How Fast Do Cruise Ships Go?

Cruise Ship Traveling in the Ocean.

Cruise ships are like floating cities traveling the world’s oceans and seas which provide passengers with an unforgettable experience. But how exactly do these massive ships move so smoothly through the water? Let’s dive into the facts and engineering behind the speed of a cruise ship.


Before we start it’s important to understand that there are several factors which determine the speed of a cruise ship, some of these include its size the design of its hull and the power the engines generate. Obviously the bigger the ship though more power it requires to move. Thanks to modern advances in shipbuilding technology cruise ships can reach impressive speeds and maintain a high level of stability along with comfort for its passengers.

Cruise ship in the middle of the ocean
📷: Matthew Barra

Of the many cruise ships around the world Royal Caribbeans harmony of the Seas is one of the fastest, reaching speeds of up to 25 knots which is about 29 mph. Another example of a fast cruise ship is the Norwegian bliss. This ship can reach speeds of up 28mph. This is remarkable considering that this ship is one of the largest cruise ships in the world which measures close to 1100 feet long and can carry just over 4000 passengers. The Harmony of the seas is even bigger and able to carry a maximum of 6,780 passengers.


You might be wondering how these massive ships are able to reach such high speeds. It all comes down to the design of their hulls and the power of their engines. The hull of a cruise ship has a shape like a pointed wedge, this allows it to slice through water more efficiently. Combined with the power of its engines it enables the ship to reach high speeds while providing a smooth and stable ride for its passengers.


Max speeds are not constant and rarely will a cruise ship reach their top speed. There are a lot of factors that will influence its speed including scheduled arrival time, sea conditions, wind, and other factors. Even in adverse conditions, the engineering allows  cruise ships to reach impressive speeds.

cruise ship traveling in the ocean.
📷: Dominik Reiter

When you think of the immense size of a cruise ship including all the passengers, luggage, supplies, and food, it is a lot of weight to tug around. The Norwegian bliss for example, weighs around 168,028 tons. This requires extremely powerful engines that produce hundreds of thousands of horsepower. A typical passenger car has an engine that may produce around 100 to 400 horsepower depending on the make model and size. In comparison a ship such as the Norwegian bliss has over 102,900 horsepower. In combination with its remarkable engineering and design features, cruise ships can move fast and efficiently while maintaining great stability for passenger throughout the duration of their cruise.


If you are concerned about a cruise ship going too fast, it is very unlikely as their top speed has limits. It is important to remember how much the vessel weighs, therefore there are limitations on the capacity and speed at which they can travel. More than likely you will not even notice the speed or have any idea how fast the ship is going unless you look down at the ocean.

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