In the strictest sense, a vessel has to meet only a couple of standards in order to be classified as a passenger ship. First, the vessel must provide a suitable amount of space for a minimum of twelve passengers. Second, passenger ships must be designed for conveying people as its primary function. However, it is possible for passenger ships to sometimes also carry small amounts of freight or other items in a hold or other area of the ship.
For many people, the mention of passenger ships brings to mind a vision of a cruise ship. This type of passenger vessel is considered an ideal setting for a vacation. Cruise ships normally have a number of options with sleeping accommodations, providing something suitable for all sorts of vacation budgets. Most of these types of passenger ships include casual and fine dining facilities, entertainment, amusements and even shopping opportunities. In some cases, the ships are used for ocean-going cruises that may last for a week or more. Many cruise lines also regularly offer shorter cruises that take passenger ships along a planned route involving two to three ports of call.