9 Cruise Ship Deck Names To Know (And What To Find On Each)

Whether it’s your first time on a cruise or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s good to know the common decks found on cruise ships and what you’ll find on each.

Get ready to navigate your next cruise ship with confidence and discover the unique offerings of every deck, so you can take full advantage of your vacation…

What Are The Decks On A Cruise Ship?

Cruise ship decks from a side view

Cruise ships feature a diverse range of decks, each designed for a unique function.

Below are some of the most frequently encountered decks:

  1. Bridge deck
  2. Crew deck
  3. Landing deck
  4. Lido deck
  5. Main deck
  6. Promenade deck
  7. Sky Deck
  8. Sports deck
  9. Sun deck
  10. Upper deck
  11. Weather deck

These are the most common deck names you’ll encounter on most cruise ships around the world, plus some others we will get into…

Cruise Ship Deck Basics

Deck Layout

When you first step onto a cruise ship, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer size and complexity of the vessel.

However, navigating the decks can be quite simple once you grasp the general layout. Cruise ships are typically designed with multiple decks (or floors), each serving a specific purpose to enhance your vacation experience.

Some decks are dedicated to guest accommodations, while others are reserved for dining, entertainment, and recreational activities.

As you familiarize yourself with the ship’s layout, you’ll find it much easier to navigate and locate the different amenities on board.

Deck Names Relevance

Cruise ship deck names aren’t just arbitrary; they often hold significance that can help you understand the purpose of the deck.

For example, the Sun Deck is usually the highest deck on a cruise ship, providing ample space for sunbathing and enjoying panoramic ocean views.

Additionally, the Lido Deck is often a popular gathering area, which typically features a pool, hot tubs, and nearby eateries.

There might be a Sports Deck or an Activities Deck too, offering various recreational activities like mini-golf, basketball, or even rock climbing.

While exploring the ship, you might also come across the Promenade Deck or the Main Deck. These decks are situated in the middle of the ship and can be home to shops, dining options and even entertainment venues, like a theater.

The Bridge Deck is where you’ll find the ship’s navigation center, where the captain and their crew make all the important decisions.

Understanding the relevance of deck names can make your cruise experience even more enjoyable, as it becomes easier to locate and appreciate the different areas of your floating vacation home.

Types of Cruise Ship Decks

There are some common decks on cruise ships you will encounter and want to be aware of.

Each deck has its unique features and amenities, catering to different needs and preferences.

Lido Deck

Lido Deck - Poolside on the Carnival Breeze docked in Miami, Florida, on Nov 21, 2015. The Breeze is a Dream-class cruise ship owned by Carnival Cruise which entered service in June 2012

The Lido deck is often considered the heart of a cruise ship. It’s typically the top-most open deck, where most of the outdoor activities take place.

You’ll find swimming pools, hot tubs, water slides, bars, and open-air cafes on this lively deck. The Lido deck is the perfect spot for sunbathing, relaxing, and grabbing a refreshing drink.

While many casually dub it the ‘pool deck’, the term ‘Lido’ has a richer history. It traces its origin to the Lido di Venezia district in Venice, Italy.

This district’s name is derived from the Latin word ‘litus’, signifying ‘shore’. On the Lido Deck, passengers can bask in the sun beside pools, indulge in beverages, and dine from various outdoor eateries

Amenities also include nearby showers and restrooms.

Essentially, “lido” signifies an open-air public pool, a perfect descriptor for this deck’s ambiance on a cruise ship.

Promenade Deck

Promenade Deck

The Promenade deck is a popular spot for taking leisurely strolls. This deck usually features a wrap-around walking path, offering breathtaking views of the ocean.

This deck is a favorite for many: walkers taking leisurely strolls, enjoying the sea breeze; runners clocking miles with marked distances for convenience; and observers engaging in people-watching or soaking in the ocean’s vastness.

In addition, you can find dining and entertainment venues, such as restaurants, bars, and shops, lining the perimeter of this deck.

Plus, it’s common to spot the ship’s lifeboats suspended along the sides of the Promenade Deck.

The term ‘promenade’ is rooted in the idea of a walk, often associated with seaside walkways. However, not all cruise ships possess these decks, and when they do, the design and accessibility can vary widely.

Sports Deck

If you’re looking for physical activities during your cruise vacation, the Sports Deck is the place to go.

This deck includes various sports facilities, such as basketball courts, mini-golf courses, and jogging tracks. Some ships also offer rock-climbing walls and even ice-skating rinks on their sports decks.

From the classic basketball and tennis courts to more specialized attractions like rock climbing walls and surfing machines, there’s an activity for everyone

The deck’s elevated position doesn’t just serve a functional purpose. It also offers passengers breathtaking panoramic views, enhancing their sporting experience.

On some ships, the Sports Deck doubles as the launch point for exhilarating waterslides, even though riders make their splashy exits on lower levels.

In essence, the Sports Deck is the ship’s energetic heart, offering a blend of sporty activities amidst the vast backdrop of the ocean.

Sun Deck

Sun Deck

The Sun Deck is an ideal location for those who want to soak up the sun and enjoy the fresh sea breeze.

Nestled at the highest point of a cruise ship, the Sun Deck stands as a serene escape for passengers.

This deck usually features comfortable lounge chairs, inviting you to unwind and lose yourself in a good book, listen to music, or take a nap.

Sunbathing, lounging, and taking in the vast, uninterrupted horizon views. Given its purpose, the name “Sun Deck” is rather fitting—it’s the go-to spot for those seeking to bask in the sun’s warmth.

Whether you’re diving into a captivating book or simply savoring the sunlight, this deck provides a tranquil backdrop.

While many Sun Decks are equipped with luxury amenities like pools and hot tubs, others maintain a more minimalistic approach, adorned solely with deck chairs and loungers.

Yet, regardless of its amenities, one activity remains a favorite among passengers: sipping on a cocktail while watching the breathtaking play of colors during sunrise or sunset.

Bridge Deck

This deck is where the ship’s command center and navigational equipment are located.

Here, the ship’s captain and crew pilot the vessel, utilizing state-of-the-art navigation equipment and controls. Because of its critical nature, the bridge, positioned at the ship’s bow, is typically restricted to passengers.

However, select cruises might grant enthusiasts an exclusive behind-the-scenes look through special tours and meet the officers in charge.

Interestingly, the term “Bridge Deck” isn’t universally applied. While the forward section of this deck houses the pivotal bridge, the remainder often contains regular cabins and amenities.

This dual functionality stems from the deck’s traditional significance.

Historically, raised platforms on ships, resembling bridges, facilitated better visibility for the captain. These “bridges” became crucial vantage points, allowing captains to steer and instruct their crew with a comprehensive view of their surroundings.

Today’s Bridge Deck, with its panoramic vistas, pays homage to these old maritime practices, even though much of its expanse is indistinguishable from other deck areas.

Still, its core remains the ship’s guiding heartbeat, often veiled in mystery but essential to every voyage.

Main Deck


Situated closer to the waterline, the Main Deck stretches from the ship’s front, the bow, right to its tail, the stern, making it an essential part of any cruise vessel.

However, its function isn’t set in stone and can shift based on the cruise line’s design and intent.

On many ships, the Main Deck predominantly hosts cabins, offering passengers their personal slice of the sea journey. But its expansive nature allows for varied uses.

Instead of just lodging, certain cruise lines transform parts of this deck into lively communal spaces. Here, an atrium might rise in splendor, or guests might find themselves mingling in restaurants, sipping cocktails at bars, or getting engrossed in theatrical performances.

Additionally, it could serve as a hub for guest services, featuring the ship’s main reception or lobby, ready to address any passenger inquiries.

In a nutshell, while the Main Deck might imply a standard function, its true role is as fluid as the waters the ship sails on, changing in tune with the cruise line’s vision.

Upper Deck

The term “upper deck” often paints a picture of a ship’s highest surface, stretching seamlessly from the bow at the front to the stern at the back. But in modern conversations about cruise ships, “upper decks” often refers not just to a single deck but to the multiple elevated levels, especially when compared to the ship’s lower floors.

These lofty decks, boasting sweeping views of the horizon, are the heart of outdoor relaxation and recreation on most cruise vessels.

They are the go-to spots to find shimmering pools, inviting hot tubs, and sun-drenched lounging areas. It’s where many travelers get their quintessential cruise experience, basking in the sun or taking a refreshing dip with the vast expanse of the sea around them.

Historically speaking, the term “upper deck” holds deeper connotations. Back during the era of sail-powered ships, this elevated space was a coveted zone, usually reserved for the ship’s officers, dignitaries, and other esteemed guests.

In contrast, the lower decks, often less comfortable and more cramped, were designated for the crew and passengers of lower socioeconomic status. But times have changed.

Today, the designation of “upper deck” isn’t about social hierarchies. Instead, it denotes the location of certain amenities or accommodations aboard the ship.

The Main and Upper Decks are now mostly dedicated to passenger accommodations, with cabins and suites of varying types and sizes.

In addition to staterooms, you may find common areas, such as lounges, libraries, or smaller cafes, on these decks as well.

Crew Deck

The Crew Deck is reserved for the staff who work on the ship and is mainly off-limits to passengers.

This deck has crew cabins, dining areas, and recreational spaces, ensuring that those who keep the ship running smoothly have a comfortable living environment.

Oftentimes you won’t even see this deck on the ‘map’ as it’s off-limits. There will be cabins for the staff as well as communal spaces, storage, and other backstage activities.

Poop Deck

Contemporary cruise ships don’t feature poop decks, but the term often piques curiosity. Contrary to what the name might suggest, it’s unrelated to excrement.

Historically, the “poop deck” described a platform situated at the ship’s aft (back) above the primary deck. It functioned mainly as a vantage point for officers for observation and navigating the vessel.

Now, as for its peculiar name, there’s some debate. Some suggest its origins lie in the French term “la poupe,” signifying the ship’s stern. Another interpretation traces it to the Latin word “puppis,” also indicating the stern of a ship. A more light-hearted (yet unsubstantiated) theory suggests the deck’s placement at the ship’s back allowed any unpleasant odors from waste (or “poop”) to be whisked away by the breeze.

While modern cruise ships lack a designated poop deck, the term still occasionally emerges in conversations, adding a touch of maritime history.

Essentially, the “poop deck” refers to the elevated platform at a ship’s stern, often granting expansive views. And rest assured, its name has no connection to the modern English slang interpretation of “poop.”

Understanding Deck Names

Bow Decks

Bow Decks refer to the decks located at the front part of a cruise ship. These areas often host spectacular views and some key facilities, such as the ship’s bridge.

The bridge deck, for instance, houses navigation and command systems, making it a vital component of the vessel’s operation.

Allowing access to the bow can make your cruise experience richer as you get to witness the ship cutting through the waves while enjoying the sea breeze.

Just bear in mind the possible risks that come with walking these decks, like stronger winds and the chance of getting wet from sea spray.

Midship Decks

Midship Decks are found in the central part of a cruise ship, providing a wide range of facilities and public spaces to cater to passengers’ needs and wants.

One essential deck you’ll encounter here is the Promenade Deck, designed for leisurely strolls and fresh air – it often houses shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Similarly, the Lido Deck is a popular area among cruisers, featuring an open-air swimming pool and lounging areas perfect for relaxing under the sun.

Whether you’re seeking tranquility or entertainment, the midship decks is where the majority of stuff is happening…

Stern Decks

Stern Decks are situated at the back of the cruise ship, offering stunning views of the ship’s wake as it powers through the oceans.

One deck to highlight here is the Sun Deck, primarily dedicated to sunbathing and enjoying panoramic vistas.

You can lay back on a deck chair, relax and take in the serene beauty of the ocean. Stern decks usually have multiple levels and even extend to the aft balcony cabins, where you can enjoy the views from the privacy of your stateroom.

These decks give you the opportunity to appreciate gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, making them an essential part of your cruise journey.

Do All Cruise Ships Have The Same Deck Names?

If you’ve been on multiple cruise ships, you’ve likely noticed there is a ‘Lido deck’ on both. And if you’re anything like me, it’s made you stop and wonder, do all cruise ships have the same decks?!

At first glance, if you’ve been on a couple of cruises, you might think, “Yes, they all seem to have similar names.” And to some extent, you’d be right.

However, all cruise ships don’t have the same deck names.

There are certain deck names that have become common favorites across many ships and cruise lines.

Names like Lido Deck, Promenade Deck, or Sun Deck are like old friends that you might run into on various ships. They’re familiar, welcoming, and give passengers a sense of comfort.

However, here’s where the waves get a little choppier. Each cruise line often adds its own flair and flavor to their ships.

Think of them as artists, and their ships as canvases.

Two artists might use the same blue paint, but one might paint a calm ocean, while the other crafts a stormy night sky.

Similarly, while some cruise lines might have a Bridge Deck, another might call it the Navigator’s Deck or some other imaginative title.

For example, if you were to hop aboard a Disney cruise, you might come across deck names that are sprinkled with a touch of pixie dust.

Their names resonate with the whimsy and magic of the brand, like Wonder Deck or Magic Deck. Meanwhile, another cruise line might choose names that evoke luxury and opulence, perhaps naming a deck the Gold Tier or Diamond Lounge.

Another thing to keep in mind: the ship’s purpose and destination. An expedition ship, designed for braving the icy waters of Antarctica, might have decks named after famous explorers or polar phenomena.

On the flip side, a ship tailored for tropical escapades could have names inspired by islands, beaches, or sunny paradises.

What Is The Highest Deck On A Cruise Ship?

The highest deck on a cruise ship is typically the sun deck.

This vantage point offers passengers sweeping, uninterrupted views, allowing them to soak in the vastness of the ocean from every angle.

However, while the sky deck may sit atop the list of decks, it’s worth noting that it isn’t always the absolute highest point on a cruise ship. Other structural elements, like the ship’s funnel or mast, might rise even further into the blue yonder.

Descending just a tad, the highest full deck on many cruise vessels is typically named the sports deck or sun deck.

As the name suggests, it’s a space often dedicated to recreational activities and sunbathing. But, as with many things in the world of cruising, there’s no strict standard.

Depending on the cruise line or even the specific ship within a fleet, this deck might bear a different name or serve a slightly different purpose.

How Many Decks Does The Average Cruise Ship Have?

Cruise ships come in a lot of sizes, each with its own architectural blueprint. On average, you’ll find that a standard cruise ship boasts somewhere between 10 and 15 decks.

However, there are behemoths in the cruising world that break this mold.

Take, for instance, Royal Caribbean’s “Wonder of the Seas,” a titanic presence on the waters, towering with an impressive 22 decks.

The design and number of decks aren’t arbitrary. They are closely tied to the ship’s intent and the waters it sails.

A river cruise, with its narrower confines and calmer waters, will typically have fewer decks in comparison to its ocean-going counterparts. This is both a matter of practicality and the distinct experience each type of cruise aims to offer.

Cruise Ship Operators Deck Naming Conventions

Cruise deck - promenade

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line is known for its fun and lively atmosphere, which extends to their deck naming conventions.

On their ships, you’ll find Promenade Deck for strolling and taking in the sights, Lido Deck for pools and outdoor activities, and Spa Deck for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Additionally, Carnival features themed decks such as Riviera and Atlantic Deck, which are often inspired by famous cities or regions around the world.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s fleet has a sense of grandeur and elegance in their deck names. On their ships, you’ll find notable decks like Sun Deck, a perfect spot for sunbathing and enjoying the view, and Pool Deck, where you can splash around in the swimming pools or relax in the hot tubs.

Royal Caribbean also includes unique deck names like Central Park Deck, which offers a lush, green space with outdoor dining and activities, and Boardwalk Deck, where you can enjoy arcade games and entertainment venues.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, which translates into flexible and innovative deck names.

On their ships, you’ll discover decks such as Waterfront Deck, where you can stroll along the oceanfront promenade, and Observation Deck, which offers panoramic views and a tranquil setting.

Norwegian also features deck names like The Haven, an exclusive area for guests staying in luxurious suites, and Spice H2O, an adults-only retreat with a bar, pool, and lounge area.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises have a modern luxury vibe, and their deck naming conventions reflect that sophisticated ambiance.

On their ships, you’ll notice decks like Sunset Deck, a prime spot for watching the sun go down, and Resort Deck, which includes pools, lounges, and open-air dining.

Additionally, they feature the unique Magic Carpet Deck on some of their ships, which is a multi-functional platform that can move up and down the side of the ship, transforming into a restaurant, lounge, or disembarkation platform.

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