Cruise ships are marvels of engineering, and the largest ones can carry up to 6,800 guests at one time. Each cruise ship is given a reference of “Panamax” or “Post Panamax”, according to their size, which refers to whether or not they can fit through the Panama Canal in it’s current dimension. However, with the Panama Canal expansion project underway, soon even the largest cruise ships will be able to sail through.
Next time you are sailing on a cruise ship, take a minute and ask yourself the question: Where was she built? It’s hard to believe, but with a price tag between $500M and $1B per ship, today only four ship yards have the capability to build these ships:
Fincantieri is an Italian yard and delivered its first cruise ship in 1990.
Meyer Yard is family owned from Germany. It started cruise ship building in the mid 1980’s. An interesting detail about this yard is that it has actually no direct access to the ocean. All ships need to be transferred via a river to the North Sea.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the only non-European cruise ship yard. So far they have only delivered one cruise ship, but are under contract to deliver the next generation of Aida vessels.
STX Europe is an international shipbuilding group from South Korea with 15 ship yards in total, and two main cruise ship yards in Finland and France. STX gave birth to the two largest cruise ships in the world: Oasis and Allure of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean. For more information on how these amazing cruise ships were built, check out this interview with the Royal Caribbean Program Manager Denise Key-Tielebein.
If you want to check where your cruise ship was built, check the cruise ship list on Wikipedia. From there you are linked to information about many cruise ships, including their yard.