The teenager who’s drawn 50 incredibly detailed cruise ships


Seabourn Sojourn (copyright Harry Cotterill)

Inspired by seeing the Titanic film at the age of seven, Harry Cotterill began drawing cruise ships. He set up his own company at 13 and now, having reached the advanced age of 18, has just signed off the sketch of his 50th ship.

But this is no advanced technical mission. He starts off each drawing by rolling out a length of Homebase lining paper, reaches for his ruler and pencil and starts marking off a grid at a precise scale of 187.5 to 1 – which makes a standard cabin exactly 1.5cm wide.

‘It’s like a giant dot to dot,’ says the teenager, who spends up to 20 hours over three days on each drawing, which can measure up to 244cm (8ft) long. He used to work in pencil then draw over in fineline pen but now often chances working in ink first.


QM2 (copyright: Harry Cotterill)

Over the years, he has branched out into ferries, container ships and historic vessels – he even drew the World Trade Center on an anniversary of the 9/11 attack – but cruise ships are still his favourite, especially Queen Mary 2. Second to that in his affection is the world’s biggest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.

Though he’s been on 23 ships, Harry has only done three short cruises – one to celebrate his 18th birthday – but he’s looking forward to going on P&O Cruises’ Azura in two weeks for a short hop to Guernsey and back.

Sadly, his dream of becoming a naval architect – inspired by meeting QM2’s designer, Stephen Payne – was scuppered when he didn’t achieve the required grades in maths and science.


Oasis of the Seas (copyright: Harry Cotterill)

Harry, who lives at home in Colchester, Essex, with parents Brian, 57, and Diane, 54, is now doing a business diploma and aims to study cruise industry management at Southampton Solent University later this year.

His ambition is to get a job at Carnival Corporation, in sales or marketing, and one day work for Cunard or P&O Cruises. And he would like to appear again on BBC Look East, where he was interviewed as a child, now he has reached his 50th milestone.

Asked what his friends make of his unusual hobby, Harry says: ‘They’re used to it. At school, I used to be sitting in the library or the lunch area, colouring a 7ft-long piece of paper.’


MSC Lirica (copyright: Harry Cotterill)

He ponders when asked if he’s made any mistakes – but the only faux pas he can think off is when he put the lifeboats on the wrong deck in a rough A3 drawing at home.



Dozens of Harry’s drawings are displayed on ships, and he sells copies on his website, but he has yet to be commissioned by a corporation.

He’s savvy enough to know the interest in his skill will wane as he gets older – but for now he has his hands full with a series of drawings over the next five weeks, including one of newcomer Norwegian Breakaway.

‘I’m very busy,’ he says, as he finishes our interview. It’s time to sharpen his pencil, roll out the lining paper and reach for the ruler…

Harry is writing a special blog this week on the drawing of his 50th ship on his website:


The drawing of Harry’s 50th ship, P&O Cruises’ Oriana (copyright: Harry Cotterill)

See also: The Mexican boy aged 14 who draws cruise ships

6 thoughts on “The teenager who’s drawn 50 incredibly detailed cruise ships

    • Hi Dianna – thanks for the comment and I’m glad you liked the article. I spoke to Harry for about 30 minutes on the phone then typed up my shorthand notes. Best wishes, Dave.

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