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The World’s Biggest Ship Isn’t a Cruise Ship – Illustrated Size Comparison

If you have ever looked out at a ship, you may have wondered what the biggest ship in the world is.

Many people wrongly assume that the world’s biggest ship must be a cruise ship, but this isn’t the case.

In this post, we will look at the world’s biggest ships and how they compare with the largest cruise ship, Icon of The Seas, launched in 2024.

What is The Largest Ship in The World?

The largest ship by gross tonnage is the Prelude FLNG with a gross tonnage of 499,167.

The longest ship is the Seawise Giant which measured 1,504 ft in length and the widest is the Pioneering Spirit.

In comparison, the largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, has a gross tonnage of 250,800  and a length of 1,196.7 ft

Royal Caribbean have many Mega Ships – with more planned. These are the biggest cruise ships at sea.

  • Icon of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas

When it comes to which ship is the ‘biggest’ there are many ways to measure this.

In this article, we will look at gross tonnage, length, and width.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Icon of The Seas250,800364 m (1196 ft)66 m (215 ft)
Titanic46,329269 m (883 ft)28 m (92 ft)
Prelude FLNG499,167448 m (1469 ft)74 m (243 ft)
Seawise Giant260,941458 m (1504 ft)68 m (225 ft)
Pioneering Spirit403,342382 m (1253 ft)123 m (406 ft)

The Ship With The Largest Gross Tonnage – The Prelude FLNG

The ship with the world’s largest gross tonnage is the Prelude FLNG. The Prelude FLNG is a floating liquefied natural gas platform owned by Shell.

She was launched in 2013 and finished in 2017.

prelude FLNG
Photo: Shell

The Prelude FLNG is currently located off the coast of Australia and she is expected to stay there for 20-25 years.

Some people argue that the Prelude FLNG isn’t technically a ship but all 5 of the ship categorization tests are met.

For more information about what makes something a ship, check out this post:

Boats and Ships – 5 Fundamental and Measurable Differences You Need to Know.

prelude flng comparison with titanic and symphony of the seas
  • The storage tanks onboard can hold enough liquid to fill 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • The ship is longer than 4 football fields.
  • Prelude FLNG displaces as much water as 6 of the world’s largest aircraft carriers combined.

It’s estimated that Prelude FLNG cost between 10 and 12 billion dollars to build.

How Does The Prelude FLNG Compare to The Titanic?

The Prelude FLNG is 10.8 times larger than the Titanic in terms of gross tonnage. Titanic was less than half the width of the Prelude FLNG and the Prelude FLNG is 81% longer.

The Titanic was an Ocean Liner designed to transport guests across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Prelude FLNG wasn’t designed for passenger transportation and was instead created to drill for liquefied natural gas.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Prelude FLNG499,167488 m (1601 ft)74 m (243 ft)
Titanic46,329269 m (883 ft)28 m (92 ft)
Comparison10.8 x Larger81% Longer2.6 x Wider
prelude flng
Photo: Shell

How Does The Prelude FLNG Compare to The World’s Largest Ship Icon of The Seas?

Prelude FLNG is 2.1x larger than the world’s biggest cruise ship Icon of The Seas. Prelude FLNG is over 35% longer and 12% wider.

If you’ve ever seen Icon of the Seas, you’ll understand how HUGE Preclude FLNG is.

Her gross tonnage is over double that of Icon of the Seas, which is a little difficult to imagine.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Prelude FLNG499,167488 m (1601 ft)74 m (243 ft)
Icon of The Seas250,800364 m (1196 ft)66 m (215 ft)
Comparison2.1 x Larger35% Longer12% Wider
Icon of the Seas – Image – Royal Caribbean
Icon of the Seas – Image – Royal Caribbean

The Ship With The Longest Length – The Seawise Giant

The longest ship was the Seawise Giant. She was an oil tanker scrapped in 2010.

The Seawise Giant was also the heaviest self-propelled vessel and is generally accepted to be the largest self-powered ship ever built.

The Prelude FLNG mentioned above was heavier but is not self-powered.

The Seawise Giant was around 10 meters longer than the Prelude FLNG mentioned above.

The ship was ordered in 1974 and the build was completed in 1979.

C.Y. Tung owned the ship and the name Seawise was a play on words. C-Y’s = Seawise

The Seawise Giant (previously known as the Jahre Viking Supertanker) was featured on an episode of Jeremy Clarkson’s Extreme Machines.

seawise giant comparison graph length titanic and symphony of the seas

How Did The Seawise Giant Compare to The Titanic?

The Seawise Giant was 5.6 times larger than the Titanic in terms of gross tonnage. Titanic was less than half the width of the Seawise Giant and the Seawise Giant was 69% longer.

The Seawise Giant was used primarily as a storage tanker and wasn’t ever designed to transport passengers, unlike the Titanic which had passenger transport as her primary function.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Seawise Giant260,941455 m (1504 ft)68 m (225 ft)
Titanic46,329269 m (883 ft)28 m (92 ft)
Comparison5.6 x Larger1.69 x Longer2.4 x Wider
Seawise Giant
Photo: Shipsprofiler

How Did The Seawise Giant Compare to The World’s Largest Cruise Ship, Icon of The Seas?

The Seawise Giant is 14% larger than the Icon of The Seas. The Seawise Giant is also 26% longer than the Icon of The Seas and 3% wider.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Seawise Giant260,941455 m (1504 ft)68 m (225 ft)
Icon of The Seas250,800364 m (1196 ft)66 m (215 ft)
Comparison14% Larger26% Longer3% Wider

The Ship With The Largest Width – The Pioneering Spirit

The Pioneering Spirit is the widest ship in existence with a width of 124 m (407 ft). She was built in South Korea and cost over 2 billion dollars to build.

It is common to refer to ships as she, to find out why and where this tradition came from, check out this post:

The Real Reason Ships Are Called ‘She’ – Language, History, and Myth

It’s estimated that over 1000 companies provided parts for Pioneering Spirit.

The ship has two hulls and can lift and carry incredibly large pieces. She also has 8 powerful engines and is strong enough to lift 2.5 Eiffel towers at the same time.

“The vessel is designed for the single-lift installation and removal of large oil and gas platforms and the installation of record-weight pipelines.”

All Seas – source

The ship was originally called the Pieter Schelte after a German SS officer. Pieter was arrested after the war and sent to prison for links to labour camps, and the ship’s name was then changed.

pioneering spirit ship
Photo: BsnarF1

How Does The Pioneering Spirit Compare to The Titanic?

The Pioneering Spirit is 8.7 times larger than the Titanic was in terms of gross tonnage. The Pioneering Spirit is 4.4 times wider than the Titanic was and is 77% longer.

The Pioneering Spirit does have accommodation on board for over 500 people but these are crew who work onboard.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Pioneering Spirit403,342382 m (1253 ft)124 m (407 ft)
Titanic46,329269 m (883 ft)28 m (92 ft)
Comparison8.7 x Larger77% Longer4.4 x Wider

How Does The Pioneering Spirit Compare to The Mega Cruise Ship, Symphony of The Seas?

pioneering spirit width comparison titanic symphony of the seas

The Pioneering Spirit is 76% larger than Symphony of the Seas in terms of gross tonnage. The Pioneering Spirit is 6% longer than Symphony of The Seas and 67% Wider.

Gross TonnageLengthWidth
Pioneering Spirit403,342382 m (1253 ft)124 m (407 ft)
Icon of The Seas250,800364 m (1196 ft)66 m (215 ft)
Comparison76% Larger6% Longer67% Wider

Before You Go

If you would like to learn about the size of modern cruise ships and how these compare to Ocean Liners like Titanic, check out this post next:

How Big Was The Titanic Compared to Everyday Objects?

There is only one Ocean Liner still in service, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Find out the differences between Ocean liners and cruise ships here:

Ocean Liners, They Still Exist: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.