How Long Does It Take to Build a Cruise Ship?

If you’re wondering how long it takes to build a cruise ship, it is like asking how long it takes to build a small city. Modern-day cruise ships are the size of a small town. They have a vast array of features and amenities to offer. Despite all their size and all they have to offer, the length of time to build a huge cruise ship is not as long as you might think.

How long does it take to build a cruise ship? The length of time required to construct a cruise ship depends on how big the ship is and what its owner wants to be included in it. However, regardless of the size of the cruise ship, there is a general timeline of how long it will take. This timeline is based on the experience of shipbuilders.

It will take from one year to a year and a half to build a cruise ship. Its construction usually starts in the laying of the keel and ends when it is launched or floated out.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to build a cruise ship, as well as how long it took to build the top 10 biggest cruise ships in the world.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Cruise Ship?

Modern cruise ships have all the features and amenities of a modern city whose focus is on entertaining its residents and guests. Just like Las Vegas, a cruise ship has casinos, movie theaters, playgrounds, and many restaurants.

A cruise ship is a resort facility focused on giving the best time to its guests. Standard features on all cruise ships are swimming pools, spas, and gyms. You can also find different kinds of restaurants that can cater to all types of palates.

Cruise ships are outdoing each other by offering unique attractions, such as wall climbing, waterparks, mini-golf courses, go-kart tracks, and many more. We have not yet mentioned the hundreds of cabins, staterooms, and accommodations for guests and crew members.

All of these amenities are built into just one container–the cruise ship. So, you can only imagine the time it will take to build one. However, it is not that long if you will understand how a cruise ship is built.

In general, even the largest cruise ship sailing in the ocean waters right now took only about less than two years to build. From experience, some shipbuilders can construct a cruise ship in only one year. Some can build one in one and a half years. The largest may be close to two years but not more.

10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World and How Long It Took to Build Them

building the biggest cruise ship in the world

Here are the world’s 10 largest cruise ships and the time it took shipbuilders to construct them.

1. Symphony of the Seas

Number one in our top 10 biggest cruise ships in the world is the Symphony of the Seas. This ship is owned and operated by Royal Caribbean. The cost of building this ship is US$1.35 billion in 2016.  Its keel was laid down on Oct. 29, 2015, and the ship was launched on June 9, 2017. In other words, it took its builder, Chantiers de l’Atlantique of France, two years to build Symphony of the Seas.

The Symphony has 18 decks, with 16 decks for the use of its passengers. It also has 24 pools, one park with more than 20,000 tropical plants, 22 restaurants, and 2,759 cabins, among many others. It can accommodate a maximum of 6,680 passengers. The gross tonnage of this ship is 228,081 tons. Its total length is 362 meters (1,188 feet), and its beam is 65.68 meters (215.5 ft.) It went on its maiden voyage on Mar. 23, 2018.

2. Harmony of the Seas

The second-largest cruise ship of the world is Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. Its design and layout are very similar to the Symphony of the Seas. Its keel was laid down on May 9, 2014, and it was eventually launched on June 19, 2015. So, it took STX France SA (1), its builder, one year to build the ship. It sailed on its maiden voyage on May 29, 2016.

Harmony has a total length of 362 m (1,188 ft.) and a width of 65.68 m (215.5 ft.). It has a gross tonnage of 226,693 tons. The ship can accommodate a maximum of 6,687 guests. It cost US$1.35 billion to build this ship.

3. Allure of the Sea

The Allure, also owned by Royal Caribbean, is third on our list of the world’s largest cruise ships. STX Europe constructed it in its Turku Shipyard in Finland. The cost of its construction was US$1.2 billion. Its keel was laid down on Dec. 2, 2008. The ship floated out on Nov. 20, 2009. Therefore, it only took one year for STX to build this cruise ship.

Allure made its maiden voyage on Dec. 1, 2010, exactly one year after its keel was first laid down. It has a total length of 361.79 m (1,187 ft.) and a width of 65.68 m (215.5 ft.). It can carry a maximum of 6,687 guests. Its gross tonnage is 228, 282 tons.

4. Oasis of the Seas

The fourth-biggest cruise ship on our list is the first Oasis-class ship of Royal Caribbean. It is also the first ship that featured the concept of “seven neighborhoods.” This concept became the standard of all Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

STX Europe is also the builder of this ship. The ship was also built in its Turku Shipyard in Finland. Its keel was laid down on Nov. 12, 2007, and it was eventually launched on Nov. 21, 2008. So, it took the shipbuilder only one year to build the ship. Oasis went on its maiden voyage on Dec. 5, 2009.

The gross tonnage of Oasis is 225,282 tons. It can carry up to 6,780 guests. Its total length is 364.84 m (1,197 ft.), and its entire width is 65.53 m (215 ft.).

5. MSC Meraviglia

Number five on our list of largest cruise ships is MSC Meraviglia. It is owned and operated by MSC Cruises. Meraviglia was built by STX Europe and laid down its keel in October 2015. The vessel floated out on Sept. 2, 2016. So, it took STX just one year to construct this ship.

The gross tonnage of Meraviglia is 171,598 tons. It is 315.77 m (1, 036 ft.) long and is 42.97 m (141 ft.) wide. It can accommodate up to 5,714 guests. MSC Meraviglia made its maiden voyage in 2017.

6. Norwegian Bliss

The sixth cruise ship on our list is the Norwegian Bliss. It is owned and operated by the Norwegian Cruise Line. The builder of this ship is Meyer Werft, which built the ship in its shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

Meyer laid down the keel of the ship on May 24, 2017, and floated out on Feb. 17, 2018. Therefore, it took Meyer almost a year to construct this cruise ship. Bliss sailed on its maiden voyage on June 2, 2018.

This ship’s total length is 302.97 m (994 ft.). Its entire width is 41.14 m (135 ft.), with a gross tonnage of 168,028 tons. It can also carry a maximum of 4,004 passengers.

7. Quantum of the Seas

Seventh on our list of largest cruise liners is the Quantum of the Seas, which is another fleet member of Royal Caribbean. It was built to the tune of US$ 935 million. Meyer Werft of Germany is the builder of this ship. The ship’s keel was laid down on Aug. 2, 2013, and was launched on Aug. 9, 2014. It took Meyer one year to build the Quantum. This cruise ship made its maiden voyage on Nov. 2, 2014.

This ship has a gross tonnage of 167,666 tons. It is 347.77 m (1,141 ft.) long and 41.45 m (136 ft.) wide. The Quantum can carry up to 4,905 passengers.

8. Anthem of the Seas

Another ship of Royal Caribbean made it on our list. It is Anthem of the Seas, which is the only Quantum-class ship that sails the Atlantic. Meyer Werft of Germany built it. This builder first laid down the keel of the ship on Nov. 19, 2013, and was launched on Feb. 21, 2015. Meyer took two years to build the Anthem.

This cruise liner is 347.77 m (1,141 ft.) long and 41.45 m (136 ft.) wide. It has a gross tonnage of 167,666 tons. The Anthem can accommodate up to 4,905 guests. It took its maiden voyage on Apr. 22, 2015.

9. Ovation of the Seas

You guessed it right. Ovation of the Seas, the ninth on our list, is also owned and operated by Royal Caribbean. This ship was built by Meyer Werft of Germany and laid down its keel on Mar. 5, 2015. The Ovation was launched on Feb. 18, 2016, so Meyer was able to build it in just one year.

The Ovation can carry a maximum of 4,905 passengers with a gross tonnage of 167,666 tons. This ship’s total length is 347.77 m (1,141 ft.), and its entire width is 41.45 m (136 ft.).

10. Norwegian Joy

The tenth-largest cruise ship in the world belongs to the Norwegian Cruise Line. It is the Norwegian Joy, which is a 167,725-ton cruise ship. Meyer Werft built Joy in its shipyard at Papenburg, Germany. Meyer laid down its keel on Aug. 14, 2013, and floated out on Mar. 4, 2017.

So, it took Meyer four years to build this cruise ship. On our list, this ship has the longest time of construction. Joy can carry a maximum of 3,883 guests. It has a length of 333.45 m (1,094 ft.) and a width of 41.45 m (136 ft.).

The Stages of Building a Cruise Ship

stages in building a cruise ship

A cruise ship undergoes different stages before it is certified seaworthy.  Here are the typical steps in building cruise ships.

  1. Placing an Order – This is the very first step in cruise shipbuilding. The owner places an order of the ship. However, before placing an order, the design of the ship has already been approved.
  2. The Ceremony of Steel Cutting – The first piece of steel that will be a part of the ship will be cut in front of the owner or management of the cruise line.
  3. Laying Down of the Keel – This is the lowest part of the ship. It will be laid down with precision, often using GPS coordinates to give accuracy to the process down to the centimeter.
  4. Launching of the Ship – This is simply floating out the ship. The ship is floated out and moved to another section of the shipyard so that other fit-outs will be completed.
  5. Sea Trials – The shipyard officials, crew, and insurance representatives will board the ship for its sea trials. Representatives from government agencies responsible for shipbuilding will join them to certify if the cruise ship is seaworthy.
  6. Handover Ceremony – The ship is turned over to its owner.
  7. Shakedown Voyage – The ship is relocated from the shipyard to its homeport.
  8. Christening Ceremony – A Godmother is chosen to announce the name of the ship.
  9. Maiden Voyage – The ship is ready to take its paying passengers on its first voyage.

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take to Build a Cruise Ship?

So to revisit our initial question: How long does it take to build a cruise ship? How long it takes to build a cruise ship will depend on how big it is and the amenities that the owner wants it to have. However, regardless of the ship’s size, there is a basic timeline based on the real-life experience of shipbuilders.

On average, it will take a shipbuilder from one year to a year and a half to build an average-sized cruise ship. Construction begins when the keel is laid down and ends when the ship is finally launched or floated out.