SS Poseidon
The Poseidon Adventure vehicle
In the 1972 film the SS Poseidon is based on the RMS Queen Mary
First appearanceThe Poseidon Adventure
Last appearancePoseidon (2006 Film)
Created byPaul Gallico
General characteristics
TypeOcean liner

The SS Poseidon is a fictional transatlantic ocean liner that first appeared in the 1969 novel The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico and later in four films based on the novel. The ship is named after the god of the seas in Greek mythology.


The novel

In the 1969 novel, the ship is traveling across the Atlantic on her first month-long cruise with African and South American ports of call, after her recent sale and conversion from the 35-year old British ocean liner RMS Atlantis into the American cruise ship SS Poseidon.[1] On December 26, the Poseidon capsizes when a landslide in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge produces a massive 99-foot tsunami. The description of the ship is slim; Gallico described her as a "quadruple-screw ocean liner of 81,000 tons, as long as four city blocks, and as high as an apartment building with three massive funnels", which would make her very similar to the RMS Queen Mary. Gallico was inspired to write the novel after his experience as a passenger on the Queen Mary after the liner tilted alarmingly after being hit by a large wave. He also describes the Poseidon's fatal flaw as "riding high in the water, improperly ballasted and technically unseaworthy", this, he wrote, made the Poseidon vulnerable to capsizing.

The 1972 film version

In the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure, the ship is in the Mediterranean on her final voyage, which will take her to the breaker's yards in Greece, when an undersea earthquake produces a tsunami that capsizes the ship just after midnight on New Year's Eve. The film uses the RMS Queen Mary as a stand-in for Poseidon, using actual onboard locations as well as a 25-foot long miniature model. The captain (Leslie Nielsen) complains about Poseidon being top-heavy and hence vulnerable to capsizing by large waves, and he makes clear his intent to take on ballast, but the representative of the owners refuses to allow this and indeed, orders him to proceed at full speed, threatening to fire him and replace him with another officer. Of the hundreds aboard, no more than a handful survive.

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure

In the 1979 film Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, which is a direct continuation of the story from the first film, the Poseidon is an abandoned overturned wreck that has not yet sunk. It is boarded by a small group of salvagers and a group of thieves in disguise (who are looking for gold and a lost plutonium shipment). Eventually trapped in the ship, they encounter a group of passengers and crew who are still aboard. In the end, the Poseidon's boilers and plutonium cargo explode, destroying most of the hull and sinking the ship permanently and, worse, irradiating her wreckage to unsafe levels.

The 2005 TV film

In the 2005 TV film The Poseidon Adventure, Poseidon is a modern motor driven cruise ship using propeller pods, which is sailing from Cape Town, South Africa on a cruise through the Indian Ocean to Sydney, Australia. The events that lead to the capsize of the ship vary greatly from the original book, as it is a partly foiled terrorist plot to sink the ship using explosives below the waterline which leads to Poseidon capsizing.


In the 2006 film Poseidon, the ship is a British ocean liner registered in Southampton, which is sailing from an unnamed port in the United Kingdom (presumably London as one of the characters mentions it briefly) to New York City. While the first film used Queen Mary as a stand-in for Poseidon, the ship in the 2006 film has an original exterior design not based on any real-life vessel, although the interior was inspired by the modern ocean liner RMS Queen Mary 2. The lower part of the hull is loosely based on the Queen Mary 2, but the superstructure is not. This Poseidon is also struck by a huge wave just after midnight on New Year's Eve and capsizes, but unlike the original, the wave is not a tsunami caused by an undersea earthquake or landslide but a rogue wave. In the movie, after six survivors escape, the ship turns over again before sinking stern first in the Atlantic.


In the bulk of each story, a group of survivors try to make their way to the overturned top of the capsized liner, hoping to get to safety.

See also


  1. ^ Gallico, Paul - The Poseidon Adventure