Boats are a fascinating and centuries-old invention. From the smallest RIBs and Jon boats to the very largest superyachts and cruise ships, the spectrum is one of the most diverse of any industry on the planet. While you ponder your next boat, or get to grips with the mechanics, repair and upkeep, spare a moment to think about the innovation that goes into some of the biggest boats to grace our oceans. These true behemoths are astounding feats of engineering and innovation. From river steamboats to superyachts and cruise ships.
Here are some of the largest ships in the world in 2024
- The Largest Cruise Ship: Symphony of the Seas
- The Largest Ocean Liner: RMS Queen Mary 2
- The Largest Sailing Yacht: The Golden Horizon
- The Largest Motor Superyacht: Azzam
- The Largest Sailing Superyacht: Sailing Yacht A
- The Largest Explorer Yacht: REV Ocean
- The Largest Supertanker: HMM Algeciras
- The Largest Paddlewheel Steamboat: The American Queen
The Largest Cruise Ship: Symphony of the Seas
Cruise liners just keep getting bigger and bigger, and the gargantuan Symphony of the Seas, the 25th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, stands as the biggest cruise ship in the world. She set sail on her maiden voyage on 23rd March 2018 and is today based out of Port Miami, Florida. Her jaw-dropping statistics include a length of 362 metres, which can accommodate 5,518 passengers and 2,100 crew. Her 18 decks are home to 23 restaurants as well as 25 pools, whirlpools, FlowRider surf simulators and waterslides.
The Largest Ocean Liner: RMS Queen Mary 2
Built as the world’s largest ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary 2 was launched in 2004 and completed her maiden voyage in tandem with the now decommissioned RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). With a length of 345 metres, and an interior designed with classic elegance, the Queen Mary 2 harks back to a time when cross-Atlantic travel was all ocean-going. Differently to a cruise ship, an ocean liner is designed to transport passengers and the Queen Mary 2 is currently the only such ship operating between Southampton and New York.
The Largest Sailing Yacht: The Golden Horizon
Before the invention of the engine, boats had relied on the power of the wind for centuries, and great galleons once explored the far corners of our earth. Today, most sailing ships are dwarfed by the superyachts and cruise liners which surround them, but there are some which are truly vast. The 162 metre, five-masted Golden Horizon is the world’s largest sailing-vessel and an almost perfect replica of the France II, which was built in 1913. There is a staggering 6,000 square metres of sail on the modern-day passenger ship, which can accommodate 300 passengers and 140 crew. With swimming pools, a gym, spa, and restaurants it is a truly impressive floating masterpiece.
The Largest Motor Superyacht: Azzam
It took more than 4,000 people over four years to build the sleek, elegant 180 metre long Azzam, the largest superyacht in the world – a title it has held since it was launched in 2013. Azzam is also one of the fastest yachts on the planet with a top speed of 33 knots thanks to her two conventional diesel engines and efficient two 9,000kW MTU engines – which are so quiet that the chandelier in the main salon doesn’t even make a tinkle underway. Accommodating 36 guests and 80 crew she is an understated yet sublimely beautiful vessel.
The Largest Sailing Superyacht: Sailing Yacht A
Shrouded in mystery, Sailing Yacht A is the largest private sailing superyacht on the planet at an incredible 142 metres long. She was built in 2017 by Nobiskrug shipbuilders for Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko and features state-of-the-art design as well as a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system and navigation systems. Her design is futuristic, with almost invisible windows ensuring not a glimpse can be had of her no-doubt magnificent interior.
The Largest Explorer Yacht: REV Ocean
REV Ocean is so innovative that she has created her very own class of yacht. While she is often described as a superyacht, her function isn’t for leisure or recreation. Built by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke, REV Ocean is truly revolutionary as her purpose is to cruise the world’s oceans, from the tropics to the polar regions, gathering vital scientific data to be used to create a healthier planet. She is equipped with state-of-the-art scientific equipment and on-board laboratories, a moon pool, research hangar, and accommodation for 90 people – mainly scientists - on board at any time. While the 183-metre-long vessel can be chartered, all profits go back into the ship’s research and conservation projects which focus on climate change, plastic pollution, and unsustainable fishing.
The Largest Supertanker: HMM Algeciras
Measuring a mammoth 400 metres long and 61 metres wide, the HMM Algeciras is the current biggest cargo ship in the world. It is the first of a fleet of 12 identical vessels to be built for HMM, and will ply the route between China and Europe. Known as Megamax-24 container vessels, the number 24 refers to the amount of containers that can be placed across the width of the ship. There can then be 12 towering layers stacked above the deck and another 12 beneath the deck. HMM Algeciras made her maiden voyage in 2020, dwarfing other tankers as she made stops in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and the UK before returning to Asia.
The Largest Paddlewheel Steamboat: The American Queen
Plying the waters of the great Mississippi River, the American Queen is the largest paddle wheel steamboat in existence. She is adorned with antiques and a décor of Victorian charm, and has 222 elegant staterooms which can accommodate 436 passengers. She was built in 1995 and is 127 metres long, and in addition to facilities such as a pool, gym and spa, the opulent riverboat she has a library dedicated to the famous writer Mark Twain. The American Queen cruises along the mighty Mississippi past great southern cities such as New Orleans and Memphis as it takes in America’s heartland.
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