What's in a ship's name ?

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Come along for a peek into the past when ocean liner names summoned a variety of images and emotions... nationalistic ( SS United States, Constitution, Vaterland, SS France), royal ( Queen Mary, Empress of Canada, Kaiser Wilhelm), and, in the not-so-distant past, playful and fun (Mardi Gras, Carnivale).

Often the name of a ship identifies her line. For instance, Holland America Line is known for the "-dam" ships (Statendam, Veendam, Rotterdam) and for recycling the names of retired liners. Norwegian Cruise Line ships sported the "-ward" suffix (Windward, Sunward, Seaward, and so on) before the company updated the vessels' names to include the company moniker (Norwegian Wind, Norwegian Dream, etc). Royal Caribbean International ships are recognized by the "of the Seas" portion of their names.

Long before cruise lines began this practice, British ships were identified by suffix. Ships of the White Star Line ended with the letters "ic" ( Olympic, Titanic) and Cunard's liners ended in "ia" (Caronia, Mauretania). There is a fanciful story about the naming of the Queen Mary...

Cunard favored the name Victoria for the proposed ocean liner. According to William H. Miller's book The Last Atlantic Liners, the company sent a representative to King George V to request permission to name the ship for his late grandmother. The conversation supposedly went something like this: "Would His Majesty consent to our new great liner being named after the most illustrious and remarkable woman who has ever been Queen of England?" To which the King responded, "This is the greatest compliment that has ever been made to me or my wife. I will ask her permission when I get home."

It's a charming story, but not factual. In view of Cunard's merger with the White Star line, the company decided to end the use of the "ia" nomenclature. Furthermore, naming the ship for a popular and well-respected queen was logical because the British government had made a large loan for the vessel's completion. The Queen Mary became the brilliant "ship of state" of Great Britain and a source of national pride.

Cruise Ship Names in the News

Recently Carnival Cruise Line announced the names chosen for two new 102,000-ton Destiny-class "Fun Ships." The Carnival Conquest will join the fleet in the fall of 2002, followed by Carnival Glory in the summer of 2003. Already announced were Carnival Triumph, to debut July 19, 1999, and Carnival Victory, expected in the summer of 2000.

Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean International released the names four new ships! Explorer of the Seas is scheduled for fall of 2000 and Adventure of the Seas in the spring of 2002. These 142,000-ton Eagle-class ships will join the first of the class, Voyager of the Seas, now in final construction and scheduled for a maiden voyage on November 21, 1999. The first 85,000-ton Vantage-class ship will be christened Radiance of the Seas in early 2001, to be joined by Brilliance of the Seas in the summer of 2002.

As these names suggest, our cruising future is bright with promise!


(Except in France)

A ship is called a ‘she’ because there is always a great deal of bustle around her;

There is usually a gang of men about,

She has a waist and stays;

It takes a lot of paint to keep her good looking;

It is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep;

She can be all decked out;

It takes an experienced man to handle her correctly;

And without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable.

She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.