The Front Part of a Ship: What You Need to Know

Affiliate Disclaimer

You can receive daily cruise news updates directly to your inbox, so you don't miss a thing! Go ahead and Subscribe here.

What is truly remarkable about a cruise ship is not the magnitude of its size but how the different parts work together, and we don’t just mean in the engine room.

Many things are going on behind the scenes that guests do not have a clue about. We discuss the areas found on the front part of a ship.

What Encompasses the Front Part of a Ship?

Each part of a cruise ship has a unique function. Guests tend to see only a small part of what is needed to run the cruise ship. Many locations are off-limits to guests and only accessible to crew members, so you probably don’t have a clue about what is going on below deck. But when you look at these components, you’ll be amazed at how a cruise ship operates. 


If you have ever watched Titanic, you are familiar with the epic scene of Rose climbing the front of the ship supported by Jack and stretching her arms out as the wind rushes through her hair. She stands on the bow or the forward part of the ship.

Carnival Horizon Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

The bow’s function is to reduce bowing when the cruise ship sails, decreasing water pressure and preventing water from entering the ship.

Port Hand

The port hand is on the ship’s left side or port side, close to the front. This area is what guests use while embarking and disembarking. It also serves as an area to access the ship for repairs.


The forecastle is at the head of the ship. It holds tools for anchoring, like mooring ropes, bollards, etc.

Open-air Terrace

This beautiful, open terrace area is outside of the ship. The terrace is floor-shaped, covering the front of the passenger ship. It is on the upper deck, just in front of the navigation tool.


Radar means “Radio Detection and Ranging.” A ship’s radar is a navigational tool that measures and detects objects surrounding the cruise ship. It can also detect other ships’ locations to prevent collisions.

Radar on Cruise Ship
Radar on Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: TheHighestQualityImages / Shutterstock)

Radio Antenna

Ships generally contain a radio known as a marine VHF radio, a method of communication during emergencies and under critical circumstances. The radio includes an antenna on the passenger ship to conduct easier searches during an emergency by sending signals to other vessels or the Search and Rescue (SAR) team.


The sundeck is the preferred location for guests to enjoy the ocean view when on board. The sundeck is commonly used and aptly named: it’s a spot to bask in the sun and relax.

Telecommunication Antenna

Telecommunication is the method of sending wireless information. The telecommunication antennas on a sailing vessel convert electromagnetic signals to electrical ones and capture radio signals.

Captain’s Quarters

Ever wonder where the captain of the cruise ship sleeps? The captain’s quarters are in the captain’s room. The captain’s responsibility is to keep passengers safe and oversee the ship’s operations for the voyage.

Bow Thruster

Bow thrusters are an additional engine that acts as a propulsion device or aids in steering the ship. It’s an auxiliary engine found in the front left of a cruise ship.

Cruise Ship Bow Thrusters
Cruise Ship Bow Thrusters (Photo Credit: oasis2me / Shutterstock)

Compass Bridge

Also known as the ship’s bridge, the compass bridge contains a room used for a cruise ship’s steering command. It is also where navigation tools for the captain’s room are and includes a radio that determines the ship’s positioning.

Starboard Hand

Starboard hand refers to a buoy on the starboard side of a cruise ship. It is found either on the hull or outside the right side of a cruise ship.

Anchor-Windlass Room

A windlass system is installed on cruise ships to move anchors and chains. Anchor-windlass can also be known as an anchor machine.

Stem Bulb

In boating terminology, a stem bulb is commonly known as a bulbous bow. It is on the front of the vessel, on the bow, and reduces the cruise ship’s resistance, generates vessel bottom pressure, improves ship trim or tilt angle, and holds the bow.


In terms of functionality, the forward part steers the ship, navigates through waters, and communicates with other navigational systems.

It is quite a busy and bustling area as guests’ lives may depend on the information received in this area. As a guest, this is the best location to relax on the upper deck and take in the fresh sea air.

If you enjoyed the article and would like no fuss daily cruise news to your inbox directly from Cruise Hive, you can Subscribe here.

Up Next


Free expert cruise tips and news from Cruise Hive! We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

Don't Miss Any Cruise News!

We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

Copy link