Information on cruise ship construction and design and how cruise ships are built. Learn what is the cost of building a cruise ship, where are cruise ships built, which are the major cruise ship builders/yards and building companies. Plus some other ship building stuff and fun facts, like who built the Titanic ship, who built the most expensive cruise ship in the world, who built the most expensive yacht in the world, who is responsible for making the best cruise vessels of the world. This survey is integrated with our cruise ship engines-propulsion-fuel and cruise safety articles.

review of the world cruise ship design construction and building process

The actual cruise ship building takes 2 to 3 years (the design plans are usually started a year ahead). Shipbuilding takes place in specialized facilities called shipyards. The cruise ship hull is designed by the shipyard, while the interiors and all the special features are designed by architects. Shipbuilders (also called shipwrights) do shipbuilding, as well as ship repairs, both services being also referred to as "naval engineering". The reverse process (dismantling of ships) is called ship breaking/demolition. The world's biggest ship breaking scrap yards are in Pakistan (Gadani), India (Alang), Bangladesh (Chittagong) and Turkey (Aliaga).

Cruise ship construction and design

cruise ship construction and designCruise ship building process involves numerous complex research and testing procedures. The cruise ship design company (which work is also called naval architecture) analyses and provides solutions to meet the Marine and Shipbuilding Industry's requirements, submitting the basic and detailed designs, ship equipment designs and production drawings to the shipbuilding company. The design firm also provides engineers with analysis, simulations, diagnosis, manufacture, repair and other data by using the latest CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) technology. The ship cabins manufacturer is able to design and produce various types of ready-to-install ship cabins and bathrooms for virtually all passenger ships - big and small, luxury, ferries, Ro-Ros, research, etc. The ship builder also hires a company to provide the so called "Lifecycle Services", pertaining mostly to the industry's rules and regulations. Some of these services are retrofitting and refurbishing, and keeping regular updates regarding new rules and requirements.

cruise ship building process

It's a common modern practice big cruise ships to be built of pre-made huge sections. Entire multi-deck segments are built at another place, transported or slipway to the shipyard and lifted into place. The sections often feature even pre-installed equipment, cables, pipes and other components - it saves a lot of shipbuilding time, and it surely saves lots of money. This technique was used for the first time in the construction of the Cunard's Queen Mary 2 ship (2002-2004) by the French "Chantiers de l'Atlantique" company.

The ice-going cruise ships building is so expensive as to hull strength and engines power, that the best option is to buy an unfinished vessel or to refit an existing Ice-class ship (often an ex navy vessel), like the case of the Regent Seven Seas Navigator ship. Constructed as a naval support ship and strengthened for navigation in ice, the Navigator ship's hull was purchased from the former USSR (now Russia), while its superstructure was finished later at the T. Mariotti shipyards in Genoa, Italy.

Cruise ship design

This is an amazingly detailed cruise ship design infographic showing what is what and where on a typical cruise passenger vessel. Note: Click on image to enlarge, backspace/back button to return to the article ship design companies

Marine design solutions for cruise ships are truly amazing and unique, using the latest innovations, technologies and materials to ensure difference from other existing passenger ships. Special on-board features, such as the Royal Caribbean ships' rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, surf simulators, wave pools and the 9-deck high Zip-line are an irresistible temptation and a true allure for all the ship vacation fun fans. As to the common features, all big passenger ships have a several decks high Atrium, at least 3 huge swimming pools, a Spa-Fitness complex, a grand casino, a library, duty-free shops, 2 huge capacity main restaurants, a grand theater, a disco, kids and teen areas, numerous bars and lounges, and all new big ships feature an open around-ship Promenade. As to the biggest of all - the Allure and Oasis ships - each of them has 2,706 cabins - nothing short to a floating resort.

Ulysseas project - the new expedition cruise ship design

In March 2015, the major shipbuilder STX France unveiled a revolutionary new expedition ship design named "Ulysseas". It represents an innovative idea for a small cruise ship (passenger capacity 200, ice-class hull, length 476 ft / 145 m, cruising speed 17 kn / 20 mph / 31 kmh) aimed at the expedition cruising market.Ulysseas cruise ship design

The main reason for the Ulysseas project is that currently, the expedition cruise market uses mostly second-hand vessels. Unique for this new ship design is the excessive usage of glass (in all public areas) and the French balconies (false balconies) on all passenger cabins. Every passenger-use facility on the new vessel features floor-ceiling windows. There will be an unique forward-located observation lounge for 360-degree views.

The Ulysseas ship's aft-section is an STX-patented design for saving energy. This is a movable duck-tail, which position depends on cruising speeds and weather conditions. The vessel will be powered by two 2.5 MWT azipods (rotating at 360° Azimuth thrusters), with four diesel-electric generators and one scrubber. This cruise ship design also features a helipad (helicopter landing pad), a helicopter storage space (inside the ship), zodiac boats for ship-to-shore operations.

Cruise ship building vs ship refurbishments

Cruise Ship Building yardUnlike the scheduled cruise ship refurbishments, major refits may include even a cruise ship lengthening, like in the case of Royal Caribbean ship Enchantment of the Seas lengthened in 2005 (see the photo below). The Enchantment ship lengthening cost ~ US$55 million, it was a process of cutting the ship in two and inserting a whole new 73 ft (22 m) 3,500 tons midsection, pre-built at the Aker Finnyards. The month-long dry-dock at the Keppel Verolme shipyards (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) resulted in adding 151 brand new cabins, a 50% bigger Pool Deck area, a new kids area, a teen center, several new bars and lounges, an expanded main dining room, a new specialty restaurant. This "refurbishment cost" record was recently beaten by the CCL line and the US$155 million Carnival Destiny refit 2013 producing a brand new ship named Carnival Sunshine!

The average cost of building a cruise ship is around US $450 for mid-sized vessels and up to $800 million for bigger cruise ships. These prices, along with the current economy status force many cruise lines to hold off from building new ships - the biggest expense of all. As a rule, all new cruise ships on order/currently under construction are by contracts signed years ago when the dollar had a good rate.

cruise ship builders and refurbishment companies (firms)Cruise ship building prices are high enough to not meet the return requirement. Even the mighty Carnival Corporation (the largest cruise company in the world) puts its ship building plans on hold. Royal Caribbean is one of the few companies continuing to place orders for new ships - and not any ships, but the ever largest, the most innovative, the most expensive in the world. Still, most passenger ship lines are trying to keep their current fleet fresh and good looking. Two of the best examples are Holland America with its $450 million SOE program for ship renovations, and Carnival investing over $250 million to fully refit and refurbish 8 of its oldest vessels.

Cruise ship builders / building yards

The following data is closely related to our Shipbuilding companies survey. Following links below are all outgoing (to the companies' official websites).

  • cruise ship constructionSTX Europe (ex Aker Yards ASA), the Eurepe's largest shipbuilding company. Founded 2004, a subsidiary of STX Corporation (South Korea). STX Europe ship building yards:
  • STX Finland Cruise Oy - the Kvaerner Masa-Yards (ex Wartsila) in Helsinki and Turku, and in Rauma.
  • STX France Cruise SA - the ex Chantiers de l'Atlantique (St Nazaire) and the yards in Lorient.
  • (Romania) STX OSV Braila SA, STX OSV Tulcea SA.
  • In Germany
  • Meyer Werft (Papenburg), founded 1795, since 1997 together with Neptun Werft (Rostock) is part of Meyer Neptun Group.
  • Aker MTW Werft (Wismar), now part of STX
  • Bremer Vulkan (Bremen), bankrupt
  • Schichau Seebeckwerft (Bremerhaven), founded 1988
  • Lloyd Werft (Bremerhaven), established 1857, now part of Fincantiery
  • Blohm & Voss (Hamburg), founded 1877, currently a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
  • In Italy
  • Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A.
  • Ancona shipyards (Ancona)
  • Marghera shipyards (Venice)
  • Monfalcone shipyards (Gorizia)
  • Sestri Ponente shipyards (Genoa)
  • Trieste shipyards (Trieste).
  • T. Mariotti S.p.A. (Genoa), a mega-yacht construction yard.
  • In Japan
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Nagasaki shipyards), founded 1934, a core company of the Mitsubishi Group), the largest defence contractor in Japan and the world's 25th largest.

Where are cruise ships built?

Meyer Werft (Germany)
  • most of the AIDA cruise ships
  • Celebrity Cruises ships - Century, Eclipse, Equinox, Reflection, Silhouette, Solstice.
  • Disney Dream & Fantasy
  • (Fred Olsen) Balmoral
  • all NCL Norwegian Cruise Line ships (excluding NCL Pride of America)
  • P&O Cruises ships - Aurora, Oriana
  • (Pullmantur) Zenith
  • (CDF) Horizon.
  • ROYAL CARIBBEAN cruise ships ("Of The Seas) - Brilliance, Jewel, Antem, Quantum, Serenade.
  • (TUI) Mein Schiff 1 & 2.
Mitsubishi (Japan)
STX Europe (France, St Nazaire yards)
  • Royal Caribbean ships - Legend, Majesty, Rhapsody, Vision.
  • Azamara Quest & Journey
  • Celebrity ships - Constellation, Infinity, Millennium, Summit.
  • Crystal Serenity
  • ms Europa 2
  • all MSC Cruises ships
  • (P&O) Pacific Pearl
  • Princess Cruises ships - Coral, Island, Ocean, Pacific
  • Pullmantur ships - Empress, Monarch, Sovereign
  • (Regent) Seven Seas Mariner.
  • ms Paul Gauguin.
Fincantieri (Italy)
  • CARNIVAL cruise ships - Breeze, Conquest, Dream, Destiny/Sunshine, Freedom, Glory, Liberty, Magic, Splendor, Triumph, Valor, Victory.
  • all Costa Cruises ships.
  • the 3 Cunard liners - Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria.
  • Disney Magic & Wonder
  • all Holland America cruise ships (excepting ms Prinsendam)
  • (Hurtigruten) ms Fram
  • Oceania Cruises ships - Marina, Riviera
  • P&O cruise ships - Arcadia, Azura, Oceana, Ventura, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel
  • Princess cruise ships - Caribbean, Crown, Dawn, Emerald, Golden, Grand, Majestic, Regal, Royal, Ruby, Sea, Sun
  • (Silversea) Silver Spirit, Silver Muse
  • Seabourn Encore.
STX Europe (Finland)
  • Carnival ships - Ecstasy, Elation, Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Legend, Miracle, Paradise, Pride, Sensation, Spirit.
  • Royal Caribbean ships - Adventure, Allure & Oasis, Enchantment, Explorer, Freedom, Grandeur, Independence, Liberty, Mariner, Navigator, Voyager.
  • Crystal Symphony
  • ms Europa
  • (HAL) ms Prinsendam
  • (Oceania) Insignia, Nautica, Regatta
  • (TUI) Mein Schiff 3 & 4
  • (Phoenix Reisen) Albatros, Artania.
T Mariotti (Italy)
  • (Regent) Seven Seas Navigator & Voyager
  • (Seabourn) - Odyssey, Quest, Sojourn
  • (Silversea) Silver Cloud, Shadow, Whisper, Wind
  • mv Minerva.
  • who built rms Titanic ship (1912, Belfast)
  • who built the battleship Bismarck (1939)
  • who built the battleship HMS Hood (1918)
  • (for White Star Line) "Harland and Wolff" (England)
  • Blohm-Voss (Hamburg, Germany)
  • "John Brown & Co".
who built the world's largest yacht, cost to build US$485 mill), owner - Roman Abramovich
  • my Eclipse (2010) by Blohm-Voss (Hamburg).

While high fuel prices and the economy stagnation are a damper for the passenger ship building industry, they are actually attracting new cruise travelers because of the industry's value per price indices and total costs of alternative vacations. Well, folks, there's nothing in this world like a ship cruise vacation, and you know it!

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