How Long Does it Take to Build a Cruise Ship?

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Building a new cruise ship is much like planning a small city. Modern cruise ships carry the same number of passengers as a small town, with a wide variety of amenities and activities for passengers to enjoy.

Despite the size of today’s passenger vessels, they don’t take as long to build as you might expect.

It takes around one to two years to build a cruise ship. The process of building a new vessel begins with the steel cutting ceremony and laying of the keel and is complete once the cruise ship is handed over to the cruise line or departs on her maiden voyage.

Oasis of the Seas arrives at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz Spain to begin her $165 million amplification
Oasis of the Seas during $165 million amplification (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

Before paying guests can enjoy their time on the latest cruise ship, a lot has to happen. Read on to learn more about how long does it take to build a cruise ship.

How Long Does it Take to Build a Cruise Ship?

It takes around 12 to 24 months to build a cruise ship. The construction of a new cruise ship usually begins with the laying of the keel and ends when the ship is floated out or handed over to the cruise line.

Of course, this doesn’t include the years of design and planning needed before construction can commence.

Building a new cruise ship is much like planning a small city. Cruise ships have a wide variety of activities and amenities for passengers to enjoy.

Disney Wish under construction
Disney Wish under construction (Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line)

Additionally, they need to hold everything passengers and crew will need throughout the cruise, including staterooms, restaurants, kitchens, entertainment venues, activities, pools, fuel, freshwater, laundry service, sewage treatment, engines, and much much more.

The length of time required to construct a new cruise vessel depends on various factors, including the size of the ship, shipbuilder, material prices, and more.

Considering how big a cruise ship is, it’s incredible how quickly cruise ships are constructed.

How Long Does it Take to Build the World’s Largest Cruise Ship?

Construction on Wonder of the Seas continues as the ship transferred to its outfitting dock at Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France on September 5
Wonder of the Seas during its float out (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

It took nearly three years to build the world’s largest cruise ship.

The world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, is a whopping 1,188 feet long with an internal volume of 236,857 GT.

The cruise ship was built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and is the fifth in Royal Caribbean’s oasis-class of cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas front view
Wonder of the Seas en route to her maiden voyage (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Wonder of the Seas began construction in April 2019, with delivery nearly three years later in January 2022. Wonder of the Seas had her maiden voyage on March 4, 2022, from Port Everglades.

Significant delays hampered the construction of Wonder of the Seas due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the delays, the shipbuilder estimated construction would take two years.

How Long Did it Take to Build the Titanic?

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10 1912
RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912

The Titanic took three years to construct. With construction beginning in 1909 and completing in 1912.

Perhaps the most famous ship in the world, RMS Titanic, once held the record for the world’s largest ship.

The Titanic compared to a modern cruise ship is no comparison. Thanks to technological advancements, today’s cruise ships dwarf the Titanic in size and range of amenities and onboard activities.

In Belfast, Ireland, the Harland and Wolff shipyard held the honor of constructing White Star Line’s Titanic. Construction began in 1909 and lasted three years before her fateful maiden voyage in April 1912.

The ship measured 882 feet 8 inches in length and was held together by over 3 million rivets.

The ship’s construction, beauty, and elegance captured the people’s imagination. An image still romanticized today.

The 9 Stages of Building a Cruise Ship

Keel laying ceremony at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg Germany for Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas
Keel laying ceremony for Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

A cruise ship undergoes nine primary stages of construction before it is certified seaworthy. Here are the steps involved in building a cruise ship:

  1. Placing an Order – The first step in constructing a new cruise ship is placing an order with the shipbuilder. By this time, several years of design and engineering have already taken place.
  2. Steel Cutting Ceremony – At the commencement of construction, the shipbuilders hold a special ceremony to commemorate the cutting of the first steel used on the ship.
  3. Laying Down of the Keel – The keel is the lowest part of the first. And therefore, it is the first part of the ship that is laid. Due to the sheer size of today’s cruise ships, the keel is laid using GPS co-ordinates for precision.
  4. Launching of the Ship – This is often the first time the public sees the new ship. During the float out, the ship is moved to another section of the shipyard to make room for new ships to be constructed.
  5. Sea Trials – Sea trials are an essential step in the construction process. During a sea trial, the ship is pushed to its limits so that representatives and government agencies can certify that the ship is seaworthy.
  6. Handover Ceremony – At the handover ceremony, the cruise ship is turned over to the cruise line.
  7. Shakedown Voyage – After the handover ceremony, the ship is relocated from the shipyard to its homeport.
  8. Christening Ceremony – The ship’s godmother announces the name of the ship.
  9. Maiden Voyage – The new cruise ship is ready to welcome paying visitors on its first voyage.

Final Thoughts

Odyssey of the Seas steel cutting ceremony
Steel cutting ceremony for Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)

The length of time it takes to build a cruise ship depends on several factors, including the ship’s size, construction delays, and the intricacy of the vessel.

On average, it takes between 12 to 24 months to build a cruise ship. Construction begins with the steel cutting ceremony and laying of the keel and is complete when the vessel is handed over to the cruise line or departs on its maiden voyage.

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Victoria

I love to travel, see new places, and meet new people. I have been lucky enough to travel on multiple continents, as well as several cruise lines. I am passionate about sharing my experience with readers.

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