Underwater Cruise Ship Rooms – What Are They?

Ever wonder what is located below the waterline on a cruise ship? We unlock the deep secrets behind underwater cruise ship rooms.

Most people don’t consider what is beneath the waterline of a cruise ship. However, for some, it may be a curiosity. The lower two decks are usually reserved for crew members only and areas off-limits to guests. So, what exactly are these underwater cruise ship rooms for?

How Far Below the Waterline Do Cruise Ships Rest?

While cruise ship bottoms may appear wide, they are fairly narrow compared to the rest of the ship. They are generally no more than 30 feet or 9.1 meters below sea level, which is only 10% of the ship’s overall height.

Cruise ships are massive structures and are extremely heavy. Yet, the ship’s buoyancy and design cause it to rest primarily above water.

Underwater Cruise Ship Rooms

Underwater Cruise Lounge

In 2019, Ponant, a French expedition company, launched the first underwater lounge. Blue Eye, designed by architect Jacques Rougerie, is a multi-sensory, sleek space on four vessels in their fleet: Le Dumont-d’Urville, Le Bougainville, Le Champlain, and Le Lapérouse.

While on board, guests can go underneath the water line to the lounge, where two oversized glass portholes appear like whales’ eyes, allowing passengers to get a unique ocean view, spotting exotic fish and other marine life.

These lounges also have digital screens projecting live images filmed by three underwater cameras and accompanied by marine surround sound. 

The sound is based on noises within a three-mile radius of the cruise ship. In addition, the couches in the lounge vibrate in unison with the sea, making you feel like a real part of the underwater world.

Crew Cabins

You’ll find accommodation for the crew on one of the crew decks. On some ships, they are under the water or below the water line.

Crew Cabins on Cruise Ship
Crew Cabins on Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock)

Depending on the department, crew members share dorm-style rooms with access to common eating areas, bars, and gyms. 

Orlop Deck

The orlop is on the lowest four decks under sea level. It is the lowest deck of a cruise ship and is the farthest toward the rear of a ship. This area usually stores cables and ropes and may have received its name from overlapping cables that generally fill the space. 

The Brig or Jail

No cruise line likes to use the brig to contain guests, but there are situations when they find this necessary, specifically when someone has committed a serious offense or is in danger of harming themselves or others. Most of the time, passengers receive a reprimand or, in severe instances, may be forced to sign a contract to modify their behavior.

Carnival Cruise Ship Brig
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

If the offense is more serious, they are placed under cabin arrest and have two guards posted outside the door to prevent them from leaving. 

Brigs are steel rooms found at the bottom decks of a ship, typically by the security office. People don’t spend long in this area, as they are often turned over to authorities once the ship reaches port.

Cruise Ship Morgue

People often describe cruise ships as small, floating cities, so it makes sense that there are deaths aboard them. While it seems morbid and perhaps alarming, guests don’t need to be concerned. Most deaths occur from natural causes like strokes or heart attacks.  While a rare occurrence, there must be onboard accommodations to handle this situation.

Cruise Ship Morgue
Cruise Ship Morgue (Photo Credit: Fer Gregory / Shutterstock)

The morgue only contains a few refrigerated compartments. The number of these compartments varies depending on the ship’s passenger capacity. Guests will never encounter it as the morgue is on crew-only lower decks.

Additionally, if the area is not in use, it can double as cold storage for flowers and other things. They do not use the morgue to store food. 


When chairs become damaged, varnishes wear off a table, or there are repairs to be made, cruise lines don’t replace the damaged item. Cruise ships often have a woodshop, with carpenters who spend the day replacing, fixing, and updating items found on the ship.

Read Also: How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Make?

However, they don’t just fix furniture or wood items. They replace worn carpeting and broken tiles and refurbish areas of worn railings that harsh ocean elements have damaged. They also handle delicate items, like replacing chair fabrics and drapes. 

Crew Bar and OB

Cruise ships have areas where guests can sit back and relax. The crew has the same luxury. The OB or officer’s bar provides private space for officers, spa, cruise, and entertainment staff, while the crew bar is for anyone working on the vessel.

Carnival Valor
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

Drinks are cheaper in crew bars, and there are activities and music for staff to unwind during their time off. It’s often a place to stock up on cabin supplies.

Print Shop

Where does the newsletter that arrives at your cabin in the evening come from? While you may think they are created in advance, this is not the case.

If it were, ports missed due to turbulent weather or other situations which alter the itinerary wouldn’t make the newsletter possible. It would provide inaccurate and confusing information.

Each ship contains an underwater room with a print shop where news updates, daily planners, notes, and flyers are made.

The I-95

While it sounds like a fast-paced highway, the I-95 resides below public decks. It is the main artery running forward to the aft. It gives crew members access to various areas of the ship.

Cruise Ship I-95
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

Over time, this busy area was dubbed the I-95 after the famous interstate running from the east coast of the U.S. and ending in Miami (which is, interestingly, the cruise ship capital). 

Its appearance is what you might expect. It looks like an extended hallway containing various storage spaces and doors leading to multiple areas. It’s an efficient design continually bustling with fast-paced action from moving staff and crew members.


If you ever wondered what the underwater cruise ship rooms are for, now you know. Although things may differ from one cruise line to another, these decks are generally for maintenance purposes, areas designated for crew members, and spaces that need to be kept out of the way of guests, like the brig or morgue.

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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