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 compare to a modern cruise ship?
Modern cruise ships are, on average, 20% longer than the Titanic and twice as tall. Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world and is five times the size of the Titanic, with a gross volume of 236,857 GT.
The Titanic was the largest ship of its time. Below, we compare the Titanic vs cruise ships looking at size, passenger count, activities, dining, cabins, and safety features.
Titanic vs Cruise Ship Size Comparison
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 to this day for its size and luxury.
How big was the Titanic?
The RMS Titanic had a gross register tonnage of 46,328 tons, a length of 882 feet long (269 meters), and 92 feet wide (28 meters). The Titanic’s gross registered tonnage was 46,328 GRT
Modern ships are much larger than Titanic. On average, modern cruise ships are 20% longer and twice as wide as the Titanic.
Today’s largest cruise ship is Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, with a gross tonnage of 236,857 GT. The ship measures 1,188 feet in length and is 210 feet wide.
When measuring internal volume, Wonder of the Seas is five times larger than the Titanic.
Below is a size comparison between the Titanic and several modern cruise ships:
|Cruise Ship||Gross Tonnage||Length||Width||Passenger Capacity|
|Titanic||46,328 GRT||882 ft 9 inches||92 ft 6 inches||2,435|
|Wonder of the Seas||236,857 GT||1,188 ft||210 ft||6,988|
|Costa Smeralda||185,000 GT||1,106 ft||137 ft||6,544|
|P&O Iona||184,089 GT||1,130 ft||137 ft||6,600|
|AIDAnova||183,858 GT||1,106 ft||137 ft||6,654|
|Mardi Gras||181,808 GT||1,130 ft||138 ft||6,630|
|MSC Grandiosa||181,541 GT||1,087 ft||141 ft||6,761|
|Norwegian Encore||169,116 GT||1,094 ft||135 ft||3,998|
|Queen Mary 2||79,287 GT||1,132 ft||135 ft||2,695|
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 long (269 meters). On average, modern 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, Wonder of the Seas has a passenger capacity of 6,988 and a crew of 2,394, for a total of 9,382 people.
Thanks to its massive size, Wonder of the Seas can hold nearly three times as many people as the Titanic.
Deck Count (Height)
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.
Was the Titanic a Cruise Ship or Ocean Liner?
Although the Titanic is often considered a cruise ship, it is actually classed as 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 it to be both luxurious and comfortable to distinguish the ship from its competitors.
The ship featured elegant European-style decor, ornate woodwork, and luxurious furnishings adorning common areas. And we can’t forget the famous sweeping staircase.
White Star Line’s biggest competitor, Cunard Line, focused on making its ships faster. They prided themselves on how fast they 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.
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 compared to how much it costs to build a cruise ship.
An average-sized cruise ship costs around $1 billion to build. Royal Caribbean spent $1.35 million building Wonder of the Seas and a record $1.6 billion on constructing Oasis of the Seas.
Cruise Fares on Titanic Compared to Cruise Ship
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.
Cruise fares today are fairly similar. While you can find 7-night cruise fares below $420 per person, tickets to sail on a new cruise ship are around $750 per person. The price of a suite on a modern ship is much lower, at about $25,000 for a 7-night itinerary.
How Fast was the Titanic Compared to a Modern Cruise Ship?
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.
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).
Speed wasn’t a priority for the Titanic. The vessel’s primary purpose was to carry passengers on luxurious voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.
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 they rarely ever travel at top speed for safety and fuel efficiency.
Modern ships are built much larger than the Titanic and 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 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.
The average cruising speed of a cruise ship is 18 to 22 knots.
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 first-class staterooms could be used for second-class passengers if needed.
The Titanic didn’t have any balcony cabins.
The most luxurious staterooms were reserved for first-class passengers. They were ornately decorated and reasonably spacious. First-class cabins 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.
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.
For the same reason, there was no laundry service aboard the Titanic. However, first-class passengers had their linens changed daily.
The ship’s second-class accommodations were not nearly as comfortable. Second-class cabins were more compact, with basic decor and fittings.
Second-class passengers slept on bunk beds, with two or four cabins per stateroom. Bunk beds are still common on cruise ships, especially in family-sized cabins.
But, the third-class passengers on the Titanic had the worst accommodations. The guests in this class shared 10-person cabins. About 1000 guests on the Titanic were considered third-class bathrooms.
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 many 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.
Activities and Entertainment
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, which was used as 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. 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 have plenty of standard amenities.
Wonder of the Seas boasts eight themed neighborhoods, 19 swimming pools, nine outdoor Jacuzzis, a kid’s splash zone, art galleries, an Adventure Ocean kid’s club, rock climbing walls, an onboard 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.
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 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.
Safety Precautions It’sarison
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.
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.
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.
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.
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