10 Surprising Facts About Cruise Ships

Whether you are a fan of Royal Caribbean or prefer Norwegian Cruise Line, everyone dreams of taking a luxurious boat vacation. Yet how much do you really know about cruise ships? Below are 10 cruise ship facts that might surprise.


1. There Is a (Slight) Difference Between a Boat and a Ship
Most people use the words “boat” and “ship” interchangeably, and even the famed Chapman Piloting & Seamanship reference book admits there is no official difference between the two. Still, technically any vessel that less than 60 feet or 20 meters long is considered a boat, while larger vessels are considered ships.


2. Cruise Ships Technically Have Genders
Cruise ships do usually have gender-neutral names. Royal Caribbean, for instance, has ships called Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. However, captains often refer to a ship as “she.” This has been a common practice for centuries, and it is unclear how the tradition started. Some believe early sailors called ships “she” because they were dedicated to goddesses or named after women the captains loved.


3. Cruise Ships Also Have Godmothers
Ships have been blessed for hundreds of years. Over the past century, that tradition has taken a new form. Cruise lines now often invite godmothers to wish the ship safe travels. Some cruise lines take things one step further by enlisting animated characters as godmothers. The Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas, for instance, has Princess Fiona from Shrek as its godmother.


4. Cruise Ships Also Get Christened Before Their First Voyages
Original christening ceremonies featured an official drinking wine from a large metal cup and then pouring the wine over the ship’s bow and deck. Wine was chosen because legend states that the spilling of alcohol leads to prosperity. More recently, the wine has been replaced by champagne during christenings.


5. The Buffet and Pool Area Is Also Called the “Lido Deck”
The word “Lido,” which means a fashionable beach resort, originated on an Italian island in the 1800s. During the early days of cruise ships, when passengers were separated by class, the term “Lido Deck” was used for the sun deck and pool. This area was exclusively available to first-class guests.


6. Philadelphia Used To Be a Major Cruise Port
Both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian used to have cruises leave from Philadelphia each year. In fact, the city had more than 30 sailings annually in both 2005 and 2006. However, as the ships grew larger, they could no longer fit under the nearby Delaware Memorial Bridge. Those looking for an East Coast cruise thus have to travel to Baltimore or New York City instead.


7. Mariners Previously Relied on Crows for Navigation
Before the invention of GPS devices, sailors typically brought a cage of crows or ravens on board. When lost, they would release a bird to determine the most direct route to the nearest landmass.


8. There Is a Condition Called “Dock Rock”
If you still feel like you are on a swaying Royal Caribbean ship when you step onto land, you are experiencing “dock rock.” The formal name for this condition is “Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.”


9. All Celebrity Cruise Ships Have a Giant “X” on Them
Celebrity Cruises used to be part of the Greek company Chandris Cruises. The “x” represents the Greek letter “chi,” which is the source of the “ch” sound in that language.


10. The Safety Drill Is Also Called a “Muster”
The word “muster” simply means “to gather.” Ever since the 2012 Costa Concordia tragedy, cruise lines have insisted on holding “muster drills” before each voyage. The drill instructs passengers on what to do in an emergency.
These facts might come in handy during your next Royal Caribbean getaway. At the very least, you can show off your newfound knowledge to your fellow passengers.