Titanic vs Cruise Ship Comparison


by Victoria

The RMS Titanic is likely the most well-known ocean liner in existence. The Titanic’s tragic accident in 1912 and the subsequent 1997 movie based on the disaster have made it a household name around the globe.

But how does the Titanic vs. cruise ship compare?

Modern cruise ships are, on average, 20% longer than the Titanic and twice as tall. Although it may not sound like much of a difference, the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, has a gross tonnage of 236,857 GT, making it almost five times larger than the Titanic.

It’s a well-known fact that the Titanic was the largest ship of its time, but many people don’t realize that she would be considered small by today’s modern passenger ships.

Titanic vs Wonder of the Seas front view comparison

When the Titanic set sail on her maiden voyage in 1912, she was the world’s largest and perhaps most luxurious passenger ship. The vessel could hold over 3,300 people, including crew members, and boasted a variety of amenities, including a swimming pool and squash court.

The vessel was a vision of luxury that is still romanticized today. The historic ship is often referenced in pop culture and is the location in one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

How does the Titanic compare to a modern cruise ship? Does Titanic live up to its reputation compared to the world’s largest cruise ships?

To help you understand how the titanic compared to modern cruise ships, we’ve got everything you need to know in our titanic vs. modern cruise ship comparison.

How Big Was the Titanic

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

First, we’ll look at the size of the Titanic. Built by White Star Line, the Titanic was the largest ship in the world upon her debut on April 10, 1912. Indeed a vessel of this magnitude would still hold up compared to a modern cruise ship…right? Not quite.

Today’s cruise vacation industry is full of competition as cruise lines compete to build the biggest and best ships, with bigger and better cruise ships built every year.

In fact, the title of the “World’s Largest Cruise Ship” changes so often that when a new biggest cruise ship is announced, the next record-breaker is already under construction.

The Titanic doesn’t stand a chance against the modern cruise line competition, not to mention over one hundred years of innovation in shipbuilding.

So how big was the Titanic?

The ship had a gross register tonnage of 46,328 tons and measured 882 feet 9 inches (269 meters) in length, 92 feet 6 inches (28.2 meters) wide, and 175 ft (53.3 meters) tall. Titanic had a capacity for 2,435 passengers and a crew of 892.

How Big are Modern Cruise Ships

Wonder of the Seas rendering in open ocean
Rendering Credit: Royal Caribbean International

The Titanic was an impressive ship, but it is nowhere near the size of today’s massive cruise ships.

Today’s current largest ship, Wonder of the Seas, is 1,188 feet (362 meters) long and 210 feet (64 meters) wide, with a gross tonnage of 236,857 tons. On its 18 decks, the cruise ship will have 2,300 crew members and accommodations for up to 6,988 guests across its 2,867 staterooms.

Wonder of the Seas is the fifth and largest of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships. Throughout the article, we will refer to Wonder and other famous ships to compare and contrast with the Titanic.

Titanic vs. Cruise Ship Size Comparison

Today’s largest cruise ship is 35% longer and over twice as wide as the Titanic. When we compare the titanic and Wonder of the Seas’ gross tonnage, today’s record holder is almost five times larger than the Titanic!

In fact – when measuring gross tonnage, the Titanic wouldn’t even make the list of the top 100 largest cruise ships in the world!

Although the lengths of cruise ships have increased, modern ships aren’t much longer than the Titanic.

That’s because modern cruise ships still need to be able to dock in older ports that don’t receive frequent upgrades and expansions. The process of docking and maneuvering cruise ships means that although they can easily increase their height and width, they are limited in how long they can be built.

Look at the comparison table below to see how the Titanic compares to some of the largest cruise ships in the world.

Titanic vs Modern Cruise Ships Size Comparison:

Cruise ShipGross TonnageLengthBeamPassenger Capacity
Titanic 46,328 GRT882 ft 9 inches92 ft 6 inches2,435
Wonder of the Seas 236,857 GT1,188 ft 210 ft6,988
Costa Smeralda185,000 GT1,106 ft 137 ft 6,544
P&O Iona184,089 GT 1,130 ft 137 ft 6,600
AIDAnova183,858 GT1,106 ft  137 ft 6,654
Mardi Gras 181,808 GT 1,130 ft 138 ft 6,630
MSC Grandiosa181,541 GT1,087 ft 141 ft 6,761
Norwegian Encore169,116 GT1,094 ft 135 ft 3,998
Queen Mary 279,287 GT1,132 ft 135 ft 2,695
Titanic vs Modern Cruise Ships Size Comparison

Compared to today’s cruise ships, the Titanic is no match. Modern cruise ships are larger in every way you measure them. It even costs a relatively low amount to build the Titanic compared to a modern passenger ship.

Measured in today’s dollar value, the Titanic cost approximately $400 million to construct. That may sound like a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to the $1.35 billion Royal Caribbean spent building Wonder of the Seas.

Capacity Comparison

Now, what about its passenger capacity? The Titanic could carry 2,435 passengers and a crew of 892, for a total capacity of 3,327 people.

Meanwhile, Wonder of the Seas has a capacity of 6,988 passengers and a crew of 2,394, for a total of 9,382 people.

Thanks to its massive size, Wonder of the Seas has a capacity of over 70% that of the Titanic.

Speed Comparison

Now that we understand the size difference between the Titanic vs. modern cruise ships, it’s time to see if size played a difference regarding speed.

Speed wasn’t a priority for the Titanic. The vessel’s primary purpose was to carry passengers on luxurious voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.

Unlike ocean liners which travel long distances over periods of days, cruise ships don’t usually require fast speeds as they typically travel short distances between ports over the span of days.

Modern cruise ships are built much larger than the Titanic and are equipped with the latest propulsion technology. But, the sheer size of today’s cruise ships means they can’t necessarily take advantage of all that extra horsepower.

Modern cruise ships have nearly the same maximum speed as the Titanic!

The Titanic had a cruising speed of only 21 knots (39 kilometers per hour, 24 miles per hour) and could achieve a top speed of 24 knots (44 kilometers per hour, 28 miles per hour).

Compared to Titanic’s maximum speed, the Oasis of the Seas’ top speed is 24.5 knots, while 2020’s Mardi Gras‘ is around 23 knots.

It’s important to know that cruise ships rarely hit their maximum cruising speed for safety reasons, fuel efficiency, and smoother sailing. A cruising speed of 18 to 22 knots is an industry average for today’s cruise ships.

Ocean liners, on the other hand, were built for speed. Unlike cruise ships, designed for pleasure sailings, an ocean liner primarily serves to carry passengers from one continent to another.

Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 the world's fastest cruise ship anchoring off the coast of Saint Lucia
Queen Mary 2

As you probably guessed, the Titanic was an ocean liner.

During the post-war period, ocean liners competed to see which company’s ship could transport guests across the Atlantic Ocean in the quickest time. In modern times, ocean liners have fallen out of popularity as cruise ships have become the go-to sea vacation.

Only one ocean liner is still in service; the Queen Mary 2. This famous luxury ship has a top speed of 30 knots, compared to the average cruising speed of a cruise ship at 18-22 knots.

Cabin Comparison

Perhaps the most striking difference between the Titanic and modern cruise, apart from the sheer difference in size, is the quality of cabins and range of activities and entertainment.

The Titanic split guests among first, second, and third-class status with clear divides. The ship’s designers took inspiration from the Ritz Hotel in London for the interior decor. Elegant European-style decor, ornate woodwork, and luxurious furnishings adorned common areas aboard the Titanic.

And we can’t forget the famous sweeping staircase.

Recreation of a Frist Class Cabin on Titanic
Recreation of a First Class Cabin on Titanic

In total, Titanic featured approximately 350 first-class staterooms, which could also be used as second-class cabins if needed. The most luxurious staterooms were ornately decorated and reasonably spacious. They featured various styles, including Georgian, Jacobean, and Italian Renaissance. The designers paid fine attention to detail to recreate the historical aspects of each decor style.

Many first-class passengers shared communal bathrooms despite the luxury accommodations aboard the ship. Additionally, freshwater aboard the vessel was scarce, meaning guests of all classes bathed in seawater. For the same reason, there was no laundry service aboard the Titanic. However, first-class passengers had their linens changed daily.

Second class cabin on the Titanic with Bunk beds
Second class cabin on the Titanic

The ship’s second-class accommodations were not nearly as luxurious. The ship’s second-class cabins were more compact, with basic decor and fittings. Second-class passengers slept on bunk beds in cabins with two or four bunk beds per room.

Still, the second-class passengers had the luxury of new linens daily, and there was a sink in every cabin, though the restrooms were communal.

Recreation of third class cabins on the Titanic
Recreation of third-class cabins on the Titanic

But, the third-class passengers had the worst accommodations of all. The guests in this class shared crammed 10-person cabins and were fed a basic diet. Numbering about 1000 individuals, third-class passengers shared two bathrooms, one for men and one for women.

Like the Titanic, today’s cruise ships model their cabins after high-end hotels. Fortunately for today’s cruise ship passengers, every stateroom has a full bathroom, air-conditioning, TVs, and many even private balconies.

Rendering of Mardi Gras' balcony cabin
Carnival’s Mardi Gras Balcony Cabin (Render Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Although passengers are no longer divided into classes, many cruise ships offer added benefits to guests staying in higher-priced staterooms. These benefits may include access to a VIP lounge, show reservations, exclusive discounts, and more. So maybe things aren’t so different after all.

Entertainment Comparison

There was very little formal entertainment onboard the Titanic. The ship’s entertainment consisted of an eight-man orchestra for the upper classes and a piano in the first-class dining room. Passengers in the lower classes had to find ways to entertain themselves.

Titanic's first class gymnasium
Titanic’s first-class gymnasium

Fortunately, Titanic offered some onboard activities to keep passengers occupied. The ship had a squash court, smoking room, lounge, Turkish bath, steam room, pool, and gymnasium.

Norwegian Encore go-kart track and outdoor laser tag
Norwegian Encore go-kart track and outdoor laser tag (Photo credit Norwegian Cruise Line)

By comparison, today’s modern passenger ships are basically floating resorts. From go-kart tracks on Norwegian Prima to roller coasters on Carnival’s Mardi Gras and Planetariums on Queen Mary 2 to the FlowRider surf simulators and ice skating rinks on Wonder of the Seas, you won’t find yourself bored on these cities at sea.

Aside from the headline-grabbing thrills, modern cruise ships are complete with plenty of standard amenities. For example, Wonder of the Seas boasts eight themed neighborhoods, 19 swimming pools, nine outdoor Jacuzzis, a kids splash zone, art galleries, rock climbing walls, a casino, a spa, and over 20 restaurants. It’s nearly impossible to get on board when cruising on one of the Oasis-class cruise ships.

Wonder of the Seas pool deck
Wonder of the Seas pool deck (photo credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Dining Comparison

The Titanic had four onboard restaurants; A la Carte Restaurant, the Dining Saloon, the Verandah Cafe, and the Cafe Parisien.

A la Carte Restaurant was exclusive to first-class passengers. The restaurant is one of the earliest examples of extra-cost dining on a cruise ship. It was smaller than the main dining room but styled with elegant French decor.

There was no set time to eat at A la Carte Restaurant, and passengers could show up whenever they liked. According to a passenger, the food consisted of “caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plovers’ eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches.”

The Dining Saloon was the equivalent of today’s main dining room. Passengers had assigned seating arrangements, and food was only served at specific times – much like today’s main dining rooms.

The Verandah Cafe and the Cafe Parisian were located near the promenade and offered a more intimate and casual dining experience.

Although cruise ship food has historically had a bad reputation, modern cruise lines have taken great strides to improve the dining experience. Nearly every cruise line has fine dining experiences and dozens of onboard restaurants.

Virgin Voyages has gone the extra mile of eliminating buffets and the main dining room in favor of over 20 restaurants, each with a unique menu and dining experience. They’ve even enlisted the help of Michelin-starred chefs to create outstanding meals for passengers.

Fare Comparison

Safety Precautions Comparison

It’s no secret that the Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone on board. The ship was equipped with 20 lifeboats carrying up to 1,178 people, less than half the vessel’s capacity.

Surprisingly, the ship had enough space to carry many more lifeboats, which would be stored on the top deck. However, the ship’s operator decided that the added lifeboats would give the vessel a cluttered appearance and removed them to preserve its luxury aesthetic.

Titanic Lifeboats
Titanic Lifeboats (passenger capacity 40-65, but few were full during the tragic accident)

The vessel was also outfitted with approximately 3,500 life jackets and 48 life rings. Unfortunately, they were of little use at the time of the disaster, given the temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean and the quick onset of hypothermia.

Modern-day cruise ships must have enough lifeboats for every passenger and crew member on board. In addition, the large escape boats are fully enclosed to protect passengers from the elements and have engine power compared to the Titanic’s lifeboats which were open to the elements and had oars for rowing.

Oasis of the Seas Lifeboat
Oasis of the Seas Lifeboat (372 passenger capacity)

Additionally, modern ships have a suite of safety features to avoid disasters before they even occur. Advanced radar detection systems, fire suppression systems, advancements in steering technology, and more help make today’s cruise ships safer than ever.

While it is impossible to guarantee absolute safety, advancements in building methods, safety technology, and crew training have made disasters such as the Titanic rare.

The Titanic’s Legacy

On its debut, RMS Titanic was the largest vessel ever built. The fateful ship redefined luxury sailing and continues to be romanticized over 100 years after its sinking.

After the sinking of the Titanic, the ship’s operator, White Star Line, merged with Cunard, which has carried on the vessel’s legacy of luxury cruising ever since. Cunard is now owned by Carnival Corporation and operates the famous Queen Mary 2.

While Cunard Line has no plans to revive the Titanic name, other companies have attempted to revisit the famous ship.

In 2012, the Australian Blue Star Line announced the Titanic II project. Hoping to replicate the fateful ship but with modern technological advancements, the project received much fanfare on its announcement. Unfortunately for Titanic fans, the shipbuilder hasn’t updated its followers on the project’s status since 2019.

Recently a similar project began construction of a replica ship in China. The Romandisea Titanic began construction in 2016 and, as of 2022, is still under construction. This ship won’t be sailing, unlike the original Titanic or the Titanic II. Instead, the boat will remain permanently docked.

Conclusion: How Does the Titanic Compare to a Modern Cruise Ship

The Titanic was indeed a ground-breaking ship for its time. However, the Titanic didn’t stand a chance compared to modern-day cruise ships. Modern-day cruise ships, such as Oasis-class ships, are much larger than the Titanic in every measurement.

If there is one spot where the Titanic wins, it is her aesthetics. The ship’s decor included styles from 11 different periods, including; Louis XIV, XV, and XVI, French Empire, Georgian, Jacobean and Italian Renaissance. Hand-carved moldings, fine china, exotic woods, and more gave the ship a sense of luxury you can’t find on modern cruise ships.

Aside from aesthetics, new cruise ships win in size, innovation, amenities, and safety. It’s hardly a surprise given over 100 years of innovations.

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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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