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Jack E Dawson

Passengers per square foot

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This year my wife and I took our first cruise on the QM2. One of the many things that really surprised us was how uncrowded the ship felt. Now we are being pressed by some friends to join them on a Viking Ocean cruise. I know that the QM2 carries almost 2700 passengers and that the Viking Star carries just shy of 1000 but can anyone tell me what the square footage of common public space (interior and exterior) there is on both ships. Being able to compare the square footage per passenger of common public space would help us make the decision weather to go or not. We've done a lot of googling on this but so far cannot find this information for either ship.

 

Thanks,

Harold

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Tonnage is easier to look up than square footage.

 

Tonnage is a measure of volume (not simply displacement) so the high overheads on QM2 Deck 2 and 3 will add more volume (tonnage) although they won't add more square footage, but I think the height of those decks helps add to the feeling of spaciousness which I think is what you're after.

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It seems to me cruisemapper's stats for QM2 might be a bit off. They have QM2 listed with the following specs:

 

Gross tonnage: 148528 GT

Passengers: 2726 to 3271 = 2998 average

Guests-to-Space Ratio = 148528 / 2998 = 49.54

 

The QM2 specs I have are:

 

Gross tonnage: 149215 GT (post-refit)

Passengers: 2695 (post-refit)

Guests-to-Space Ratio = 149215 / 2695 = 55.37

 

Now for comparison, the specs I have for Viking Star are:

 

Gross tonnage: 47800 GT

Passengers: 930

Guests-to-Space Ratio = 47800 / 930 = 51.40

 

If you accept cruisemapper's specs for QM2, then Viking Star comes out ahead in this passenger space comparison. If you accept the higher gross tonnage and lower passenger count specs for QM2, then QM2 comes out ahead in this passenger space comparison.

 

This may have just muddled the issue, but perhaps it has been of some assistance.

 

Regards, John

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All very interesting. I scanned the cruisemapper stats and the ships they listed seemed to fall into 2 groups of guest-to-space ratios - ~30-40, and ~50-60. In other words, cruise ships tend to be one or the other. Cunard and apparently Viking are in the more spacious category.

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If you can get hold of a copy of the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Sips, it lists the Space ratio for all the ships it includes, and broadly splits them into four groups:

 

51 and above Outstanding

31 to 50 Very spacious

21 to 30 Not very spacious

20 and under Very cramped

 

Based on two beds per cabin (plus any singles), this year QM2 is shown at 56.6, the Viking ships at 51.5 i.e. both in the top category.

 

Hope this helps.

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Sorry for the aside, but assuming 3,000 passengers and 113,000 tons that means Queen Anne will have a ratio of only 37.7 - way less than is available on even QV and QE (~2,100 and 92,000 @ 43.8) that’s even less than carnival’s destiny class which offer about 39... which makes me believe the 3,000 figure surely can’t be correct? It’s got to be a total berth figure, not lower berth?

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Passenger space ratios can give a rough idea of how "spacious" a ship is, but it must be considered a very rough estimate. For instance, basing it on double occupancy, can skew a ratio if one ship has more 3rd/4th berths than another, and typically sails with those berths filled. Another problem with the ratios is that it uses "gross tonnage" which includes the volume of tankage, machinery spaces, and crew spaces. If the pax/crew ratio is different between ships this can skew the pax space ratio because of differences in the amount of crew spaces. Likewise, as ship like the QM2, which has an enormous power plant in order to provide the top speed she has, most likely takes up a greater percentage of gross tonnage in machinery space and fuel tanks than a smaller ship like the Viking Star.

 

Gross tonnage is used because it is a readily available figure for sites like Cruisemapper to get, but using "net tonnage" would be far more accurate. Net tonnage is the volume of "revenue generating spaces", meaning passenger spaces, discounting the machinery, tanks, and crew spaces.

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It seems to me cruisemapper's stats for QM2 might be a bit off. They have QM2 listed with the following specs:

 

Gross tonnage: 148528 GT

Passengers: 2726 to 3271 = 2998 average

Guests-to-Space Ratio = 148528 / 2998 = 49.54

The passenger capacity is certainly wrong.

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I agree with the above poster that QM2 is overengineered for what she does, both in machinery and size. Especially considering she doesn't do 6 day crossings anymore. That accounts for some of why she feels more spacious. But the biggest reason is that she was never built to go through the Panama Canal like Viking ships and pretty much all other cruise ships were. This means she's considerably wider than virtually any other ship you sail on. It has a lot to do with how she "feels" inside.

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I agree with the above poster that QM2 is overengineered for what she does, both in machinery and size. Especially considering she doesn't do 6 day crossings anymore. That accounts for some of why she feels more spacious. But the biggest reason is that she was never built to go through the Panama Canal like Viking ships and pretty much all other cruise ships were. This means she's considerably wider than virtually any other ship you sail on. It has a lot to do with how she "feels" inside.

I would say the QM2 is engineered to perfection for her role as an Atlantic liner, whether doing it in 6 days or 7. The extra size allows the diversity of venues needed to keep passengers occupied over 7 days with no port stops, provides extra stability for comfort, and makes her better able to deal with harsh weather. Her power plant is probably the closest thing to a design flaw (if 6 days is taken to be the target crossing time) but it has been explained why the GTs were used as a trade off (use up less internal space for ducting) and on 7 day crossings it provides a plentiful backup of reserve speed should the need arise for time to be made up. Even by the time QM2 was being designed and built there were quite a few cruise ships beginning to be built post-Panamax, and QM2 is now of reasonably average beam (cruise ships tend to be shorter and wider, so similarly sized vessels will often have greater beams).

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I agree with the above poster that QM2 is overengineered for what she does, both in machinery and size. Especially considering she doesn't do 6 day crossings anymore. That accounts for some of why she feels more spacious. But the biggest reason is that she was never built to go through the Panama Canal like Viking ships and pretty much all other cruise ships were. This means she's considerably wider than virtually any other ship you sail on. It has a lot to do with how she "feels" inside.

 

Not sure about "considerably wider", or that "most" cruise ships were built for the Panama Canal. Oasis class is 6 meters wider at the waterline, Anthem class is just as wide as QM2, and even Freedom class is only 2.5 meters narrower, but still too wide for the Canal. Even the RCI Voyager class, one of the design precursors for QM2, was 7 meters wider at a lower gross tonnage. RCI has a total of 9 ships too wide for the Canal.

 

All of Carnival's ships post Conquest (10 ships) are too large for the Canal, all of Princess' Grand and Royal classes (11 ships) are too wide, Celebrity's 5 ship Solstice class are all too wide, and on and on it goes.

 

And, actually, my statement about the large size of QM2's machinery spaces would result in a less spacious ship, because the machinery spaces detract more volume from the gross tonnage than a smaller ship with less horsepower, like the Viking Star.

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Not sure about "considerably wider", or that "most" cruise ships were built for the Panama Canal. Oasis class is 6 meters wider at the waterline, Anthem class is just as wide as QM2, and even Freedom class is only 2.5 meters narrower, but still too wide for the Canal. Even the RCI Voyager class, one of the design precursors for QM2, was 7 meters wider at a lower gross tonnage. RCI has a total of 9 ships too wide for the Canal.

 

 

 

All of Carnival's ships post Conquest (10 ships) are too large for the Canal, all of Princess' Grand and Royal classes (11 ships) are too wide, Celebrity's 5 ship Solstice class are all too wide, and on and on it goes.

 

 

 

And, actually, my statement about the large size of QM2's machinery spaces would result in a less spacious ship, because the machinery spaces detract more volume from the gross tonnage than a smaller ship with less horsepower, like the Viking Star.

 

 

 

The original poster was comparing to the Viking sisters of which QM2 (and yes all of the ships you list) are considerably wider than. 135 ft at the waterline vs 94.5 ft.

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The original poster was comparing to the Viking sisters of which QM2 (and yes all of the ships you list) are considerably wider than. 135 ft at the waterline vs 94.5 ft.

 

 

Okay, I am just disputing your generalization about "nearly all" ships being built for the Panama Canal, and that "most" ships are less beamy than the QM2.

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Okay, I am just disputing your generalization about "nearly all" ships being built for the Panama Canal, and that "most" ships are less beamy than the QM2.

 

 

 

Moving target- when QM2 was built she was more unique in that respect- at very least for Cunard. Today not as unique. I long for the days when these monster ships weren't around- QE2 and Caronia were both much more comfortable.

 

But the width and height of her public decks certainly would give the illusion of more space vs a smaller ship even if the math showed it wasn't as dramatic.

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Moving target- when QM2 was built she was more unique in that respect- at very least for Cunard. Today not as unique.

 

While I agree that QM2 was unique in her beam with respect to Cunard, again Voyager of the Seas was built 5 years earlier, and all 5 Voyager class were built prior to QM2. Even Carnival Corp's Princess line had 3 ships post Panamax before QM2, with 3 more delivered the same year as QM2.

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Moving target- when QM2 was built she was more unique in that respect- at very least for Cunard. Today not as unique. I long for the days when these monster ships weren't around- QE2 and Caronia were both much more comfortable.

 

But the width and height of her public decks certainly would give the illusion of more space vs a smaller ship even if the math showed it wasn't as dramatic.

I would dispute that, pre QE2 the Panama Canal was not a factor for Cunard’s ships as they never had to go through it, they sailed from British and North European ports to east coast American and Canadian ones. The fleet was almost entirely Atlantic based. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were both 118 feet wide, so too wide to go through the canal.

 

The QE2, to my knowledge is the only cunarder to have her dimensions dictated by transiting the canal (I suppose you could also count QV and QE indirectly as the vista class is designed to be Panamax).

 

In this regard, QM2 returns to the earlier trend of being optimised for the Atlantic run, which is sensible as at most she’d likely only transit once a year anyway. In terms of spaciousness, Stephen Payne drew inspiration partially from the Normandie in having the central corridor with all the major public rooms arranged about it and the split funnel uptakes, I think this combined with the high ceilings and overall size of the ship give her a fantastically spacious atmosphere, nothing feels like it’s been squeezed in or limited in scale by the ship’s dimensions. You also have smaller more intimate areas like the commodore club and library, so I’d say QM2 offers the best balance of spaciousness and comfortable corners of any ship afloat. But I suppose that’s personal preference.

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I would dispute that, pre QE2 the Panama Canal was not a factor for Cunard’s ships as they never had to go through it, they sailed from British and North European ports to east coast American and Canadian ones. The fleet was almost entirely Atlantic based. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were both 118 feet wide, so too wide to go through the canal.

 

The QE2, to my knowledge is the only cunarder to have her dimensions dictated by transiting the canal (I suppose you could also count QV and QE indirectly as the vista class is designed to be Panamax).

 

In this regard, QM2 returns to the earlier trend of being optimised for the Atlantic run, which is sensible as at most she’d likely only transit once a year anyway. In terms of spaciousness, Stephen Payne drew inspiration partially from the Normandie in having the central corridor with all the major public rooms arranged about it and the split funnel uptakes, I think this combined with the high ceilings and overall size of the ship give her a fantastically spacious atmosphere, nothing feels like it’s been squeezed in or limited in scale by the ship’s dimensions. You also have smaller more intimate areas like the commodore club and library, so I’d say QM2 offers the best balance of spaciousness and comfortable corners of any ship afloat. But I suppose that’s personal preference.

 

 

 

We agree most of it- the only thing I would say is that from QE2 on the old ways of doing things we're over. Cunard ships like QE2, Countess, Princess, Ambassador, Saga sisters etc had to fit in the canal to be viable. The transatlantic run, and with it ships like the Mary and Elizabeth, was over and cruises were the only way to carry on. The difference today is how cheap cruises are compared to what they used to be. You could have smaller ships then because cruises were relatively expensive compared to now. The only way to make money when you're charging $500-800 a week per person is to have a 5000 passenger ship.

 

Even QM2 is at heart a cruise ship and functions well as one. Compare that to the Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth who were most certainly true liners- they made abominable cruise ships the few times when they tried to make them. They even put aircon and a swimming pool on Elizabeth towards the end to try and extend her life- didn't work. QM2 has unique capabilities for today but has much more in common with the hybrid QE2 than she does any true Atlantic liner.

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You also have smaller more intimate areas like the commodore club and library, so I’d say QM2 offers the best balance of spaciousness and comfortable corners of any ship afloat. But I suppose that’s personal preference.
I will admit to a preference for Queen Victoria's Golden Lion over QM2's as being more of a pub atmosphere.

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We agree most of it- the only thing I would say is that from QE2 on the old ways of doing things we're over. Cunard ships like QE2, Countess, Princess, Ambassador, Saga sisters etc had to fit in the canal to be viable. The transatlantic run, and with it ships like the Mary and Elizabeth, was over and cruises were the only way to carry on. The difference today is how cheap cruises are compared to what they used to be. You could have smaller ships then because cruises were relatively expensive compared to now. The only way to make money when you're charging $500-800 a week per person is to have a 5000 passenger ship.

 

Even QM2 is at heart a cruise ship and functions well as one. Compare that to the Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth who were most certainly true liners- they made abominable cruise ships the few times when they tried to make them. They even put aircon and a swimming pool on Elizabeth towards the end to try and extend her life- didn't work. QM2 has unique capabilities for today but has much more in common with the hybrid QE2 than she does any true Atlantic liner.

It’s true that QE2 was a radical departure In terms of design and having more outdoor space to enjoy on the aft terraces, but I think most of the changes made were more to do with organisational convenience - such as arranging the dining rooms around a central kitchen on the decks reserved for each class, and I believe were carried over from Q3 which was to be a traditional liner. With QM2 they had the lessons and experience with what worked and what didn’t from decades of cruise ships to guide the design, and weren’t working to a 3 (later hastily retconned to 2) class system.

 

The biggest concessions QE2 made to being a cruiser was the smaller, lighter ally-topped and thus more (fuel) efficient 2 prop design - with QM2 the larger all steel quad prop design is actually a return to the more orthodox path of liners in the past - but then QM2 didn’t need to make the concessions QE2 did because the role was already defined, largely by QE2 and they knew better what the ship was going to need to do. This combined with modern technology like the azipods allowed the ship to be larger without compromising her cruising ability.

 

I will admit to a preference for Queen Victoria's Golden Lion over QM2's as being more of a pub atmosphere.

I would agree to that as well.

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It’s true that QE2 was a radical departure In terms of design and having more outdoor space to enjoy on the aft terraces, but I think most of the changes made were more to do with organisational convenience - such as arranging the dining rooms around a central kitchen on the decks reserved for each class, and I believe were carried over from Q3 which was to be a traditional liner. With QM2 they had the lessons and experience with what worked and what didn’t from decades of cruise ships to guide the design, and weren’t working to a 3 (later hastily retconned to 2) class system.

 

 

 

The biggest concessions QE2 made to being a cruiser was the smaller, lighter ally-topped and thus more (fuel) efficient 2 prop design - with QM2 the larger all steel quad prop design is actually a return to the more orthodox path of liners in the past - but then QM2 didn’t need to make the concessions QE2 did because the role was already defined, largely by QE2 and they knew better what the ship was going to need to do. This combined with modern technology like the azipods allowed the ship to be larger without compromising her cruising ability.

 

 

 

I think going from Q3 to Q4 there was also a lot of lessons and insight carried over from Rotterdam V which made the successful leap from liner to cruise ship nearly a decade before by design rather than retrofit.

 

QM2 doesn't truly have a class system like QE2 did when she was new and that was only when QE2 was doing a transat. QM2 has dedicated dining rooms and a single lounge much like many other cruise ships today- it was much more comprehensive in the early days of QE2- the elevators (and where certain ones stop and don't stop) are some of the remnants of that. Nothing like that to compare on QM2.

 

And Cunard was never going to repeat the mistake of the aluminum superstructure on a steel hull- it was a source of constant headaches as it fatigued. Her biggest flaw was that she wasn't built with expansion joints which would have eased the problem. Ultimately this is most likely the reason she couldn't have carried on another few years and why Cunardival was happy to get rid of her when they did- looked at her as a ticking time bomb because of this. QM2s all steel construction Id say is a lesson learned than a nod to the past. The azipods themselves are a big nod to the future- a lot more revenue space onboard when you stick the engines outside the hull (although I'm sure a few bean counters in Miami wish she had been a twin screw ship in the beginning with all the issues the pods initially posed).

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There's not that much space saving in reality. With internal motors and shafts, the lower hull is carried further aft, but with pods, the lower hull is stopped further forward and the pods are attached to a flat portion of the aft hull. The major advantage of pods is that you replace motors, shafts, propellers, thrusters, rudders and steering motors with a pod and its azimuthing gear. Capital costs go down. There is also an efficiency advantage since the propeller is in front of the motor, clearing the hydrodynamic flow to the prop.

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I think going from Q3 to Q4 there was also a lot of lessons and insight carried over from Rotterdam V which made the successful leap from liner to cruise ship nearly a decade before by design rather than retrofit.

 

QM2 doesn't truly have a class system like QE2 did when she was new and that was only when QE2 was doing a transat. QM2 has dedicated dining rooms and a single lounge much like many other cruise ships today- it was much more comprehensive in the early days of QE2- the elevators (and where certain ones stop and don't stop) are some of the remnants of that. Nothing like that to compare on QM2.

 

And Cunard was never going to repeat the mistake of the aluminum superstructure on a steel hull- it was a source of constant headaches as it fatigued. Her biggest flaw was that she wasn't built with expansion joints which would have eased the problem. Ultimately this is most likely the reason she couldn't have carried on another few years and why Cunardival was happy to get rid of her when they did- looked at her as a ticking time bomb because of this. QM2s all steel construction Id say is a lesson learned than a nod to the past. The azipods themselves are a big nod to the future- a lot more revenue space onboard when you stick the engines outside the hull (although I'm sure a few bean counters in Miami wish she had been a twin screw ship in the beginning with all the issues the pods initially posed).

Yes I think QE2 drew on lessons from many postwar ships, Canberra too.

 

No, that’s what I was saying, the QE2’s design was constrained by the class system meaning duplicate rooms were required for transatlantic service for each class, QM2 is free of such considerations so has a far bigger diversity of venues.

 

It wouldn’t have been a case of just designing it with expansion joints, the aluminium was an integral structural part of the ship which took up stress from the hull’s flexing (this is why it cracks). If they had expansion joints, they would have had to have a traditional very heavily plated ‘strength deck’ like on QE(1) and before - this would have cancelled out much of the topweight savings of using the aluminium in the first place and being able to thin the steel of the hull slightly higher above the water line. That would have meant you couldn’t have both upper and quarter deck as built, you could only have had one of them (and the knock ons to the rest of the design from this would likely have made the ship infeasible). I think that, if nothing else, goes to show what a massive compromise Panamax dimensions are for such a ship, and why QM2 was never going to be able to be built to that specification.

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Agree- although I've been told by several naval architects that the expansion joints could have been integrated with very little changes and it would have dramatically reduced the fatigue that plagued her towards the middle to end of her career.

 

The biggest irony is that we have been back and forth about Panamax vs non Panamax in regards to QM2 and she's pretty close to fitting into the damn thing with the widening.

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All very interesting. I scanned the cruisemapper stats and the ships they listed seemed to fall into 2 groups of guest-to-space ratios - ~30-40, and ~50-60. In other words, cruise ships tend to be one or the other. Cunard and apparently Viking are in the more spacious category.

 

This is one of the good looking but misleading articles.

 

I see two "red flags" in the article.

#1. " the average cruise ship passenger capacity is around 3,000 guests for ocean liners and around 150 guests for bigger river cruise ships."

 

My comment.

Inaccurate statement. If they mean mass market mega ships - yes. But they must add this note.

"Ocean liners" (instead of "cruise ships") - thi term does not sound good for a professional resource.

 

#2. "The ship's "space ratio" (by definition) is the enclosed space (measured in ft3/cubic feet) per passenger. A ship of 45,000 GT (gross tonnage) with capacity 1,000 passengers will have a space ratio 45 (or 45ft3=45000/1000). So if your ship has generally smaller cabins but very large public spaces, she will have a higher space ratio, and the higher the space ratio number, the more guests will enjoy a sense of spaciousness on board."

 

My comment.

This statement looks good at the beginning. The author is explaining how "space ratio" is calculated. But the end of the statement is wrong, and tells us that the author himself is confused with definitions. It appears that the author excludes cabins from the ship's enclosed space that is totally wrong.

 

Given these two items (#1 and #2), it's not surprising that the information in the table, that follows the introduction, is screwed up.

In the table, the "max" capacity is mixed up with the full capacity (double occupancy), so the calculation and ratings are wrong.

 

And the item #3 about this article.

Even if their calculations were correct, they would be misleading anyway as the article says no word about the major "problem" of the so-called "passenger space ratio".

The problem is: open spaces on a cruise ships (sun decks, promenades, observation decks, most of pool decks) are not "enclosed" by definition, so they are not included in the calculation. All these critically important areas on cruise ships are non-existent for the term of "space ratio" (!)

So...

How to get the real information about cruise ships spaciousness and bring it to the readers?

O-o-o-o... hey!

This is a work!

To do this a reviewer has to know the ships, not just do lazy math without looking into the important details.

 

CruiseMapper is an excellent cruise ship tracker, but they don't seem to be experts in cruise ships.

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If you can get hold of a copy of the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Sips, it lists the Space ratio for all the ships it includes, and broadly splits them into four groups:

 

51 and above Outstanding

31 to 50 Very spacious

21 to 30 Not very spacious

20 and under Very cramped

 

Based on two beds per cabin (plus any singles), this year QM2 is shown at 56.6, the Viking ships at 51.5 i.e. both in the top category.

 

Hope this helps.

 

About the Berlitz Cruise Guide in general.

One should be very careful with it. There is a lot of information in the reviews, but unfortunately the book is intoxicated with a number of fake reviews and false ship facts. So you have no garantee that the facts you source from there are correct. The ratings are fake as they are messed with fake reviews.

 

31 to 50 Very spacious
IMO this is misleading and leaves a reader with no meaningful information.

All major cruise ships, from the most tightly packed like Aida ships and NCL Epic to QE that is about 43 GT/PP, fall within 31 and 50.

This is very far from reality.

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