Contessa Luxury Cruise Liner (a.k.a. The Flying Space Casino; SM+11, TL11^)

If you are a GM who likes space opera and you like heist movies, at some point you’re going to find yourself needing a flying space casino. In the Deeps of Lyrae campaign I need targets for the PCs space pirate adventures. This is the first one.

“This is Your Cruise Director speaking. There will be a minor delay here at Refueling Point 26. Let me assure you that contrary to the rumors that have been circulating, the ship you see in the starboard viewports is here to assist us with our refueling. If you notice anything unusual on board, this is undoubtedly due to our refueling and it’s nothing to be alarmed about. In fact, if you want to be alarmed, there are still spaces open for my evening seminar ‘A Retrospective of Classic Horror Films’ at 2100 on the Lido deck, auditorium 1.”

The Contessa Liner was inspired by the “King Richard” FASA deck plans produced ages ago for Traveller. The King Richard was one of the few detailed space liners I could find. I decided to implement something similar using the GURPS Spaceships rules.

The Contessa serves a similar role to the Xanadu-class liner (SM+11 TL11^) found on p. 13 of GURPS Spaceships 2. The Xanadu could be a competitor’s design. Comparing the two, the Contessa has far more “open space” amenities and a higher jump rating of FTL-2. As a consequence it carries about half as many people aboard as the Xanadu. I’d say this is the “flying casino” version of a space liner, while the Xanadu is just a space liner.

Contessa Liner

The Contessa-class liner was a staple on the fashionable routes near subsector capitals thirty to fifty years ago. However, the bankruptcy of Massive Dynamic Yards, the craft’s designer and manufacturer, eliminated support and parts. These days, if you see a Contessa at all you will find it on the less profitable, minor byways of the Imperium, perhaps even running as a “discount luxury” offering. Some operators have delayed maintenance and refurbishment to save money, making the once-awe-inspiring interiors seem cheap and tatty, with outmoded furniture and styling.

If operating as designed, the Contessa has an excellent crew-to-passenger ratio and a large number of establishments–it includes a petting zoo, shopping mall, casino, restaurants, day spa, running track, gym, water park, and more. It is meant to house a working theatrical performance company and also has the ability to host movies, lectures, and conferences in many suitable amphitheaters. However retrofits may have changed the character of some of these vessels–it is rumored they are occasionally even found as stationary space stations in asteroid belts after being stripped because of their many open areas.

The ship is arranged around a central avenue-like promenade, meant to be filled with formal gardens. The promenade terminates at observation platforms with very large rows of viewports across the beam of the ship at both the bow and the stern. Two large hangars are at the bow and stern just below the observation ports. Drives, hangars, and other engineering spaces are on decks below the promenade, while staterooms, offices, control rooms, and the bridge are above the promenade. Some staterooms feature balconies on an interior atrium overlooking the avenue.

The ship is streamlined and capable of landing in atmosphere or water. As an interstellar craft it makes a reasonable Jump-2, while in subspace its 50G acceleration is average for the era. It is largely unarmored and completely unarmed. By specification, its hangar decks should contain 17 lifeboats and one safari/excursion shuttle that provides an additional revenue stream for add-on “adventure” trips. The excursion shuttle is not meant to load/unload the ship–this is accomplished through main airlocks that open directly onto the promenade from midship when the Contessa is docked to a station, ramp, or jetbridge.


200 dST/HP

Hnd/SR: -1/5

HT: 13

Move: 50G/c

LWt. 30,000 tons

Load: 2,525 tons

SM+11 : 30,000 tons

Occ: 1,050 ASV

dDR 10/0/0

Range: Jump-2

Cost: N/A; Note: I did not work out the cost on this one as it seems more like an adventure setting than something the PCs are likely to buy.



  1. Steel Plate Armor dDR 10
  2. Hangar Bay (for shuttle and escape pods), 1000 ton capacity, 3 techs
  3. Habitat (100 luxury cabins, 3 techs)
  4. Habitat (establishments)
    • 10: clinic (10 beds) (3 staff)
    • 10: business center (2 staff)
    • 10: day spa (10 staff)
    • 40: 10 x bars and nightclubs [average 4 cabin spaces each]  (30 staff)
    • 48: shopping deck (12 shops at double size [4 cabin spaces each]) (48 staff)
    • 20: Theatrical dressing rooms, Green Room, set workshop, scenery and prop closet. (20 staff)
    • 10: 5 x classrooms (0 staff)
    • 10: child care center (10 staff)
    • 10: hospitality operations center (offices used by crew)
    • 10: workshops (used by crew techs)
    • 22: casino (12 staff)
  5. Open Space (10 areas, 10 techs)
    • 1: Promenade / observation deck
    • 5: garden (~70 ft x 70 ft)
    • 4: mini running track
  6. Open Space (10 areas, 10 techs)
    • 1.5: zero-G racquetball court (10 staff for all sports areas)
    • 1.5: additional interior atrium space
    • 7: basketball or tennis court

Front CORE: Control Room (complexity 9 computer, sensor/comm rating 10, 15 control stations, 3 required workspaces)


  1. Habitat (100 luxury cabins, 3 techs)
  2. (!) Jump Drive (Jump-2, 3 techs)
  3. (!) Jump Drive (Jump-2, 3 techs)
  4. Open Space (10 areas, 10 techs)
    • 3: Movie/lecture theater (130 seats)
    • 3: Movie/lecture theater (130 seats)
    • 4: petting zoo (~70 ft x 70 ft) (5 staff)
  5. Open Space (10 areas, 10 techs)
    • 1: Promenade / observation deck
    • 5: additional interior atrium space
    • 4: Theatrical performance theater (180 seats)
  6. Habitat (3 techs)
    • 50: 50 x crew cabins
    • 25: miniature bowling alley
    • 25: administrative offices (used by crew)
    • 15: gym and fitness center
    • 1: brig
    • 10: ship’s laundry, housekeeping, room service
    • 25: luggage rooms (steerage cargo)
    • ??? There is room for some other things I have not defined

Central CORE: Fusion Reactor (2 power points, 600 years endurance, 3 techs)


  1. (!) Super Reactionless Engine (50G, 3 techs)
  2. Habitat (25 super-luxury passenger cabins [at x4 space], 25 luxury cabins, 50 standard passenger cabins, 3 techs)
  3. Habitat (200 crew cabins, 3 techs)
  4. Habitat (3 techs)
    • 50: 250 T luggage hold (steerage cargo)
    • 25: Hibernation Berths for 100 passengers in suspended animation
  5. Open Space (10 areas, 10 techs)
    • 1: Promenade / observation deck
    • 9: Water Park
  6. Hangar Bay (for shuttle and escape pods), 1000 ton capacity, 3 techs

Carried Craft:

  • 17 x SM-6 100-ton hibernation lifeboats (1020 total hibernation capacity)
  • 1 x SM-7 300-ton excursion shuttle (30 hibernation berths)

Typical Occupancy:

  • 25 Super-Luxury (up to 50 passengers)
  • 225 Luxury (up to 450 passengers)
  • 50 Standard cabins (up to 50 passengers)
  • 100 Hibernation berths (up to 100 passengers)
  • 250 Crew Cabins (up to 400 crew).

Max occupancy: 1050 people

Typical Staffing:

  • 101 ship’s crew
  • 240 hospitality crew

(Image coda: The Pacific Princess was the cruise ship portrayed in the TV series “The Love Boat.” This image is by Ivan T. from Wikimedia Commons, licensed CC BY-SA 3.0.)


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