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How to Tell a Cargo Vessel From a Cruise Ship

Galley pantries marine equipment

When a company needs to transport large quantities of product across long distances, they will often utilize marine services to get the job done. Cargo ships that are built to carry large containers and oversized equipment are easier to load and hold more product than airplanes that travel the same distance. Cargo ships are built differently than other ships, with specific parts of cargo vessels suited to their unique purpose.

When most people think of cargo vessel parts and equipment, they think of things common to every ship, such as the rudder and the hull. One thing that makes cargo vessels stand out is the crane. Located on the ship’s main deck, the crane is used to load products and supplies onto the ship, as well as to unload when the vessel reaches its destination.

Where a cruise vessel might have rooms or entertainment, a cargo vessel has holds. The hold is where the shipment is stored for the voyage. The ship’s spare part supply may also be kept in the hold. The hold is accessed through a large hatch in the main deck, which allows the crane to move cargo in and out. Hatch covers keep the hold protected and create more walking space on deck while the ship is in motion. Some larger cargo vessels have multiple holds, with a hatch cover in between each to create tween or lower decks.

One of the main parts of cargo vessels that is shared with cruise ships is the superstructure, though the design varies widely between ship types. The superstructure rises from the main deck and contains housing and dining for the crew. On a cruise ship, the superstructure takes up much of the deck and houses guest rooms, entertainment, shopping, and fine dining. A cargo vessel’s superstructure tends to be much smaller and more utilitarian, designed to affect the ship’s speed as little as possible.

While these are only a few of the different parts of cargo vessels, they are the most different from other ship types. Now you know what to look for, so if you board a ship for a cruise and you see a crane instead of a water slide, you are on the wrong boat.

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