Cruise ships are large passenger ships used mainly for vacationing. Unlike ocean liners, which are used for transport, they typically embark on round-trip voyages to various ports-of-call, where passengers may go on tours known as "shore excursions". They can carry thousands of passengers in a single trip, and are some of the largest ships in the world by gross tonnage (GT), bigger than many cargo ships. Cruise ships started to exceed ocean liners in size and capacity in the mid-1990s; before then, few were more than 50,000 GT. In the decades since, the size of the largest vessels has more than doubled. There have been nine or more new cruise ships added every year since 2001, most of which are 100,000 GT or greater. In the two decades between 1988 and 2009, the largest cruise ships grew a third longer (268 m to 360 m), almost doubled their widths (32.2 m to 60.5 m), doubled the total passengers (2,744 to 5,400), and tripled in volume (73,000 GT to 225,000 GT). As of June 2020[update], the largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, has a gross tonnage of 228,081, is 361 metres (1,184 ft) long, 65.7 metres (216 ft) wide, and holds up to 6,680 passengers.
Cruise ships are organized much like floating hotels, with a complete hospitality staff in addition to the usual ship's crew. Modern cruise ships, while sacrificing some qualities of seaworthiness, have added amenities to cater to nautical tourists, with recent vessels being described as "balcony-laden floating condominiums". The "megaships" went from a single deck with verandas to all decks with verandas, and feature ameneties such as theaters, fine-dining and chain restaurants, spas, fitness centers, casinos, sports facilities, and even amusement park attractions.
Cruise ships require electricity for powering both hotel services and for propulsion. Cruise ships are designed with all the heavy machinery at the bottom of the ship and lightweight materials at the top, making them inherently stable even as ship designs are getting taller and taller, and most passenger ships utilize stabilizer fins to further reduce rolling of tall ships in heavy weather. While some cruise ships use traditional fixed propellers and rudders to steer, most larger ships use propellers that can swivel left and right to steer the ship, known as azimuth thrusters, which allow even the largest ship designs to have adequate maneuverability.
Cruise ships are operated by cruise lines, which are companies that market cruises to the public. In the 1990s, many cruise lines were bought by much larger holding companies and continue to operate as brands or subsidiaries of the holding company. For instance, Carnival Corporation & plc owns both the mass-market Carnival Cruise Line, focused on larger party ships for younger travelers, and Holland America Line, whose smaller ships cultivate an image of classic elegance. The common practice in the cruise industry in ship sales and orders is to list the smaller operating company, not the larger holding corporation, as the recipient cruise line of the ship.
saunderswas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
RCIsymphonywas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
RCIsymphonyDNVwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).