Graphics or Graffiti? Do You Like Cruise Ship Hull Art?

February 19, 2015

In ‘ye olden days’ one tall ship looked much like the next (a tall ship is an old fashioned ship with mast and sail). To help tell them apart at sea Captains would fly flags from the mast so they’d instantly know whether an approaching ship was friendly or not.

Fast forward to modern time and that worry has passed; we guarantee any cruise ship you see approaching in the distance will be friendly! Several cruise lines however have, for one reason or another decided they want to stand out from the crowd, to make sure you instantly recognise one of their ships when you see it and once you have never forget the experience!

These are the lines that have done away with the boring white hulls of yester year and boldly decorated their ships in a variety of different styles and colours!


Norwegian Cruise line

Perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable cruise lines out there for their distinctive hull artwork, love them or hate them – you know, you’ll know one of their ships as soon as you see it!


NCL Breakaway

The Breakaways artwork was designed by famous artist Peter Max with the brief that, much like the interior of the ship represents ‘New York at sea’ the hull art would have to have a strong New York theme.

NCL getaway

Much as the Breakaway is meant to represent New York, the Norwegian Getaway  has a Miami theme and famed Miami artist David ‘Lebo’ Le Batard was asked to decorate the hull. In honour of the Miami theme he came up with the iconic tropical ocean theme, complete with mermaids , suns and pelicans.

NCL Epic


P&O Britannia

In times past all of P&O’s hulls were a uniform white but they’ve gone through a recent re-branding and in line with their new image of ‘modern Britain’ they’ve done away with the mustard funnels and replaced them with a striking blue although perhaps most eye catching is the giant Union Jack flag they’ve painted on Britannia and Aurora (with the rest of the fleet to follow this year).


The P&O Aurora was the first ship to have the Union Jack livery added, closely followed by the Britannia with the rest of the fleet having it added during 2015.




Cunard don’t have cruise ships. They have ocean liners. Everything Cunard do screams style, elegance and sophistication that harkens back to an early age of cruising.

It’s with that thought in mind that Cunard have maintained their distinctive Red funnel and black hulls.

They’ve only once tried to change this, just after the Falklands War when the QE2 was painted a ‘modern grey’. The outcry of passengers was so loud though that it was quickly changed back to the traditional red and black.





Aida are a German cruise line owned by Carnival Corporation operating out of Rostock, Germany.

Their ships cater to the German speaking market and are famed for a ‘youthful style’ and ‘casual service’. Aida describe they’re ships as sea going ‘club resorts which perhaps explains how they’ve chosen to decorate their ships…..

Aida Sol


Aida Blu



Disney were always going to have to do something special for their ships but did you ever wonder why they chose those colours?

The colours of the hull are all the colours found on Mickey Mouse.

Black hull, white superstructure, yellow trim and red funnels.

Did You Know: Disney was the first line to have yellow lifeboats rather than the regulation orange. They were granted special permission by the US coastguard to keep within the colour scheme of the ship!

Disney funnel

Disney aft


Ibero Cruises

Ibero cruises are a British/American and Spanish owned company catering to the Spanish and Portuguese cruise market.

The decals on the side of Ibero’s ships, whilst not as prominent as some other cruise lines still mean you can spot an Ibero ship from a long way off at sea!




Moby ferries

Technically Moby ferries aren’t a cruise line (well duh, the clues in the company name!) but they’ve made it onto our guide as they have some of our favourite hull art out there.

They operate ferries between the Italian or French mainland and Elba, Sardinia and Corsica. Back in 2003 however they signed a deal with Warner Bros to decorate their ships with Looney Tunes characters.

What do you think? Whenever we find ourselves in the Med we can’t help but play Moby spotting!

Moby ferries

Moby Ferries

Moby ferries


And as a bonus……

What if more cruise lines got involved with decorating their ships?

What if Royal Caribbean decided to take their Barbie Room concept (you can pay to have your cabin decorated in a barbie theme for a child’s birthday) to the exterior of their ships….

Barbie Cruise

Or Celebrity cruises went looking for a Celebrity to put on the side of their ship….

Kim Kardashian


Are you a fan of cruise ship hull art? Do you think more cruise lines should decorate their ships like this or do you see it as nothing more than graffiti on an otherwise beautiful vessel?