Titanic vs Cruise Ship Comparison (Size, Cabins, and More)
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The story of the Titanic has fascinated people for over a century, leaving many to wonder how this historic ocean liner compares to today’s modern cruise ships.
But how does the Titanic compare to a modern cruise ship?
Modern cruise ships are, on average, 20% longer than the Titanic and twice as tall. Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world and is five times the size of the Titanic, with an internal volume of 250,800 GT.
In 1912, the Titanic was hailed as the largest and most luxurious ship of its time, but it doesn’t come close to modern cruise ships. Let’s look at the Titanic compared to modern cruise ships: size, passenger count, activities, dining, cabins, and safety features.
Built by White Star Line, the Titanic was the largest ship in the world upon its debut on April 10, 1912. The ship was the world’s largest and is still romanticized for its size and luxury.
How big was the Titanic?
The RMS Titanic had a gross register tonnage of 46,329 tons, 882 feet 9 inches long (269 meters), and 92 feet wide (28 meters). The Titanic’s gross registered tonnage was 46,329 GRT.
Modern ships are much larger than the Titanic. Modern cruise ships are on average 20% longer and twice as wide as the Titanic.
Today’s largest cruise ship is Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, with a gross tonnage of 250,800 GT. Icon of the Seas measures 1,188 feet long and is 210 feet wide
When measuring internal volume, Icon of the Seas is more than five times larger than the Titanic.
Below is a size comparison between the Titanic and several modern cruise ships:
|882 ft 9 inches
|92 ft 6 inches
|Icon of the Seas
|Wonder of the Seas
|Queen Mary 2
The Titanic had a gross registered tonnage of 46,000 GRT. By today’s standards, the Titanic wouldn’t even make the top 100 cruise ships in the world.
The Titanic’s gross registered tonnage is smaller than all of the cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. As well as the fleets of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Virgin Voyages.
The Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches long (269 meters). Average cruise ships are around 1,000 feet in length.
Although cruise ships are much larger in every way, they’re not that much longer than Titanic.
That’s because modern 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.
The Titanic could carry 2,435 passengers and a crew of 885, for a total capacity of 3,320 people.
Modern passenger ships have an average passenger capacity of around 3,000 passengers and 1,200 crew members.
Meanwhile, Icon of the Seas has a maximum passenger capacity of 7,600 and a crew of 2,394, for a total of 9,382 people.
Thanks to its massive size, Icon of the Seas can hold three times as many people as the Titanic.
The Titanic had a total of 10 decks, with eight of those accessible to passengers.
Modern cruise ships have around 15 decks, with 13 accessible to passengers. While Icon of the Seas has 20 decks, with 18 passenger decks.
The Titanic, built in 1912, had an estimated price tag of $7.5 million, equating to around $400 million in today’s dollars.
That may sound like a lot of money, but it pales compared to how much it costs to build a cruise ship.
An average-sized cruise ship costs around $1 billion to build. According to Royal Caribbean, the construction costs for Icon of the Seas are estimated at $2 billion.
Tickets to sail on the Titanic were not cheap. In 1912, a third-class ticket on the Titanic cost 7 pounds ($35), while a first-class suite cost 870 pounds ($4,000).
Adjusted for inflation, it would’ve cost 850 pounds ($1,071) for a third-class ticket and 105,000 pounds ($133,132) for a first-class suite.
I was surprised to learn that when adjusted for inflation, tickets to sail on the Titanic are similar to modern cruise ship fares.
While you can find 7-night cruise fares below $420 per person, tickets to sail on a new cruise ship are around $750 to $1,000 per person. The price of a suite on a modern ship is much lower than Titanic’s first-class cabins, at about $25,000 for a 7-night itinerary.
Perhaps the most striking difference between the Titanic and modern cruise, apart from the sheer difference in size, is the quality of cabins and the range of activities and entertainment.
Passengers on the Titanic were divided into first, second, and third-class statuses based on wealth.
In total, Titanic featured approximately 350 first-class staterooms. The luxurious staterooms could be used for second-class passengers if needed.
The Titanic didn’t have any balcony cabins.
First-class cabins were the epitome of luxury on the Titanic. With about 905 passenger spots, first-class staterooms offer ornate decorations and lavish furniture. First-class guests could also access exclusive amenities such as the Parisian café, grand staircase, elegant dining areas, and spacious lounges.
Despite their luxury accommodation, many first-class passengers shared communal bathroom facilities. Additionally, freshwater aboard the vessel was scarce, meaning guests of all classes bathed in seawater.
Because of the limited freshwater, there was no laundry service aboard the Titanic. However, first-class passengers had their linens changed daily.
On the other hand, second-class staterooms provided a relatively comfortable experience with small cabins and basic decor. The rooms were more modest than the first-class cabins but provided a comfortable stay for middle-class passengers.
Second-class passengers slept on bunk beds, with two or four cabins per stateroom. Bunk beds are still standard on cruise ships, especially in family-sized staterooms.
Finally, the third class comprised the largest group of passengers with an estimated capacity of 974. Third-class cabins were more congested, with passengers sharing space in bunk-style accommodations. Despite the simpler living conditions, travelers in this class still enjoyed a decent level of service.
Third-class passengers shared two bathrooms on the ship, one for men and another 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 even private balconies.
Modern cruise ships provide far more choices in cabin styles, including interior, ocean view, balcony, and suite accommodations.
Although passengers are no longer divided into classes, many cruise ships offer added benefits to guests staying in higher-priced staterooms and suites. These benefits may include access to a VIP lounge, show reservations, exclusive discounts, and more.
So maybe things aren’t so different after all.
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.
First-class passengers also had access to an indoor swimming pool and Turkish bath.
Passengers in the lower classes weren’t provided with any entertainment. Third-class passengers had access to the poop deck on deck B, a recreational space.
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.
By comparison, the ships offered by modern cruise lines are basically floating resorts. Modern cruise ships boast numerous entertainment facilities, including multiple swimming pools, a spa, rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, zip lines, and surf simulators.
Cruise ships also host live performances in grand theaters and smaller, more intimate venues that might cater to specific musical or comedic tastes.
The scope and scale of activities on modern cruise ships have expanded significantly since the Titanic’s maiden voyage.
Passengers on today’s cruise ships enjoy an extensive range of options, ensuring entertainment choices suit virtually every preference and age group. The level of luxury and comfort available on modern cruises ensures passengers have a memorable and indulgent experience while on vacation.
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.
Like specialty restaurants on modern cruise ships, there was an added fee to eat at the A la Carte Restaurant. 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.
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 greatly improved the dining experience. Nearly every cruise line has fine dining experiences and dozens of onboard restaurants.
Virgin Voyages has eliminated 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.
It’s no secret that the Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone. 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 the lifeboats to preserve the Titanic’s luxury aesthetic.
The vessel was outfitted with approximately 3,500 cork-filled 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.
One significant change that has occurred is regulating the number of lifeboats onboard.
Today, modern cruise ships must have sufficient lifeboats and life-saving equipment for all passengers and crew on board, as mandated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
SOLAS is a set of international safety regulations established in response to the Titanic catastrophe to ensure maritime safety. These regulations encompass not only lifeboats but also emergency procedures, safety features, and robust design requirements.
Compliance with SOLAS is crucial for any cruise ship, and regular inspections are conducted to verify adherence.
One key safety measure now prioritized on cruise ships is the lifeboat drill.
The Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith, canceled the scheduled lifeboat drill the day the ship encountered the iceberg. In contrast, modern cruise ships routinely conduct lifeboat drills shortly after embarkation, familiarizing passengers with evacuation procedures and mustering points in the event of an emergency.
If you’ve been on a cruise ship, you’re familiar with the muster drill all guests must perform on embarkation day. It’s the law that the drill must be performed by every passenger prior to sailing to enhance emergency preparedness.
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 RMS Titanic was an ocean liner that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
Although many people consider the Titanic to be a cruise ship, the Titanic is actually an ocean liner.
It’s an important distinction.
Ocean liners serve the primary purpose of transporting passengers or goods from one destination to another. Unlike cruise ships which are often a destination in and of themselves, ocean liners serve as a means of transportation.
The Titanic’s operator, White Star Line, designed the Titanic to be both luxurious and comfortable to distinguish the ship from its competitors.
White Star Line’s biggest competitor, Cunard Line, focused on making its ships faster. Cunard Line prided itself on how fast it could transport passengers across the Atlantic.
White Star Line hoped that making their ships more comfortable for passengers would help differentiate themselves and attract more guests.
Ocean liners like the Titanic are all but a thing of the past.
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.
The Queen Mary 2 continues to offer traditional trans-Atlantic sailings from Southampton to New York.
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).
Ocean liners, like the Titanic, were built for speed and luxury to make regularly scheduled crossings.
The Titanic was powered by two four-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines as well as a low-pressure Parsons turbine.
Modern cruise ships have nearly the same maximum speed as the Titanic!
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.
Some modern cruise ships can reach a top speed of 30 knots. But cruise ships rarely ever travel at top speed for safety and fuel efficiency. Most cruise ships travel at an operating speed of 18-20 knots.
Modern day cruise ship ships are built much larger than the Titanic; they are equipped with the latest propulsion technology. But the sheer size of today’s mega cruise ships means that extra horsepower doesn’t translate into faster speed.
But that’s okay because cruise ships aren’t designed to be fast.
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.
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