What Is the Difference Between a Liner and a Cruise Ship?

By Alice Nichols

When it comes to vacations at sea, there are two distinct types of vessels that accommodate passengers: liners and cruise ships. Although both offer a luxurious and enjoyable way to see the world, there are some differences between them.


The first and most obvious difference between liners and cruise ships is their size. Cruise ships are much larger than liners, usually ranging from 80,000 to 200,000 tons or more.

Liners tend to be smaller, usually between 20,000 and 30,000 tons. This means that cruise ships can accommodate more passengers than liners – often up to 5,000 or more. Liners tend to have fewer passengers, with a maximum of around 1,500.


Cruise ships offer a wide variety of amenities that are not typically found on liners. These include swimming pools, casinos, theaters, spas and shopping centers.

Cruise ships also tend to have more restaurants and bars than liners. Liners usually only have one or two restaurants with limited menus.


The itineraries of cruise ships are typically more varied than those of liners. Cruise ships often travel around the world with stops in many different ports along the way. On the other hand, liners usually follow a set route between two points without any stops along the way.


Liner and cruise ship vacations both provide an enjoyable way to see the world; however they differ in size and amenities offered onboard as well as the type of itinerary they follow. Cruise ships can accommodate more passengers than liners while also offering more amenities such as swimming pools and casinos along with varied itineraries that include many different ports.