We have been noting that flying is dying for a couple of years, as the combination of peak oil and security concerns conspire to make it miserable and expensive. Now we can toss in volcanoes, and question whether it is time for a return to liners as a viable mode of translatlantic travel. Ships like the Queen Mary 2 are not really transportation; it is more about the cruise. But every berth is overbooked for Thursday's sailing as people consider it transportation once again. It only carries 2,620 passengers, but Kris at Lo-tech Magazine calculates that if people were packed into it as tightly as they are into a 747, it could carry half a million.
Nobody is going to try that, but there is a compromise somewhere.
A cross-section of the Queen Mary 2 compared to the Titanic and to the Airbus A 380, currently the largest passenger plane with a capacity of up to 850 people. Kris De Decker
The Queen Mary 2 has weighs 57 gross tonnes per passenger; a 747 only .26 tonnes per passenger. It uses 2.7 times as much energy per person than the plane to get across the Atlantic. But you don't have to pack them in very tightly to get much more fuel efficient than the 747; Kris writes:
Even the infamous Titanic had a gross tonnage of only 18.5 tonnes per passenger. If the passengers of the Queen Mary 2 would have the same moving space as the passengers of the (luxurious) Titanic, the ship could still hold more than 8,000 people, three times more than its capacity today (more, in fact, since older steamships had much larger engine rooms).
Lots of fresh air and sunshine, too
Kris thinks you can pack in 30,000 and still be comfortable.
Every one of those 30,000 passengers on the Queen Mary 2 would have 20 times as much space than a passenger on a plane, while at the same time consuming 43 times less engine power (taking the view that both engines has similar efficiency). Taking into account the duration of the trip, the ship is 4 times more energy efficient than the plane.
And, no more worries about volcanos. More at Low Tech Magazine
More on ships:
Greenwash Watch: Can a Monster Ocean Liner Be Green?