The World’s Largest Cruise Ship: Awe-Inspiring or Anxiety-Inducing?

Earlier this week, the internet was introduced to the “Icon of the Seas,” the world’s largest cruise ship, set to join the Royal Caribbean fleet on October 26. This massive vessel, five times the size and weight of the Titanic, is an impressive feat of engineering. It boasts the largest water park at sea, its own “Central Park,” eight “neighborhoods,” and 20 total decks. With room for 5,610 passengers and 2,350 crew, it’s nearly 1,200 feet long and weighs a projected 250,800 tons.

Public Reactions: Awe and Anxiety

Despite its impressive specifications, the public reaction to the ship has been mixed. Many users expressed unease at the ship’s size on social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok. Comments ranged from humorous to anxious, with some users expressing fear about being aboard such a massive vessel. Compared to the Titanic, the ship’s size was a common concern.

Psychological Perspectives: Fear and Phobias

Elisabeth Morray, a psychologist and VP of clinical operations at Alma, explained that humans are hard-wired to pay attention to safety. The image of the gigantic ship might trigger identifiable threats to our safety. Christopher Paul Jones, a leading phobia specialist in London, added that the image might trigger megalophobia, the fear of large items, or thalassophobia, the fear of deep bodies of water. The ship’s size and enclosed nature could also trigger claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces.

The Human Smallness Factor

The sheer size of the ship can make individuals feel puny and insignificant. Greg Weller, a content creator who frequently posts about phobias on his YouTube channel, noted that cruise ships already feel like a strange combination of being way-too-big and very confined. The rendering of the “Icon of the Seas” seems to amplify both feelings.

Reflections on Excess and Hubris

The ship’s size and theme-park aesthetic may also produce feelings of guilt and shame. Seth D. Norrholm, an associate professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University, pointed out that the cruise ship experience seems like a social experiment in excess. The rendering of the “Icon of the Seas” may beg the question for many, “Do we need this excess and what could have been done differently with these resources?” Furthermore, the collective anxiety around large, opulent liners, fueled by the Titanic’s fate, is likely at play.

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Featured Image Source: Twitter / Royal Caribbean