The Cost of Building Ships


Like Stella Artois used to boast, cruise ships are reassuringly expensive to build. The highest quality materials are manipulated by skilled engineers under the guidance of genius ship designers. Mixing practical considerations of buoyancy and safety with aesthetic features and incredible amenities is a balancing act which requires incredible attention to the minutiae. So, whether you are thinking of building your own cruise ship or are merely interesting, we are going to have a look into how much it costs to build a cruise ship.

Most Expensive Liners

Currently, the most expensive cruise ship in the world is the Allure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean which cost a whopping £900m to build. The largest ship in the world has however completely justified its high price tag – with Royal Caribbean ordering two more ships in its class. The as-yet-unnamed 3rd ship in the Oasis Class is due to be even larger than the Allure of the Seas, making it the largest ship at sea, so could also trump its sister in terms of price. The second most expensive ship at sea is the Oasis of the Seas. The sister ship to the Allure comes in at a cool £840m, making it the cheaper of the sisters and taking the cost of the Oasis class to nearly £2bn (for now!). Allure of the Seas - Zippo S The highest non-Royal Caribbean cruise ship on the costs list is the Norwegian Epic. The £720m liner from Norwegian Cruise Line was launched in 2009 taking in Caribbean cruises throughout the winter and European itineraries in summer. From April 2015, the Norwegian Epic will call Europe home, docking in Barcelona.

Engineering Challenges

Building a ship capable of smoothly traversing the seas with 4,000+ passengers on board is nothing short of an incredible engineering feat. Whilst the body of the largest ships is awe-inspiring to behold, we only get to see about half of the structure. To ensure the safe passage of the ship through choppy waters, the structure of the ship below sea level is roughly the same size as that above water. So as impressed as you are with the size of your cruise ship, you should be doubly impressed. low_1408462009_Quantum-of-the-Seas-MG-3307   Other practical considerations need to be made, such as draining rainwater from a deck which is even enough for people to walk on and providing access to all of the amenities and activities.

Brilliant Luxury

It would be a bit of a waste to build a fantastic ship with no expenses spared and to complete with second-hand charity shop décor and furnishings. Whilst the cruise industry has evolved over the years, cruise companies still realise they have a duty to provide a high level of luxury to their passengers. This has led to top interior designers serving as consultants to create a spectacularly beautiful interior in many of the world’s top liners. This dedication to creating a beautiful experience has led to many cruise company directors building great collections of art for their passengers to enjoy on board. The Marina and Riviera liners from Oceania Cruises are possibly the greatest ships at sea for art lovers with more than 2,000 original pieces of art on board, including a signed Picasso lithograph. Art - Mark Dennis But if you don’t have a spare billion to drop on a cruise ship, you can buy a second hand, full-sized luxury liner for as little as £146m from this handy cruise ship sale site. Alternatively, book a great deal with Cruise1st on the trip of a lifetime by visiting our deals page or calling our dedicated sales team on 0808 2746 777.

Images sourced via Royal Caribbean Press Center and Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Rennett Stowe, Zippo S, Mark Dennis


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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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