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Queen Elizabeth cruise ship in Hamburg

Cruise ships are large passenger ships used mainly for vacationing. Unlike ocean liners, which are used for transport, they typically embark on round-trip voyages to various ports-of-call, where passengers may go on tours known as "shore excursions". On "cruises to nowhere" or "nowhere voyages", cruise ships make two- to three-night round trips without visiting any ports of call.[1]

MS Galaxy at the port of Mariehamn, Åland, in February 2016.

Modern cruise ships, while sacrificing some[which?] qualities of seaworthiness,[citation needed] have added amenities to cater to water tourists, with recent vessels being described as "balcony-laden floating condominiums".[2]

Cruise ships in Tallinn Passenger Port at Tallinn, Estonia – a popular tourist-destination

As of December 2018, there are 314 cruise ships operating worldwide, with a combined capacity of 537,000 passengers.[3] Cruising has become a major part of the tourism industry, with an estimated market of $29.4 billion per year, and over 19 million passengers carried worldwide annually as of 2011.[4] The industry's rapid growth has seen nine or more newly built ships catering to a North American clientele added every year since 2001, as well as others servicing European clientele.[citation needed]

As of 2020, the world's largest passenger ship is Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas.[5][6]