Cruise Ship Deck Names and What They Mean

Have you ever wondered about the names of the decks on a cruise ship?

Do you notice that some decks have more than one name?

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand what all those deck names mean and where you can expect to find them on the ship.  Where relevant, we have also included some pros and cons if you are thinking about whether you should book a cabin on a particular deck or not.

Cruise Ship Deck Names

While cruise lines have various names for their decks, a few are more commonly used or referred to by both cruise lines and passengers.

We go over the meanings of each of them below.

What are the Decks on a Cruise Ship

There are various types of decks on a cruise ship, each with its specific purpose.

The most common type of decks are listed below:

  • Lido deck
  • Promenade deck
  • Sports deck
  • Sun deck
  • Bridge deck
  • Upper deck
  • Main deck
  • Sky Deck
  • Crew deck
  • Weather deck
  • Landing deck

As well as the above, there might be some other deck names you have heard of that aren’t on the deck plans. For example, “poop deck” we also cover the meanings and origins of them as well.

Cruise Ship Deck Names and Their Meanings

Lido Deck / Pool Deck

The lido deck on a cruise ship is where you’ll find the outdoor pool, hot tubs, restaurants, bars, and other leisure facilities. This deck is usually located near the top of the ship.

Some people simply refer to the Lido deck as the pool deck and it’s one of the most popular on the cruise ship.

Lido Deck on Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas
Lido Deck on Symphony of the Seas

You can relax and sunny yourself by the pools with a cocktail or bite to eat from one of the lido deck restaurants.

Along with the pools, you’ll also find accompanying showers and restrooms on the lido deck.

The word “lido” means a public open-air swimming pool and a cruise ship that exactly what It represents, pools in the open air.

Promenade Deck

The promenade deck is a mid-deck that acts as a public walkway in the open air that encircles the perimeter of the ship from bow to stern.  Although there isn’t always complete public access all the way around on some of today’s cruise ships.

The promenade is a deck in the middle of the deck plan.  This is where you’ll find people taking a stroll, enjoying the ocean breeze, or perhaps even doing a spot of people watching.

Promendade Deck on Holland America Voldendam
Promenade Deck on Holland America Volendam

Some cruise ships organize specific group walks along the promenade, and it’s a great way to meet new people and chat at a leisurely pace.

Some of the mega-cruise ships don’t have a complete outdoor promenade deck.  Instead, they have it running through an interior part of the ship where you’ll find (and be tempted) several shops selling jewelry, souvenirs, and other items.

The promenade deck can be easy to spot because it is where you will typically find the cruise ship’s lifeboats suspended on either side of the deck.

As well as walkers, the promenade deck is also popular with runners who get their exercise by running laps around the ship.  On some ships, there are even markers to indicate distances.

The promenade deck is not just for the active. On some larger cruise ships, you might find sun loungers and deck chairs for those who want to relax and soak up the sun.

The word promenade typically refers to a public walkway on a seafront.

Sports Deck

The sports deck is where you’ll find all the sporting facilities on a cruise ship and is usually one of the highest decks so passengers can use the outdoor facilities and enjoy the surrounding views.

Aerial view of sports deck on a cruise ship
Aerial View of a Sports Deck

This could include a wide range of sports and  related anything sporty, including:

  • Basketball court
  • Tennis Courts
  • Golf driving range
  • Table tennis
  • Climbing frames
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Surfing machines
  • Running track

And much more depending on which cruise ship you sail on.

Sometimes they include the entrances of waterslides from which you exit on lower decks.

The sports deck is the place to be if you’re looking for a workout or to burn off some energy.

Sun Deck

The sun deck is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunshine.  It’s usually located on the upper decks of the cruise ship, offering panoramic views of the sea.

The sun deck is a great place to catch some rays and relax with a good book or magazine.

Sun Deck and Loungers on a cruise ship
Sun Deck on a cruise ship

Some sun decks have pools, hot tubs, and other leisure facilities, while others are more low-key with just deck chairs and loungers.

The sun deck is the ideal spot to watch the sunrise or sunset with a cocktail in hand.

The name “sun deck” comes from the fact that it’s the best place on the ship to purposely enjoy the sun.

Main Deck

The main deck is considered the primary deck on a cruise ship. However, it varies depending on the cruise line. It’s typically one of the lowest decks, which runs the full length of the cruise ship from bow to stern.

The main deck is often used mostly for cabins, but this is not always the case.

Some cruise lines use the main deck for the atrium and more for public spaces such the restaurants, bars, and theaters, or the lobby area and reception area for customer queries.

Bridge Deck

The bridge deck is the name given to the indoor area that houses the ship’s navigation equipment and controls overseen by the ship’s captain and officers.

The bridge is usually located at the front of the ship (or bow), offering panoramic views.

Bridge Deck

The term bridge originates from old shipping days when raised platforms appeared as a bridge, allowing the cruise ship’s captain a wider view while overseeing the ship’s navigation and instructing the crew accordingly.

The bridge deck is usually off-limits to passengers, although some cruise lines offer special tours that allow you to take a peek inside.

Weather Deck

A weather deck on any ship typically refers to any outdoor deck that is not permanently enclosed.

The weather decks are the perfect spot to enjoy the fresh sea air and stunning views. They are also the ideal place to do some sunbathing or star-gazing.

On larger cruise ships, the weather decks are often used for sporting activities, such as basketball or tennis.

The term weather deck comes from the fact that they are exposed to the elements, so you will need to dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

Upper Deck

The upper deck on a ship refers to the topmost deck that runs from the ship’s hull from fore to aft.

Some people refer more generally to upper decks as a way of talking about the higher level decks of the cruise ship in relation to the lower.

The upper decks of a cruise ship offer panoramic views and are often home to the vessel’s outdoor leisure facilities, such as the pool, hot tubs, and sun deck.

The term upper deck originates from the days of sailing ships when the higher decks were reserved for the officers and VIPs, while the lower decks were for the crew and lower class passengers.

Nowadays, the term is used more to describe the location of certain features on a cruise ship, rather than the social class of the people who use them.

Crew Decks

The crew decks are the levels of the ship where the crew live, work and socialize.

You won’t find any passenger cabins on these decks because they are usually off-limits to passengers.

There will be cabins and social areas for the crew, work areas, storage, and other behind-the-scenes operations.

Landing Deck

The landing deck on a cruise ship is the deck from which you embark and disembark from the ship.  It’s usually the lowermost deck and where the gangway or ramp is located.

The advantage of staying on the landing deck is that your cabin will be nearby, you can settle in quickly, and it’s good for quick and easy access if you stop off at lots of ports. 

However, you will likely be further away from many other main amenities.

The other advantage is as a low deck, and it can be good for avoiding sea sickness.

The term “landing deck” is most likely derived from the fact that this is where you “land” when you first board the ship.

Verandah Deck

The Verandah deck is used by some cruise lines but not all.  In the cruise line deck name examples below, Carnival and Princess had “Verandah” deck names.

A verandah is an open-air balcony that extends from the stateroom and gives a clear open view to the sea.

A Verandah Deck is usually the best deck to get a Verandah cabin, although there may be other balcony cabins also available on other decks.

Sky Deck

Cruise lines often use the Sky deck name for the highest deck on the ship.

Being the highest and often smallest deck on the ship, it has the advantage of offering stunning 360-degree views.

Poop Deck

Cruise ships don’t have a poop deck, but it is still one you may hear mentioned and wonder about.

The “poop deck” is the raised deck at the stern (back) of the ship.  It’s usually the highest point at the back of the ship, offering panoramic views.

The term poop deck comes from the French word “la poupe” which translates to “stern,” and has nothing to do with poop or pooping of any kind as we may think of it in English.

As well as deck names it can also help to know your portside and starboard, which is why we have put together 15 ways to remember port and starboard.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Decks on a Cruise Ship?

The average cruise ship has between 10 and 15 decks, although there are some ships with more than 20 decks. The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, has 22 decks.

The number of decks on a cruise ship can vary greatly depending on the size and purpose of the vessel. For example, river cruises typically have fewer decks than ocean-going cruise ships.

Side view of Carnival cruise ship decks
How many decks?

What Deck Is Best for a Cruise Ship?

The best deck on a cruise ship is subjective and depends on your preferences.

If you suffer from seasickness, a lower deck is usually best.

An upper deck is ideal if you want to make the most of the views.

There are also many other factors to consider, for example, access to elevators, noise from areas of the ship such as the pool deck or nightclub, and proximity to main amenities.

Do All Cruise Ships Have the Same Deck Names?

No, all cruise ships do not have the same deck names. Some use just numbers but don’t always start Deck 1 and often miss out deck 13.

Some cruise lines use completely different terminology for their decks.

For example, Carnival Spirit has the following deck names:

  • Sky Deck
  • Sports Deck
  • Sun Deck
  • Lido Deck
  • Panorama Deck
  • Verandah Deck
  • Empress Deck
  • Upper Deck
  • Main Deck
  • Atlantic Deck
  • Promenade Deck
  • Riviera Deck

Another example would be Princess Cruises Grand Princess that has the following deck names:

  • Sky Deck
  • Sports Deck
  • Sun Deck
  • Lido Deck
  • Aloha Deck
  • Baja Deck
  • Caribe Deck
  • Dolphin Deck
  • Emerald Deck
  • Promenade Deck
  • Fiesta Deck
  • Plaza Deck
  • Gala Deck

Holland American Oosterdam built in 2003 has the following deck names:

  • Sports Deck
  • Observation Deck
  • Lido Deck
  • Navigation Deck
  • Rotterdam Deck
  • Upper Verandah Deck
  • Verandah Deck
  • Upper Promenade Deck
  • Promenade Deck
  • Lower Promenade Deck
  • Main Deck

Whereas the more recent Holland America Rotterdam built in 2021 has deck names with a classical composer theme for the mid decks

  • Sky Deck
  • Observation Deck
  • Sun Deck
  • Panorama Deck
  • Lido Deck
  • Navigation Deck
  • Schubert Deck
  • Mozart Deck
  • Gershwin Deck
  • Beethoven Deck
  • Promenade Deck
  • Plaza Deck
  • Main Deck

What Is the Highest Deck on a Cruise Ship?

The highest deck on a cruise ship is typically the sky deck, a small deck ideal for 360-degree views.  The sky deck is not always the highest point on the ship, as some ships have taller structures such as the funnel or mast.

The highest full deck is often the sports deck or sun deck. However, this can vary depending on the cruise line or particular vessel.

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