It’s Not A Boat, It’s A Ship!



I hear it time after time, people referring to cruise ships as boats, but what is the difference? I don’t think there are any laws that stipulate if you get it wrong then you shall be banished to a life at sea aboard the Black Pearl, but whichever way you look at it, a cruise SHIP is most certainly NOT A BOAT!!!

I am by no means a maritime expert, but there are a few things that are very different between the two that can help when trying to work out whether a specific mode of water based transportation would be classed as a boat or a ship. As I am so kind (and tired of hearing people refer to the likes of Britannia as a boat) I thought I would share some of these with you today.

1: Size is the most obvious difference between the two and I offer you this famous saying that will help keep you right in the future (before you let the B word slip out!) – A ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship. The next time you bump into your Captain, please, for the sanity of cruise-a-holics everywhere, don’t refer to his grand ocean going vessel as a boat – I beg you!

2: There are also big differences in how the two actually operate, for example, a ship (including cruise ships, navy ships, tankers and container ships) are often operated in oceanic areas and are built for cargo and passenger transportation, where as a boat is operated in smaller bodies of water and probably wouldn’t be the ideal choice for crossing the Atlantic Ocean during a force 10 storm.

3: When it comes to technology, the two couldn’t be any further apart. Ships offer some incredible, state-of-the-art navigational systems, where as a boat will usually offer a much less complicated set of operational equipment – unless you are aboard a fishing boat or yacht, of course.


4: Another good thing to think about is the crew – when was the last time you spotted a crew of 1,500 on a boat?

5: Construction also comes into play as ships are incredibly complicated structures that take a serious amount of planning and model testing. Even the weight and placement of the smallest addition must be taken into consideration because it could affect the stability of the vessel. A boat is a lot less complex than a ship when it comes to design complexities. OK, so it’s not quite as simple as folding a piece of paper and seeing if it floats, but it certainly won’t take several years to plan, another two to build and cost $500 million.

6: Propulsion – that thing that makes the ship or boat  move in the water – also differs between the two. A boat can be powered by sails, motor or human force, where as a ship has dedicated engines to propel it.

So, the above are some examples of the differences between a ship (primarily a cruise ship) and a boat, but as I said at the beginning, I don’t think in the grand scheme of things that there is a set-in-stone right or wrong perception of all water transportation. Why? Because I would actually refer to a passenger ferry, such as King Seaways, as a ship, but technically it would be classed as a boat. I also don’t agree with calling a Submarine a boat – IT’S A SUBMARINE! – but because it can be hoisted aboard a ship, it too is classed as a boat. And on that note, who wouldn’t love to own a power catamaran!?


Regardless of anything written above, I think we have all now established that A CRUISE SHIP IS NOT A BOAT and as that was the actual point of the blog (but I needed to say a little more than just that for the sake of Google) I can be quiet again now. Until next time…………..


Trying to explore each and every inch of this wonderful planet via cruise ship.

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Posted in General Cruise Articles
7 comments on “It’s Not A Boat, It’s A Ship!
  1. Christine says:

    Another difference between boats and ships is, you can get your very own Boise boats at a dealership – not so with a ship! Haha!

  2. A Boat is like someone calling a motor boat a sailing vessel without sails 😀

  3. […] @CruiseMiss: It’s NOT a BOAT, It’s a SHIP!!… #CruiseChat #CLIACruiseFest […]

  4. Geoff says:

    My understanding of the difference between a Boat and a Ship is, that if you put the ‘vessel’ into a tight turn, a Boat will lean into the turn and a Ship will lean out. Simples.

  5. elle says:

    I was always taught that a ship has closed in decks whereas a boat doesn’t (apart from a submarine). That definition seems to have gone now – they didn’t even use it on QI

  6. Karl says:

    We once sailed the GTV Serenade of the seas. Apparently if you’re ship has gas turbines it’s not seenas a ship but a Vessel… So the radiance class consists of Gas Turbine Vessels and mot Motor Ships like MS freedom of the seas… Maybe a thing to add to this article?

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