How Do Cruise Ship Thrusters Work?

By Alice Nichols

Cruise ship thrusters are a crucial part of the propulsion system of a cruise ship. They provide thrust to help the ship move forward in the water and help to maintain its course and speed.

Cruise ships use two main types of thrusters, Azimuth Thrusters and Tunnel Thrusters, each of which provides a different type of propulsion.

Azimuth Thrusters are mounted on the sides of the ship and can be rotated up to 360 degrees, allowing them to provide thrust in any direction. This type of thruster is used to maneuver the vessel when it’s at slower speeds, such as when docking or making tight turns. Azimuth thrusters also provide additional thrust when needed, such as when moving against strong currents or waves.

Tunnel Thrusters are mounted underneath the hull and can be used for both forward and reverse thrust. This type of thruster is more powerful than an Azimuth Thruster, making it more effective at higher speeds. Tunnel Thrusters are typically used for propulsion at higher speeds and can also be used to help control the vessel’s heading.

Both types of thrusters work by using an impeller that is driven by an electric motor. The impeller creates a high-powered jet stream that pushes against the water, providing thrust in whatever direction it is pointed.

Cruise ships also have other types of propulsion systems that supplement their thrusters. These include propellers, water jets, and even sails in some cases. The combination of these systems helps cruise ships travel safely and efficiently across large bodies of water.


Cruise ships rely on their thruster systems for propulsion and maneuverability. Azimuth Thrusters provide maneuverability at lower speeds while Tunnel Thrusters are more powerful for higher speed movement. Both types work by using an impeller that creates a jet stream which pushes against the water providing thrust in any direction.