Talk:Ocean liner

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First Chat[edit]

I presumed "liner" was derived from the line a ship would service, e.g. Liverpool-New York. Can anybody shed more light on the correct etymology? "Liner" derived from "ship of the line" takes a few more steps to derive "ocean liner"

I agree. Webster too, it seems, their 'ship belonging to a regular line' is not very clear, though. Abu ari 13:01, 5 April 2006 (UTC)


  • I hate the current article. Not enough on early (pre-steamship) liners
  • Where is Brunell? Who is the major innovator on ocean liners
  • Where is Great Western, Great Britain and Great Estern
  • Not stressing on innovation on particular ship such as Normandie and Lusitania
  • Everyone knows Titanic sunk dammit, so now lets talk about rules and regulation, marconi and iceberg watch

Pardon for grammer and lack of wikified stuff, but at leeast i got most information....

An ocean liner is a large passenger ship that undertakes longer voyages on the open sea primarily for the purpose of transporting people from one place to another. The ocean liner is characterized as a large oceangoing vessel supplemented with heavier steel work than a cruise ship and various features designed to ease transoceanic voyages. Very large liners are known as superliners.

The name liner is derived from "ship of the line", a warship capable of taking its place in the Royal Navy's tactical line of battle of the Age of Sail.

Ocean liners were the primary mode of intercontinental travel for over a century, from the mid-19th century to the 1960s, when they were finally supplanted by airliners. In addition to passages, liners also carried intercontinental mail. Ship contracted to carry British Royal Mail used the designation RMS. Liners were also the preferred way to move gold and other high value cargos. (Pickford, Nigel Lost Treasure Ships of the Twentieth Century, National Geographic Society, 1999 ISBN 0792274725)


In 1818, Black Ball Line, with a fleet of clippers, offered the first regular passenger service with emphasis on passenger comfort from England to United States. Since 1800, putting a steam engine in a ship was possible, but they were inefficient and offer little advantage against clipper ships.

The clipper domination was challenged when SS Great Western, designed by railway engineer Isambard Brunel, began its first Atlantic service in 1837. It took 29 days to cross the Atlantic compared to two months on sail powered ships. Unlike the clippers, the steamers offer a consistent speed and able to keep up the schedule

In 1840, Cunard Line’s Britannia began its first regular passenger and cargo service, by a steamship, with from Liverpool to Boston. Despite of some advantage offered by the steamships, clippers remained dominant. In 1847, SS Great Britain became the first screw driven ship with an iron hull to cross the Atlantic. More efficient propeller began to replace bulkier paddle wheels, found on earlier ocean liners.

In 1870, White Stat Line’s RMS Oceanic set a new standard for ocean travel by placing the first class cabin amidships, adding large portholes and offering running water and electricity. The size of ocean liner increased since 1880 because of massive immigration to United States and rivalry between shipping lines. In 1907, Cunard Line introduced Lusitania and Mauritania, considered the most luxurious ship, powered by Parson type steam turbine. Unlike reciprocating engines, turbine engines are lighter and more efficient.

In the "golden age" of ocean liners in the early part of the 20th century, many offered extremely luxurious travel for a wealthy few, although even the more luxurious ships carried large numbers of poorer passengers in cramped quarters on the lower decks. Older ships were often given over to carrying immigrants at low prices. The surge in ocean liner’s size outpaces the shipping regulation. In 1912, RMS Titanic sunk claiming more than 1000 passengers because there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone. After the Titanic disaster, the regulation was revise that required all ocean liners to be fitted with enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew.

In 1920’s Most shipping lines rely heavily on immigration to United States and they were hard hit when the US Congress introduced a bill to limit the immigration. As the result, many of them became cruise ships. The least expensive cabins were renamed from third class to tourist class. To make matters worse, the great depression put many shipping lines into bankruptcies. Despite of harsh economic condition, a number companies had high ambition to build larger ship. In late 1930’s French liner SS Normandie challenged the British supremacy in the Atlantic with a number of technical innovation such as bulbous bow and steam electric propulsion. Cunard Line countered with RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth.

Prior to World War II, aircraft wasn't a huge treath to ocean liners and most of these aircraft were noisy, cramped and vulnerable to bad weather. However, World War II accelerates the development of aircraft. Four engined bombers such as Avro Lancaster and Boeing B-17, with their massive capacity they are a natural protoype for a next generation airliner. jet aircraft technogy also accelerated after the Allies captured several German jet aircraft prototye. In 1953 De Haviland began its first trans atlantic flight and followed by Caravelle, Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. Late commer such as SS United States, who captured the blue ribband making it the fastest liner in the world, and SS France. Both ship retired rematurely....

After the collapse of the passenger-ship business in the 1960s, many ocean liners continued in use as cruise ships; as of 2003, a small number were still in service. A few more, such as RMS Queen Mary, are still afloat but permanently docked and used for other purposes; in the case of the Queen Mary, as a museum ship. The only large liner still used in scheduled line-voyage service in 2006 is Cunard Line's RMS Queen Mary 2, which replaces the line's RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 on the transatlantic route. QE2 made its maiden voyage in 1969 and was the world's sole operational ocean liner for a several decades, but now is given over to cruising.

At War

Ocean liners played a huge role in World War I. Large ocean liners, such as RMS Mauritania and RMS Olympic, used as troopship and hospital ships while smaller ocean liners were converted to armed merchant cruisers. Some of them were converted to Q-ship purposely designed to hunt down U-boat. In 1916, RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by German U-boat, despite of its speed; the crew was overconfident that a “civilian” liner will never get attacked. However, Germany justified the attack because Lusitania was carrying military cargoes, which was later confirmed their claim. Ocean liners once again used in World War II, although the use of merchant cruiser was no longer favourable because if its vulnerability with better armed warships andaircraft. Although Germany used them as auxiliary crusier.

Famous and Infamous

The most notorious liner was the RMS Titanic, infamous for sinking on her maiden voyage from Britain to the United States in 1912. The RMS Lusitania was lost in 1915 to a German U-Boat during World War I while on passage from the United States to Britain. The worst disasters were the loss of the RMS Lancastria in 1940 off Saint-Nazaire, France to German bombing with the loss of over 3,000 lives and the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in the Baltic Sea with over 9000 lives lost in 1945. The Cunard Line's RMS Mauretania of 1907 was widely considered the finest of all the liners of its generation, and in decades following many had a similar devotion to the SS Normandie.

Further reading

I agree that the article needs work and I like the outline and basic text of your proposal. It will form the basis for a more detailed article, which in the future may also include some of the suggestions below. As you requested, I will work with you on it but may not be able to devote a lot of time to it right away.
As you are adding text rather than deleting or dramatically changing previous text, I suggest you "go for it." But first carefully review it, run your additions through spell-check on another word processing program (just cut and paste it into a Word or WordPerfect file and run spell-check; those programs may also prompt you if grammar is questionable). Pay attention to tense; events which happened in the past typically will use past tense. Then when you are finished, place it on the main page. Then I and many others will come along and correct it, edit it, etc. afterwards (and you can do the same to our work).
As you note, line voyages started with the Black Ball and other packet lines, but the early packet boats technically were not clipper ships.[1][2] Wikipedia already has an article on the packet ship but it lacks needed detail and is too limited, as it implies that packet boats were only Royal Mail ships trading to British colonies.
This article on Ocean Liners also should include the passenger-cargo ships engaged in scheduled line voyages; they so far have been ignored. A more balanced article would also discuss the other liners trading on routes other than the Atlantic ferry. And I completely agree that it should be possible to have articles on ships without continual and detailed references to a vessel which is only famous today because of the fact and manner of her sinking. Titanic would be forgotten were it not for her loss; her only true nautical significance is the effect on safety regulations, SOLAS, the International Ice Patrol, etc.Kablammo 10:47, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Kablamo, I often in a hurry just because I dont have enough time. Its embarrassing to put a crappy article. I do agree that the article is so Atlantic centric (one thing I forgot to mention earlier). I found a book about ships (the one with QE2 on front page).


I propose to delete the current definition section and merge some of its contents into the (newly revised) introduction. I will not however include the current reference to "ships of the line". It is true that line-of-battle ships were referred to as "liners", but no authority is given for the inference that such use of the word is how scheduled passenger ships came to be referred to as liners. Absent citation to such authority no purpose is served here by referring to the archaic naval use of the term "liner." Comments or objections? Kablammo 02:48, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I have seen different sources stating that the term liner is derived from
  • the archaic naval term
  • the fact that these ships operated for shipping lines
  • the fact that they operated on line voyages
I will, when I get time, find sources for these different derivations of the term. I have a problem with the current introduction in that it is in my opinion too long. One of the reasons why I introduced a section to expand on the definition was to keep the intro to a few lines and summarize what liners were succinctly without going into an extended explanation.--Dashers 15:35, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I think the intro should say what an ocean liner is, and what it is not. Therefore I would include the definition material with the current first paragraph. As to the next two paragraphs-- some of that could stay, but most could be handled in the text. As to source of the term, I also have sources which refers to ships of the line as liners, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with its use for passenger ships. I think it more likely derived from the fact that shipping companies were referred to as lines, such as the Black Ball Line. So I'm interested in what your authorities say. Kablammo 15:51, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't mean to be blunt or rude, but when it comes to a definition as to what a liner is or is not, I do not believe it is about what you or I think is the more likely derivation. I did not like the whole "ships of the line" scenario either- in my opinion it was more about ships (passenger or cargo, coastal or deep sea, large or small, fast or slow) operating line voyages. I have even seen sources referring to small coasters as "Coastal Liners"- probably ships operating between a number of ports on a set route to a set schedule, where as ferries tend to operate between 2 ports. I have also seen container ships, operating scheduled voyages, called liners. I could find sources to substantiate my opinion about line voyages- but there were also other sources stating the term was derived from ships operated by shipping lines, as well as others quoting the archaic naval term. All this stuff about high free board, strengthened hulls, speed and size is all incidental and more to do with how and where as ship is operated. Many ships, which traditionalists might not consider "liners", or might not operate line voyages, could have these features to suite their modus operandi. I think that it is important to summarize all the possible derivations of the term- and maybe that is what the current paragraph should be titled-"Derivation" rather than definition, to expand on where the term (possibly) came from, with the opening paragraph describing what a liner actually is. I also have problem with this opinion that trans-Atlantic liners were the "fastest, largest and most advanced liners"- many advances were introduced on the UK- Australia route (and probably on other routes as well). The Orient Line's Orsova, for instance, was the first liner with an all welded hull and no mast. The SS Canberra was considered one of the most advanced ships of her time. The Canberra and the Oriana were, when built, the largest and fastest liners constructed in the UK after World War 2. This focus on the North Atlantic liners is too narrow and limited to those with a romantic, glorified impression of high profile ships like the Titanic, Lusitania, Mauritania, Normandie, France, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. There were many other innovative ships operating on other routes that are worthy of mention, if only in a generalized sense, without them having to be categorized as slower, smaller and less advanced than trans Atlantic liners.--Dashers 16:47, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Bluntness is not rudeness (unless intended as such) and I agree with you on what is relevant (which is why my personal belief appears on this page rather than the main article). But an article which asserts a derivation of a term should cite authority. I agree with most of the rest of your points, and were I doing the article from scratch rather than editing others's work, it would read differently. But I try to be respectful of that prior work and to proceed incrementally, in order to smooth out extremeties of opinion or unconscious biases (including my own), and to arrive at a consensus. My comments above demonstrate my belief that we need to get away from the belief that the only relevant examplars of ocean liners are transatlantic superliners. That is why this article also needs to discuss or at least mention line voyages around Africa, to the Far East and Australasia, etc.--not necessarily in the intoduction, but somewhere. And we certainly cannot ignore the Union Castle service until 1977, which probably should be taken as the real end of the ocean liner age. But despite the Canberra, Oriana, Windsor Castle, L'Atlantique, etc., it is true that most liners and liner services were much more mundane, and we cannot ignore that in a balanced article. I like your idea of treating derivation separately from definition, and the other points you make can be addressed in the body of the article. (And perhaps to inkle a conscious bias of my own, maybe we could collaborate on an article which never once mentions Titanic. Just a thought . . . ) Kablammo 19:36, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Ocean liners versus LINER galaxies[edit]

I just created a page on low-ionization nuclear emission-line regions, a class of active galactic nuclei which are commonly referred to as LINERs. At the moment, a Wikipedia search on "liner" or "LINER" is redirected here. I have placed a disambiguation link at the top of ocean liner. However, I would like to ask whether it still seems appropriate to have liner redirect to ocean liner or if liner should be made into a disambiguation page. Please let me know what you think. Thank you, Dr. Submillimeter 14:11, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

I think that Liner should be a disambiguation page, directing both to this page and to yours. A third usage (as indicated in the discussion above) is for ships of the line; I will add that to the disambiguation page if you create it. Once the disambiguation page is created (or, more accurately, converted from a redirect to a disamb) the notice can be removed from this one, as Liner would no longer direct here. Kablammo 14:35, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Liner is now a disambiguation page. Dr. Submillimeter 16:25, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Cruise ships vs. ocean liners or cruise ships as ocean liners?[edit]

I'm not so sure if there is truly an useful distinction between "cruise ships" and "ocean liners". Yes, "cruise ships" often meander on roundabout routes whereas the traditional "liners" crossed oceans, but when you have "cruise ships" having repositioning cruises regularly across the ocean, they'd technically become "ocean liners" on the transatlantic trips, and when you have "liners" doing frequent cruises, why bother making a distinction? Moreover, sizewise or luxury wise, a "liner" is about as good a description of a ship as a "cruise ship", even when applied to the same ship. Looks-wise is another matter: today's giant passenger ship is bulkier and stockier than yesterday's giant passenger ship, which had a more aerodynamic and flowing appearance. Oh yeah, and on today's ships there's only one "class" of service, in spite of lounges for the more pricy cabins and separate restaurants on the "Queen Mary 2". Nonetheless, that's no reason to go around making distinctions between "liners" and "cruise ships". 06:24, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Register with a username and joint the Wikipedia family and I will give you a response.Gary Joseph 20:40, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
what kind of response is that!? I'm quite astonished. Answer him anyway, FFS! --Lo'oris 00:26, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Oh come on! It may not have been the best response, but this user (or the IP address) has a history of vandalism, etc on Wikipedia. Aside form this, there are plenty of time I have been taken in by trolling. I was just trying to help. Besides, what is so bad about joining Wikipedia? You and I did it.Gary Joseph 04:41, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Distinctions between ocean liners and cruise ships have long been recognized, and it would be a form of original research for Wikipedia to attempt to eliminate it. But ocean liners have been used for off-season cruises for at least seven decades, and purpose-built cruise ships have also been arouund for many decades. And dual-purpose ships have also been around a long time. If you are looking for a clear dividing line, you may not find it, but it is not up to us to claim the distinction does not exist. Kablammo 02:27, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Claiming that a distinction exists is POV, just the same as claiming that such a distinction does not exist. In order to write a(n) useful article, all points of view must be included. (talk) 01:08, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
No, the distinction is clearly recognized in exterior sources, recent examples being the publicity about QM2 and her standards of construction. We are not here to advocate a point of view, but rather reflect what reliable sources state. These articles could use more citation to those sources. Kablammo (talk) 01:12, 19 December 2008 (UTC) I believe John-Maxtone Graham's book on QM2 is one of those sources. Ocean liners can be cruise ships, but very few cruise ships (or cruise liners, if you will) are ocean liners. Kablammo (talk) 01:23, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
The trouble is that recognizing a distinction can be simplistic: the very idea of what an "ocean liner" is supposed to look like and be, in its details, has changed (compare the SS Great Britain to the RMS Queen Elizabeth and the Titanic, and you will see evolutions of larger superstructures, the dwindling of masts, the expansion of cabins with portholes, changes in structure and social spaces, and changes in amenities. Granted, most new passenger ships are built for cruising, but that, in many cases, generally involves sailing for some distance, for more than one night at a time, over pieces of ocean (the Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific). If we insist on a typology separating cruise ships from ocean liners, then we ought to recognize different categories of ocean liner as well (liners with masts for sails, paddlewheel steamers, motorship liners, screw steamers). Moreover, the life on board a cruise ship has much in common with that on board the transatlantics (although with more emphasis on sunbathing and swimming). I am not sure if the transatlantics of the early-mid 20th century had formal nights, midnight buffets, etc.; however, deck games and amenities from the transatlantics have made their way from transatlantics to the cruises (steam rooms, swimming pools, dressing up for dinner, "elegant" menus, works of art aboard ship, "horse racing" (Costa does it, at least), dancing, and, of course, reading and talking in the lounges). Like the transatlantics before them, cruise vessels of today show movies in theaters, have barber shops (although they have changed into "beauty salons" by now), have children's playrooms, large dining-halls, and are capable of long, self-powered journeys at sea. Differences that I know of between most of the old transatlantics and most cruise ships of today include: Jacuzzis, no distinction between classes, a more straightforward passenger-cabin layout with an emphasis on outside cabins with windows (and, on newer ships, balconies), a shift of lifeboats to lower decks (on middling-to-newer ships), a greater segregation between passenger-cabin bearing decks and public decks (and the split between rooftop public decks and promenade public deck areas, and the blurring of a distinctive promenade into other public areas on some of those decks), massage parlors, a higher "Floor Area Ratio" with a resulting more rectangular shape, and a hole in the midships section, into which is fitted a lido and swimming pools, rather than simply making the midships area into a bulge. But the liners of the mid-20th century had numerous differences from those of the mid-19th, too! (For the purposes of my argument, I define Floor Area Ratio to be the total deck space of the ship per square foot (or sq meter) of the ship's largest deck.) — Rickyrab | Talk 18:22, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

If I may link offsite, <>. shows why a cruise ship is definitely not a liner. You will notice that this is not a major storm as visibility is still pretty good & the helicopter hasn't been grounded. A liner is built to cope with such weather in order to maintain schedules. The cruise ship featured has had to slow down to the minimum for steering, It is rolling & pitching to the point that anyone aboard unused to the sea (i.e. passengers) would be in very real danger unless strapped down. It is clearly unable to cope. Sorry that I cannot help with facts & figures re. the difference between a liner and a cruise ship but, given the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, I hope this will illustrate the difference to anyone who is unsure if there is one. kimdino (talk) 00:45, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

voyage time[edit]

looks like there's not written nor in the generic ocean liners article, nor in the single ship's articles, how much time did they take to, well, cross the ocean? that's what they did mostly, and I'm a bit surprised there isn't such a basic information. here it says the SS Leviathan in the 20s took only 5 days. Couldn't find any other info anywere. Why? --Lo'oris 00:20, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Line voyages of ocean liners went all over the world, not just to New York. You have to specify what you are looking for. Voyages could last from days to months. And many crossing times which are available are not actually from pier to pier, but rather from arbitrary points such as Bishop Rock to Ambrose. Additional times from those waypoints from and to terminals took many hours more. Kablammo 02:27, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
sure, it's reasonable to say that travel time was dependent on the route, and there were many routes. Fine. But still, here I find *NO* example AT ALL. And it would be nice to have some. --Lo'oris 17:38, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Style of naming ships, and template treatment[edit]

In trying to address a number of inconsistencies, I opted for the most common denominator used in the article, ie, the format [the] Normandie, which drops the designation SS. That's good because, in this particular article, there would otherwise be a very ugly proliferation of SSs, RMSs, etc, etc. The correct designation of a particular ship can instantly be revealed in most cases by clicking on the wikilink. However, I then encountered the inconsistent use of an otherwise laudable template which prevents the style from being standardised in the desirable way opted for. So I just changed the templates to standard wikilinks. I understand the intention and potential merit of the template but would ask EITHER that it not be used this particular article OR that a different template be developed to handle the preferred style of naming the ships in italics and without designations. Comments and/or criticism are welcomed. Bjenks (talk) 04:31, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Look at the templates, they have a way to just have the ship name without the designations you removed. {{RMS|Adriatic|1907|2}} produces this: Adriatic. -MBK004 04:37, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
The templates are here: {{SS}}, {{RMS}} by the way. -MBK004 04:39, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I oppose the removal of the destinations. They are a significant part of the history of many of the ships which were ocean liners, especially those that carry/carried Royal Mail Ship. Just stripping them from the article almost seems like depriving the encyclopedia of vital information. -MBK004 04:44, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't disagree, but the encyclopedic info is in the ship's article and surely doesn't need to be restated every time the name is mentioned. I apologise for not having skill with the template. However, my changes have been toward consistency and I have no objection to someone restoring the templates without designations, as shown above. But the same template treatment must be extended to all the ship names in the article, not just those few which I have converted. Regards Bjenks (talk) 05:36, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not opposed to having most of the links without the designations, but the first mention of each particular vessel should include the designation. That is how we in WP:SHIPS work with regards to naval vessels which use hull numbers. If we can compromise on that, I would be perfectly fine with the outcome. -MBK004 02:14, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Agreed—I'll leave it to you. The outcome should be both helpful and pleasant to read. Having some consistency in style enables changes to be made smoothly when needed. Cheers Bjenks (talk) 04:12, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Paint Scheme[edit]

Does anyone know why so many of the ships have a similar paint scheme -- black and white with red smoke stacks? Is it just ocean liners or is this a larger nautical/maritime convention? Thanks. Mego2005 (talk) 11:24, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

IIRC, that particular colour scheme - black and white with red funnels - was Cunard's house colours. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:10, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Proposed facebook category: 4-screw ocean liners[edit]

If no one has an objection, I'm going ahead with it. The liners I can think of offhand:

  • Lusitania, Mauretania and Aquitania
  • France (the original 4-funnel liner and the later one launched in 1961)
  • Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 3, Queen Victoria
  • Bremen (1929) and sister ship Europa (1928)
  • Vaterland and Imperator

--RThompson82 (talk) 04:42, 27 April 2012 (UTC)


It was not simply the Jet Age that put liners out of business. The oil price hikes in 1974 was a large factor. Until 1974, several lines (The French Line, Italian Line, Swedish America Line,Holland America etc)were still maintaining (partial)Trans-Atlantic service.

Speed is an important distinction between Ocean Liners and Cruise Ships. Liners often competed on the basis of speed, cruise ships do not and usually sail at the leisurely pace of 20 knots.

Cruise ships occassionally make Trans-Atlantic crossings, called "positioning voyages" when they sail once a year (with passengers)to ports in Europe for their annual maintenance and dry docking work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:21, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

SS United States[edit]

Too bad we don't have a pic of this amazing ship in her prime, like this one. Sca (talk) 15:20, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

Move proposal[edit]

There is a move proposal at Talk:Superliner (railcar) which may affect this article and the redirect to this article from Superliner (passenger ship). Kablammo (talk) 16:04, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

Images in the article[edit]

I will copy/paste the hidden message I placed in the newly created gallery here for the record:

Images used in this article should be informative, not decorative. This isn't about placing in an image of what ship you think is/was "the greatest" or one that is your "favorite".

This means that please, if you include an image make sure it is one that cant be described by words alone and/or informs the reader about the section. - Knowledgekid87 (talk) 19:03, 19 January 2017 (UTC)