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Some spaceships are better than others


The Axiom. Putting the 'Star' in 'Executive Star Liner.'


In media, spacecraft and starships revel in their inefficient use of on-board space. Passageways will be broad with high ceilings. The bridge will be an expansive multilevel complex paneled with floating viewscreens and control panels. Crew quarters will be as spacious as a suite at the Plaza.

Real Life military and commercial ships make very efficient use of space. Every cubic meter of volume requires finite resources to support. This will be especially critical in spacecraft where the only resources available will be those carried on board. The nearest port may be months or years away. Therefore sustaining a space the size of a gymnasium that's manned by only five people is criminally wasteful on a military vessel.

However, "cramped" and "luxurious" are also purely relative terms between time periods. A modern, space-efficient, hot-bunking military naval vessel is the epitome of space and comfort and luxury compared to ships of ancient times. A sailor from the navies of 1600 would consider life aboard, say, the Nimitz-class supercarrier Abraham Lincoln to be palatial ... and probably inconceivably wasteful.

Also, real ships have decks and windows, and even submarines can surface and open hatches. A purely mathematically efficient use of space might have a detrimental effect on the mental well-being of the crew, especially if spaceships are out of port for a very extended period of time. To give a more interesting Real Life case, the Soviet/Russian Akula/"Typhoon" class submarines (all but one has now retired) had a swimming pool, sports facilities, a sauna and a smoking room, since the subs could spend at least 180 days submerged at a time. Tom Clancy got this wrong in The Hunt for Red October, but that was more a bad guess based on other submarines. The "Typhoon" is the exception rather than the rule, although ballistic missile-carrying submarines are noted for their attention to crew comfort. If you want cramped, look at modern hunter/killer submarines or go back to World War II subs (watching Das Boot will give you an idea of how ridiculously claustrophobic these are).

This trope is usually given a pass for "cruise spaceships", where the wasted space is part of the point, as the passengers are wealthy enough to absorb the cost. For Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (or humans at the Crystal Spires and Togas level), cost would naturally be less of an issue. Often, though not always, a feature of a Cool Starship.

Examples of Starship Luxurious include:

Anime & Manga

  • The Eltrium
  • Averted in Starship Operators where accommodations aboard the Amaterasu were claustrophobic.
  • The Nirvana from Vandread had its bridge overhanging a park. Then again, the ship wasn't designed by anyone; it just... well, no one's really sure how that happened.
  • The titular ship in Sol Bianca had large open spaces and an indoor park. It had a five (wo)man crew.
  • Subtly used in Legend of Galactic Heroes, where the flagships of Galactic Empire are very roomy and advanced compared to the utilitarian vessels of the Free Planets Alliance. Smaller Imperial vessels seem to be as Spartan as their Alliance counterparts.
  • Jurai treeships in Tenchi Muyo!, especially those belonging to the royal family, are not simply roomy and well-outfitted, but can be ridiculously spacious and luxurious. Mikagami, Seto's personal warship, one of the most powerful in the Jurai fleet, has a huge Japanese-style landscape park (complete with The Thing That Goes Doink). Its crew—exactly one. But then, the Juraian Empire IS wealthy beyond belief, and they ARE Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
    • To clarify, the ships of Jurai are powered by Royal Trees that draws energy from multiple dimensions from their roots, which are direct descendants of Tsunami, one of the goddesses which created the multi-dimensional Tenchi Muyo universe. Along with obscene amounts of speed and firepower, a Royal Tree can generate a pocket dimension for its crew. Like the TARDIS, a Jurai treeship is MUCH Bigger on the Inside than it looks on the outside. Essentially, the interior is pretty much as big as the owner wants it to be. A full size luxury resort and hotel, complete with wildlife park? No problem!
      • Hey, if they are advance enough to build the galaxies most powerful spaceships out of nothing but WOOD without using nails and screws or even glue, and the trees used to power their ships have the ability to put up force fields wings that are so powerful that not even another goddess at the same level as Tsunami cannot even comprehand how it was done in over 20000 years she descended, what can't they do?
  • Macross has ships that house entire cities. Though the first one was designed for giants, and subsequent ones were designed as cities in space, and the actual starship was far more conventional.
  • While not as bad as some of the other examples, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha still managed to include a classic, Japanese-style tea room in the Arthra, one of the Time-Space Administration Bureau's Dimensional Cruise Patrol Warships. The room even had The Thing That Goes Doink.
  • The Peacemillion from Gundam Wing, a three-kilometer wide spaceship which seems to have what looks like a food court, where the Gundam Pilots hang out between missions. Potentially Justified Trope since Peacemillion was designed to be a space exploration/colonization ship.
  • Most Gundam meta-series ships large enough to carry Humongous Mecha seem to also have room for pretty nice cafeterias, IIRC. The Argama in Zeta Gundam features a sign proclaiming (in English) the availability of "Beer".
    • Not quite luxurious if one calculate the numbers. A space ship with minimal space enough to be mothership of multiple Humongous Mecha of the 20~25 metre class simply dwarfs the crew space by comparison and the parking space for say, like 10 mecha along with its spare parts can accomodate well over the need of space for any sufficient number of crew.
      • Real Luxury space in the Gundam series is in Gundam SEED Destiny, where they modified the Archangel class space/air battlecarrier to go underwater as well and not only have a large enough public bathroom on top of self shower space in living quartres, but also an imitation hot spring area completed with Japanese style gardening scenery.
  • Mamoru Nagano and Kunihiko Ikuhara's joint Light Novel Schell Bullet gives us Gene Liners—a huge armed starliners that has everything from stylish bridges and spacious corridors with indoor gardens (see above) to the onboard spas with a Mt. Fuji replica inside. Somewhat justified in that these enormous ships not only carry paying passengers, but have to be this big to be economical, and if we have a cubage, why not fill it with something nice?
  • The interior of Space Battleship Yamato is much roomier than the actual Battleship Yamato, at least if IJN battleships were similar to contemporary American ships. Especially when one considers that half the ship's volume is occupied by the Wave Motion Gun. They also can put up some kind of force field that allows crewmembers to walk around on the deck of the ship without spacesuits. This field is sometimes visible to the audience, and sometimes its existence is just implied, so it almost looks like the animators just forgot they were in space.
    • Also bare in mind that the actual Battleship Yamato was called the Yamato Hotel in WWII for its really spacious living area with over 10 times the crew members,(also for it being anchored on shore for almost its entire life time without seeing combat) so this is not quite off the chart.
      • The only space the actual Yamato lacked was toilet space, they have a 100:1 crew to toilet ratio, and did not have a well organized system of shift thus every shift break, they have reeeaaallllyyyy loooooooong lines in front of the toilets.


  • The Imperial Star Destroyers of Star Wars were quite roomy with Vader's flagship, the Executor, being a particularly egregious example of this trope. But then, The Empire was supposed to be decadent and Romanesque, so this could be intentional.
    • An Imperial-I-Class Star Destroyer has an overall crew of 46,785 individuals, including a troop complement of 9,700. This is the smaller 'Standard Star Destroyer', which is 1.6 kilometers (or one mile) long. In addition to the crew it carries a complement of smaller ships and ground vehicles. In earth terms it could be compared to a whole carrier group, rolled into one ship.
    • This is lampshaded in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. In the first novel of the X-wing series, Kirtan Loor is invited to Ysanne Isard's office. It is huge and nearly empty. Kirtan wonders why Ysard doesn't have more stuff, if for no other reason to flaunt her wealth, until he realizes that on Coruscant, the crowded city planet, empty space is one of the most expensive commodities in existence.
    • The EU averts this a great deal. Freighters and other civilian ships are extremely cramped with almost no creature comforts, and one space station described in the X-Wing series was built cramped even by the standards of such things. The EU then brings this back with a vengeance with the aforementioned luxury ships. But when you're talking about people with enough wealth to buy a planet or several, complaining about the wastefulness of resources is a bit gauche. In Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, the protagonists end up having to take a mass transit ship which was built by insectlike Verpines. It's very crowded and unpleasant, particularly to people like them, who generally have their own, better-appointed craft.
    • Also, note the conditions aboard ships like the low-rent passenger vessel that Anakin, Padme, and R2-D2 used to travel from Coruscant to Naboo in Attack of the Clones. There's a huge difference between the Republic and Imperial and Naboo ships with vast budgets supporting them, and private-sector working-class conditions. See also the Millenium Falcon.
    • The various Naboo royal ships are unarmed luxury vessels designed to transport VIPs in style, and have fairly roomy and artistically designed interiors. Completely chromed, as a mark of royalty. They usually have fighter escorts.
  • The Fhloston Paradise in The Fifth Element, which is designed to be a luxury line in space.
  • NASA advisors to the movie Sunshine (2007) spoke out in favor of this trope. The cost of roomy quarters, in terms of air and mass, would be more than balanced out by the benefits to a crew's sanity on a long mission. As evidenced when they actually go into the part of the ship with the bomb inside, there's plenty of space around the bomb itself... and breathable air, too. Besides, they were towing a bomb the size of Manhattan, so a little additional space would hardly be noticeable. Ultimately, the movie retained a submarine-ish feel, but toned it down.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens. Really, it's a plot necessity if you're going to have a 49 foot, 11 1/2 inch woman rampaging through it.
  • WALL-E. The Axiom is a perfect example of this. Though it is intended for people to live on it as long as needed and taking up all of Earth's remaining resources so you would imagine it should look nice.


  • Averted in John Ringo's Into the Looking Glass novels: Earth's first starship, the Vorpal Blade, is a converted Ohio class ballistic missile submarine.
  • Subverted in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space: the Nostalgia for Infinity is kilometers long, manned by five people and features a rather beautiful grove that serves the crew as a dining room. The one set of quarters seen are explicitly mentioned to be only austere due to its occupant's personality. However, outside the dining grove are the rotted remnants of a much-larger park, a pattern that basically holds true for the rest of the ship.
  • My Teacher Is an Alien has the New Jersey, so named because the ship is as big as the aforementioned state. Occupants have to get around via teleporter. Not only are there thousands, perhaps millions of aliens aboard, but each one gets his/hers/its/dxwje's own pod/room, and there are facilities on board that will make them anything they want and have it delivered at a touch of a button.
  • Starships in the Honorverse have been known to have good-sized swimming pools on them. Military starships. Of course when said ships can be measured in kilometers this becomes a bit more palatable. Lampshaded when after remarking that the swimming pool doubles as a storage tank for part of the ship's water, Honor decides that's the only reason the design was signed off on.
    • Partially justified in that the ship in question was a capital ship (so it had space to spare), was designed as a flagship, and the pool was intended for the resident flag officer's use. This is not a standard feature on typical ships.
    • Storm from the Shadows reveals the Solarian League specifically is modifying the bridges to be more TV-friendly for documentary and fictional military series set in the SLN, including lots of space, especially on flag bridges.
      • And in the latest book, Mission of Honor, when an entire fleet of Solarian superdreadnaughts surrenders, the Manticorans who board the ships to take possession note that the "TV-friendly" layout is extremely poorly designed for actually information flow, however snazzy it might look.
    • HMS Duke of Cromarty, a royal yacht built on a battlecruiser hull after the previous civilian design ship proved lacking in defenses, demonstrated that when you strip out most of the magazine capacity from a multi-megaton warship you can fit in not only several staterooms, but also a full-sized ballroom.
  • In Animorphs, Andalites' Dome ships, as is somewhat implied by the name, include a domed park-like section (which doubles as a source of food due to Bizarre Alien Biology, making it genuinely useful, albeit probably not useful enough to justify the trope). It can be ejected from the main body of the ship if necessary.
    • Note that this is justified by Andalite psychology: Since the species evolved as centaur-like herd animals on open plains, they have even more of a need for open space than humans, with only three cities/spaceports on their entire planet. Prequels portray earlier Andalite ships having holographic skies and grass-carpeted floors. Andalites using other species' vehicles are sometimes mentioned fighting claustrophobia.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a ship which is designed to resemble, and is powered by, an Italian restaurant. Specifically, the strange and improbable mathematics that go into divvying up the check are extrapolated to allow the ship to move in strange and improbable ways.
    • Arthur even points this out when he arrives on the Heart of Gold in the TV Series.

Arthur: Now this is my idea of a space ship - gleaming metal, flashing lights...

      • In the novels, he finds the bright, white and roomy Heart of Gold strange. When they stumble on an old spaceship, one that is dark and cramped, Ford is unimpressed, maybe even disgusted, but Arthur finds it fitting.
  • Dahak from David Weber's Empire From the Ashes. But then again, it is a light cruiser that's the size of the moon, so having giant parks is okay.
    • Heck, Weber never really explains what most of the room aboard Dahak is used for, the stuff we're shown would occupy only trivial percentages of the interior volume. For example, they carry 200 attack cruisers the size of wet-navy Terran battleships. Only 200? Why not 20,000? Or 2 million?
    • Besides, the average deployment was 25 years, so a "normal" ship design would lead to insanity via cabin fever in no time.
  • All Culture ships, including warships and small modules. At the other end, the General Systems Vehicles are worlds unto themselves.
    • Some Rapid Offensive Unit and (d)ROU classes ("d" for demilitarized) are described as quite cramped, with only a few narrow tunnels and cabins squeezed in the gaps between cubic kilometers of internal machinery. However in these cases the ships in question are designed to spend most of their time without any crew at all, and (d)ROUs at least have the massive voids where the weapons used to be.
      • (d)ROUs converted for moving people around space are seen to well appointed for comfort.
  • While interstellar travel in Sergei Pavlov's Moon Rainbow is only starting to be practically contemplated, the interplanetary travel is apparently casual enough for one of the Cool Starships in the novel to have not just an onboard swimming pool or spa, but a friggin' beach resort. Of course it's Subverted Trope in it being just improvised by a crew (with an enterprising use of the plastic aggregate from a cargo and water from propellant tanks) in an unused hold of this huge-ass freighter hauling cargo between various Outer System colonies and outposts, but it's the intent that counts here, and the ship herself was big and comfy enough to feature here.
  • In Hyperion the Consul's ship is one of these, there's even a spherical pool maintained by force-fields. However, the Consul's ship is specifically stated to be one of only a handful of privately owned spaceships in existence. When characters go on board one of the FORCE warships it's stated to be extremely cramped.
  • The interior of a ship owned by Haxxarians (a culture whose hat seems to be "Jerkass He Man Woman Haters") in Douglas Hill's Young Legionary fits this trope...albeit as designed by Fashion Victim Villains. As soon as they're given an excuse, Keill Randor and Oni Wolda gleefully trash the place.
  • Spoofed in the short story Matter of Magnitude by Al Sevcik. Earth has a mile-long battleship which it uses to enforce galactic peace, but it's forced to withdraw when it makes First Contact with an alien race whose spaceship they can't detect—it's only afterwards they realize that's because the alien spaceship is only an inch and a half long.
  • The winner, of course, is the Golden Ship from Cordwainer Smith's "Golden the Ship Was-Oh! Oh! Oh!" Ninety million miles long and very much golden ... with a crew of ... one. True, it's quarters we dwarfed by the size of the ship, and twenty feet by thirty feet small compared to the space pleasure cruisers but huge compared to our current cramped quarters, but that doesn't matter much when you spend most of your time jacked into a pleasure inducing electric current. Nor the fact that the rest of the ship was foam and wires to fake the effect of a legendary unbeatable starship. In short, the universe's largest scarecrow.
  • Well, Mr. Ambassador... has The Captain complaining to the titular diplomat that the diamond chandelier is nearly twenty years old. In his quarters. On an interstellar battleship.

Captain: There’s nearly no older light fixture in the SSP.

  • In Larry Niven's Known Space, a General Products #4 hull is a sphere more than a thousand feet in diameter. Kitted out with the superfast 'Quantum II' hyperdrive, it has about as much living space as a Winnebago.
  • The aptly named Titan in Stanislaw Lem's Tales of Pirx the Pilot.
  • On several occasions, Liaden Universe novels have contrasted Terran ships (small, utilitarian) with Liaden ships (huge, luxurious) as a way of drawing attention to just how rich Liaden traders are.
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator introduces the Space Hilton, which is a Hilton... In Space. Sadly it was quickly invaded by Vermicious Knids and everyone on board was eaten.
  • The Great Ship in Robert Reed's Great Ship universe. Being a ship as large as Jupiter, it has natural canyons, rivers, caverns, and beaches by the thousands inside its nearly impenetrable hull. Passengers can easily claim rooms as large as Manhattan. People serving time in the brig are allowed at least ten thousand cubic meters of living space.
  • The titular Cities in Flight by James Blish are Exactly What It Says on the Tin -- entire freaking cities turned into starships thanks to a drive technology that gets more efficient the bigger your ship is. It's kind of hard not to be spacious when your starship is all of Manhattan island.

Live-Action TV

  • It's probably useful to remember, in this section, that the difficulties of filming in a realistically cramped set probably put a lower limit on the size of corridors and other spaces.
  • Star Trek had Federation vessels more in line with luxury liners than military vessels. The Enterprise-D is probably the second worst offender (see below). In fact, when Scotty from the original series visited the Enterprise-D, he was stunned at the size of the guest room they put him in. The Ensign assigned to him initially misunderstood and offered to find him something even larger.
    • The production designer who designed the original Enterprise's bridge once complained that the bridge of the Enterprise-D looked more like a Hilton Hotel lobby than a functional starship bridge.
      • It was originally worse. The early artistic conceptions for the Enterprise-D bridge would have no consoles or active controls at all, everything would be done by voice command to the computers, and the whole bridge was basically one long curved bench (to signify the non-hierarchical future mindset). With hanging plants and other casual touches. A remnant of that was the three command seats together at the center, and the 'coffee bar' look of the whole thing.
    • However, surprisingly, the greater size is largely illusion: The classic bridge and the "D" bridge are very close together in size.
    • In A.H. Wokanovics' "Three Faces, Same Mirror", written for Trek magazine, the Enterprise-D was referred to as "a magnificently refined work of space-going sculpture" and "our padded cocktail lounge in the sky".
    • And for the very worst offender (especially in regards to the fact that this about eighty years before the Galaxy-class was made), the 2009 Continuity Reboot of the series shows just how Zeerusty TOS is. The new exterior design of the Enterprise is already a very loose variation of the original, but they redesigned the bridge so that you can't even recognize it as the original Enterprise bridge. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but those are some huge Broad Strokes Abrams took.
    • Note that Starfleet isn't really a military organization. Its primary roles are scientific research and diplomacy, the latter of which could perhaps justify this, as it makes sense for a diplomatic vessel to be reasonably aesthetically pleasing. Particularly in the case of the Enterprise, being the fleet's flagship.
      • Meanwhile, Defiant-class ships, the first dedicated warships in a long time, are described as being cramped (at least by the standards of Federation citizens); and those we have seen have stacked bunks instead of the spacious apartments afforded to everyone on normal starships.
        • The same goes for the Enterprise NX-01, which had very few windows and looked far more like the inside of your average warship than a Galaxy-class starship. The captain's quarters were only slightly larger than enlisted crew quarters on the NCC-1701, and it's explicitly mentioned that the captain's quarters on that vessel were the size of junior officers' quarters on the NCC-1701-D. Apparently, starships have gotten larger and more extravagant over time.
      • Also the enlisted crewmen's quarters on the smaller USS Voyager seen in the Below Deck Episode, a 2-person room is about the size of a walk-in closet.
    • On the other hand, the roominess and comfort of the Galaxy-class vessels is somewhat Justified Trope by the fact that the Federation is supposed to be a more or less post-scarcity economy: it costs the Federation nothing to make the ship unusually large and comfortable, so why not go for the psychological benefits?
      • Mind you, the Enterprise-D was the exception, rather than the rule, for Starfleet ships, at least by standards of the 24th century. One episode has the captain of a more typical Excelsior class starship describe the Enterprise as a "Flying Hotel". Of course, she was the "Flagship of Starfleet", and was presumably designed at least in part to demonstrate the Federation's power and (collective) wealth to others she would encounter in her travels.
    • Averted with Klingon ships, especially in the EU. For example, the newest Qang-class warships of the IKS Gorkon novels feature cramped bunks for the thousands of troops on-board. Then again, Klingons don't really like comfort (they never bathe).
      • When Worf's brother Kurn visited the Big E he said "This entire ship seems built on comfort, relaxation, being at ease. It is not the ship of a warrior -- not the ship of a Klingon."
  • Averted on Firefly; even the passenger quarters are small. Inara has large (in comparison), opulent quarters, but that's part of her job description -- and they're not actually "quarters" proper, but an entire detachable shuttlecraft.
    • Then again, the average trip length on Firefly was only several days. The ship doesn't have to be roomy if you can get shore leave at least once a week.
      • "Not quite as bad" rather than averted. You could squeeze a lot more stuff into Serenity if you wanted.
      • And when not being used by things like herds of cows, there's usually enough free space on the cargo deck for playing basketball.
      • Being a cargo hauler, Serenity would by nature have a large open hold to transport cargo in. However, the crew and passenger quarters are compact in size (see the fold-away toilet and sink) and while the mess-hall area is quite roomy, it's meant to serve as a recreation area for the entire crew. To my mind, barring the oddly wide hallways, Serenity makes excellent use of space.
      • Hard to tell how wide the hallways were on the ship, given that the cramped quarters of the sets meant that the show had to be filmed with wide-angle lenses, which do odd things to your sense of depth and width. Basically, things closer to the edges get distorted and stretched out, with things in the background getting the treatment the most. So a cramped hallway will appear to be wider than it is.
  • Doctor Who's "Robots of Death" features a self-contained mining ship that is quite luxurious, despite being crewed by people desperately hoping for a good strike, as they need the money.
    • The crew didn't own the ship, and all the colonists lived a pampered life thanks to robots.
      • Of death.
    • And it seems more like they want the money rather than desperately need it; the more ore means a bigger payday when they get back to base.
    • The starliner Titanic in "Voyage of the Damned" was fairly spacious. Given that it was a luxury cruise ship, this is to be expected.
  • Averted in, of all places, the original Battlestar Galactica. When they encountered the "Terrans", conditions inside the Eastern Alliance ships were very cramped and submarine-like. This was a convenient visual shorthand to convey that "Terran" spaceflight technology was comparatively primitive next to the large, roomy vessels of the Ragtag Fugitive Fleet.
    • Averted too in its re-imagined cousin. The only truly "open space" in the fleet is aboard the luxury liner Cloud Nine, which is equipped with a massive environmental dome. Unfortunately, Gina blew it up. Galactica is shown to have fairly large corridors, but this is justified by the size of her crew and the sheer size of Galactica itself. There was a graph comparing Galactica to the World War II aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which wasn't even the size of one of Galactica‍'‍s engine pods.
  • Justified somewhat in Red Dwarf since all the crew bar Lister are dead, he and hologram Rimmer move to the more luxurious officers quarters in the third series. Also, the 'High' Red Dwarf in 'Demons & Angels' was meant to be luxurious, and of course was countered by the squalid 'Low' counterpart ship.
    • Lister and Rimmer's cramped bunkroom from the first two series was explicitly designed to resemble a submarine, right down to the different shades of grey paint.
      • I'm still waiting for the episode guide telling us which episodes had "Battleship Grey" and which had "Ocean Grey"
  • Several of the starships in Babylon 5, especially the Minbari and Centauri ships. The titular space station is, of course, the greatest offender, but then again it was supposed to be a self-sufficient trade and diplomatic outpost. Why the designers saw fit to include the downbelow in the construction plans is slightly less intuitive.
    • It's implied that downbelow is the equivalent of maintenance corridors.
      • Part of Downbelow is indeed maintenance corridors, but it was originally supposed to cram in even more legitimate civilian quarters, shops/commercial establishments, and industry, rather like Red Sector. It might have been intended to be lower-rent, but that's not really a concern. However, the project ran over-budget before Brown Sector (Downbelow's official name) could be finished, so the area was left as-is.
    • The large interior space of the station is true to the O'Neill space station designs. The reason for its large diameter is to reduce the rotational speed needed to create a comfortable gravity at its rim. Too small a diameter and the angular velocity and Coriolis effect would be too extreme to be comfortable (think of those centrifuge rides at an amusement park and you'll have an idea). The inner surface is composed of parkland, as explained (and also by O'Neill's design) to provide the oxygen supply. Babylon 5 is actually small compared to O'Neill's designs. He suggested a diameter of five km and a length of 20 km. B5 is five miles, or a bit above eight km, long.
      • Word of God has it that the first four models of the Babylon station were much, much larger than Babylon 5. Babylon 4 alone was nearly twice the size of Babylon 5, which itself was a very trimmed down and reduced design, given that the Earth and Minbari sponsors of the project probably weren't eager to spend more than necessary hoping that the fifth time was a charm. It's entirely possible that the first three stations, not being quite as burdened with a history of catastrophe, were even larger and more opulent.
    • Let's remember that "opulent" here is an extremely relative term. The quarters we see most are those of the Captain, XO, and the various Ambassadors (in Blue and Green Sectors, respectively). When we see ordinary middle-of-the-road civilian quarters in Red Sector, they tend to basically be studio apartments, presumably with rent to match (Lyta's quarters are likely one of these). Presumably, lower-class, lower-rent ones would be even smaller (like in a real city, which after all is what B5 really is).
    • The Whitestars are tiny compared to normal Minbari ships and yet have huge amounts of empty space. On the other hand, the Minbari are more or less the epitome of Crystal Spires and Togas.
  • Mostly averted in Stargate SG-1, where the Earth ships, being battlecruisers, are based on actual military ships, such as aircraft carriers, at least with the interiors. The space utilization is comparable to that of a battleship or carrier, although the fictional battlecruisers are possibly a bit more spacious. They were seemingly designed with the intention of having many rooms for different purposes—such as ship systems, a mess hall, a small gym, storage rooms, armories, and brig—rather than any big rooms. The crew and passenger quarters are about the size of an average mid-range hotel room.
    • The alien ships on the other hand are generally more spacious (and larger). Exhibit a) Ha'taks. Exhibit b) Atlantis-class city ships.
  • Stargate Universe: If it weren't literally falling apart around their ears, the Destiny would have been quite luxurious. There are spectacular viewing decks and everyone gets his own room with a large bed, sheets and comfy duvet, which must have come with the ship, since no one is seen dragging a mattress through the gate during the evacuation of Icarus Base.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Atlantis is technically a spaceship. And a city, roughly the size of Manhattan with 150-200 square feet rooms having an internal height over 12 feet.

Video Games

  • Xenosaga is a particular offender in this regard. The Elsa, a lowly salvage ship, has a curiously luxurious interior with its own cafe, store & other amenities. The Durandal is even more ridiculous, as it has its own subway system & a park. Possibly justified in that both belong to an extremely wealthy company. Still, what little we see of the interior of military ships suggests a similar problem; though the accommodations may be more spartan, they're no less spacious.
  • Not to mention Vectors corp. HQ, The Dämmerung, a ship that is 1000 km long.
  • Xenogears has The Eldridge.
  • System Shock 2 gives us two different extremes: The Trioptimum experimental interstellar ship Von Braun and the UNN warship Rickenbacker. The Von Braun plays the trope very straight—to the point that the ship is almost like a small city. Its recreation deck has a basketball court, a swimming pool, and a mall - but considering this ship was designed to carry out mankind's first interstellar journey trillions of miles from any source of supply, the creature comforts are Justified Trope. Meanwhile, the Rickenbacker averts the trope with a much more cramped and spartan deck layout. Logs reveal that a lot of the soldiers on the Rickenbacker spent their downtime on the Von Braun.
  • Starship Titanic has it all, luxury restaurant with big windows, first class rooms.. One Problem, the ship has lost its mind as well as most of its crew (robots) and its up to you to set things right.
  • The Ishimura in Dead Space is actually somewhat similar to modern submarines in that although it has cramped corridors it also a has a large bridge and several open area relaxation rooms including a zero-g basketball court.
  • The Normandy from Mass Effect is more spacious than is probably necessary, but the Normandy 2 from the sequel is absurdly spacious, more so than most houses. Shepard and Miranda have especially luxurious quarters. This trope is lampshaded when Shepard mentions to the ship's AI that his/her quarters are larger than those on other warships; the AI claims that, as the Normandy 2 was built by civilians, comfort was taken into account.
    • It also has leather seats, to Joker's delight.
    • Miranda's quarters are technically also her office, and Shepard's quarters are a chunk of waste space beneath the outer pressure hull (in other words, if the outer hull is breached, Shepard's quarters are spaced). And Cerberus spent enough on Shepard and the ship to raise, train, and equip an entire army, so cost wasn't really an obstacle.
    • Both versions of the Normandy are also somewhat lacking in creature comforts: shared bunk space (pods), a single locker for each crewman, with limited storage space otherwise, and not much in the way of entertainment in the first version. The second version is much larger, but the crew still doesn't have a lot of space (shared bunk rooms), privacy (the bathrooms are pretty much it) or entertainment (most are talking amongst themselves or just sitting in the mess hall).
  • Halo: So, you've just built a massive space station over a kilometer long for the sole purpose of housing a cannon that runs more or less it's entire length, what else to install...? Well a command center five stories high with giant glass windows for a ceiling couldn't hurt, it's not like people are going to be shooting at it or anything!
    • Pleasingly lampshaded in the accompanying book series when the covenant command centre is revealed to be located in the exact centre of the ship, surrounded by as much metal and armor as possible, and interfacing with the outside by computer screens. Makes considerably more sense than putting it in a greenhouse at the end of the ship which needs to be facing the enemy in order to shoot.
  • Vega Strike has Highborn faction who "have a spacecraft manufacturing methodology most other factions reserve for Luxury Yachts" as the description of one of their interceptors says. They also build actual space luxury yachts: seaship-shaped vessel Hidalgo - Space Pirates apparently love to hijack these things. Prices of Highborn-specific spaceships tend to be high.


  • The Fuseli from Starslip Crisis began its career as an experimental luxury warship named the Crimson Fall. The experiment failed: rather than developing a fierce attachment to their ship and its amenities, the crew got lazy and decadent. The Fuseli was converted into a spacegoing art museum.
  • Most of the ships belonging to Tagon's Toughs in Schlock Mercenary. Mostly thanks to having a lot of AI support they're operating with a fraction of their nominal crew strength. The Touch and Go fits especially since it was equipped with a pool deck before the Toughs got their hands on it.
    • Also, most of the ship has to be cordoned off from the grunts lest they use it for something other than official purposes.
    • Another set are battleplates. Their primary purpose is defending planets against wayward asteroids, which requires plenty of power and therefore large plants to generate it. Plus lots of scout drones to locate possible relativistic projectiles in the first place. But once you have a heavily shielded ship the size of a small city and up to a kilometer thick, it would be wasteful to leave it mostly empty and not put those expensive powerplants to good use when they don't catch or hurl anything. So it's going to carry its own escort fleet and HQ staff it needs as a flagship. And marines. All of the above in turn needs maintenance and support with even more people and equipment. The result: each battleplate is a flying garrison town with everything from commercial sectors to shipyards to intelligence and research departments, and tens of thousands people from the commander to civilian contractors. Consequently, battleplates can be and are used in many ways, including orbital bases and mobile command centers.
    • The "limo" rented by Oafan delegation.
  • The Sapphire Star in Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger is a "mid-range" luxury cruise worldship measured in tens of kilometers with a city's worth of permanent residents and an actual rainforest on the top deck. Practically a mobile Pleasure Planet.

Tabletop Games

  • Subverted, averted and played straight in Warhammer 40,000. Imperial warships are described as having luxurious bridges and officer's quarters, but the crewmembers have tiny rooms that they have to share with far more people that would comfortably fit in them. The Eldar tend to play this straight, especially when it comes to their Craftworlds, but in the Craftworld's case its justified as they are giant Generation Ships that house the remaining Eldar population.
    • Not to mention the fact that the human ships take so long to build, there are entire colonies of degenerate humans inside, the inbred descendants of workers (and crewmembers) who got lost. Standard maintenance procedures include flooding the areas not inhabited by the crew with poison gas once a century or so in order to root out these colonies.
  • Averted in Traveller in some ways, justified in others. Traveller ships are as crowded and uncomfortable as ...ships. However superior technology including the computers of thousands of years in the future allow such perks as giant screensavers on the walls, an onboard internet, and storage of massive amounts of data with enough space left over for purely recreational use. And of course a controlled climate. If you don't mind the crowding and can endure eating mainly Food Pills, and you are the sort of intrepid space hero that likes to read a lot it doesn't sound so bad.
  • Happens now and again in BattleTech. It being a feudal society IN SPACE!!, various members of the elite can afford to get a hold of luxury space transports. Some are purpose-built for luxury, while others are military designs retrofitted for comfort. However, the overall scarcity of shipbuilding facilities means that starships in general, much less luxury ones, are relatively few and far between. Just common enough to keep the interstellar economy functioning, according to Word of God.

Western Animation

  • Bounty Hamster. The luxury starship Humongous, with "ballrooms the size of football fields! Football fields the size of planets! (if they were flat)". Unfortunately the ship is so expensive, only half a dozen people in the universe can afford to travel on it.

Real Life

  • Almost Real Life, anyway: the original designs for Project Orion were intended to be quite roomy. The nature of the Orion Drive meant that larger vessels were more efficient: a "nuclear pulse drive" operates by detonating two nuclear warheads per second behind the ship. Saving mass and wasted space wasn't really a concern. Saturn by '69!
  • After two decades of cramped capsules, the Space Shuttle might have seemed like this. Mind you, it wasn't all that roomy: most of the Shuttle's space (hahaha) was given over to cargo; the actual crew compartment was, in effect, a very large capsule, one which was very quickly filled to capacity (seven), substantially reducing the roominess (although still much-improved over Apollo and Gemini).
  • Before you scoff at this trope's prevalence, remember what the very first planes looked like, then look at this.
    • Played straight by the promotional material for it (and older similar vehicles like the Boeing 747), ahich invariably shows pictures of bars or gyms, in the space that any airline actually interested in making a profit will proceed to cram with seats.
  • For that matter, when we were just figuring out sea travel, ships were dinky, crowded little things. Now we have things like the Freedom of the Seas.
    • Royal Caribbean in general follow this trope. They've released the Oasis, which is even bigger than the Freedom.
  • The Akula/Typhoon sub mentioned above is actually a subversion. It is, in fact, a very inefficient design, nicknamed water tanker, due to most of its size being just empty space: its outer hull is a thin shell covering an awkward assembly of pressure hulls and capsules, forced by truly enormous size of its missiles. And then its designers thought: "Hey, if we have to make the damn sub so huge anyway, why don't we spend some of this space on crew amenities?"
    • This ended up being perfect for the Typhoon's main mission. It was meant to stay hidden beneath the arctic for weeks or even months in case of a nuclear war. It would surface afterwards, and if the Soviet Union had lost, would launch a retaliatory strike against the U.S.. It was discovered that submarine crew could not handle regular cramped quarters that long and would suffer psychological and physical health problems.
    • If a few months in a cramped space would damage psychologically a trained and disciplined Soviet military man, it can be easily guessed how long prison sentences are endured, even with no physical harm inflicted.
    • Some of the better amenities included a steam room, a full size gym and even a swimming pool.
  • The age of the Great Liners from the 1880s through the 1950s, before crossing the Atlantic by airliner was routine. Stamers got so big so fast that regulations couldn't keep up. The Titanic herself had Third Class accommodations as good as Second Class on smaller ships.
  • The fishing boats shown on Deadliest Catch are, first and foremost, fishing boats, designed to catch fish in frigid Arctic Circle conditions. They're hardy, tough, and routinely look weathered and old. The bunks are cramped and the personal rooms small, because when they're on the crab, the crew won't be sleeping anyway. That being said, most ships have remarkably spacious kitchens, and at least the Time Bandit has a fully functioning sauna. They're not comfortable, but they're not prisons.
    • Of course, if you're the one staggering down below deck after hours of being drenched in frigid seawater, then a hot shower and/or sauna may well have more to do with averting hypothermia than with luxury...
  • Modern container ships, which need a tall bridge superstructure to see over a full load of containers and have as few as a dozen crew operating the ship at sea, have the combination of tons of otherwise empty space with few people, giving everyone relatively huge personal quarters and recreational/common areas.