About Ocean Liners

Ocean Liners are designed to undertake a line voyage, between point A and point B across a large expanse of open ocean (such as the transatlantic crossing between North America and Europe). Cruise Ships are typically designed to undertake pleasure voyages, closer to the coast, sailing between ports.

Because of this operational difference, ships designed as Ocean Liners have certain traits to enable them to undertake long duration voyages year after year. These include:

  • A long bow: The bow on ocean liners are typically longer than cruise ships, designed to ensure the superstructure is protected from the waves experienced in the open ocean,
  • Strong hull: Ocean Liners are very strong, with steel typically several inches thicker than that used aboard cruise ships,
  • Bridge set high atop the ship: Nearly all ocean liners had their navigation bridge on the top most deck. This is to ensure not only a good view but also to protect the navigation from the weather,
  • Lifeboat location: Ocean Liners are subject to heavy seas, particularly during winter crossings. As such, the boat deck is usually near the top of the vessel to protect the boats from high seas,
  • Speed: Ocean Liners are designed to undertake a scheduled voyage and as such require more speed than cruise ships, largely due to the need to maintain schedules that may be interrupted due to bad weather.

Ocean Liners vs. Cruise Ships

There are only a few ocean liners in service today. For many years, the Cunard QE2 was the last of the transatlantic ocean liner. However in 2004, QM2 became the newest ocean liner in service. Since the retirement of QE2 in 2008, QM2 is the last true transatlantic liner in service.

Other ocean liners in service include the Marco Polo and Astoria (CMV) which, although built to ocean liner specifications, rarely undertake line voyages.

In contrast, there are over 300 cruise ships in service today. These ships range in size and design, from small super-yacht style vessels to the world’s largest passenger ships: Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class, at over 225,000 gross tons!

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