The overall performance of ships depends on the seakeeping performance in specified sea areas where the vessel is designed to operate. The seakeeping performance procedure is based upon the probability of exceeding specified ship motions in a sea environment particular to the vessel's mission. Given the operational area of the vessel, the percentage of time the vessel operates in a particular sea state can be determined from an oceanographic database through application of the response amplitude operators. The predicted motions are compared to the motion limiting criteria to obtain the operability indices. However, the operability indices are strongly affected by the chosen limiting criteria. This is particularly the case for passenger vessels where many conflicting criteria are used to assess the effect of motions and accelerations on comfort and well-being of passengers. This paper investigates the effect of seakeeping criteria on seakeeping performance assessment for passenger vessels. Conventional seakeeping performance measures are evaluated for various levels of vertical accelerations defined by the ISO 2631 standard. It is shown that the estimated seakeeping performance of a passenger vessel greatly depends on the level of limiting value selected as the seakeeping criteria. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.