on the SS Norway exploded while she was docked at the Port of Miami, and luckily no passengers were hurt. The SS Norway was launched in 1962 (originally as the SS France) and was the longest cruise ship in the world (316 metres) until the RMS Queen Mary 2 (345 metres) was launched in 2004. While operating as the SS France she had eight boilers which provided 175,000 hp and gave her a cruising speed of 31 knots.

The Engine Room of the Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2

The Queen Mary 2 runs on four 16-cylinder marine diesel engines and two gas turbines which put out a combined 67,200 kW at 514 rpm. This system is known as CODAG (Combined Diesel and Gas turbine), and has been common in naval vessels for some time. It’s considered the most economical for a ship when travelling at low speeds and has the power to help it attain high speeds quickly. Despite being 345 metres long with a displacement of 76,000 tons she is one of the most manoeuvrable cruise ships on the water today. The technology that went into the construction of the Queen Mary 2 is some of the very best ever used on a cruise ship.

The Power of Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas, at 360 metres long, is the largest cruise ship to ever be launched. Her sister ship, Allure of the Seas will be joining her in 2010, making the Queen Mary 2 the third largest cruise ship in the world. It is powered by six marine diesel engines that put out 97,020 kilowatts (130,110 hp) which is used both to propel the ship and provide electricity to its passengers and entertainment facilities. The Oasis is also the first cruise ship to utilise Azipods instead of long screws with propellers on them. Azipods are propellers mounted to tubes which turn, making rudders unnecessary.

The Future of Cruise Ship Propulsion Systems

When you enter the engine room of one of today’s large cruise ships you’ll be surprised at how clean and advanced they are. The technology that goes into constructing a cruise ship today is like nothing that has ever been used on sea-going vessels before. What comes next? With the current record holder at 360 metres it’s unlikely that the ships will get much bigger. Propulsion systems are more powerful and economical now but there’s no doubt that they can be improved. As the techniques used to build ships and the fuel systems utilized by the rest of the world advance there will unquestionably be changes in the cruise ship industry. The next few decades should be a new “Golden Age” for the 21st Century much like the 20’s and 30’s were in the 20th.

About the author: Sarah Van Rensburg is an avid travel writer. She covers a wide range of travel-related topics but with a focus on cheap cruises.

The Top 5 Largest Cruise Liners – And Their Best Features!

Oasis Of The Seas

In a world where bigger is always better, aside from skyscrapers and some bridges, some of the biggest things that you are likely to see (if you live by the coast) are massive cruise liners that you can see miles off the coast.

Now while most of these ships are huge, there are a couple that dwarf the rest and are virtually floating cities that can hold as many as 6,000 passengers at one time.

I thought it would be a great idea to highlight the biggest cruise ships, who owns them, and a quick rundown of their best (and most impressive) features.

Who Is Behind The Largest Cruise Liners?

Before we get into the huge numbers and impressive features, I think it is important to mention that all 5 of the largest cruise ships are owned and run by just one cruise company – Royal Caribbean International.

With 42 ships in their fleet and over 25% share of the cruise market, Royal Carribean is definitely one of the major players in the industry – and having the 5 largest ships is just icing on the cake for this global cruise juggernaut.

  1. MS Allure of the Seas

    Holding the title of the worlds largest passenger liner, the Allure of the sea was created to be identical to it’s ‘sister ship’ the Oasis of the Seas, but is actually 2 inches longer.

    At 360 meters long and weighing over 200,000 tonnes, this ship definitely creates a feeling of awe when pulling into a dock.

    Interesting Facts:
    The Allure of the sea is the first cruise line to haves its own Starbucks, as well as being guest to Taylor Swift, for the first concert of her Speak Now World Tour.

  2. MS Oasis of the Seas

    Being the sister ship of the Allure, we already know the key stats for this ship. So let’s just straight to the interesting facts.

    Home to a full mini golf course, multiple night clubs and five swimming pools, there is plenty of things to entertain every member of the family.

    Now home to The Dreamworks Experience, this Oasis now has 3D movies, ice shows and water shows with some of your favourite Dreamworks characters.

  3. MS Freedom of the Seas

    The MS Freedom of the Seas, shares 3rd place with both the Liberty and Independence below – as they are all part of the ‘Freedom Class’ of ships based on the same frame.

    Being able to to house 3,600 passengers and 1,300 crew at capacity, the freedom class ships are not exactly dwarfed by it’s larger cousins.

    Interesting Facts:
    Complete with water park and 11 path rock climbing wall, the Freedom would satisfy the most active of cruisers.

  4. MS Liberty of the Seas

    The Freedom, Liberty and Independence are basically the same ship, so the features are practically the same on each ship.

    Equiped with a nice skating rink, boxing ring and full sized sports courts there is defintely plenty to do on the Liberty.

  5. MS Independence Of The Seas

    The MS Independence wraps up the top 5 largest cruise liners, with it’s gross tonnage of 160,000 tonnes and 339 meters of length – it is no baby.

    Cruising through a range of destinations in Europe and the Caribbean, be sure to check out their Casino, Shops and cantilevered whirlpool.

Kenneth Beckham is a cruise fanatic, he loves finding packaged cruises with airfares included as it allows him to see the world from two very different perspectives – one from a birds eye view and the other sailing the high seas.