Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles A majestic snow-white cruise ship looks like a piece of art. It's a city in itself, with cafes, stores, swimming pools, gyms, and a water park. Everything, from its impressive size to the number of passengers on board, leaves unprepared observers speechless. The biggest mystery for some people, though, besides “What’s on the buffet?” is, "How does this big guy stay afloat and avoid keeling over?" Well, imagine something as large as the Empire State Building in length and 10 giraffes both in width and in height. The weight of this thing equals the weight of 2,000 blue whales piled together. Those are some pretty wacky comparisons I’ll admit. (wow honey, looks like that thing is 10 giraffes high! Okay, that’s it for the Mai tais for you today.) So here, I'm really talking about the Symphony of the Seas. It’s a really big boat. With 22 restaurants, an ice rink, a 9-story zip line, robot bartenders, theaters, water slides, and climbing walls, who’s got time to look at the water? It's the world's largest cruise ship. The thing can transport almost 7,000 passengers and more than 2,000 crew members! But even if most of these people gather on one side, the ship won’t tip over. Hey let’s try it! It doesn't prevent people from worrying that at some unlucky moment, such a jumbo-ship can flip over. Look how tall and relatively narrow it is! What these people don't know is that a cruise ship can roll to almost 60 degrees before it's in danger of tipping over! Plus, cruise ships are built to withstand 50-ft waves. But you should know that such huge waves are a rarity, and a typical ship is unlikely to come across one of those during its career. Cruise ships are surprisingly well-prepared for all bad weather Mother Nature has in her bag of tricks. They're designed to handle even severe storms during the hurricane season. Before construction, specialists make a ship scale model and put it through all kinds of extreme weather simulations. This way, they check how the future full-sized vessel will react in this or that situation. But the question of the day is HOW cruise ships manage to stay afloat even in rough seas. Do they probably have a massive and heavy underwater part that helps them to keep the balance? Not at all! Cruise ships have shallow and wide bottom surfaces. Usually, no more than 30 ft of the vessel sits under the water, which is only about 10% of the ship's overall height. These vessels are massive, a bit clumsy, and incredibly heavy. Keep in mind that a cruise ship carries not only its own weight but also the weight of at least several thousand passengers and crew members, all their luggage, food, furniture, swimming pools filled with water, elevators, and whatnot. But even loaded with all this hefty cargo, a vessel is still filled with air, which makes it buoyant - capable of floating. When you place some object - be it a piece of wood or a huge cruise ship - in the water, whether it sinks or floats will depend on its buoyancy. And buoyancy is tightly linked with how dense the object is. If it's denser than the water (like a stone), it will sink. Otherwise, it will stay on the surface. Now, one more thing: if you put a floating object on the surface of the water, it’ll make the water push upward against it. This pressure is what keeps the object from sinking. The only difference between a cruise ship and a piece of wood is that the vessel sits in the water way, way lower than the wood because of its immense weight. Never mind that the piece of wood is not 10 giraffes high. It doesn't explain why cruise ships don't tip over, though. If you look at a cruise ship's hull, you'll notice its unusual shape: it's wide and rounded. Kinda like me. Just kidding. This helps the vessel to move smoothly and with minimal drag - that's a force which slows a ship down. It’s also a drag when the ship’s band is really really bad. Round edges also increase the ship's stability, preventing the vessel from swaying and rocking and passengers - from feeling seasick. Even though a cruise ship towers above the surface, its center of gravity is far below the waterline. The heaviest equipment, engines, tanks with fuel, drinking water, and waste - all this is at the very bottom of the ship, on the lowest decks. And that's not all: among these bulky tanks and containers, there is something crucial for the ship's balance - ballast tanks. They contain water that can be pumped from one side of the ship or the other. In case of an emergency or rough seas, it helps to keep the ship balanced, counter the waves, and reduce rocking. A large cruise ship usually has several ballast tanks. So, buoyancy, low center of gravity, and ballast keep a cruise ship stable. But there is one natural phenomenon that can still put this vessel at risk, and it's not wind! Surprisingly, experts say that no wind can be strong enough to cause a ship to turn over. The danger I'm talking about is rogue waves. These are the waves that can be twice as tall as others and come from any direction. They appear out of nowhere, and no one can predict when and where they will pop up. It's a good thing rogue waves are extremely rare, and the chances a cruise ship will meet one are really low. However, you ever see the movie “The Posidon Adventure”? That fictional story is all about when a cruise ship and a rogue wave had lunch one day. They say "better safe than sorry," and it's totally true about vessels and dangerous weather conditions. Being equipped with plenty of modern gismos, cruise ships still try to avoid or outrun any serious storm they're likely to come across. Rerouting ships isn't something highly unusual. Most cruise lines have an opportunity to observe all their ships in real time and change their routes if there is a hurricane, typhoon, massive storm, or fog ahead. Cruise ships can also change their itineraries. For example, if the sea is too rough, a ship can skip a port altogether, dock at a different port, or arrive several hours later than planned. But if your ship hasn't managed to avoid bad weather, listen to the captain's instructions. The crew will most likely cover the floors with non-slip mats and warn you to be cautious while walking. You'll regularly get information about the sea condition - it will help you to understand how you should act during the day. For example, if you tend to get seasick, you may need to use motion sickness patches or medications. During rough seas, waterslides and swimming pools will be shut down, and in the worst cases, you won't be able to get to the outdoor decks at all. Also, the captain may ask you to stay in your cabin, but it happens in exceptionally rare cases. Sometimes, a cruise ship doesn't manage to dodge a storm and has to force its way through the waves. If it happens, the most important thing is to keep the ship's front (called the bow) pointed into the waves. For onlookers, the view will be terrifying: giant waves rising right in front of the bow. But seamen know that only this way, the ship can plow through the waves safely. A wave crashing against the side of the ship is way more dangerous because it can easily turn the vessel over. Which is what we don’t want. Cruise ships are equipped with special stabilizers that prevent them from tilting to one side too much. But they don't help with pitching - front to back movements. For this purpose, cruise ships have long and narrow bows that help them to cut through the waves more effectively. Combined, stabilizers and long bows help cruise ships to weather even powerful storms. It's hard for ships to avoid bad weather altogether because every year, the average cruise ship travels more than 84,000 miles! This distance is just over 3 times the distance around the Earth, or 3,000,000 blue whales lined up end to end. Yeah that’s a crazy comparison! By the way, if one day, your cruise ship stops seemingly without a reason, it might be rescuing some unfortunate fishermen that have been battered by a storm! Such situations happen much more often than you can imagine! Keep in mind that your ship is specially designed to get through ordinary storms with no trouble. But smaller vessels can experience serious problems. Your ship may answer a distress call or just happen across stranded fishers. Whatever the case, cruise ship crews are specially trained to deal with all kinds of rescue operations. Finally, this Joke: What did the cruise ship say to the big rogue wave? Thanks for the tip! Ha. And that’s all I got. 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