What’s In a Name?


Have you ever wondered how cruise lines come up with some of the wacky and wonderful names for their ships? With more and more ships entering into service, cruise lines are having to think further outside the box to come up with original and new names for their upcoming vessels. Here we explore some of the weirder names of cruise ships in operation and cover some naming traditions and patterns along the way.

Cunard’s Queens

Cunard’s royal naming theme instantly marks them as the grand dames of the cruise industry – but the line’s ships haven’t always been named after female monarchs. Although the current fleet is made up exclusively of Queens, the vast majority of historical Cunard ships have been as much a Queen as your or I. In fact, 85 ships had entered into service for Cunard before the first Queen (Queen Mary) took to the seas in 1936 – with an additional two ships (Queen Elizabeth in 1940 and Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969) following this naming standard.

QM2 - El Coleccionista de Instante

A much more prevalent naming practice for the line was to end the name in ‘ia’, with famous ships including Catalonia, Lusitania and Franconia. It was only the current generation of Queen Elizabeth (the second of her name), Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 which made this practice standard.

What of the Seas?

Royal Caribbean’s ships are instantly identifiable by their unique ‘of the Seas’ suffix. As a sea-faring fleet, this naming practice is pretty self-explanatory, but like Cunard’s Queens above, this is a relatively recent trend.

The early ships in the fleet had a strong Scandinavian theme with vessels including Song of Norway, Nordic Prince and Sun Viking. Even the Nordic Empress had to be renamed the Empress of the Seas to fit in with the new naming standard when Royal Caribbean made it a hard and fast rule in 2004.

Anthem Float

Royal Caribbean first introduced the ‘of the Seas’ suffix in 1988 when the line rebranded the Sovereign of the Seas. The first ship to be built with the suffix was 1991’s Monarch of the Seas.

Holland America Line’s Directions

Holland America Line’s fleet contains a number of ships with unusual names – at least unusual for English speakers. The Dutch names for all of the ships with ‘dam’ anchoring each of the terms makes for a unique naming practice.

The ‘dam’ part of the name refers to dams in rivers and many of the ships are often named for important and influential Dutch trading posts located on dams. Amsterdam refers to a dam in the river Amstel, Rotterdam is the dam in the river Rotte and Rijndam is the dam in the river Rijn (Rhine).

Moving slightly away from this however, HAL also named the four ships of the Vista Class for compass points. Zuiderdam means South Dam, Oosterdam means East Dam, Westerdam means West Dam and Noordam means North Dam.

Phil Comeau

MSC Preziosa (and all her mispronunciations)

Oh the pronunciations we’ve received from folks booking a cruise on the poor MSC Preziosa. The name simply wasn’t designed for the British tongue to navigate. We think the best way to pronounce this cruise ship’s name is to channel your inner Hermione Grainger when she is attempting to conjure a levitation charm, and pronounce it Preh-Zee-Oh-Sa.


If you’d like to show off your new-found knowledge aboard one of the above ships (or any in service for that matter), Cruise1st can help you find a stunning selection of deals. For all the best cruise deals, visit our homepage or call us now on 0808 2746 777.

Images sourced via P&O Press Centre, Royal Caribbean Press Center, and Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: El Coleccionista de Instante, Phil Comeau, dmytrok 


About Author

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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