Cruise Ship Registry, Flag State Control, Flag of Convenience

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By ,   November 26, 2015 ,   Ships and Lines

Cruise ship registry and flags, what is flag-state (control & responsibilities), flags of convenience - all of these are the subject of the following survey. We offer you a list of smaller and really big cruise ships sailing under foreign flags and some info about cruise ship registration by cruise line company (current operator for chartered ships).

What is "Flag State" (definition)

"Flag State" is the ship's registration country under whose laws it is registered/licensed. Just like any marine vessel, a passenger ship operates under its flag state laws (also used if the ship is involved in an admiralty case). Flag states have the authority and responsibility for a ship, exercising control over the ships. They inspect the ships regularly, certify equipment and crew, issue safety and pollution related documents, etc.

Each of the flag states has its own ship register where all ships sailing under its flag need to be registered. Some countries even have more than one ship register.

What is "Flag State Control" (definition)

The cruise ship's flag state controls the vessel and its crew - an absolute authority. Ships have to comply with all the flag state's maritime rules and regulations, which are, of course in accordance with the international maritime rules and regulations by the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). The flag state has the absolute authority over the ship, for not complying with the norms the flag state can impose penalties on the ship and crew. Flag states are required to carry out regular inspections, to ensure safe and secure shipping of passengers and goods, to send detailed inspection reports to the IMO. The IMO has 167 Governments as members.

biggest flag states list

For cruise ships registered in USA - the USCG (US Coast Guard), search and rescue operations. "The Officer in Charge Marine Inspections" - for the inspection of all US flagged cruise ships (and other marine vessels) relating to construction / equipment / manning, casualties / accidents and for investigations of cases of misconduct/negligence/incompetence of officers and crew.

For cruise ships registered in the UK - the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) is the flag state control executive agency responsible for the implementation of the GB's and the International maritime law and policies. It operates through the UK's HMCG (Her Majesty's Coastguard) - safety control, coastal water monitoring and testing, issues licenses to officers/crew, monitoring of the UK's AIS network (real-time ship tracking).

What is "flag of convenience" (definition)

"Flag of Convenience" is called the flag state of a merchant ship when registered in a state different from that of its owners. More than half of all merchant ships in the world are registered under flags of convenience, and according to the latest statistics - around 90% of all commercial marine vessels calling on US ports are under foreign flags. There's only one big sea cruise ship registered in USA - ms Pride of America, and the sole reason for that is she sails in Hawaii exclusively, the whole year round.

cruise ship registry, flag states - CruiseMapper

As the market always determines the prices, often choosing a flag state means minimizing costs to maximize the revenue. And for a cruise ship owner, making a choice between using of the fiscal advantages of registering ships in open registry (under "Flag of Convenience") and registration in a national/close registry means making a choice between good business and not so good business.

In 1922, W. Averell Harriman (American politician/businessman/diplomat) registered two of his American-owned ships under the Panamanian flag, the main reason being to avoid Prohibition. In 1948, E. Stettinius (former Secretary of State under Roosevelt) founded the Liberian ship registry, later followed by Bahamas and Bermuda, Malta and Portugal. Some countries (like Italy & Holland/Netherlands) have cruise ships registered in their national registries.

World's most popular cruise ships flags of convenience

  1. The list of Bahamas-registered cruise ships include some of the largest passenger ships in the world from the fleets of RCCL, NCL and Carnival.
  2. Under the Panamanian flag operate 2 major cruise ship companies - Carnival (CCL started the "Panama flag state" cruising experience with the Mardi Gras ship in 1972) and MSC Cruises (brand of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, one of the world's largest container shipping lines).
  3. Bermudian Flag of Convenience & Cruise Weddings. Bermuda is offering its offshore registry for UK-owned ships since 1974. First the P&O Cruises line changed its cruise ships' flags from London to Hamilton. Most of the Bermuda-flagged cruise ships today are from the fleets of Princess, P&O and Cunard. And the main reason for that is the Bermudian flag of convenience allows captains to perform onboard weddings (the Bermudian flag is of course British, but the Bermuda's registry has different legislation).
  4. Under the Italian flag are Costa and AIDA.
  5. Under the flag of Malta are 4 RCCL brands (Celebrity, Azamara, Pullmantur and TUI). In Malta are also registered the ships of Louis Cruises transferred away from the expensive flag of Greece.
  6. Under the royal flag of The Netherlands/Holland are all Holland America ships (a Carnival brand).
  7. Madeira is the offshore registry of Portugal, registered in Portugal ships are from the fleets of Classic International and Iberocruceros (Carnival's brand).
  8. There are no cruise ships registered in Liberia today. For many years, Carnival, RCCL and Celebrity operated under the Liberian flag, but the dictator Charles Taylor changed all that. Under the Liberian flag of convenience today sail many cargo ships, though.
  9. CCL is now the only major brand to split its ships between two flags of convenience, while the others stick to one.

Cruise ship flags of convenience vs national flag

The flag of convenience helps ship owners to evade their home nation's "inconvenient" rules/regulations, and often for reasons that are not so good. The negative impact is solely on the crew/staff who works on such ships.

USA cruise ships (registered in the United States)

  1. Lower standards of working conditions due to lesser regulations. Crew on such ships often work under stress, or under dangerous conditions, and often without compensation.
  2. Crew is deprived from basic rights, such as the right to form/join trade unions, and the right to demand proper pay/working conditions.
  3. A ship under flag of convenience is under its flag state's jurisdiction, but ship records and other documents can be easily manipulated in cases of illegal trade (like smuggling, for example). Crew members could be charged for a criminal activity they were not even a part of.
  4. Generally, ships sailing under flag of convenience offer lower salaries or pay crew/staff later then required.
  5. Insufficient or no compensation in cases of onboard accidents. Such ships have the right to refuse to pay compensation to a crew member and/or his/her family.
  6. Busy work schedule without the necessary rest time between assignments (compared to the standard).
  7. Uncertainty/stress - working on a flag of convenience ship can endanger your career, resulting in sickness, physical and mental impairments, and even bad work record if you decide to seek justice.

Open registry /flag of convenience states today account for more than 55% of the world's shipping.

Flag of convenience list of countries with open registry

Currently, 27 countries have been declared "Flag of Convenience" states by ITF Global (International Transport Workers' Federation). Founded in 1896, the ITF currently represents a combined membership of around 5 mill workers from 148 countries. ITF (headquartered in London, UK) runs an international campaign against these countries through its "Fair Practices Committee" (seafarers' & dockers' unions).

flags of convenience list

ITF's list of "bad guys" (flag of convenience countries) includes:

  • Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba
  • Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda
  • Cambodia, Canary Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus
  • GIS (German International Ship Register), Gibraltar
  • Honduras
  • Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg
  • Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Myanmar
  • Netherlands/Dutch Antilles
  • Panama
  • St Vincent, Sri Lanka
  • Tuvalu (Ellice Islands, Polynesia)
  • Vanuatu (South Pacific).

As a rule, cruise ships under flag of convenience have multinational crew, and are owned by large multinational companies.

What is the difference between closed and open registries?

"Open Registries" are organizations that will register foreign-owned ships. One of the first open registries are the Liberian and Panamanian registries, followed by the Bahamian and Bermudian, and more recently - those of Malta and Portugal.

"Closed (national) Registries" require that a cruise ship be owned and constructed by national interests and to be fully or partially crewed by its citizens. This usually increases the ship's construction and operating costs. Italy and the Netherlands are two of the national registries featuring big cruise ships owned by some of the world's biggest cruise companies, like Holland America, Costa and AIDA.

Flag states list of the largest ship registries in the world

Note: These are flag states serving all types of ships (official data 2011).

  1. PANAMA (22,6 %)
  2. LIBERIA (11 %)
  3. MARSHALL ISLANDS (6%)
  4. HONG KONG (5,8%)
  5. GREECE (5,3%)
  6. THE BAHAMAS (5%)
  7. SINGAPORE (4,8%)
  8. MALTA (4,4%)
  9. CHINA (3,5%)
  10. CYPRUS (2,5%)
  11. SOUTH KOREA (1,6%)
  12. NORWAY (1,5%)
  13. UK (1,4%)
  14. JAPAN (1,4%)
  15. GERMANY (1,4%)
  16. ITALY (1,3%)
  17. ISLE OF MAN (1,3%)
  18. INDIA (1,2%)
  19. DENMARK (1%)
  20. ANTIGUA & BARBUDA (1%)
  21. USA (1%)

The following infographic shows 2015 statistical data about the number of merchant vessels (passenger and cargo ships) registered in foreign states compared to those carrying ship's national flag.

flagstate-registered merchant vessels infographic

Cruise Ship Registry

Cruise ships registry choices are made by cruise lines (or ship operators when the vessel is on charter). The main factors determining their decision are:

  • flag-state's capabilities to deliver the services the company needs
  • flag's reputation in the worldwide community of major international shipping companies
  • flag-state's performance (how a cruise ship is prioritized by port states)
  • seafarers pool (officers and crew) able to meet the flag's needs
  • the amount of fees (charges) and taxes (country's tax rates).

In summation, because the cruise ship owner immediately becomes subject to all safety/labor/environmental laws of the flag-state, the majority of nations with the most popular open registries tend to be countries with the most lax safety/labor/environmental codes, low tax rates, very cheap port fees.

Ship nameYear builtGT TonnageFlag-state
Sea Endurance19921268 gtBahamas
Freedom Of The Seas2006154407 gtBahamas
Explorer Of The Seas2000137308 gtBahamas
Star Breeze19899975 gtBahamas
Norwegian Getaway2014146600 gtBahamas
Carnival Sunrise1999101509 gtBahamas
Norwegian Breakaway2013145655 gtBahamas
Seabourn Odyssey200932346 gtBahamas
Norwegian Star200191740 gtBahamas
Silver Spirit200939519 gtBahamas
Adventure Of The Seas2001137276 gtBahamas
Disney Dream2010129690 gtBahamas
SuperStar Aquarius199351309 gtBahamas
Norwegian Escape2015163000 gtBahamas
Disney Fantasy2012129750 gtBahamas
Albatros197328518 gtBahamas
MV Glory Sea200124318 gtBahamas
Oasis Of The Seas2009225282 gtBahamas
Norwegian Bliss2018168028 gtBahamas
Paul Gauguin199719170 gtBahamas
Pullmantur Monarch199173937 gtBahamas
SuperStar Gemini199250764 gtBahamas
Jewel Of The Seas200490090 gtBahamas
Orient Queen19897478 gtBahamas
Wind Spirit19885307 gtBahamas
Ocean Nova19922183 gtBahamas
Boudicca197328551 gtBahamas
Seabourn Ovation201840350 gtBahamas
Astor198720704 gtBahamas
SuperStar Libra198842285 gtBahamas
Ocean Gala198240171 gtBahamas
Braemar199324344 gtBahamas
Ocean Adventurer19754376 gtBahamas
Serenade Of The Seas200390090 gtBahamas
Marella Discovery 2199569472 gtBahamas
Norwegian Joy2017167400 gtBahamas
Silver Shadow200028258 gtBahamas
Disney Wonder199983308 gtBahamas
Crystal Symphony199551044 gtBahamas
Seabourn Encore201640350 gtBahamas
Norwegian Pearl200693530 gtBahamas
Black Watch197228613 gtBahamas
RCGS Resolute19918378 gtBahamas
Anthem of the Seas2015167800 gtBahamas
Norwegian Gem200793530 gtBahamas
MV Sea Spirit19914200 gtBahamas
MS Hamburg199715067 gtBahamas
Seabourn Sojourn201032346 gtBahamas
Seven Seas Voyager200342363 gtBahamas
Wind Star19865397 gtBahamas
MS Bremen19906752 gtBahamas
Vidanta Alegria199015271 gtBahamas
Quantum Of The Seas2014167800 gtBahamas
Amadea199129008 gtBahamas
SeaDream I19844333 gtBahamas
Seven Seas Mariner200148075 gtBahamas
Symphony Of The Seas2018228081 gtBahamas
Rhapsody Of The Seas199778878 gtBahamas
Silver Wind199517235 gtBahamas
Marella Discovery199669472 gtBahamas
ms Europa199928890 gtBahamas
Crystal Serenity200368870 gtBahamas
SeaDream II19854333 gtBahamas
Silver Cloud199416927 gtBahamas
Norwegian Jade200693558 gtBahamas
ms The World200243188 gtBahamas
Allure Of The Seas2010225282 gtBahamas
MS Victory II20044954 gtBahamas
Marco Polo196522080 gtBahamas
Aegean Paradise199023287 gtBahamas
MS Delphin197516214 gtBahamas
Wind Surf199014745 gtBahamas
Silver Explorer19896130 gtBahamas
Norwegian Dawn200292250 gtBahamas
Liberty Of The Seas2007154407 gtBahamas
Rex Fortune19749848 gtBahamas
Voyager Of The Seas1999137276 gtBahamas
Silver Discoverer19895218 gtBahamas
Mariner Of The Seas2003138279 gtBahamas
Norwegian Epic2010155873 gtBahamas
Majesty Of The Seas199274077 gtBahamas
Saga Pearl II198118627 gtBahamas
Carnival Inspiration199670367 gtBahamas
Silver Whisper200128258 gtBahamas
National Geographic Endeavour19663132 gtBahamas
Carnival Imagination199570367 gtBahamas
Carnival Fascination199470538 gtBahamas
Silver Muse201740700 gtBahamas
Norwegian Sky199977104 gtBahamas
National Geographic Explorer19826471 gtBahamas
Balmoral198843537 gtBahamas
Ovation Of The Seas2016167800 gtBahamas
Genting Dream2016151300 gtBahamas
Carnival Sensation199370538 gtBahamas
Norwegian Spirit199875904 gtBahamas
Radiance Of The Seas200190090 gtBahamas
Seabourn Quest201132346 gtBahamas
Vision Of The Seas199878717 gtBahamas
World Dream2017151300 gtBahamas
Star Pride19889975 gtBahamas
Disney Magic199883969 gtBahamas
Norwegian Sun200178309 gtBahamas
Star Legend19929961 gtBahamas
mv Minerva199612900 gtBahamas
National Geographic Orion20033984 gtBahamas
Harmony Of The Seas2016227000 gtBahamas
Enchantment Of The Seas199782910 gtBahamas
Navigator Of The Seas2002139570 gtBahamas
Brilliance Of The Seas200290090 gtBahamas
Independence Of The Seas2008154407 gtBahamas
Island Sky19924200 gtBahamas
Carnival Sunshine1996103881 gtBahamas
Norwegian Jewel200593502 gtBahamas
Grandeur Of The Seas199673817 gtBahamas
Star Princess2002108977 gtBermuda
Aurora200076152 gtBermuda
Oriana199569840 gtBermuda
Sun Princess199577441 gtBermuda
Seven Seas Navigator199928803 gtBermuda
Diamond Princess2004115906 gtBermuda
Royal Princess2013142714 gtBermuda
Emerald Princess2007113561 gtBermuda
mv Discovery197120216 gtBermuda
Azura2010115055 gtBermuda
Artania198444656 gtBermuda
Pacific Princess199930277 gtBermuda
Crown Princess2006113561 gtBermuda
Island Princess200391627 gtBermuda
Oceania Sirena199930277 gtBermuda
Golden Princess2001108865 gtBermuda
Grand Princess1998107517 gtBermuda
Caribbean Princess2004112894 gtBermuda
Ruby Princess2008113561 gtBermuda
Pacific Explorer199777441 gtBermuda
Sea Princess199877499 gtBermuda
Arcadia200584342 gtBermuda
Oceana200077499 gtBermuda
Sapphire Princess2004115875 gtBermuda
Caledonian Sky19914200 gtBermuda
Coral Princess200291627 gtBermuda
Ventura2008116017 gtBermuda
Andaman Explorer19631090 gtCayman Islands
MV Ventus Australis20184508 gtChile
National Geographic Endeavour II20052716 gtChile
MV Santa Cruz II20022664 gtChile
MV Stella Australis20104508 gtChile
MV Ushuaia19702923 gtComoros
Princess Eleganza2015480 gtCroatia
Celestyal Olympia198237584 gtCyprus
Celebrity Xploration2007319 gtEcuador
Galapagos Legend19632890 gtEcuador
MV Isabela II19791025 gtEcuador
Monserrat1973151 gtEcuador
Queen of Galapagos2007307 gtEcuador
Yolita II2007250 gtEcuador
Celebrity Xpedition20012842 gtEcuador
Silver Galapagos19904077 gtEcuador
La Pinta19821438 gtEcuador
National Geographic Islander19951021 gtEcuador
MV Reef Endeavour19963125 gtFiji
Ocean Endeavour198212907 gtFinland
Le Ponant19911189 gtFrance
MV Clio19983504 gtFrance
Club Med 2199214983 gtFrance
MS Deutschland199822496 gtGermany
Celestyal Crystal198025611 gtGreece
Safari Voyager19821195 gtHonduras
Costa Favolosa2011113216 gtItaly
Costa Diadema2014132500 gtItaly
AIDAvita200242289 gtItaly
Costa Fortuna2003102587 gtItaly
AIDAcara199638557 gtItaly
Costa Victoria199675166 gtItaly
Costa Atlantica200085619 gtItaly
Regal Princess2014142714 gtItaly
AIDAdiva200769203 gtItaly
Costa Fascinosa2012113216 gtItaly
Costa Deliziosa201092720 gtItaly
AIDAprima2016124500 gtItaly
Costa Luminosa200992720 gtItaly
AIDAblu201071304 gtItaly
AIDAmar201271304 gtItaly
Costa Pacifica2009114288 gtItaly
Costa Magica2004102587 gtItaly
AIDAstella201371304 gtItaly
AIDAaura200342289 gtItaly
Le Lyrial201510700 gtItaly
AIDAluna200969203 gtItaly
AIDAsol201171304 gtItaly
Costa Serena2007114147 gtItaly
Costa neoRomantica199356769 gtItaly
Costa Mediterranea200385619 gtItaly
AIDAbella200869203 gtItaly
AIDAperla2017124500 gtItaly
ms Nieuw Statendam201899500 gtItaly
Pacific Venus199826594 gtJapan
Asuka 2199050142 gtJapan
MS Expedition19726334 gtLiberia
Royal Clipper20004425 gtLuxembourg
AIDAmira199948200 gtMadeira
Grand Celebration198747263 gtMadeira
Funchal19619563 gtMadeira
Magellan198546052 gtMadeira
Lisboa195516531 gtMadeira
Astoria194816144 gtMadeira
Ocean Majesty196610417 gtMadeira
Porto19655888 gtMadeira
Grand Classica199152926 gtMadeira
Chinese Taishan200024430 gtMadeira
Mein Schiff 5201699800 gtMalta
Celebrity Eclipse2010121878 gtMalta
MV Artemis20071206 gtMalta
Pullmantur Zenith199247413 gtMalta
Marella Explorer199676998 gtMalta
Celebrity Equinox2009121878 gtMalta
Louis Aura196815781 gtMalta
Marella Dream198654763 gtMalta
Pullmantur Horizon199047427 gtMalta
Celebrity Constellation200290940 gtMalta
Princess Iris199240876 gtMalta
MSC Seaview2018152050 gtMalta
Celebrity Infinity200190940 gtMalta
Empress Of The Seas199048563 gtMalta
MSC Meraviglia2017171598 gtMalta
Celebrity Silhouette2011122210 gtMalta
Celebrity Solstice2008121878 gtMalta
Mein Schiff 12018111500 gtMalta
Pullmantur Sovereign198773529 gtMalta
Celebrity Millennium200090963 gtMalta
Azamara Quest200030277 gtMalta
Sea Cloud19312532 gtMalta
Celebrity Summit200190940 gtMalta
Henna198647680 gtMalta
Sea Cloud II20003849 gtMalta
Saga Sapphire198137049 gtMalta
mv Aegean Odyssey197312094 gtMalta
MS Berlin198010550 gtMalta
MSC Seaside2017152050 gtMalta
Ocean Dream198136674 gtMalta
MV Arethusa20071206 gtMalta
Azamara Pursuit200130277 gtMalta
Mein Schiff 6201799800 gtMalta
SkySea Golden Era199572458 gtMalta
Marella Celebration198433933 gtMalta
Star Clipper19922298 gtMalta
Oasia197324492 gtMalta
Star Flyer19912298 gtMalta
Thomson Spirit198333930 gtMalta
MV Corinthian19904077 gtMalta
Azamara Journey200030277 gtMalta
Pearl Mist20145109 gtMarshall Islands
Hebridean Sky19914200 gtMarshall Islands
Oceania Marina201166084 gtMarshall Islands
Seven Seas Explorer201656000 gtMarshall Islands
Oceania Regatta199830277 gtMarshall Islands
Oceania Insignia199830277 gtMarshall Islands
Ocean Atlantic198612798 gtMarshall Islands
Oceania Nautica200030277 gtMarshall Islands
MY Pegasus1990695 gtMarshall Islands
Celestyal Nefeli199219093 gtMarshall Islands
Oceania Riviera201266172 gtMarshall Islands
ms Veendam199657092 gtNetherlands
ms Zuiderdam200282305 gtNetherlands
ms Maasdam199355575 gtNetherlands
Pacific Aria199455819 gtNetherlands
ms Volendam199961214 gtNetherlands
MV Plancius19763434 gtNetherlands
ms Eurodam200886273 gtNetherlands
ms Zaandam200061396 gtNetherlands
ms Westerdam200482348 gtNetherlands
ms Prinsendam198839051 gtNetherlands
SV Noorderlicht1991140 gtNetherlands
Pacific Eden199355819 gtNetherlands
ms Koningsdam201699500 gtNetherlands
ms Nieuw Amsterdam201086273 gtNetherlands
ms Rotterdam199761849 gtNetherlands
ms Amsterdam200062735 gtNetherlands
ms Noordam200682897 gtNetherlands
ms Oosterdam200382305 gtNetherlands
Viking Star201547800 gtNorway
MS Midnatsol200316151 gtNorway
Viking Sun201747800 gtNorway
MS Nordkapp199611386 gtNorway
MS Nordlys199411204 gtNorway
MS Nordnorge199711384 gtNorway
MS Fram200711647 gtNorway
MS Nordstjernen19562191 gtNorway
Viking Sea201647800 gtNorway
MS Spitsbergen20097025 gtNorway
MS Trollfjord200216140 gtNorway
MS Finnmarken200215690 gtNorway
MS Polarlys199611341 gtNorway
MS Richard With199311205 gtNorway
Viking Orion201847842 gtNorway
MS Kong Harald199311204 gtNorway
MS Lofoten19642621 gtNorway
Viking Sky201747800 gtNorway
MS Vesteralen19836261 gtNorway
Carnival Splendor2008113323 gtPanama
Star Pisces199040053 gtPanama
Carnival Conquest2002110239 gtPanama
Carnival Pride200185920 gtPanama
Ocean Star Pacific197123149 gtPanama
Carnival Liberty2005110320 gtPanama
Carnival Ecstasy199170526 gtPanama
Carnival Paradise199870390 gtPanama
MSC Orchestra200792409 gtPanama
Crystal Esprit19913341 gtPanama
Carnival Fantasy199070367 gtPanama
MSC Magnifica201095128 gtPanama
MSC Splendida2009137936 gtPanama
Carnival Valor2004110239 gtPanama
Oriental Dragon197218455 gtPanama
MSC Armonia200165542 gtPanama
Carnival Horizon2018133500 gtPanama
Carnival Glory2003110239 gtPanama
Golden Iris197716852 gtPanama
Carnival Elation199870390 gtPanama
Carnival Vista2016133500 gtPanama
Carnival Victory2000101509 gtPanama
Carnival Dream2009128251 gtPanama
Carnival Magic2011128048 gtPanama
MSC Opera200465591 gtPanama
MSC Poesia200892627 gtPanama
MSC Lirica200365591 gtPanama
MSC Preziosa2013139072 gtPanama
Carnival Freedom2007110320 gtPanama
MSC Musica200692409 gtPanama
Carnival Miracle200485942 gtPanama
Carnival Breeze2012128052 gtPanama
MSC Sinfonia200265542 gtPanama
MSC Fantasia2008137936 gtPanama
SuperStar Virgo199975338 gtPanama
MV Ortelius19894575 gtRussia
MV Polar Pioneer19851753 gtRussia
Knyaz Vladimir19719159 gtRussia
Spirit of Enderby19841750 gtRussia
Oden icebreaker19889605 gtSweden
MS Birka Stockholm200434924 gtSweden
Leisure World196915653 gtTuvalu
Amusement World196712764 gtTuvalu
Queen Mary 22004148528 gtUnited Kingdom
RRS James Cook20065401 gtUnited Kingdom
RRS Discovery20135952 gtUnited Kingdom
Spirit of Chartwell barge1997485 gtUnited Kingdom
Columbus198963786 gtUnited Kingdom
Pacific Dawn199170285 gtUnited Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth201090901 gtUnited Kingdom
Pacific Jewel199070310 gtUnited Kingdom
Hebridean Princess19642112 gtUnited Kingdom
MV Hans Hansson1960146 gtUnited Kingdom
Majestic Princess2017142714 gtUnited Kingdom
RMS St Helena19896767 gtUnited Kingdom
Lord of the Glens1985729 gtUnited Kingdom
PS Waverley1947693 gtUnited Kingdom
Queen Victoria200790049 gtUnited Kingdom
National Geographic Sea Lion1982630 gtUSA
Safari Endeavour19831425 gtUSA
National Geographic Quest20172906 gtUSA
Delta Queen19271676 gtUSA
MS Victory I20014954 gtUSA
Grande Caribe1997761 gtUSA
Grande Mariner1998829 gtUSA
Admiralty Dream1979514 gtUSA
MV Louisiane20001600 gtUSA
Safari Explorer1998695 gtUSA
Safari Quest1992345 gtUSA
Alaskan Dream1986490 gtUSA
American Empress20035975 gtUSA
American Glory20021267 gtUSA
Pride of America200580439 gtUSA
American Spirit20041955 gtUSA
SS Legacy19831472 gtUSA
American Star20071973 gtUSA
Wilderness Discoverer1992683 gtUSA
Chichagof Dream19841471 gtUSA
Queen of the West19952100 gtUSA
Wilderness Explorer1976910 gtUSA
National Geographic Sea Bird1982630 gtUSA
Ocean Diamond19748282 gtWallis and Futuna
Le Laperouse20189900 gtWallis and Futuna
L'Austral201110944 gtWallis and Futuna
Le Boreal201010944 gtWallis and Futuna
Le Soleal201310992 gtWallis and Futuna

Why most cruise ships are registered in Bahamas/Panama, and not in USA?

The Bahamas (port of Nassau) is the No 1 registry of cruise ships worldwide and the world's 3rd largest ship registry after Panama and Liberia. Why cruise lines do not enjoy the idea of having their ships registered in the United States and prefer to operate ships registered in other countries?

The biggest of the largest in the cruise travel industry (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney) along with major shipping companies (like Chevron, Texaco and Exxon - the parent company of Esso and Mobil) prefer The Bahamas as flag-state/flag of convenience (see the definitions bellow) over USA simply because for a "Bahamian" ship US labor laws do not apply.

On any marine vessels registered in Bahamas there are no codes about the number of hours a seafarer may work or his/her days off, no minimum wages, staff can be punished by the captain in case of complaining about issues (such as safety or food quality, for example). In other words, while on the ship, the captain has the absolute authority. This is the classic maritime law. Similar "benefits" offer Panama and Liberia as flag states.