Welcome Visitor:

Getting Around a Cruise Ship

If you're new to cruising (or have a poor sense of direction), finding your way around a cruise ship can be challenging. We've seen people heading in entirely the wrong direction after two weeks at sea! Hopefully, the following tips will help.

The first step is to orient yourself. Landmarks help.  For example, on most Princess ships, the theater is in the front, the Atrium or Piazza is in the middle, and Club Fusion or the Vista Lounge is in the back. If all else fails, I orient myself by looking out the window at the sea. The front of the ship is slicing through the water, so the water appears to be streaming past the ship from front to back. To head toward the front, simply walk up stream.

Figuring out which side of the ship you're on is important too (for example, if you're looking for your cabin). In passenger areas, odd numbered cabins are on the right side of the ship (looking toward the front) and even numbered cabins are on the left. On most Princess ships, the hallway carpet is different on the right and left as well: a blue stripe is woven into the center on the right side and a red strip on the left side. The difference is easy to miss, but obvious once you know to look for it.

The staff has a shorthand for referring to different areas of the ship. It helps to understand the jargon because that's how they'll tell you where venues, gangways, and tender locations are. This system uses decks (usually as numbers) as the up/down reference and elevator/stairwell banks as the front/back reference. A typical ship will have three elevator banks: forward (in the front), midships (in the middle), and aft (at the back). For example, on a typical Princess ship, if the gangway is on deck 6 forward, it will be near the lower entrance to the theater.

Finally, on Princess ships the staff often refer to decks by name. Personally, I find this annoying because I can never remember which is which. There is a sort of logic to it though. Most decks with passenger cabins are named alphabetically from top to bottom: Aloha, Baja, Caribe, etc. This allows special decks to always have the same names: Plaza for the Atrium or Piazza, Promenade where many of the bigger venues are located, Lido where the pools are located and so forth. Passengers generally don't go below Plaza deck (deck 5). However, Gala (deck 4) is where the medical center is usually located (midships) and Holiday (deck 3) is usually where the tenders load/unload.

By the way, if you want to get a leg up on where everything is for your next cruise, the new deck plan feature on the Princess web site is awesome! Kudos to their web designers.