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The Evolution of Cruise Ships, from 1975 to 2013: The Ship Itself

February 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

Imagine a cruise. Now picture yourself on that cruise. Are you playing shuffleboard and gobbling rum cakes? God, let's hope not. Over the next several days, we're going to dig back into the era responsible for creating these cruise stereotypes—the fun-in-the-sun 1970s, when ocean liners turned into cruise ships and voyages into vacations. In sharp contrast, we'll look at cruising 2013-style onboard the newest ship on the seas, the Celebrity Reflection.

The Cruising 1975 vs. 2013 Series:

1. Activities
2. Technology
3. Dining and drinking
4. Cabins and suites
5. The ships themselves

The average ship of 1975 had eight guest decks, none of them named with any creativity (ex: "Main Deck," "B Deck") while the Celebrity Reflection and similar megaships regularly boast of 13 or 14 guest decks with names ("Solstice Deck") that sound more natural than naval.

Sure, 13 decks to explore sounds like quite a bit, but then consider that the number of cabins has also risen from 500 in 1975 to 1,500 in 2013, so all that fresh space means more room for more new friends. Oh, and the chance of scoring a cabin with a verandah? Nearly 0% in 1975, depending on your ship. Heck, having a large window was living in luxury, and a dinner plate-sized porthole was far more common. In 2013, the percentage of cabins with private verandahs has skyrocketed to an impressive 85% on the Reflection, and even portholes on the lowest decks have expanded to dimensions approaching picture windows.

Speaking of lower decks, let's briefly talk about how ships changed their sailing technology. Without writing an entire book on the subject, we'll just say that though it's still sometimes necessary to pop a dramamine to combat motion sickness on long, turbulent voyages, the motion of the ocean is hugely reduced thanks to adding little underwater wings to the hull (called "stabilizers"). If only the 1970s had had YouTube, boy oh boy, the rocking and rolling videos cruisers would have posted!

And though diesel is still the fuel of choice and we haven't developed a Back to the Future-style Flux Capacitor to replace good ol' propellors, ships must now keep to strict environmental guidelines established over the years. Ship-technology.com details the Reflection's eco and energy-saving efforts:

Celebrity Reflection's energy saving features are better than those of her sister ships. She is fitted with highly efficient illumining and LED lights. Heat exchangers are installed for efficient heat transfer. The vessel also makes use of heat and cold recovery systems. Special underwater paints are used to improve resistance, which in turn will reduce the requirement of propulsion power.

What will see from cruise ships in another forty years? They'll still be cutting the waves of the world's oceans and getting ever greener, of course, but who knows if they'll be city-sized or scaled back to intimate levels? One thing's for sure—we can't wait to find out.

We hopped onboard the Reflection's quickie preview cruise as a guest of Celebrity, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos and Scans: Cynthia Drescher]

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