What is the Average Capacity of a Cruise Ship?

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When you’re standing at the back of an endless food hall queue, you may wonder just how many people can fit on a cruise ship. Cruise ship capacities will vary according to the ship’s size, age, and design. So, what is the average capacity of a cruise ship?

What Is the Average Capacity of a Cruise Ship?

The average capacity of a cruise ship is about 3,000 guests. With cruise ships becoming larger and containing more attractions, this number may rise significantly in just a few years. While this number seems high, depending on the time of year, what is being offered, and the location, the cruise ship may not be running at full capacity. For some of the largest cruise ships in the world, the capacity is often over 6,000.

At the end of 2021, 323 cruise ships were being operated globally. The combined capacity was 581,200 passengers. In 2011, over 19 million guests were traveling worldwide. Cruise Lines International Association cites that in 2019, 29.7 million people went on a cruise.

Cruise Passengers

Most of these passengers embarked from North America, with over 15.4 million cruisers setting out from here. The second most popular place of embarkation was Europe, with 7.7 million travelers leaving from here.

The most popular destination was the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda, with almost 12 million visitors. Asia and China followed with almost 4 million people.

With So Many Passengers, Will I Experience Shortages?

If you are concerned about shortages when it comes to dining, entertainment, or activities, rest assured there is enough for everyone on board. Dining rooms, buffets, and restaurants are strategically placed throughout the ship. So, while the lines may appear long, the guests you’re seeing are just a smaller sampling of those on board.

The only time capacity may genuinely be an issue is with entertainment and specialty dining. These two areas, determined by popularity, may require reservations to be made in advance to secure your spot. This is often done before boarding or first thing when you get on board.

Cruise Planning
Photo Credit: GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

You often book when you first arrive if you have purchased a package. Guests can also book in advance to ensure they attend a specific event or visit a specialty restaurant.

Worth Reading: How Long Does It Take to Get Off a Cruise Ship?

Cruise lines build more elaborate ships each year to compete for guests. Some modern cruise ships have included onboard racetracks, elaborate sea planetariums, higher-end features, facilities, technology, and amenities. With this, they incorporate more rooms to ensure they can fit the most people.

Top 10 Largest Cruise Ships by Passenger Capacity

Here are the passenger capacities of the 10 largest cruise ships in the world.

Wonder of the Seas (6,988 passengers)

As of January 2022, Wonder of the Seas has the largest passenger capacity, with a total capacity of 6,988 passengers. The ship is owned by Royal Caribbean and was completed at the beginning of 2022. At 1,188 feet in length, it began operations in March 2022 and is the fifth cruise ship in the Oasis class. 

Wonder of the Seas View
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Allure of the Seas (6,780 passengers)

Allure of the Seas was constructed in STX Europe shipyards in Turku, Finland. It was the second in the Oasis Class and launched in 2010. At double occupancy, it can hold 6,780 guests. 

Allure is a luxurious cruise ship with two-deck dance halls, an ice skating rink, a theater accommodating 1,380 seats, a concierge club/spa, and fitness facilities. There are an impressive 25 specialty dining options.

Oasis of the Seas (6,780 passengers)

Oasis of the Seas was the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class. It was the largest vessel when it launched in 2009 and is now the third largest in the world. It has a passenger capacity of 6,780, making it equal with Allure of the Seas.

It has 16 passenger decks and offers two-story lofts plus luxury suites for passengers. Oasis of the Seas was the first to feature an outdoor Aqua Theater, an eatery in the Central Park neighborhood, and an open-air corridor. This cruise ship has a glass-covered solarium equipped with a pool, a zipline, surf simulators, and rock-climbing walls. 

MSC World Europa (6,774 passengers)

This highly anticipated new ship for 2022 is the first ship in the MSC Cruises World Class series. World Europa is LNG-powered with a cruising speed of 22.7 knots and can carry 6,774 passengers.

MSC World Europa
MSc World Europa (Photo Copyright: HasanZaidi / Shutterstock)

It has a futuristic exterior and interior design with a 295’ long promenade. Half of it is covered using Meraviglia-class LED screens. The other half is open air with spectacular ocean views. There are 2,633 staterooms, and each passenger deck has the name of an international city. 

Additional features include a quiet zone with adults-only pools, a family zone with rollerblading and bumper cars, and the fleet’s biggest water park. 

Harmony of the Seas (6,687 passengers)

Another ship in the Oasis Class series, Harmony of the Seas, was launched in 2016. It contains 2,747 staterooms containing virtual balconies and can hold 6,687 guests with double occupancy.  Its features include Central Park, Boardwalk, Vitality at Sea (a spa and fitness center), Entertainment Place, and the Royal Promenade.

Symphony of the Seas (6,680 passengers)

The sixth largest ship is Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas at 6,680 passenger capacity. It is 1,188’ in length and 238’ in height and weighs an impressive 228,081 gross tonnage. One of the nicest features of this ship is the way it is organized into seven neighborhoods. 

It offers a glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure, the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at ten stories in height, and FlowRider, a surf simulator. 

Costa Smeralda (6,554 passengers)

Originally named for the Emerald Coast of Sardinia, this cruise ship is LNG-powered and technologically advanced. Costa Smeralda launched in 2019 and travels through the Mediterranean Sea. It was touted as the “smart floating city, ” providing luxury to its guests and helping the environment by reducing its carbon footprint.

Costa Smeralda Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Stefano Garau / Shutterstock.com

Costa Toscana (6,554 passengers)

The Costa Toscana launched in 2022 and is the second ship in Costa Cruises’ Excel class. This ship is also LNG-powered and is similar in passenger capacity and size to the Costa Smeralda. The centerpiece of the Toscana is the Colosseo, where guests can experience themed bars and live entertainment. It contains 11 restaurants plus snack bars and 19 bars and lounges. 

It also contains a sushi bar called the Sushino at Costa. After dinner, guests can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the Volare Skywalk, the tallest area of the cruise ship. This area is over 213’ above sea level. 

Carnival Mardi Gras (6,465 passengers)

Mardi Gras is another LNG-powered ship. It was constructed by Meyer Turku Shipyard and launched in December 2020. Carnival Cruise Line incorporated a state-of-the-art medical center to test and care for passengers who are ill. This ship was a tribute to the TSS Mardi Gras of 1972.

Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

MSC Grandiosa (6,334 passengers)

This giant ship launched in 2019 in the Meraviglia Plus – A-Class. The MSC Grandiosa was built to be larger than its predecessor MSC Meraviglia, launched two years prior. It contains 2,421 cabins with the biggest shopping area inside a cruise ship.

Final Thoughts

Just seven years ago, the average capacity of a cruise ship was half of what it is today. With advances in engineering and technology and the continual drive to be bigger and better than the rest, the number of guests a cruise ship can accommodate has doubled.

Read Also: How Big is a Cruise Ship?

While you may think larger ships mean longer wait times for events, specialty restaurants, or meals in general, this isn’t the case. With larger passenger capacity, ships can offer a greater diversity of experiences for guests, meaning there is generally never a shortage. Cruise lines have ensured they can provide guests with an over-the-top experience each time.

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