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A passenger ship is a ship whose primary function is to carry passengers. The category does not include cargo vessels which have accommodations for limited numbers of passengers, such as the ubiquitous twelve-passenger freighters once common on the seas in which the transport of passengers is secondary to the carriage of freight. The type does however include many classes of ships designed to transport substantial numbers of passengers as well as freight. Indeed, until recently virtually all ocean liners were able to transport mail, package freight and express, and other cargo in addition to passenger luggage, and were equipped with cargo holds and derricks, kingposts, or other cargo-handling gear for that purpose. Only in more recent ocean liners and in virtually all cruise ships has this cargo capacity been eliminated.
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1) A vessel subject to any of the requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, which carries more than 12 passengers; 2) A cargo vessel documented under the laws of the United States and not subject to that Convention, which carries more than 16 passengers; 3) A cargo vessel of any foreign nation that extends reciprocal privileges and is not subject to that Convention and which carries more than 16 passengers; and 4) A vessel engaged in a ferry operation and which carries passengers. (49CFR171)
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