What Is the Oldest Cruise Ship in Operation?

By Michael Ferguson

The oldest cruise ship in operation today is the MS Doulos, which was launched in 1914 as a passenger and cargo vessel. It is owned by the German charity organisation Gute-Buch and has been used for educational and humanitarian purposes since 1988.

The MS Doulos is a steel-hulled steamship with two funnels, two masts and two decks. It was originally built by the German shipbuilding company Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft for the Hamburg-American Line and served as a transatlantic passenger liner until 1924. During World War II, it was requisitioned by the German Navy and used as an auxiliary cruiser before being decommissioned in 1945.

The MS Doulos has sailed all over the world since 1988, carrying educational literature and humanitarian aid to ports in Africa, Asia and South America. In 2007, it became the oldest operational cruise ship when it took part in an around-the-world voyage, visiting 28 countries over a period of 11 months.

Today, the MS Doulos continues to be operated by Gute-Buch for its humanitarian mission, providing literacy programmes and offering opportunities for young people to develop skills such as carpentry or cooking. The ship also hosts concerts and other events to raise money for its charitable activities.


The MS Doulos is the oldest cruise ship currently in operation. Originally built in 1914 as a passenger liner, it has since been used for educational and humanitarian purposes since 1988. It is operated by Gute-Buch, a German charity organisation that provides literacy programmes and skill development opportunities to communities around the world.