Basically, decks are the same as the floors in your house. How we name the decks will depend on their location, function, and size on the ship.
In this article, we will look in-depth at the different types of decks on a ship and where they are located.
Let’s get this cruise started!
Main Types of Decks
Decks provide ample working space for controls, storage, accommodation, or leisure activities.
To get a better understanding of the layout of a ship, here are the major types of decks.
1. The Main Deck
It is the primary deck of the ship featuring a waterproof compartment extending from stem to stern.
Running the full length of the vessel, some ships use the main deck for cabins, boarding decks, or public spaces.
Depending on the type of ship, the phrase main deck is often used interchangeably with upper deck or weather deck.
However, the main deck has to be below the upper deck for warships.
2. Weather Deck
A weather deck refers to the uppermost deck on the ship, which is exposed to weather conditions; be it at the bow, amidships, or stern.
Since it has no overhead protection from the elements, dress appropriately if you’re heading to the weather deck.
Besides, due to the elevation, the winds are relatively strong.
3. Upper deck
The upper deck is the topmost and the most extensive on any shipping vessel covering the hull from its fore to its rear (aft).
On this deck, you’ll find the following decks.
The quarter deck is a raised upper deck platform that serves as the control station (bridge) and usually houses the senior most officers of the ship.
It is located near the stern and provides unrestricted views of the surrounding area to aid in maneuvering the vessel.
Initially, this deck was off-limits to passengers, but cruise companies gradually allowed supervised access.
Foredeck/ Forecastle Deck
The foredeck is located at the front of the vessel, usually above the staff quarters.
RMS Titanic’s foredeck was 106 feet long with a curved railing. To date, it remains the most photographed part of the Titanic’s wreckage.
In modern ships, it is primarily found in warships providing a vantage point to shoot down enemy ships.
In case the ship is boarded and overran by enemies, the foredeck serves as the last resort defensive stronghold.
The poop deck or the afterdeck is located on the ship’s stern, ‘la pope in French. It is smaller than the quarter deck and was initially used for navigation and observation of the crew.
However, due to advancements in marine technology and the ever-increasing ship sizes, modern ships lack poop decks. All its previous functions are now on the ship’s bridge.
Fun Fact – The infamous Titanic was the last ship with a poop deck. It was 128 feet long and was a recreational space for the 3rd class passengers. As the ‘unsinkable’ vessel sank, the poop deck was the last part of the ship to go under.
4. Lower decks
A lower deck refers to any platforms below the main deck. Please note we have said platforms since there can be more than one deck.
Lower decks have more stability; if you suffer from seasickness, that’s the best place to be.
Hallways tend to be wider for moving equipment and to cater to passengers with mobility difficulties. However, the sea views from the lower decks are pretty limited.
The lowest deck in a ship is called an orlop. It is usually below the waterline, and you’ll find a lot of overlapping cables. It is only accessible by the maintenance crew and a few selected crew members.
5. Promenade Deck
A promenade deck is a walkway circling the ship with railings or a glass barrier.
The deck is ideal for stretching your legs, enjoying the salty breeze, or spotting marine life on the backdrop of expansive sea views.
Moreover, this deck serves as the boarding area for lifeboats or rigs in an emergency.
Traditionally, promenade decks were entirely outdoors, but that has changed with modern luxury cruisers.
For instance, some Royal Caribbean fleets have the deck running through an interior part of the ship creating a surreal shopping mall atmosphere.
Other Types of Decks
You can only find these decks on specific vessels.
1. Lido Deck
‘Lido’ means an outdoor pool or beach in Italian.
All modern cruise ships have a lido deck, a poolside platform where the voyagers gather to swim, lounge, or engage in fun activities.
This deck is designed to help make the voyage as pleasurable and memorable as possible.
Besides the pool(s), some of the amenities you will find on a lido deck include:
- Sundeck or sun tanning
- Hot tubs
- Water slide or splash park
- Beach/lounge chairs
- Buffet restaurants
- Giant movie screen
Some ships may have a retractable roof covering the lido deck to keep the elements out at night or during a storm.
The sun can get quite intense, so always have your sunscreen on and walk in flip-flops on the deck, as they can get entirely baked.
2. Helicopter Deck
Almost all modern ships, from cruise ships and warships to freighters, have a designated patch where helicopters can land.
Helicopter landings are vigorous, so the deck is usually clear of obstacles and loose equipment.
3. Flush Deck
A flush deck is primarily found in cargo ships and continuously runs the vessel’s length.
A deck must have no raised forecastle or lowered quarterdeck to be classified as flush.
4. Hanger Deck
A hanger deck is found in aircraft carriers to store and maintain aircraft. Often, this deck will have a runway where the planes can land or take off.
5. Tween Deck
It is an empty deck between two decks, usually the hold and the main deck. The tween deck is often used as a storage space.
Knowing the deck will bear different names is essential when boarding a ship. Others will just be labeled as Deck 1, 2, or 3 or feature a different terminology altogether. However, name or number, we hope this guide will help you differentiate the platforms you’ll be on.
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