How Big Is the Cruise Ship Anchor?

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When you see cruise ships today, they come off as some of the most advanced technology we have. So hearing that cruise ships still use what may be considered ancient technology – such as anchors – may come as a surprise. 

Anchors are still an essential part of a ship’s operation. This leads to several questions, including what exactly is the purpose, and how big is the anchor of a cruise ship? If these are your questions, you’ve come to the right place to find answers.

Keep reading to learn how big a cruise ship anchor is and other important frequently asked questions. 

What Is a Cruise Ship Anchor?

A cruise ship anchor is a device that keeps a vessel in place. The anchor is lowered from the vessel using a heavy anchor chain and digs into the seabed to ensure the ship stays stationary in the water.

Cruise ship anchors are used anytime a vessel needs to be stationary. For example, if a ship cannot pull up to the dock due to shallow waters, it might have to stop a little away from the shore to let passengers off onto boats that will transfer them.

Cruise Ship Anchor
Cruise Ship Anchors (Photo Credit: A08 / Shutterstock)

Another example is when some ships had to remain at sea during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These ships used their anchors to stay stationary as they could not dock immediately.

How Big Is a Cruise Ship Anchor?

Cruise ship anchors are much larger than you think, especially considering what an important part they play in the vessel’s stability.

They are typically 10 to 20 feet long, 15 to 20 feet wide, and weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 tons. That’s about 20,000 to 40,000 pounds! For perspective, one elephant weighs anywhere from 2 to 7 tons.

MSC World Europa Anchor
MSC World Europa Anchor (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel / Shutterstock)

Why Are Cruise Ship Anchors So Big?

The reason for the massive size of these anchors is that they have to be heavy enough to keep the ship stable and stationary when the ship needs to be stopped. The weight of the anchor chain plays a significant factor in the total weight of the anchor and keeps the ship stable.

The anchor itself mainly serves to keep the chain and ship in place. For this reason, in most cases, the bigger the ship, the bigger the anchor. You can imagine how big an anchor a ship like Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas might have!

Do Cruise Ships Have More Than One Anchor?

Most vessels have an anchor on both the port and starboard sides. Both anchors are found at the front of the ship. However, they are usually deployed at different times.

Docked Cruise Ship
Docked Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: David Ionut / Shutterstock)

While there are special circumstances where using two anchors can be beneficial, the reason for having two is mainly to have a backup in case one fails at the moment. 

Do All Cruise Ships Have Anchors?

In general, you’ll still see anchors on every vessel. However, some modern cruise ships primarily use dynamic positions, which means they use propulsion and thrusters to maintain a steady position.

While this method is more straightforward and versatile for ships, it also uses up more fuel and comes at a high cost. So they are here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

What are Cruise Ship Anchors Made of?

They are usually made of heavy metal. Considering that they’re meant to spend large amounts of time in the water, they use metals resistant to long-term corrosion damage. They may also be made from fiber-reinforced composites or polymers such as carbon fiber.


To recap, cruise ship anchors weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 tons, depending on the size of the vessel. The chain that the anchor is attached to does a lot of work to keep the ship stable when it needs to remain stationary.

Read Also: Cruise Ship Propeller Size – How Big Are They?

Even if you have never wondered about cruise ship anchoring equipment, it’s good to have this context when embarking on your next cruise. You might even glimpse the anchor in use if you know where to look!

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