With the development of science and technology, traffic perception, communication, information processing, artificial intelligence and the shipping information system have become important in supporting the realization of intelligent shipping transportation. Against this background, the Internet of Vessels (IoV) is proposed to integrate all these advanced technologies into a platform to meet the requirements of international and regional transportations. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how to benefit from the Internet of Vessels to improve the efficiency and safety of shipping, and promote the development of world transportation. In this paper, the IoV is introduced and its main architectures are outlined. Furthermore, the characteristics of the Internet of Vessels are described. Several important applications that illustrate the interaction of the Internet of Vessels' components are proposed. Due to the development of the Internet of Vessels still being in its primary stage, challenges and prospects are identified and addressed. Finally, the main conclusions are drawn and future research priorities are provided for reference and as professional suggestions for future researchers in this field.