7 Cruise Ship Deck Names (And Why They’re Called That)

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Are you ready to set sail on a cruise adventure, but feeling a bit confused or overwhelmed by all the deck names?

cruise ship decks

Don’t worry, I’m here to help! From the Sun Deck to the Riviera Deck, each deck on a cruise ship has its own unique name and purpose.

But why are they called what they’re called, and what can you expect to find on each one?

Join me as I take a deep dive into the world of cruise ship decks, and discover the secrets behind these intriguing and sometimes humorous names…

me with cruise ship - Saga Spirit of Discovery

1. Sun Deck

The Sun Deck is typically the highest deck on a cruise ship. It’s used for sunbathing, lounging, and enjoying the panoramic views of the ocean. It’s called the Sun Deck because it’s the best place to soak up the sun!

Sun Deck on Anthem of the Seas
Sun Deck on Anthem of the Seas

2. Lido Deck

The Lido Deck is usually the main outdoor deck on a cruise ship, and is home to the ship’s pools, hot tubs, and outdoor bars. Sometimes, people just call this then ‘pool deck’.

Lido is a fancy word for ‘outdoor pool’. But did you know that the word ‘lido’ comes from the name of the Lido di Venezia district in Venice, Italy? The town is an island and its name comes from the Latin word ‘litus’, ‘meaning shore’.

Lido Deck on Enchanted Princess
Lido Deck on Enchanted Princess

3. Sports Deck

This deck is usually located near the top of the ship towards the aft. It’s used for sports and fitness activities like basketball, golf nets and the jogging track. It’s called the Sports Deck because it’s where you’ll find all of the ship’s sports facilities.

Sports Deck on Mariner of the Seas
Sports Deck on Mariner of the Seas

Most cruise ships have outdoor sports courts, but some do have indoor sports halls instead.

4. Promenade Deck

The Promenade Deck (or Prom Deck for short) is a wide, outdoor deck that wraps around the entire ship. It’s used for strolling and enjoying the ocean views. It’s called the Promenade Deck because promenade is a word meaning ‘walk’.

Promenade deck on Borealis
Promenade Deck on Borealis

Not all cruise ships have promenade decks, and even when they do, they don’t always wrap all the way around the ship.

One of the best promenade decks can be found on P&O Cruises ships, Iona and Arvia. These ones each have eight whirlpool jacuzzis on them, as well as an outdoor bar, dining areas, lots of sun loungers and some of the most controversial balcony cabin designs.

Walking around the Promenade Deck on Arvia
Walking around the Promenade Deck on Arvia

5. Bridge Deck

The Bridge Deck is the deck where the ship’s bridge is located. The bridge is usually off-limits to passengers, unless you’re lucky enough to book a behind-the-scenes ship tour.

The term ‘Bridge Deck’ isn’t used all that much in reality. While it refers to the deck from which the ship’s captain and crew navigate the ship, that’s just the front section. The rest of the deck is just a normal deck and usually has cabins on it.

Bridge on Anthem of the Seas
Bridge on Anthem of the Seas

6. Landing Deck

This is the deck that you use to get on and off a cruise ship. However, it’s not always the same deck!

Depending on the tides, a ship may sit higher or lower in relation to the dock at different times. At some ports, the gangway will be open and quite short, whereas at others it will be a long closed tunnel that takes you into the terminal building.

So some days you may disembark from Deck 3 and on other days you may disembark from Deck 5. In the photo below, you can see that you can get on and off the ship on two different decks.

Landing Decks on Ventura
Landing Decks on Ventura

7. Poop Deck

Modern cruise ships don’t have poop decks, but I’m including it here because people often wonder what it is! And no, it’s nothing to do with actual poop!

A “poop deck” is a term that was commonly used in the past to refer to a deck that’s located at the aft (rear) of a ship, above the main deck. The poop deck was typically used by the ship’s officers as a high point for observation and navigation.

Poop Deck
Poop Deck on HMS Surprise
BrokenSphere, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As for why it’s called a “poop” deck, there are a few theories. One theory is that the term comes from the French word “la poupe,” which means stern or rear.

Another theory is that it comes from the Latin word “puppis,” which also means stern.

However, there is also a more humorous theory that the name comes from the fact that the deck was located at the rear of the ship, where the smell of the ship’s waste (or “poop”) would be carried away by the wind. While this theory is not supported by historical evidence, it has become a popular explanation for the name.

Read more about poop decks.

Other Deck Names

Cruise ship decks typically have numbers, but some decks also have names. These names are specific to the ship and each have their own meanings.

For example, on MSC Grandiosa, the decks are named after famous artists such as Monet and Van Gogh, whereas on Costa Deliziosa the decks are named after ornamental flowers such as Petunia and Azalea.

There are some deck names that are common across several different ships. These include:

  • Riviera Deck
  • Sky Deck
  • Atlantic Deck
  • Empress Deck
  • Marina Deck
  • Vista Deck
  • Panorama Deck

However, these names don’t particularly mean anything much more than the obvious. The Sky Deck is likely to be the top deck, the Vista Deck or Panorama Deck will have great views and so on.

When it comes to choosing your cabin, the deck that you pick definitely matters and some decks are much better than others.

To find out which decks you should avoid for cabins on a cruise ship, be sure to read my guide to The Best and Worst Decks on Cruise Ships. This will help you to avoid any noisy locations or those that might make you feel particularly seasick.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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