Come Sail Away

Carnival Cruise Ship, South Beach, Miami. Photo by Nicole Sganga.
Carnival Cruise Ship, South Beach, Miami. Photo by Nicole Sganga.

Driving from the hotel in Doral, Florida, to South Beach – where most of the Notre Dame activity was concentrated – we saw cruise ships in the water off the bridge. It occurred to me that though I knew cruise lines left from the Ft. Lauderdale area for many excursions, I had no clue where they originated.

“I have a terrible understanding of measurement,” I told Nicole. “But you’d think the number would have a ‘billion’ after it, right?”

Of course neither of us knew, but I still wondered: Where are they built? How big are they? How much do they cost? So I looked into it.

Cruise ships are built indoors on a dry dock, which then are flooded so that the ship can float out to sea. Here’s a great YouTube clip, time lapsing the building process. (You really need to only watch the first half of it to get the idea.)

Weighing upwards of 70,000 tons, it’s a wonder cruise ships can float. According to HowStuffWorks, engineers displace the weight of the ship across the body, making it very wide so that it is distributed in small amounts. Then by magic (read:science) the force of the water is equal to the weight of the water the object displaces, allowing it to float.

Now for the real question: how much do these beasts cost to make?

Carnival maintains a forum for cruise-goers, where one posted a $750 million build price. Wiki Answers lists prices ranging from $350 – $828 million. I was wrong. No billions being dropped here, unless you’re The Oasis of the Seas, in which case you cost $1.24 billion.

Geekologie, courtesy Royal Caribbean International, posted this snapshot of The Oasis of the Seas when it was being built.in 2008.

But don’t hate too much on the cost of the ship. After all, they built the Titanic for seven and a half million dollars, so what else would you expect from such a cheap buy?

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