As the Harmony of the Seas – widely touted as “world’s largest passenger liner” – prepares to set out on its inaugural cruise from Barcelona on June 5, we bring to you some of history’s biggest and most legendary passenger liners.
This enormous – and reputedly unsinkable – ocean liner is one of history’s most famous passenger ships. After taking to waves in the early 20th century, its tragic fate has gained the RMS Titanic legendary status, with an international community of enthusiasts who continue to collect details of the ship and its sinking.
The subject of numerous documentaries and blow-by-blow reconstructions, the ship met a tragic end after colliding with an iceberg in the North Atlantic during the night of April 14, 1912, leading to its total submersion. The ship found renewed fame as the setting for a big-screen love story in James Cameron’s “Titanic” movie, which won the 1997 Oscar for “Best Picture.” This led to renewed interest in the story of this fateful liner, which sunk on its maiden voyage from the English port of Southampton.
Dimensions: 269 metres long, 28 metres wide
Company: White Star Line
Passenger capacity: 3,503 people (905 in first class, 564 in second class, 1134 in third class and 885 crew)
Did you know: The Titanic set sail loaded with 40 tons of potatoes, 34,000 kg of meat, 6,819 liters of milk, 36,000 oranges and 20,000 bottles of beer.
As well as holding the title of world’s largest passenger liner for three years, the Queen Mary was also the world’s fastest ocean liner for 14 years straight. The ship was originally intended to be called Queen Victoria, in homage to the former British monarch, but when the name was submitted to King George V for approval, he preferred to name the vessel after his wife.
Plenty of famous people stepped aboard the ship during its years of service, including Winston Churchill. After setting sail on its maiden voyage May 27, 1936, RMS Queen Mary – nicknamed “Old Mary” – travelled the globe as a troopship during the Second World War, carrying Australian and New Zealand soldiers from Sydney to the United Kingdom. The liner later regained its original function as a cruise ship before retiring in 1967. The Queen Mary has now been turned into a hotel and restaurant based in Long Beach harbour in California, USA.
Dimensions: 310.74 metres long
Company: Cunard Line
Passenger capacity: 2,139 people
Did you know: Legend has it that the Queen Mary is haunted by the ghosts of former passengers. Today’s guests can take a tour of the corridors at night to try to catch sight of the spooks.
Following in the footsteps of the SS Normandy, this French ocean liner – built in the Chantiers de L’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire – was the world’s biggest passenger liner in the early 1960s. After a career mainly spent carrying passengers between Europe and the USA, and with a few round-the-world trips to its name, SS France was bought by a Saudi Arabian businessman and re-registered in Norway. The vessel was renamed “SS Norway” in 1979, before becoming “Blue Lady” in 2006 prior to its scrapping in India.
Dimensions: 315.7 meters long
Company: Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (at launch)
Passenger capacity: 2,032 people
Did you know: Before its sale in 1977, several ideas were floated for the SS France’s fate. Proposals included turning the liner into a retirement home or a floating hospital off the coast of Lebanon. It was even suggested as a hotel ship for the 1976 Winter Olympics in Montreal, Canada.
Oasis of the Seas
In 2009, Royal Caribbean set out to steal the title of world’s largest passenger liner – held at the time by the Queen Mary 2 – with the Oasis of the Seas, a new 365-meter-long ship that raised the game once again. The ship was above all innovative for its wealth of onboard activities, giving rise to distinct neighborhoods onboard the vessel and turning the ship itself into a holiday destination.
Guests can, for example, get active on a climbing wall, shoot hoops on a basketball court, plunge down water slides, relax in a hot tub or try out surfing in a special wave pool. MS Oasis of the Seas is still in service, taking guests around the world’s oceans. It’s also the forerunner to a series of new superships, such as the Harmony of the Seas, set to follow in the coming years.
Dimensions: 362 meters long
Company: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Passenger capacity: 5,400 people
Did you know: This liner brought an environmentally conscious slant to the cruise ship sector with a system for recycling used water. Its successors are likely to green ideas even further.
Harmony of the Seas
After being tested at sea in March from the French port of Saint-Nazaire, MS Harmony of the Seas sets sail on its maiden voyage May 29. This new super ship delivered this past week to Royal Caribbean beats all kinds of records with its 66-meter width, 16 decks, 22-knot cruising speed and 24 lifts.
Dimensions: 362 meters
Company: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Passenger capacity: 6,410 people
Did you know: Although barely even out of the shipyard, Harmony of the Seas is due to be knocked off the top spot in 2018, when the “Oasis 4” takes over as the world’s largest passenger ship.
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