The notion of a 'luxury' cruise would have sounded beyond daft a few hundred years ago. When journeys at sea were a lifetime endeavour, sometimes without a high chance of seeing your destination, enjoying the finer points of life in the company of the ocean was not the top priority. In today's modern world, cruising has almost become a sport in terms of how many you can do in a lifetime, with luxury liners that exist purely to take you round the world. This list however compiles 7 of the most luxurious commercial ships; vessels past and present who were designed to carry cargo and people from point-to-point, whilst accommodating both in style.
#1 RMS Queen Mary 2
- Launched: March 21st, 2003
- Maiden Voyage: January 12th 2004
- Status: In Service
This pride of ocean travel company Cunard, the RMS Queen Mary 2 gets instant access to this list on account of being the last ocean liner sill in service, used for both point-to-point voyages and for cruising (including an annual world cruise). Her on board facilities include 15 restaurants, 5 swimming pools, a casino, ballroom, the world's first planetarium at sea...and a kennel.
#2 MS Freedom of Sea
- Launched: November 9th, 2004
- Maiden Voyage: June 4th 2006
- Status: In Service
This is the boat that took the title of world's largest passenger ship from the RMS Queen Mary 2, even if it doesn't hold it today. Accommodating 3364 people on her decks, it consumed approximately 12,800 kg of fuel per hour, and is currently home-ported to the Port Canavaeral, in Florida.
#3 CMA CGM Marco Polo
- Launched: November 5th 2012
- Maiden Voyage: November 7th 2012
- Status: In Service
This UK-registered container ship represents a growing trend in holiday makers, namely travelling round the world via cargo vessel. Part budget-travelling idea, part way to learn more about life at see, as the 2nd largest container ship in the world, the Marco Polo has more than enough room on board for a couple of double bedrooms, seating areas and duty free expenses.
#4 SS United States
- Launched: June 23 1951
- Maiden Voyage: July 3rd 1952
- Status: Docked on the Delaware River in Philadelphia
The 'nation's flagship' of America, the SS United States was the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction, a title she still holds in retirement. As with the obseletion of most ocean liners, she has been out of service since 1969, with her current fate uncertain. It's estimated it would cost one billion USD to put her back on the high seas, possibly as a waterfront destination.
#5 SS France
- Launched: May 11th 1960
- Maiden Voyage: February 3rd 1962
- Status: Scrapped in Alang, India 2008
Another one-time record holder in terms of size, the SS France was built both as a liner and a cruise ship, as the country at the time had no vessel to compete with Cunard's liners. Artfully designed and having sailed a total of 1,860,000 nautical miles, she was given major alterations when converted into the cruise ship SS Norway in 1980, before her bow and stern were ceremoniously removed for scrapping in 2008.
#6 SS Rotterdam
- Launched: September 14th 1958
- Maiden Voyage: September 3rd 1959
- Status: Permanently docked in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Known as "The Grande Dame" and last Dutch "ship of state", The SS Rotterdam is one of the last surviving ocean liners, and is notable for employing the finest artisans of the Netherlands in her construction and fitting process, and for an ocean liner and cruise ship career that lasted forty-one years. Today she is open to the public as a combination museum/hotel, and school for vocational training.
#7 RMS Queen Elizabeth II
- Launched: September 1967
- Maiden Voyage: May 2 1969
- Status: Laid up in Port Rashid since June 4th 2009
Once the flagship of the Cunard Line, this ocean liner has carried people in comfort all over the world, taking port in everywhere from Sydney to Spain, and has even transported troops during the Falklands War (where she was fitted with helicopter pads). From the late 60's until 2004, she was the only way to luxuriously cross the Atlantic, before being retired in 2008. Currently work is underway to convert the RMS Queen Elizabeth II into a luxury hotel, shopping mall and museum, potentially even in London.
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