Is a Small Difference a Big Deal?

The title of this blog post is stolen from/was inspired by a post on the Nation of Why Not blog. The Nation of Why Not is the branded name of Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean operates among a lot of other vessels the world’s two largest cruise ships: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ and ‘Allure of the Seas’. The youngest ship ‘Allure of the Seas’ has just left the shipyard in Turku, Finland and passed under the Great Belt Bridge in grey Danish waters on the way to the blue Caribbean Sea.    

The Oasis and Allure are sister ships supposed to have exactly the same dimensions. But according to the official measures by DNV, Allure is 50 millimeters longer than Oasis. This has led to some teasing between the crews and now it has been suggested that NASA should make a new measurement (from up above I guess).

This is a good old classic data quality issue. Is it acceptable to assume that two similar things have the same attributes? Or do you need to measure each thing separately? And is an eventual difference a difference in the real world or a difference in measurement?

Now, with the ships I think they are a bit different anyway, as I see that the new ship Allure opposite to Oasis also have a Samba Grill, Rita’s Cantina and a Starbucks café inside.     

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