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Comparing the biggest cruise ship in the world vs. Titanic

In:
05Mar2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas holds the title as the world's largest cruise ship, so how does it compare to the most well-known ship of all time?

Photo by By F.G.O. Stuart (1843-1923)

The Titanic is more than likely the most well-known ocean liner because of its famous accident in 1912. Her sinking has never been eclipsed in the public imagination, despite decades of larger and safe cruise ships.

Nonetheless, if you mention cruise ships to someone who is new to cruising, inevitably the Titanic references usually follow. So if your baseline for understanding what a cruise ship is is based on a vessel that sailed over 100 years ago, here is a look at how much different big ships are now.

Meet Symphony of the Seas

At about five times the size of Titanic, the world's largest cruise ship is Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas.

Spanning 18 decks, Symphony is the fourth Oasis Class cruise ship to be launched.

Size is everything with Symphony, as she is 1,184 ft 5.0 in length.  If you were to stand her up, she's almost as tall as the Empire State Building (1,250 feet without any antennas).

There are 25 pools, whirlpools, FlowRider surf simulators and water slides are on board to enjoy.

Getting around the ships is pretty easy, thanks to the neighborhood concept Royal Caribbean developed for these ships. There are seven neighborhoods inside the ship to help distinguish areas from each other and make navigation for guests simpler.

You will find 2,759 staterooms, including 188 suites and 28 more balconies than the next largest ship in the fleet (Harmony of the Seas).

Read moreFun facts about Symphony of the Seas

Comparing Symphony of the Seas to Titanic

Not only is Symphony of the Seas larger than Titanic, all of the Oasis Class cruise ships are larger than the Titanic in gross tonnage, as well as size.

The Titanic measured in at 882 feet and 9 inches long, and weighed 46,328 gross tons.

Symphony of the Seas measures 1,184 ft 5.0 inches in length and has a gross tonnage of 228,081.

In terms of gross tonnage, Titanic doesn't even make the list the top 64 world's largest cruise ships by gross tonnage.

Ditto for length; Among the top 64 largest cruise ships in the world today, the "shortest" ship comes in at 984.1 ft with the AIDAprima and AIDAperla.

Titanic was built at an estimated cost of $7.5 million in 1912, which in today's dollars would cost approximately $400 million.

Symphony of the Seas cost $1.35 billion to construct.

Titanic could handle 2,453 passengers, while Symphony of the Seas has a capacity of 5,518 passengers at double occupancy.

 Symphony of the SeasTitanic
Passengers5,518 passengers at double occupancy; 6,680 passengers maximum2,435
Crew Members2,200892
Length1,184 ft 5.0 in882 feet
Weight228,081 gross tons46,328 gross tons
Max speed22 knots23 knots
Decks189
Cost to Build$1.35 billion$400 million (today's cost)

Illustration by PA Graphics

In terms of things to do on each ship, Titanic offered a heated pool, gym, squash court, and Turkish bath.

Symphony of the Seas has 25 pools, two FlowRider surf simulators, two rock walls, a full-sized basketball court, ice-skating rink, mini golf course, and a carousel.

In the evening, Titanic would feature smoking rooms, billiards, music, and dancing.

On Symphony of the Seas, you can find the Broadway musical Hairspray, ice skating shows, piano bars, karaoke, jazz club, live music, movie screenings and production shows in the AquaTheater.

How much is a ticket on Titanic vs. Symphony of the Seas?

Any cruise fan knows that there is no standard price for a cruise.  Cruise fares vary from ship to ship and even sailing to sailing.

It is not unreasonable to pay around $2,000 for a balcony cabin for two guests on Symphony of the Seas.

The prices of tickets on the Titanic in 1912 ranged from £30 (equivalent to £3,000 in 2019) and £870 (equivalent to  £100,027.45 in 2021) for a parlour suite and small private promenade deck in first class, to £8 for a third-class adult fares and £3 for children. That's roughly equal to between $100,000 to $345 in today's prices.

Unlike modern cruise ships, Titanic had different classes of fares. First, second, and third class, which were distinguished by social status and ticket cost.

First class was for the wealthiest and most prominent passengers.  These were upper class people, who had careers in business, politics, the military, or industry. These were the well-to-do and most well-known people sailing.

Second Class was essentially the middle class people, which might include tourists, members of the clergy, and educators.

Third class (sometimes known as steerage) was mostly made up of immigrants moving to North America. 

How do these ships compare?

In short, Symphony of the Seas and Titanic don't have a ton in common besides being ships. Today's cruise ships are very different than ocean liners, like Titanic.

What many people who are new to cruise ships fail to understand is the fundamental shift leisure cruising underwent in the second half of the 20th century. Ocean liners and ferries evolved into the cruise ships that we know today.

Ocean liners were primarily used to bring passengers across the ocean from one point to another, whereas cruise ships go on pleasure voyages, closer to the coast, sailing between ports.

Unfortunately, many cruise novices have Titanic as their only frame of reference when it comes to non-cargo ships, so it ends up being the defacto benchmark.

Not only are ships like Symphony of the Seas immensely larger, the experience onboard is vastly different, with more to see, do, and eat than Titanic could have ever dreamed.