What’s on the Bottom of a Cruise Ship?

The bottom of cruise ships is a mystery for many cruisers. Uncover what it's called and what is beneath your cruise ship in this article.

When you board your cruise ship to kick off your vacation, chances are you aren’t thinking about the ship’s anatomy. But for those enthusiasts that get excited about the cruise ship itself, you may be curious to know about every part of it. 

Everyone is always curious about their cabin or stateroom, what to do on the upper deck, and where the crew members hang out. But one part of a cruise ship that is often overlooked is the bottom.

The bottom of cruise ships is referred to as the hull. The hull can be further broken down into other parts and features that all work together to ensure the operation and maintenance of the massive ship.

In this article, you’ll learn what lies at the bottom to understand the importance of this part and better understand how they function overall.

What Do the Bottom of Cruise Ships Look Like?

Before diving deeper into the specifics, let’s start by describing what it looks like.

The bottom of most cruise ships is relatively flat. A wide, flat bottom makes the ship more stable and minimizes additional movement. Cruise ships have a flat bottom, but the front part narrows into a bulbous shape, while the back is slightly elevated. 

What Is the Bottom of a Cruise Ship Called?

The bottom of the cruise ship is commonly known as the hull. People usually refer to this when discussing the topic. However, the very lowest part is the Keel, the main foundation of the ship. It’s also the first main block of the vessel to be constructed.

The hull, specifically, is the watertight outer body of the vessel. This part of the ship extends down into the water and upwards to the lower open decks of the ship.

Bottom of Cruise Ship
Bottom of a Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Tawansak / Shutterstock)

The hulls of modern cruise ships consist of welded heavy steel panels to protect them from corrosion and damage. This helps these vessels sail day after day for decades.

Ships that go through polar expeditions often have additional layers of steel on their hulls to break through the ice. The lowest crew and sometimes passenger accommodations have portholes integrated into the hull as windows.

Read Also: Ocean Liner vs. Cruise Ship – What are the Differences?

Cruise ship hulls come in different shapes. For example, to slice through the water smoothly, large oceangoing ships usually have a deep V-shaped hull. 

In contrast, riverboats usually have either a shallow V-shaped hull or a flat-bottom hull so they can cruise in different depths of water. While it’s good to know what a hull is, there are other parts of the bottom that you should know. Let’s check them out.

Other Parts on the Bottom

Ships are complex and have many moving parts to operate properly. Here are other parts of the ships that you should know alongside the hull.

Bottom of Ship
Bottom of Ship (Photo Credit: El Greco 1973 / Shutterstock)
  • Keel: The keel of a ship is the bottommost structural part of the ship, which runs from the bow to the stern along the centerline.
  • Bilge keels: Bilge keels are found on either side of the bottom of the cruise ship. They’re devices that reduce the ship’s ability to roll onto either side of the water. 
  • Bulbous bow: Located at the front end of the cruise ship, the bulbous bow is designed to reduce the ship’s drag while at sea by changing how the waves affect the hull. This way, the ship ends up consuming less fuel throughout the sailing. 


How do you clean the bottom of a cruise ship?

There are two ways to clean the bottom of a cruise ship. The first way is to dry dock the ship and clean it from the outside while undergoing other maintenance. The only downside to this method is how much it costs. When the vessel is dry-docked, it is expensive for the cruise line.

A more affordable way to clean a cruise ship’s bottom is to manually clean it underwater using divers’ equipment. The only thing to watch out for with this one is not to remove invasive species and introduce them into foreign waters.

How much of a cruise ship is underwater?

About 10% of a ship’s overall height is underwater. This could end up being anywhere from 20 feet to 30 feet. That said, the larger the vessel, the deeper underwater the bottom part will be and the heavier it will be. 

Mystery Solved

In conclusion, the underside of a cruise ship is referred to as the hull, which comprises several layers of steel to safeguard the massive vessel’s base.

Worth Reading: Underwater Cruise Ship Rooms – What Are They?

The bottom plays an essential role in the overall operation of the vessel and in ensuring the safety of all on board. Hopefully, this article has made you feel better about what lies at the bottom to add some peace of mind and the behind-the-scenes of a vessel.

Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma
I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers. Find out more about us here.


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