There was a time when even the biggest passenger vessels cut an elegant profile. They were sleek and streamlined to slice through the waves, and they often had gracious curves and highly-designed superstructures. 

Alas, those days are long gone. 

As cruise ships have gotten bigger over the years, they’ve also gotten boxier and (some would say) less appealing to the eye. Many of the biggest new vessels from major lines look more like floating condominiums than traditional ships of old. Some might even call them ugly — at least as they appear from the outside.

There’s a reason for the change. The design of cruise ships today is all about what goes on inside and on top of the vessels. The new giants of cruising are marketed as floating resorts, and they need to be wide and boxy to fit in all of the resort-like fun zones that modern cruisers are craving, from sprawling water parks to two-deck-high race tracks. Like the biggest resorts on land, the biggest ships now offer dozens of restaurants, bars, lounges and Broadway-style shows — venues that take up a lot of space.

In short, to get more stuff on ships, cruise lines have had no choice but to make them taller, fatter and boxier. They’ve had to do away with long, piercing bows, sculptural superstructures and sloping sterns to make way for more interior public space. The biggest cruise ships today, such as Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, soar 18 decks high and are nearly twice as wide as the biggest ships of two decades ago.

Cruise fans, what do you think about the look of the new crop of mega-ships?…


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Why vessels are getting bigger and boxier
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