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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

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Here’s something you might not know: the listed gross tonnage of a cruise ship is not a measure of weight but rather of size. So, when Royal Caribbean International’s new Harmony of the Seas is considered the world’s largest cruise ship by way of its 226,963 gross tons, just what exactly does that mean, and why should you care?

By definition, gross tonnage is a measurement of a ship’s internal volume, that is, its overall interior space. The modern gross tonnage calculation for ships determines rules and regulations, registration fees and port dues, as well as, and most importantly to the cruise experience, the amount of passenger space to go around.

Any cruise ship over 200,000 gross tons sounds impressive, and it is because only within the last two decades did they begin to exceed 100,000. However, a number that should matter even more is known as the passenger space ratio. By dividing the overall gross tonnage by a ship’s passenger capacity, the resulting digits indicate how much onboard space there is per person, and not all ships are created equally in this regard.


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