Constructing a Cruise Liner

It’s difficult to imagine the sheer scale and precision of engineering and fitting a cruise ship. Often with a population of more than many villages, hopefully after reading this, you’ll have a greater appreciation of the skill that goes into building these massive floating hotels.

Cruise Lines
Cruise Lines

Fabrication and Materials

Shipbuilding today has evolved into a high tech science. The techniques and materials that were used in the first half of the last century have become obsolete. Since 1950, ships have been constructed almost exclusively of fabricated steel or, more recently, aluminium alloys. Cruise ships, due to their massive size, have to be constructed in pieces called prefabs and assembled in dry dock before they can be launched and tested at sea.

Assembly of the Hull and Spatial Planning

Once the hull has been welded together and the ship has been evaluated for seaworthiness the fun can begin. The basic structure of a cruise ship is not much different from that of any other seagoing vessel, except the staterooms and corridors tend to be larger and the d├ęcor is definitely more lavish. Cruise ship lines are constantly competing about who can put out the largest and most opulent cruise liners.

Designed for Comfort

Is your flat at home equipped with a plush queen sized bed, whirlpool bathtub and flat screen TV? Your cabin on the cruise ship just might be, depending on who you sail with. When a cruise ship is built today no expense is spared. Unlike their predecessors in the days of old when corners were cut and the lowest bid was king, the players in the shipping industry today have learned painfully what happens when they try to save money on construction costs.

Luxuries Abound and Plenty of Places to Play

The creature comforts don’t end when you step out of your room on cruise holidays. Lounges and pools are plentiful on cruise ships, along with bars, restaurants, game rooms, and of course those romantic spots where a couple can be alone and watch the stars and the moonlight glisten off the water. Worried about sea-sickness? Even the queasiest will have a hard time feeling a cruise ship rock at all. Cruise ships are constructed using a “U” shaped hull design for maximum displacement and stability.

Modern Technology, Cell Phones, and WiFi

Just because you go off to sea on a cruise doesn’t mean you have to leave those wonderful electronic gadgets behind. In addition to flat screen TV’s in the cabins, cruise ships today also offer state-of-the-art entertainment and communications options throughout the ship. You can use your cell phone on virtually all major cruise lines and most of the modern day ships have WiFi and internet cafes where you can surf the web or do a little work while you’re on board.


Other amenities that may be included when a cruise ship is constructed are casinos, movie theatres, and amusement rides for children and adults. Anything that you see on dry land in the world of entertainment is usually available at sea also. Some cruises also have live shows and fireworks displays. Modern technology has made that possible. Storing or using pyrotechnics of any kind on a ship was unheard of just a few short decades ago.

Recruiting the Best in the Business

A position on a cruise ship pays well, more than that same position pays on the mainland or even on resort islands. The final stage after constructing a cruise ship is choosing the personnel that are going to staff it. For this, the industry accepts only the very best in the business. It’s not hard to be selective because anyone who works in the hospitality industry wants a dream job that takes them out to sea and pays them twice as much as what they make at home.

Expect to See Former Naval Officers

Those who operate the ship are also among the finest in their industry. Many cruise ship captains and officers are former naval personnel who have retired or completed their term of service. The same is often true of the engineers and maintenance people, many of whom have advanced maritime degrees and education. It is said that a seafarer will always be a seafarer so it’s no surprise to see sailors with decades of experience working for all of the major cruise lines.

What will the future bring?

The cruise ships of today, compared to those built in the 1960’s and 70’s, are like something out of a science fiction novel. The internet didn’t exist back then, nor did cell phones, aluminium alloys, modern pre-fabrication techniques, and many of the other elements that go into building ships today. What will the future bring? Only time will tell. One thing that is clear though is that people will continue to sail the seven seas and cruise ships will allow them to do that in safety, style and comfort.

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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 cruise holidays.

The History of Cruise Holidays

Cruise Holidays

The idea of travelling to warm climates in the winter and cooler climates in the summer is not new; it has actually been around for centuries. Arthur Anderson, one of the founders of Peninsular Steam Navigation Company (now P&O Nedloyd), first suggested the idea of touring Scotland and Iceland in the summer and the Mediterranean in the winter. That was in the 1830’s. For the next seventy years Peninsular would build their company holdings with cargo and mail contracts, making the right decision in conflicts around the world where they had to take sides and building a reputation as an industry leader in the shipping business.

Cruise Holidays

The Dawn of the Twentieth Century

Arthur’s idea didn’t become popular until after the turn of the century, and then only with the rich, but it did eventually catch on. In 1900, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise became the first ship built exclusively as a cruise ship and in 1904 Peninsular offered the first cruise holiday program on a first class only basis. By 1920, despite the loss of the Titanic in 1912, the cruise ship industry was going full steam. Transatlantic cruises were most popular but cruise holidays in the Mediterranean and Caribbean were available.

The Golden Years (1920’s and 30’s)

The roaring twenties and the decade immediately after which preceded World War II were the Golden Years for the luxury cruise industry. The Caribbean and Mediterranean were wide open and ports like Havana, Miami, and Beirut always had a cruise ship in port and passengers taking advantage of “cruise and stay” packages that were being offered by Peninsular, Cunnard and other lines that were coming into existence at the time. Competition was healthy but cruise holidays were still something only the rich could afford.

The Blue Riband Award

In the 1860’s, the transatlantic shipping industry created an award for the ship that could cross the Atlantic in the shortest time. The award became the sole property of the cruise ship industry in the 1930’s when it traded hands between the French ship Normandie and the British Queen Mary. The Queen Mary held it from 1938 to 1952 with a top speed of 31 knots per hour, an amazing accomplishment at the time. Speed was also a necessity for cruise ships, both for protection and because many of the new lines to come into being in the 1930’s doubled as mail carriers.

The 1950’s and Competing with Air Travel

Up until 1950, cruise ships were not only vacation options; they were the primary mode of transportation between continents. After World War II this began to change. The aeroplane had been tested in battle and was accepted by both commercial and private entities that needed a faster way to get to their destination. This growing popularity made aeroplanes a more affordable option also as increasing demand and competition drove prices down. Cruise ships became vacation destinations and the lines that offered cruise holidays became more creative with their vacation packages.

The 1960’s and the Founding of Royal Caribbean

The 1960’s saw two major events in the evolution of the cruise ship industry. The first happened in the middle of the decade when Peninsular Steam Navigation Company absorbed a company called Orient Steam Navigation Company, changing their name to P&O. P&O would later go on to merge with Carnival Cruises in 2003. The 1960’s also saw the founding of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in 1968, the current owners of the world’s largest cruise ship Oasis of the Seas. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), owners of the ill-fated Achille Lauro, and Norwegian Cruise Lines also entered the cruise ship industry in the 1960’s.

Vacation Packages, Mass Media, and Cruise Holidays

After a decade that saw the end of conflict in Southeast Asia, long petrol lines, and economic uncertainty, the 1980’s were welcomed worldwide as a time when the world could change. The internet had just been developed but wasn’t available to the general public, but television was reaching every home and the cruise lines took full advantage. Putting together “vacation packages” and “cruise holidays” that were developed from the old “cruise and stay” deals of the 20’s and 30’s, all of the major players in the industry hit the airwaves with appeals to the common people for the first time.

The Modern Family Vacation

Cruise holidays are now one of the top choices for the modern family vacation. Cruise ships are available in all shapes and sizes and go to destinations around the world. The Caribbean is popular as is the Mediterranean, but cruises up north to Scandinavia and Alaska are also fully booked by passengers who have no fear anymore of ice or water hazards. The technology has improved, the ships are larger and sturdier, and the amenities on board will make anyone not want to go home. Arthur Anderson, if you’re out there somewhere, thanks for the idea. Cruise holidays are finally available to all.

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 cruise holidays.