Posted August 26th, 2017, 06:28 AM
Points well taken, but nuclear power has a sixty year safety record on ships. The entire submarine and carrier fleet in the US Navy is nuclear powered. The last conventionally powered carrier was decommissioned ten years ago.
There still exists a deactivated nuclear powered cargo ship, the NS Savannah. As was common of US flagged freighters then she carried a limited number of passengers. Unfortunately she was built about 10 years too late as freight was rapidly moving to containerization.
Ordering sailors to man a nuclear carrier or sub is far different than inviting passengers to get on a nuclear cruise ship. I think that there would be significant insurance issues, and issues with passengers filing claims for diseases diagnosed years after a cruise as having been caused by the reactor.
As for the Savannah, she was never designed or intended to be commercially successful. Her price tag today would be close to $400 million for a ship with only 14,000 GRT. Her cargo capacity was a mere 8500 tons. Conventional steam ships built at the time in the US cost 20-25% of Savannah's cost. She could carry 60 passengers, and required a crew of 124, at a time when even bloated US merchant ships carried about 40-45. Because of all the problems with design and crew, Savannah cost $2 million (over $16 million today) extra
in US government operating subsidies than an oil fired ship.
There have been only 4 civilian cargo ships built with nuclear power, and the only one still operating (after many years of lying idle) is a Russian barge carrier that does not have permission to dock in any country other than Russia. Russia has also built 10 nuclear powered ice breakers. The only one to carry fare paying passengers was Savannah, and she had only carried a total of 850 at the time that passenger service was cancelled, after only 3 years, and the ship converted to cargo only.
While I won't say that a nuclear powered cruise ship will never happen, I don't believe that it will happen with today's fission type reactors.