Average Speed of a Cruise Ship

The immense size of cruise ships is amazing to look at, but, does their mammoth size also mean slower travel?

What is the average speed of a cruise ship? In today’s setting, the average speed of a cruise ship ranges from 20 to 24 knots. If translated to mph, it would be around the range between 23 mph to 27 mph.

How do you convert knots into mph? Multiplying the knots by 1.15 gives you the speed in miles per hour. A unit of speed in nautical terms is the explanation for “knots”. Simply put, one nautical mile per hour is equal to one knot.

What Does Cruising Speed Mean?

The speed maintained by most cruise ships as they travel on open seas is called “cruising speed”. Another term sometimes referred to cruising speed is called service speed.

Cruising speed is a comfortable ride offered by cruise ships which are not, in any way, their maximum speed. Using the lowest fuel amount for the traveled distance is the main reason for cruise ships to travel at cruising speeds. 

If the cruise ship captain went ‘pedal to the metal’, the cruise ship will not only use huge amounts of fuel. It will also be the roughest ride for passengers and there would be many refunds given I’m sure!

Speed Conversion from Knots to KPH/MPH

Knot SpeedKPH ConversionMPH Conversion
11.851.15
1018.511.5
132415
193522
213924
224125
244527.5
285232
3055.534.5

Average Speed of a Cruise Ship – Most Popular Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ships have one thing in common with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: both were built on the same shipyard. The top speeds for the cruise ships of this line range from 26-27 knots – 31.3 mph – 50kph. The sustained speeds are usually 25 knots – 28.76mph – 46.31kph.

  • Norwegian Jade: 25 knots – 29mph – 46kph
  • Norwegian Bliss: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Norwegian Sky: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Norwegian Epic: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Norwegian Breakaway: 22 knots – 25mph -41kph

Carnival Cruise Line

  • Carnival Dream: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Carnival Liberty: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Carnival Vista: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Carnival Fantasy: 21 knots – 24mph – 39kph
  • Carnival Breeze: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph

Royal Caribbean International

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has another class of cruise ships named as the Radiance class. The creation of this line was to have cruise ships specifically geared to cross the Panama Canal. Their smaller sizes are still huge compared to most of the world’s aircraft carriers. The cruise line’s top and sustained speed are 25 knots – 28.76mph – 46.31kph.

  • Quantum of the Seas: 22 knots – 25mph – 41kph
  • Jewel of the Seas: 25 knots – 29mph – 46kph
  • Oasis of the Seas: 23 knots – 26mph – 43kph
  • Majesty of the Seas: 22 knots – 25mph – 41kph
  • Freedom of the Seas: 22 knots – 25mph – 41kph

Disney Cruise Lines

The Disney company is not contented with only having Disneyland. They also have their own Disney Cruise Lines. 

Disney Wonder

An older version of the Disney Dream and Fantasy, the Disney Wonder holds the record of being the first passenger ship to travel across the Panama Canal. Top speed is 23.5 knots – 27mph – 43.52kph with a service speed of 21.5 knots – 24.7mph – 39.8kph.

Disney Fantasy 

The Disney Fantasy Cruise Line is the last ship of the Disney Cruise Lines. While it is touted as the younger version of the Disney Wonder, the ships share almost the same physical aspects. It is only the internal features that make the Fantasy a better cruise line version. Top speed is around 24.7 knots – 28.41mph – 45.75kph with a service speed of 22 knots – 25.31mph – 40.76kph. 

One big difference of the Disney Cruise line from other cruise ships is the ships’ horns ability to play popular Disney songs!  

The Average Speed of the World’s Fastest Cruise Ships

Would one cruise ship travel faster than the others? Is there such a thing as the world’s fastest cruise ship? Depending on the class of cruise ships, there are fast ones and there are phenomenally speedy cruise ships.

Olympia Voyager

This 25,000-ton ship has been renamed from Voyager to Grand Voyager before it finally became the Olympia Voyager. It is owned by Bohai Ferry Company and is known to give fast speed travel of 31 miles per hour or 27 nautical miles.

However, the 25,000 gross tons of the Olympia Voyager is like David compared to the standard Goliath cruise ships of today. This means that the Voyager cannot lay claim to being a cruise ship but, rather an ocean liner.

Oasis of the Seas

At 225,282 tons, the Oasis of the Seas is nine times larger than the Voyager. Traveling at cruise speeds of 23 mph or 20.2 nautical miles, the Oasis may not be the fastest, yet provides astounding speeds for its size.

Radiance Class Cruise Ships from the Royal Caribbean Line

The 28 mph or 25 nautical miles travel speed provided by the Radiance Class cruise ships offer fast speeds as well.

MV Oriana

P&O’s first commissioned new ship is the MV Oriana. The ship has a capacity of 1,928 and a gross ton size of 69,153. The ship has been seen to hit 26.2 knots travel speed, making it the world’s third-fastest cruise ship.

Queen Elizabeth 2

The Queen Elizabeth 2 has been retired since 2008. However, it is worth including her in the list of the fastest cruise ships in the world. The ship was specifically built to provide top speed sea travel. The reported top speed of Queen Elizabeth 2 was an astounding 32 knots. Her service speed was set at 28.5 knots. This was achieved using only seven engines out of the total nine engines. 

Queen Mary 2

The world’s fastest cruise ship title belongs to the Queen Mary 2. Traveling at speeds of 34 miles per hour or the equivalent of 30 knots, the speed is considered short of phenomenal compared to its gross ton size of 150,000!

Due to the astounding speed travel, Queen Mary 2 is offered as THE transatlantic 7-day cruise between New York and Southampton. This kind of cruise ship travel has never been matched by any other cruise ship crossing the Atlantic.

A word to the wise: the fastest cruise ships mentioned NEVER travel that fast even if they CAN. The humongous ships usually cruise at speeds between 18-22 knots. 

The main point of the cruise ships is to provide the most luxurious and decadent sea travel rather than speed. So it isn’t so much about speed, unless you are worried about getting sea sickness!

Reasons for Cruise Ships to Travel at Top Speeds

The average speed of a cruise ship is the speed that is used during regular use going from port to port. There are two important reasons that can compel cruise ships to increase their speed.

Emergency Cases

A cruise ship will travel at top speeds when cases of emergency occur. A distress call from another ship needing assistance is considered a case of emergency. Captains of cruise ships will always use the full resources of the ship to quickly give aid to any distress call.

Storms at Sea

A cruise ship will always try to get away or around any storm at sea by using their maximum speeds. A rough ride for the passengers is a better option than running the ship straight to the storm.

Fuel cost can prove counterproductive to a cruise ship if they typically travel at top speeds. The high fuel consumption is due to the ship’s resistance beneath the waves when they maximize speed travel. 

Passengers are in for a rough ride when cruise ships travel out of the water. A smoother ride on the ocean is by allowing the submersion of the ship’s hull. A passenger will barely feel the ship moving when the cruise ship follows the average speed of 24 knots.

Cruise Ship Speed Constraints

All cruise ships have two kinds of speeds used for sea travel. There is the service speed and the top speed. The average cruising speeds of cruise ships are affected by multiple factors. One major impact on speed is the individual routes that take the ships to travel comfortably from one destination to the other.

  • Cruise ships bound for Alaska have slower travel speeds due to weather and glaciers
  • A cruise ship will travel at a faster speed in open waters if the destination is still far away
  • Pacing the journey and conserving fuel are the reasons for a captain to decide not to travel at top speeds
  • One of the ways a cruise ship allows their passengers to enjoy the sights is to remain idle or floating. 
  • A cruise may take its time in traveling when the next port of call is close. Reaching ports early even make some captains decide to anchor the ship.

Conclusion – Average Speed of a Cruise Ship

So what is the average speed of a cruise ship? The average speed of a cruise ship ranges from 20 to 24 knots, which works out to 23 mph to 27 mph.

In today’s setting, cruise ships have become better, bigger, friendlier to the environment, and more luxurious. The continuous upgrade of cruise ships is in line with customer demands and their quests to establish new high sea records of being the “first”. 

Whatever it is, customers stand to win when they decide to take a relaxing cruise trip than choosing a stressful journey of planes, trains, and automobiles. 

See you on board!