THE ROYAL CLIPPER
With her five tall masts, proudly adorned with 42 sails, the Royal Clipper looks surreal on the seas of the 21st Century - a startling throwback to a bygone era of pirates, explorers and buccaneers. Yet this is no nostalgic hallucination: this is a very real, very modern take on a classic kind of ship, taking passengers on leisure cruises in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Built in 2000, the Royal Clipper was directly inspired by an early 20th Century tall ship called the Preussen, which first set sail in 1902 but sank after a collision with another ship in 1910. While the Royal Clipper may look archaic from a distance, beneath the traditional sails lies a state-of-the-art vessel with luxury cabins, swimming pools and a three-tiered dining room, not to mention a library and spa.
The hoisting of the sails is a big draw for the passengers, who gather to see it happen, while it's even possible to clamber up into the crow's nest and peer out to the horizon in time-honoured sea-faring fashion.
THE SAIPEM 7000
The phrase "monster ship" barely feels like a metaphor when applied to the Saipem 7000. With its two soaring cranes piercing the sky like robot dinosaurs, this is a hulking beast of a ship, manned by hundreds of workers and featuring its own cinema and hospital.
The Saipem 7000, owned by an Italian oil and gas contractor, is a crane ship, which means it's deployed to assist in the creation of oil rigs and other vast offshore installations. The ship's immense strength means it can lay pipes at water depths well below 2,000 metres, while each crane can lift up to 7,000 tonnes on its own.
The ship's array of thrusters mean it can travel long distances to different projects, and stay firmly position during operations - which is no small thing, when you consider it goes to work in some of the fiercest weather conditions imaginable.
THE CROWN PRINCESS
Long, leisurely cruises have never been more popular, with vast ships carrying scores of tourists to some of the most picturesque places on Earth. But even in this crowded field, the Crown Princess stands out. It's owned by Princess Cruises, a US company which became well known in the 1970s and 80s when one of its previous ships was used as the setting for the gleefully cheesy comedy-drama series The Love Boat.
The ship in The Love Boat carried fewer than 650 passengers. By contract, the Crown Princess is a mammoth community on the sea, able to accommodate well over 3,000 passengers (which is considerably more than the famed Queen Mary 2 ocean liner). The scores of cabins are stacked up over 19 decks, which are lined by 900 balconies, while entertainment options range from a Vegas-style casino to art auctions where passengers can bid on contemporary works by big-name painters.
The ship, which made her maiden voyage in June 2006 and was christened by celebrity lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart, even features a sprawling "piazza" area, inspired by classic European town squares, complete with boutique shops and street performers. It's even possible to get married on board, with the Crown Princess boasting her own wedding chapel. It's no wonder the ship has a crew of over 1,200 and generates enough electricity to power a small town every single day.
THE ONE COLUMBA
"This world is not round. It is a box." These famous words by Chinese shipping magnate CY Tung highlight how the invention of the standardised shipping container changed the course of history by making it so much cheaper, easier and safer to transport cargo between nations. Today, one of the most eye-catching container ships on the high seas is the ONE Columba, the magenta-coloured vessel owned by Japanese company Ocean Network Express (ONE).
Before the dawn of the container age, transporting cargo was an expensive, time-consuming process. Armies of dock workers had to load cargo onto ships piece by piece, with crates and bags of many different sizes having to be carefully arranged, Tetris-like, on the vessels. Delays, damage and casual theft were a fact of life, much to the annoyance of a US trucking entrepreneur named Malcolm McLean.
Frustrated by seeing how long it took to load up ships with the wares from his trucks, he developed the first multi-purpose shipping containers, with patented technology that would allow them to be lifted straight from trucks onto ships, stacked up safely for the voyage, then lifted onto the shore on the other side without workers having to handle the individual wares themselves.