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Comparison Of The Largest Cruise Ships: The Royal Caribbean Oasis, The Norwegian Epic, And The Carnival Dream

For hundreds of years, mankind has loved to sail the seas. Big, flashy boats, from oars and sails to steam and now to huge diesel engines (and even nuclear power in the Navy), have propelled people from land mass to land mass. Although the sailing has not always been by peaceful ships, today we use ships to move masses across the sea, both in freight and in people.

One of the most amazing, exciting, and fun ways that we "sail" now is on cruise ships. There are tens and even hundreds of large cruise ships around the world, from Hawaii and the Pacific to the Mediterranean Sea, allowing thousands of people at a time to both see beautiful new places and have a huge party at sea with thousands at the same time. Although there have been a few isolated incidents of emergencies or sickness on board, cruising has proven to be a safe and cost efficient way to have a great vacation.


In September of 2009, three new large ships took sail for the largest three cruise lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian cruise lines. These ships, the Carnival Dream, the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, and the Norwegian Epic, became the three largest cruise ships in the world and have taken cruising to a whole new level. These ships are truly floating cities with state of the art engineering, amazing restaurants, beautiful rooms and more.

Below I will lay out for you a comparison of each of these ships; its basic statistics on up to what entertainment is available on each ship. I truly feel like these ships are each somewhat different along with the structure of their respective cruise lines, but that they are all worth cruising on. I will break down each ship in the order of they took their maiden cruise.

World's Largest Cruise Ships: Carnival Dream

Although the Carnival Dream is not the third largest cruise ship in the world (it is surpassed by the Royal Caribbean Voyager class ships and the Cunard RMS Mary 2) it is the newest and largest by one of the three largest cruise lines. The Dream had its maiden voyage on September 21, 2009 and is the first of three Dream class ships to be made for Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Dream is 1004 ft by 122 ft, has 15 levels, and can accommodate 3643 passengers. The new ship cruises at 22.5 knots.

The Dream class ships, beginning with the Carnival Dream, are a continuation of Carnival's recent attempts to modernize its fleet. Although much of the Dream is newer and livelier than the older Carnival ships, a look at the review video will show that while there have been many upgrades, Carnival has a little work to do to catch up with the other two large cruise lines. However, an addition of space, new restaurant eating, and larger venues like the atrium and the large seating auditorium have made the Dream class a step above the rest of the Carnival fleet.

The Largest Cruise Ship At Sea: Oasis Of The Seas

Joined by its sister ship a year later, Allure of the Seas, the Oasis of the Seas is a massive floating city at sea. These two ships represent the newest and largest of what Royal Caribbean has to offer. These ships are much larger than even the Voyager class of Royal Caribbean cruise ships and are almost twice the size of the average large cruise ship. The Oasis made her maiden voyage on December 5, 2009 from a shipyard in Finland and makes trips predominantly in the Caribbean theater, embarking from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The Oasis is 1186 ft by 213 ft, has 17 (16 public) decks, and can accommodate 6,300 passengers. This huge ship can cruise the seas at a modest 22.6 knots which is not too shabby considering the gross tonnage of 130,000 tons moving through the water.

The Oasis and Allure are changing cruising from a small party at sea to a floating vacationing city. They have updated the modernized their accommodations including some spectacular multi-story suites, and with additions of new dining options and "first at sea" entertainment opportunities, these two mammoths will be tops at sea for years to come.


Oasis Of The Seas

6300 / 1800

1186ft / 213ft / 17


4100 / 1708

1081ft / 133ft / 18


3646 / 1367

1004ft / 122ft / 15

Norwegian Epic: Freestyle Cruising, BIG Time

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In a renewed effort to capture the lead in the cruising market, Norwegian changed its cruise focus to "freestyle cruising", allowing passengers the ability to have more control over their own cruise itinerary. Beginning in 2010 they took that step to the next level with the Norwegian Epic. Larger than any other ship in their fleet, Norwegian had Epic built with freestyle cruising at its core.

The Epic made her first sail June 24, 2010 from her shipyard in France and now makes regular Caribbean trips from her home port in Miami, Florida. The Epic has a length of 1081 ft, a width of 133 ft, and has 18 decks. She is not as big as the two Royal Caribbean ships, but her maximum occupancy of 4,100 passengers is still massive. The Epic has 1,708 crew and cruises at a slightly slower 22.0 knots.

The undulating walls of the staterooms, floor to ceiling views from exterior rooms, single occupancy rooms, and many other upgrades make the Epic a much more modern ship below deck. Add in the Blue Man Group, Ice Bar, and a huge adult only area and the Epic has truly brought Norwegian into the 21st century with style.


anisha rajapaksha on July 02, 2014:

I just dished some of the worst aspects of Epic, and Norwegian is aware of these things. So let's be clear: I still highly recommend this ship for most cruisers, especially those who care about cruising solo and shipboard entertainment.

Single cruisers who want a cabin of their own without paying the “singles supplement" fee have never had a better ship than Epic. Not only does Epic have 128 “studio staterooms” -- small 100 square-foot cabins with queen-size beds -- but these rooms share a public “living room” where solo cruisers can meet up for dinner and shows. The concept is so simple, logical and helpful for solo cruisers that it is a wonder more ships don’t have the same setup. But they don’t. Only Norwegian Epic has the studio staterooms, and that is a point of distinction.

What's more, despite the tiny showrooms Epic has the best entertainment at sea, in my humble opinion (as a person who has stage-managed several cruise shows and seen the entertainment on every cruise line in North America). Epic does not hire its own cast and put on its own shows, nor does it hire a producer to create “cruise shows” like so many other cruise lines. Instead, Norwegian signs on professional entertainers who bring their land-based shows to its ships.

Other noteworthy attractions of the Epic include water slides and Nickelodeon characters for the kids; the Fat Cats Jazz Bar that actually features blues music nightly; the frozen “Svedka Ice Bar,” where everything from the tables to the vodka glasses is made of ice; and an array of delicious alternative restaurants as options to the “included in the cruise fare” food -- which itself is not bad at all.

Speaking of food, one of best spots on Epic is O’Sheehan’s Pub. All the food is free and a pint of English ale is just $5. The fish and chips are delicious, and you can even get fresh omelets in the morning. O’Sheehan’s is open 24 hours with food service -- the best 24-hour restaurant on the high seas.In a funny twist, the crewmembers cannot pronounce O'Sheehan's, so it is called "Oceans."

Karen Hellier from Georgia on February 16, 2012:

That's great. We went on the Norwegian Epic in Summer 2010, and loved it,but saw a lot of complaints on the cruise reviews sites. I have to say that Princess is my favorite cruise line, followed by Norwegian, but we've only been on those 2, and Holland America. I have heard great things about Royal Caribbean, but we are up high enough after repeated cruises on the other lines that we get some nice perks now.Good job...loved the videos!

Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on February 16, 2012:


point2make on February 16, 2012:

Thanks for the great info. We will be cruising soon and your hub gives us some great choices and ideas. Voted up!

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