Why Cruise Ships Don't Sink (2023)

Introduction

Why aren't there more cruise ship sinking stories? It's all in the design. Check out today's epic new video that breaks down why cruise ships will never be found at the bottom of the ocean.

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Video

A massive category-three storm is bearing down on the high seas, tearing through everything in its path.

The seas, roil with huge waves, boats, bob up and down on the surface, and fishermen, pray to whatever Gods.

They know to get them through.

The voyage safe.

And you’re aboard a giant cruise ship, enjoying a lovely dinner!, Maybe afterwards, you’ll, go down to the casino and try your luck.

Yes, cruise ships do seem like strange little oasis in the middle of a sea, storm.

But.

How do these massive boats manage to survive bad weather? It’s? All in the design.

When people buy tickets on a cruise ship, they’re, not just buying recreation.

- they’re buying safety.

They want to know that all their needs will be taken care of for the duration of the cruise, and that includes ensuring that the passengers are safe.

So cruise ships are designed to withstand all sorts of rough conditions -.

In a way past ships, couldn’t.

During, the heyday of sea travel.

It was fairly common for ships to be lost at sea., Rough weather, a rogue enemy ship, or a collision with an iceberg could send the ship to a watery grave - with most or all the passengers going with it.

So.

What changed? Obviously, the most famous maritime disaster of all time, the Titanic, didn’t help.

The sinking of the British passenger ship, the Lusitania.

Only years later, at the hands of a German torpedo only made it clearer, -.

Something needs to change.

These were both hardy ships, ocean liners that were meant for long-distance travel.

They could head from one end of the Atlantic to another in a single go - but that also meant they were sacrificing maneuverability for strength.

If everything went right, they would be reliable, but if something went awry, there would be very little hope to save the voyage.

The Ocean Liner was a reliable ship - but it was replaced by something better, and today only one Ocean Liner remains in service.

The Queen Mary 2 is more of a relic of an older age of sea.

Travel.

And it’s been replaced with a ship with a much higher rate of survival in case of emergency.

The.

Cruise ship is typically made of lighter material than an ocean liner, and they can be made to be much bigger.

In fact, the Titanic was only 883 feet long, while the largest cruise ship today - Royal, Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas - is almost 1,200 feet.

Long.

While ocean liners focus on being sturdy.

The average cruise ship has some hidden secrets inside that make it much more seaworthy.

So what’s, hiding inside these floating cities? Cruise ships are often…ridiculous.

Only.

A small portion of the ship is below the waterline, and on top of the ship, is a massive, multi-level, complex, often containing thousands of staterooms, dozens of restaurants, and countless rooms featuring opportunities for recreation.

It towers into the sky.

Looking very top-heavy.

Yet for those people sailing through a storm, their cruise experience will be largely uninterrupted!, Outdoor activities might be cancelled, and the outdoor decks might be closed to keep people away from the railings during rough waters.

But people on the inside will be able to enjoy their food, activities, and sleep with only some moderate turbulence.

And.

A lot goes into making sure it stays that way.

The design of the ship actually works in favor of keeping the ship afloat.

The top-heavy nature means the ship is pulling down on the water, providing a balance to the buoyancy that pushes it upwards.

It’s a tricky balance, and a big part of this is the ship’s center of gravity.

While.

The goal of the design of a ship is to keep the center of gravity in the middle.

That’s not always possible.

Ships have a lot going into them, and the engines and machines that keep it running weigh a lot.

More.

That means the bottom of the ship will be heavier than the top half, no matter how tall the top half looks.

And it’s all about balancing that.

If a ship is too bottom-heavy, it’s likely to keep sinking.

If a ship is too top-heavy, it’ll be more unstable - which is less dangerous than a ship sinking, but nothing ruins a cruise faster than it toppling over on its side.

So.

Designing a cruise ship is an extensive process that involves carefully balancing out its weight, distribution and figuring out exactly how much you can build on top of the massive ship.

The machinery being at the bottom keeps the ship’s center of gravity low.

Ensuring stability in the water.

Stabilizer fins keep the ship from rolling too easily.

And.

The ship is equipped with GPS devices and other modern navigation systems to ensure it avoids obstacles and remains stable.

But.

What happens if an obstacle is unavoidable?? Cruise ships will take detours to avoid storms when possible, but sometimes a storm comes on hard and fast.

That’s.

Why the ship relies on far more than its center of gravity to stay.

Afloat.

The design of the bottom of the ship has round edges, which makes it a lot easier for it to roll on the water and then restore its initial position.

It also has a number of ballast tanks to keep it stable, which is something earlier.

Ships, lacked., These water-filled tanks provide additional stability and distribute the load evenly.

So.

What is it like? Surviving a storm on a cruise ship?, Surprisingly, fine! No system is going to be able to completely keep you from feeling the impact of a raging storm outside.

But as long as you stay within the cruise ship, you’re going to be fine.

People have described turbulence, but this is more like mild, swaying than the violent nausea-inducing shaking you might have felt on an airplane or a much less seaworthy, ship.

In severe storms.

The ship may stop to let the storm pass, but overall cruise ships can handle harsh weather in a way older ships could not.

And.

This does more than just save vacations -.

It saves lives!.

Cruise ships are strong, but they’re.

Not invincible.

They often have less hull strength than ocean liners, but better radar to avoid obstacles like icebergs.

If.

They were to hit one.

The odds are that it would rip through the hull and cause serious damage to the ship.

But.

Not all disasters are created, equal, and even in the worst-case scenario, cruise ships are better equipped to survive a disaster than the their cousins.

Let’s.

Look at a tale for two disasters.

Everyone knows the story.

-.

The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank, and then Jack and Rose didn’t try to fit two people on that one board.

But.

How much do we know about what actually went wrong with the Titanic? When? It hit that iceberg.

It ripped a hole in the hull of the ship under the water level, at least three hundred feet long, and that sent freezing cold water flooding into the base of the ship.

As.

This primarily affected the back of the ship.

It eventually sent it tilting upwards, leading to a massive breakage and making it much harder to evacuate.

This led to a death of over 1,500 people, one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters of all time.

Of course.

The biggest culprit in the death rate was the lack of lifeboats -.

It was unsinkable, after all.

But, the design of the Titanic didn’t help.

Now, let’s.

Look at a modern-day equivalent.

The cruise ship industry is considered much safer than the old-timey seafaring industry, but that didn’t help the residents of the Costa Concordia off Italy’s coast in 2013.

Carrying over four thousand people on board in 2012.

It was just kicking off a seven-day cruise when it struct a rock reef and tore a 16-foot gash into the ship’s hull, around 25 feet below sea level, - a very similar blow to the one that took the Titanic down to a watery grave.

The ship began, flooding, the engines and generators went offline, and the ship began to sink.

But.

What happened next was very different.

The ship began, leaning heavily to its side, and sank.

Much more slowly.

This allowed the crew to begin a hasty evacuation process, and thanks to a suitable supply of lifeboats, they were able to evacuate the passengers over a six-hour, period.

Thirty-four people, ultimately died, but most of the deaths were caused by the ship, tilting and passengers falling into the water.

Three people were even rescued from the ship over twenty-four hours after it hit the rock, as the ship was sinking very slowly.

Thanks to its design and well-distributed ballast tanks.

The Costa Concordia was ultimately scrapped, and it’s one of the worst maritime disasters of the 21st century, but it was nowhere near as bad in terms of loss of life as the maritime disasters of the 20th century.

So are cruise ships foolproof? The answer is…almost! The Costa Concordia was one of the only total losses of a cruise ship in recent memory.

Most of the worst maritime disasters in the 21st century are of passenger ferries, and while the Costa Concordia was certainly the most expensive, its loss of life was dwarfed by disasters involving much smaller boats.

Cruise ships are designed to survive, intense storms while minimizing its impact on the people inside, and in the event of a hull-breaching disaster.

It has enough safety features to allow time for a safe, evacuation.

While.

We have no evidence of what would happen in the event of a military attack like the one on the Lusitania - and we hopefully never will -.

The modern cruise ship seems designed to give its passengers an easy and safe ride.

Now.

They only have to worry about a few other things, like viruses, spreading on board - be they norovirus or Covid.

Plus, there’s, always the risk that the power could go out and leave you stranded on the open water for several days as the toilets overflow and the food runs out, like in the infamous “Poop Cruise” on Carnival Sunset.

Plus.

You never know who you’re going to be seated next to at dinner - and if that one guy tells you one more anecdote about him yelling at Starbucks baristas.

You may just wish for the ship to sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Want, to know more about the most infamous ship disaster of all time? Check out “The Sinking of the Titanic (Hour by Hour)” or watch this video instead.

FAQs

Why does a cruise ship not sink? ›

The air that is inside a ship is much less dense than water. That's what keeps it floating! The average density of the total volume of the ship and everything inside of it (including the air) must be less than the same volume of water.

Are cruise ships likely to sink? ›

Cruise ships sinking is a rare occurrence. This is due to the safety measures that the cruise industry has in place and the fact that modern-day cruise ships are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. Most of us know the iconic story of the Titanic, which tragically sunk in 1912.

Are cruise ships too big to sink? ›

Cruise ships are designed to be as safe as possible, but it is still possible for them to sink. However, in order for this to happen there would need to be a number of different circumstances that come together at the same time.

Why will a ship sink if it has too much cargo? ›

But when cargo or other weight is added to the ship, its density now becomes the sum of the mass of the steel hull, enclosed air and cargo, all divided by the hull's volume. If too much weight is added, the ship's density becomes greater than that of the water, and it sinks.

How do huge cruise ships stay afloat? ›

Colossal vessels stay above water by displacing an amount of water equal to their mass (the wide, U-shaped hull helps with this). As the ship moves forward and pushes water away, the water is ceaselessly trying to return to fill the space, with an energy that forces the ship upward.

What keeps cruise ships afloat? ›

The downward force of the ship combined with the upward force of the ocean work together to keep the ship afloat or "buoyant." This basic idea is often referred to as Archimedes' Principle. According to this principle, an item floats when the weight of the water displaced is equal to the weight of the object.

Can a cruise ship survive a tsunami? ›

However, whether a cruise ship is in any danger largely depends on its location. Experts agree that a cruise ship sailing out over a body of water is not likely to feel any impacts from a tsunami's waves.

Are cruises safer than planes? ›

The bottom line is everyone knows it is safer to fly than it is to drive, and it just so happens that it is safer to cruise than it even is to fly. TravelPulse writer Donald Wood contributed to this report.

Are cruise ships high risk? ›

There are a number of health risks related to international and domestic cruises. This includes risks while you are on board the vessel, during shore excursions and at your final destination. Outbreaks of infectious diseases are very likely on cruise ships.

Do cruise ships have jails? ›

Typically the jail onboard is below deck in the marshaling area where provisions are loaded or somewhere along I-95 (the route that runs through the middle of the ship). However, cruise lines don't use the onboard jail as much as they used to. Instead, many lines will confine guests in their cabins.

Can an iceberg sink a cruise ship? ›

By the time the crew spotted the 2-million-tonne (2.2-million-ton) iceberg, shortly before midnight on April 14, it was too late to avoid a collision. The ice punched through the cruise ship's hull 100 meters (328 feet) below the surface, causing her to sink in two and a half hours, along with 1,517 people.

Can a cruise ship survive a hurricane? ›

Today's modern cruise ships are built to withstand storms, avoid them, and even outrun them. Cruise companies follow the weather very carefully, changing itineraries, canceling sailings, and working hard to keep passengers and crew out of harm's way.

Why do sinking ships pull you under? ›

Air escaping from submerged compartments could bubble up through the column of water above the sinking ship. Aeration of water decreases its density and, according to Archimedes's principle, passengers would sink if their weight exceeded the reduced weight of water they displaced.

What happens when a huge ship sinks? ›

The material comprising a boat is more dense than water, thus is less voluminous than the displaced ocean. This displaced ocean volume will be realized as a rise in ocean height. However, once the boat sinks this volume of water is no longer displaced and this will be realized as a sea level fall.

When did the last cruise sink? ›

The last time a cruise ship sank with passengers on board was a Chinese river cruise ship in 2015, which hit an unexpected and severe storm that capsized the boat.

How much of a cruise ship is actually underwater? ›

Approximately 40% of the average cruise ship sits below water. The larger or higher the ship, the less of it is in water. This may seem counterintuitive, but this is how math and physics work out!

How deep does a cruise ship sit in the water? ›

How much of a cruise ship sits underwater ranges from 20 to 31 feet, depending on the size of the vessel. However, the safety and stability of a cruise ship aren't due to the depth that it's submerged, but rather a combination of factors such as the shape of the hull.

How much do cruise ship workers make? ›

Cruise Ship Worker Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$90,000$7,500
75th Percentile$58,000$4,833
Average$49,005$4,083
25th Percentile$30,000$2,500

What happens when a cruise ship starts to sink? ›

The ship grinds to a sickening halt, begins listing violently to the side and capsizes on to the reef a few kilometres from port. The coastguard receives the distress call. Helicopters lift the flailing crew members to safety, while support boats unload any cargo that hasn't already tumbled into the sea.

What happens to toilet water on a cruise ship? ›

When a toilet is flushed on a cruise ship, the sewage travels to the onboard treatment plant. Here the waste is filtered before it enters an aeration chamber. The aeration chamber cleans the waste. It is then sterilized using UV light and released into the ocean when clean enough to do so.

What is the most stable part of a cruise ship? ›

The best cabin location for those worried about seasickness is midship on a low deck. As a ship rocks and rolls in the waves, it is most stable at its lowest, most central point.

Can someone survive falling off a cruise ship? ›

The survival rate after jumping off a cruise ship is around 25%. Many things can influence this rate including the speed of the ship, the location, the time of day and the season. A case of someone surviving their ordeal is taken from 2015 when a 22-year-old man fell overboard off the coast of Mexico.

Has a wave ever flipped a cruise ship? ›

In 1966, the Italian cruise ship Michelangelo was traveling to New York when it was hit by a wave estimated to be 24 meters (80 feet) high. More recently, in 2005, the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn had its ninth and 10th floor windows smashed by a wave that rose to near 21 meters (70 feet) high.

Are cruise ships safe in the ocean? ›

Yes, they do. Following the sinking of the Titanic, which didn't have enough lifeboats for everyone, the international maritime community developed Safety of Life at Sea standards. Under SOLAS, passenger ships are now required to carry enough lifeboats for all passengers.

What is the safest part of a cruise? ›

If seasickness is a worry of yours, the best way to avoid that is getting a room in the center of the ship. As cruise ships tend to bob on waves and slightly roll from side to side, the heart of the ship is its only part that stays virtually in the same place.

Are cruises dirtier than hotels? ›

The average hotel room in the US is 95% larger than the average cruise ship inside the cabin. Cruise ship cabins are cleaned more than hotel rooms, with most cabins being cleaned twice per day, as opposed to hotel rooms being cleaned once per day.

What is the safest form of travel? ›

After reading the preceding information in this article, it is obvious that air travel is the safest mode of transportation. Our aircraft dispatcher training center would like to point out that all of the professionals surrounding the industry are highly trained and happy to be part of this industry.

What is the most common crime on cruise ships? ›

According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2019 the rate of reported crimes aboard cruise ships was 0.18 incidents per every 100,000 passengers. The top three crimes committed on cruise ships were sexual assault (sexual battery), theft and serious injury according to Wikipedia.

What is the most common illness on cruise ships? ›

Gastrointestinal Illnesses
  • Norovirus. On cruise ships, >90% of GI illness outbreaks with a confirmed cause are due to norovirus. ...
  • Other Sources of Gastrointestinal Illness. ...
  • Protective Measures. ...
  • Coronavirus Disease 2019. ...
  • Influenza. ...
  • Legionnaires' Disease.

Is it safe for a woman to go on a cruise alone? ›

Cruises, overall, are extremely safe. However, even though cruising alone can be wonderful, it's key to remember that you should treat a solo cruise the same as if you were traveling alone anywhere else. Keep your wits about you--both onboard and onshore.

Do cruise ships carry guns? ›

Cruise Ship Travel

All weapons are prohibited on cruises due to cruise ship security regulations. Guns are not allowed, with or without a concealed carry permit. Mace, pepper sprays and knives of any type are prohibited.

Does human trafficking happen on cruise ships? ›

Human trafficking may also occur in cruising, and cruise ship crime is common. Ship workers, who are notoriously paid low wages, are even paid off by people who can withhold their pay or pay workers less than they expect to receive in order to force them to commit crimes.

Can a US felon go on a cruise? ›

Cruises are trendy vacation activities in North Atlantic countries like Ireland, Denmark, and Norway. This may make felons wonder if they can go on cruises. The answer is usually yes. Felons eligible to fly and leave the United States will also be eligible to go on cruises.

Will Titanic ever happen again? ›

Those changes, along with the advent of superior technologies for navigation and communication, have made the seas much safer since 1912. As such, it is unlikely that the specific circumstances leading to the sinking of the Titanic will recur.

Would Titanic have sunk if it hit head on? ›

Answer: That's wrong – it would probably have survived. When a ship hits an iceberg head on, all the force would be transferred back to the ship, so it wouldn't have ripped open, but crumpled round, so only 2-3 compartments would have been breached. It was built to survive with 4 compartments breached.

Can a whale sink a cruise ship? ›

While an accidental collision with a sperm whale at night accounted for sinking of the Union in 1807, the Essex incident some 30 years beforehand was the only other documented case of a whale deliberately attacking, holing, and sinking a ship.

What are the worst months to cruise? ›

Wet season and dry season are both good times to cruise the Caribbean. The worst time for a Caribbean cruise weather-wise is August to September, as it is peak hurricane season.

Do cruise ships hit big waves? ›

Cruise ships are generally built to handle most waves in the ocean – they can routinely sail through 10-15 feet waves without issues, and should handle most waves up to 50 feet with minimal damage.

When should you not go on a cruise? ›

If this is the only chance you have to cruise, keep in mind that itineraries can change or be canceled depending on the weather. If you dislike large numbers of children, avoid sailing late June through August or during school break times (late December, early January and March through mid-April).

Why do big ships float on water? ›

The answer to why ships can float comes from the famous principle of Archimedes which says that the net upward force on an object immersed in water is equal to the weight of the water displaced by the object.

What happens if a cruise ship breaks down in the middle of the ocean? ›

In calm waters, ships often can be towed safely to the nearest shore. In rough seas, other options would be considered. Abandoning ship really is a last resort, as moving passengers from one ship to another on the open sea can be dangerous, particularly in inclement weather. As is ordering passengers into lifeboats.

Why is such a heavy ship not sinking in water? ›

A ship which has a large weight displace a large volume (thus large weight) of water. Hence the buoyancy force acting on the ship is much greater than the weight of the ship itself, making it to float on water. Thus ship do not sink in water.

Why do ships float but people sink? ›

If that buoyant force isn't enough to counter the weight of the object, it will sink. So yes, the USS Enterprise weighs far more than I do. But the weight of the water it displaces is more than the weight of the aircraft carrier, so it floats. Me, I weigh more than the water I displace, so I sink.

Why does a needle sink but a ship float? ›

The density of iron is more than the density of water, ∴ weight of iron nail is more than wt. of water displaced by it and nail sinks. While the shape of the iron ship is made in such a way that it displaces than its own weight.

Can a hurricane take down a cruise ship? ›

Today's modern cruise ships are built to withstand storms, avoid them, and even outrun them.

Can a hurricane knock over a cruise ship? ›

Generally speaking though, a large cruise ship is designed to withstand waves that measure as high as 15-meters or nearly 50 foot waves. While Caribbean storms continue to increase in intensity and our measuring gets more accurate, this is enough to withstand up to the worst parts of the worst category 5 hurricanes.

Can a whale tip over a cruise ship? ›

A whale could not tip over a cruise ship. Although even the largest of blue whales can weigh up to 200 tonnes, the largest cruise ships can weigh up to 220,000 or more. Some cruise ships would carry ten times more freshwater or fuel than the weight of even the largest whales. Any impact would be more of a knock.

Can you see underwater on a cruise ship? ›

Underwater Cruise Lounge

While on board, guests can go underneath the water line to the lounge, where two oversized glass portholes appear like whales' eyes, allowing passengers to get a unique ocean view, spotting exotic fish and other marine life.

What do you say when a ship is sinking? ›

'Mayday' is a globally-recognised emergency procedure word used as a distress signal in radio communications. Get hold of the coast guard on your VHF radio and let them know your exact location and that the boat is sinking. It's also vital you tell them how many people are on board, so no one gets left behind.

How many cruise ships have sunk since Titanic? ›

Over the past 100 years since the RMS Titanic sank in 1912, only 18 cruise ships and some ocean liners have been publicly known to have sunk. And, over the past 50 years, only four cruise ships have sunk while navigating on a cruise.

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