How Much Does It Cost to Build a Cruise Ship?

Modern-day cruise ships are fascinating. They are like small cities on the sea. Ever wonder how much it costs to build a cruise ship? Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Indeed, a lot of money, work, and time goes into constructing these majestic palaces of the seas.

How much does it cost to build a cruise ship? One can construct a cruise ship for a total estimated cost of a little less than US$200M. However, a cruise ship can also be worth more than a billion dollars. It all depends on various factors, which include the materials and amenities, among many others.

Continue reading to learn more about how much it costs to build a cruise ship, including the cost to build some of the most expensive cruise ships in the world.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Cruise Ship?

The fact is, there is no set price for the cost of cruise ship construction. However, some factors will dictate the final shipbuilding cost. These factors include:

  • The size of the vessel
  • The materials needed for construction
  • Location of shipyard 
  • The cost of the required labor
  • The quality of service
  • Taxes

You have to consider these factors, including the different features and amenities that the ship will have. These factors will all add up to the total sum of expenditures that go into its construction.

Cruise lines usually price the cost of building a cruise ship according to the number of beds or “berths” in maritime terminology. A berth is a location in a harbor or port where a ship may be moored when not at sea. It is usually for loading and unloading purposes.

The Most Expensive Cruise Ships

To find out how much it costs to build a cruise ship, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive cruise ships in the world.

  1. Titanic I and II
  2. MS The World
  3. MSC Cruises Fantasia-Class
  4. Carnival Dream-Class
  5. RMS Queen Mary 2
  6. AIDAnova
  7. Royal Caribbean Quantum-Class
  8. MSC Cruises Meraviglia-Class
  9. Royal Caribbean Oasis-Class
cost of building a cruise ship

1. Titanic I and II

We begin with history’s most well-known, if ill-fated, passenger vessel, the RMS Titanic. Completed way back on April 2, 1912, this legendary ship was an engineering marvel of its age. It measured a length of 882 feet and 9 inches (269.1 meters), a beam or width of 92 feet and 6 inches (28.2 meters), and a height of 175 feet (53.3 meters).

Along with its sister ships, the Olympic and the Britannic, they were the largest ships of their time. They were so big that when they were being constructed at the former Queen’s Island (now the Titanic Quarter in Ireland’s Belfast Harbour), three existing slipways had to be demolished. Two slipways replaced the actual ones to accommodate the construction.

Its building specifications, size, and the number of amenities have all contributed to the Titanic’s hefty cost of US$3,080 per berth. Such costs would translate to a total cost of US$7.5 million. Adjusted to the current inflation rate, today, it would be worth US$84,199.99 per berth. Thus, its overall cost is US$198,691,237.11.

The Sequel: Titanic II

Now that we know the cost of the Titanic, what about its sequel? Yes, they’re making a Titanic II. It’s currently under construction and will soon launch in 2022.

The new ship was conceived to be a replica of the original but built using modern engineering techniques. Moreover, it is being constructed by following the current safety regulations and economic conditions in mind.

The size, exterior, and interior of the Titanic II will be similar to that of its predecessor. But its 56,000 GT (gross tonnage) will be considerably more than the first ship’s 46,328 GRT (gross registered tonnage), among other slight modifications.

Hence, the new ship’s building cost is estimated to be US$213,000 per berth, which totals to approximately US$500 million—apparently, much more expensive than the cost of the Titanic I.

2. MS The World

MS The World was completed in 2002. It’s more than just a cruise ship as it is the world’s largest privately-owned residential yacht. It measures a length of 644.2 feet (196.35 meters), a width of 98 feet (28.9 meters), and a draft of 22 feet (6.7 meters), with a volume of 43,520 GT.

It has a capacity of 150 to 200 passengers and is attended by a crew of 280. It is home to a relatively small group of extremely wealthy people hailing from around 40 countries. The World truly lives up to its name.

Cost of Renting or Owning a Unit

The World has a total of 198 cabins–165 of which are residential apartments. Moreover, you may either rent or own more than one unit.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment would cost about US$2,000 a night. If an owner decides to sell a unit, it would cost anywhere from a whopping US$2 million to more than US$15 million. It all depends on the size and deck location of the room.

Aside from this, the new owner would have to pay a yearly maintenance fee ranging from US$60,000 to more than US$500,000. Again, it all depends on the chosen apartment.

The rates may be expensive, but so is the price of building the ship at US$213,000 per berth with an overall cost of US$366 million.

3. MSC Cruises Fantasia-Class

The Fantasia-class line is the largest among the MSC Cruise ships. The first of its series is the MSC Fantasia, constructed in 2008 and then followed by the MSC Splendida in 2009.

MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida

With a 3,274-passenger capacity and 1,637 passenger cabins, both ships boast a lot of amenities, which include:

  • Four swimming pools
  • A tennis/basketball court
  • A miniature golf course
  • A Tex-Mex restaurant
  • A 16,000 square-foot (1,500 square meters) spa facility
  • A 1,700-seat show lounge

The Fantasia and Splendida share an average volume of 137,936 (GT). Their average measurements are 1,093.5 feet (333.30 meters) in length, 124.3 feet (37.89 meters) in width, and 196.85 feet (60 meters) in height.

MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa

The next two ships are the MSC Divina (2012) and MSC Preziosa (2013). With a larger capacity of 3,502 passengers, they have a total of 1,751 staterooms. That’s 114 more than the first two Fantasia-class cruise ships.

Both ships have an average gross tonnage of 139,400 GT. They share the same general dimensions as the other two ships in the class.

The MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida both cost US$139,000 per berth to construct. The MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa both cost US$126,000 per berth. All four ships have an overall shipbuilding cost of US$550 million.

4. Carnival Dream-Class

Carnival Cruise Lines’ Dream-class cruise ships hold the distinction of being the largest ships ever built in Italy at the time they were constructed.

Carnival Cruise Lines

The ships in this cruise line include the following:

  • Carnival Dream (2009)
  • Carnival Magic (2011)
  • Carnival Breeze (2012)
  • Costa Diadema (2014)

The first three ships have an average volume of 130,000 GT. Their average measurements are 1,004 feet (306.02 meters) in length, 122 feet (37.19 meters) in width, and 27 feet (8.23 meters) in height.

The Magic and Breeze both cost US$158,000 per berth, whereas the Dream cost US$160,000. All ships have a total shipbuilding cost of US$740 million.

The fourth ship in the Dream-class line, the Costa Diadema (2014), is a joint venture between the Carnival Corporation and the Italian cruise line Costa Crociere. At the time it was delivered, it was considered the largest ship to fly an Italian flag.

Sharing similar dimensions with its sisters, the Diadema has a length of 1,003 feet and 11 inches (306 meters) and a beam of 122 feet and 1 inch (37.20 meters). It has a draught of 27 feet 5 inches (8.35 meters) and a volume of 132,500 GT. Costing US$163,000 per berth, its total construction cost is US$735 million.

5. RMS Queen Mary 2

cost of cruise ship building

The RMS Queen Mary 2 was launched in 2004. It was one of the most expensive cruise ships in the world, costing around US$302,000 per berth.

Initially, it was designed to be an ocean liner. For this reason, it was constructed with high-quality materials and 40% more steel than a typical cruise ship would require. Its construction contributed a lot to hiking up its production cost. Another factor is that it was built by STX Europe, a top-class shipbuilding company based in Saint-Nazaire, France.

Also adding to the Queen Mary 2’s cost is the ship’s enormous size at 1,132 feet (345 meters) in length, 135 feet (41 meters) wide, and 236 feet (72 meters) in height. It weighs 151,400 tons, with a gross tonnage of 151,400 GT. It also happens to be one of the world’s fastest cruise ships, with a maximum speed of up to 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour) and an operational speed of 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour).

With the technology required to achieve such a feat, the Queen Mary 2 had a total construction cost of US$800 million.

6. AIDAnova

An environmentally-conscious luxury vessel, the AIDAnova, is also something of a scientific breakthrough. It is the first cruise ship in the world that runs on liquefied natural gas.

It is also listed as the sixth largest passenger ship in the world. It has a volume of 183,858 GT, a length of 1,106 feet (337 meters), a width of 138 feet (42 meters), and a height of 69 meters.

At a maximum passenger capacity of 6,654, the 16-deck AIDAnova has over 2,600 passenger cabins. It features 17 restaurants and 23 bars, among several other amenities.

With its size, the number of features, plus the cost to develop its Green Cruising technology, you can bet this ship didn’t come cheap. Built at the expense of US$144,000 per berth, it has a total cost of US$950 million, which is almost close to a billion dollars.

7. Royal Caribbean Quantum-Class

Designed for cruising in colder climates, the Royal Caribbean International cruise line’s Quantum-class is the world’s third-largest cruise ship class. The first being the same line’s Oasis-class ships, and the second being MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia-class.

It was initially made up of four ships, which are:

  • Quantum of the Seas (2014)
  • Anthem of the Seas (2015)
  • Ovation of the Seas (2016)
  • Spectrum of the Seas (2019)

The three original ships in the class have an average tonnage of 168,666 GT, an average length of 1,142 feet (348 meters), and an average beam of 160 to 162 feet (48.9 to 19.7 meters). Whereas the fourth ship has a volume of 169,379 GT, a length of 1,139 feet (347.11 meters), and a width of 162 feet (49.24 meters).

One of the features onboard the Quantum-class ships is an observation tower that can reach 300 feet (91 meters) above sea level. Other amenities include the following:

  • A rock-climbing wall
  • Several swimming pools
  • A skydiving simulator
  • A surf simulator
  • A virtual reality playroom

Such state-of-the-art attractions are covered by the ships’ building costs, with the Anthem of the Seas at US$227,000 per berth, the Ovation of the Seas at US$228,000, and the Quantum of the Seas at US$131,000.

The Quantum and Anthem share a total building cost of US$950 million, whereas the Ovation approaches US$1.1 billion. The Ultra-class Spectrum of the Seas has an overall building cost of US$940 million.

8. MSC Cruises Meraviglia-Class

The second-largest class of cruise ships, MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia-class, is composed of three ships, namely:

  • The MSC Meraviglia
  • The MSC Bellissima
  • The MSC Grandiosa

MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellisima

These first two ships share a capacity of 4,500 passengers. The Meraviglia has 15 passenger decks, while the Bellissima has 18.

Their amenities include the following:

  • 10 dining areas
  • A water park
  • A rope course
  • Theater

The Bellissima, in particular, comes with a suite fully adorned with 700,000 crystals. It introduces ZOE, the first virtual assistant aboard a cruise ship.

Both cruise ships have a joint tonnage of 171,598 GT. These ships also ranked in the top 8 among the largest cruise ships in the world. They measure 1,036.2 feet (315.83 meters) in length and 141 feet (43 meters) in width. Both ships cost US$167,000 per berth to build, for a total shipbuilding cost of US$950 million each.

MSC Grandiosa

The third ship, the MSC Grandiosa, was introduced in 2019 as the first of the new Meraviglia Plus-class ships. It is also MSC Cruises’ current flagship. This cruise ship is the seventh-largest cruise ship in the world and is slightly larger than its sister ships.

Its volume is 181,541 GT. It has a length of 1,087.4 feet (331.43 meters) with a beam of 141 feet (43 meters). The Grandiosa cost US$150,000 per berth with an overall shipbuilding cost of US$950 million.

9. Royal Caribbean Oasis-Class

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class cruise ships are among the most expensive passenger vessels ever built. They are also the largest in the world today.

Its series includes four ships:

  • Oasis of the Seas (2009)
  • Allure of the Seas (2010)
  • Harmony of the Seas (2016)
  • Symphony of the Seas (2018)

All four ships have an average measurement of 1,181 feet (360 meters) in length, 154 feet (47 meters) in width, and 236 feet (72 meters) in height. Their average gross tonnage is between 225,282 and 227,700 GT.

Composed of 16 passenger decks with a total capacity of 6,296 people, a unique feature of these ships is their “neighborhood.” They have seven distinct areas, each with a designated specialization, including the following amenities:

  • A pool
  • A sports zone
  • An entertainment central
  • A park

With their sheer size and unique attractions, the Oasis-class cruise ships aren’t just worth millions as they’re worth billions of dollars. For the exact figures, Harmony of the Seas costs US$199,000 per berth to build. In comparison, the Symphony of the Stars costs US$196,000 per berth. Both have an overall building cost of US$1.35 billion.

The Oasis of the Seas cost US$240,000 per berth, for a total cost of US$1.3 billion. Similarly, the Allure of the Seas costs US$240,000 per berth but has the highest total building cost of US$1.43 billion.

Conclusion – How Much Does It Cost to Build a Cruise Ship?

As you can see, no expense was spared in the construction of these magnificent maritime marvels. With the high costs involved, investing in a passenger ship is an enormous gamble. At times, it is a sink or swim proposition.

However, if the results are favorable, the cost to build a cruise ship wouldn’t matter. As long as it operates and the passengers are satisfied, every cent spent will be well worth it.

Related reading:

How Long Does It Take to Build a Cruise Ship?

What Is the Best Carnival Cruise Ship? – Our Top 10 Picks