What Is the Difference Between Cruise Ship and Ocean Liner?

By Michael Ferguson

Cruise ships and ocean liners are both large vessels designed to carry passengers across water. They have been around for centuries, with some of the first versions being used for transportation by royalty.

While there are several similarities between the two, there are also distinct differences.


The appearance of a cruise ship and an ocean liner is one of the most obvious ways to distinguish between the two. Cruise ships typically feature a curved or “v” shaped hull while ocean liners tend to have a longer, more horizontally-oriented design. Cruise ships often feature multiple decks and bright colors while ocean liners are usually just one deck and are painted in more muted tones.


The size of a cruise ship or an ocean liner can vary significantly. Cruise ships tend to be larger, with many having multiple decks and carrying thousands of passengers. Ocean liners aren’t as large, but they also often carry hundreds of passengers in their single deck.


Cruise ships: The main purpose of a cruise ship is leisure travel, with passengers typically spending several days at sea before returning home. Cruise ships often make stops at various ports along their journey, allowing passengers to explore different parts of the world during their voyage.

Ocean liners: The primary purpose of an ocean liner is transportation from one port to another with no stops in between. Ocean liners offer more comfortable accommodations than other forms of transport such as airplanes or buses, but they don’t provide the same type of entertainment that is available on board a cruise ship.


Cruise ships and ocean liners may look similar at first glance, but they serve very different purposes. Cruise ships are designed for leisure travel while ocean liners focus on transportation from one port to another without stopping along the way. The size and appearance of each vessel also differ greatly.