Cruise ships are often compared to small cities and the newest vessels are so large, there is often too much to uncover in just a week’s time.
However, even the world’s most seasoned cruisers may not be aware of some hidden features onboard these ships.
There are numerous secrets cruise lines won’t tell you, so no matter how many times you set sail on the high seas, you may never uncover them. There are, however, hidden places onboard you never knew existed, cruise lines aren’t advertising, but aren’t exactly keeping secret either.
To really be in the know, we’ve complied a thoughtful list of the 9 places on a cruise ship you never knew existed. Think jail cells, and morgues (yes, you read that correctly!), to private areas for crew members no passenger would ever enter, and more.
Here are the places no passenger would ever embark upon, and until now, would probably never have thought existed.
1. The Brig (AKA: Jail)
That’s right – you have the ability to be arrested and jailed at sea. Though, it isn’t as commonplace as you might think, so don’t panic yet.
Certainly, most people don’t go on vacation with the thought or even the intention of getting arrested, but unfortunately, it happens, and cruise ships need to be prepared. These cells, or ‘the brig’ as it’s referred to in nautical terms, are located on one of the most bottom decks of the vessel near the security office.
Passengers can find themselves in the brig if they commit a serious offense, such as being belligerent, or violent – minor offenses will not land you here. Should you find yourself in the brig, you can expect to be forcibly removed at the next port of call where you’ll deal with local authorities. Finding your way back home will be up to you.
2. A Morgue
It may come as a (disturbing) surprise to learn that all oceangoing cruise ships are legally required to have a morgue and to carry body bags on board. Most morgues are small with rooms for three to six bodies, depending on the overall size of the vessel.
Cruise lines are in the business of being proactive and this is one of the many ways they go about exercising that protocol. While nobody has a desire to discuss death, especially while on vacation, it is a necessary reality to be prepared for under all circumstances.
Due to the mean demographics of cruise passengers being the elderly, the possibility of death during a cruise is a real potential. Therefore, it is imperative that cruise lines be prepared under these considerations.
3. Hidden Pools
The pool decks are grossly advertised by the cruising industry, as this is where most passengers spend a majority of their cruise vacation. However, there are hidden pools in areas where guests will never experience, as they were never intended to.
Crew members are forbidden from mingling in areas where passengers dwell, so cruise lines had to get creative when carving out spaces just for them. Crew members are often onboard for months at a time, and enjoy similar pleasures like swimming as guests do, which is where hidden swimming pools entered the picture.
Surprisingly, there are actually several decks on the lowest levels of the vessel designated just for crew members that guests would never have access to.
4. Hidden Decks
Speaking of these hidden decks, you’ll find a lot more than rows of interior cabins for crew members. As stated, the crew is typically working onboard for months on end and therefore, cruise lines had to provide accommodations.
You’ll often find (online that is, as passengers aren’t permitted in these areas) bars, restaurants, recreation and lounge areas in addition to the aforementioned hidden pools. The crew members refer to their bar as the “OB” meaning, “Officer’s Bar”. Rumor is drinks are a lot cheaper below deck.
Next time you’re onboard and see a “Crew Only” sign displayed, you may have a faint idea of what’s behind it.
5. Ultra-Luxe Suites
Have you ever wondered where the rich and famous stay when they cruise? Most cruise lines don’t exactly advertise these rooms to the general public, but they’re definitely on board and often in plain sight.
For example, on Disney Cruise Line’s newest vessel the Wish, there is a Wish Tower suite. You won’t find this room available on the Disney Cruise Line reservations website, but it’s available to make your cruise more magical – and more luxurious.
This mega suite is a nearly 2,000 square foot (so, basically the size of a single-family home) two floor, four bedroom accommodation with Moana theming throughout. If you want to access this room, you’ll have to take the private elevator on the 10th and 11th floors, which are purposely hidden.
6. Access to the Bow
On most vessels, accessing the bow will be a no-go, as it’s a restricted area for guests, however, this isn’t always the case. Though hidden, some ships do have entrances to the bow for passengers to safely access and utilize throughout the duration of their cruise.
Princess Cruises is a mainstream cruise line that allows guests to freely roam the bow and enjoy the breathtaking views while the ship is sailing. The best times to do so are when sailing away from different ports, and during sunrise, or sunset.
For ships that do not allow bow access, the TV in your cabin will most likely come equipped with a bow cam. This will give you real time views of the ocean from the comfort of your stateroom.
7. Larger Staterooms in the Same Category (And the Same Price)
All the seasoned cruisers will know the best ways to go about securing a larger stateroom within the same category to avoid paying an upcharge. So, how could two rooms within the same category be different sizes? We’ll give you all the details cruise lines never wanted you to know.
When booking your next cruise, the best way to secure a larger balcony stateroom without digging deeper into your pockets is to look for a ‘hump room.’ These rooms are located in the middle of the ship where the vessel curves and the hull jets out. This means you will secure a larger balcony with panoramic views and therefore, a larger cabin.
Keeping in mind that these rooms sell out quickly, this tip will most likely only come in handy if you’re booking early.
8. Ways to Save on Your Next Cruise
If you’re onboard and know you’re going to be cruising again, cruise experts recommend booking your next one before disembarking. Why? For the discounts you can only secure onboard.
Cruise ships often have a sales desk located on the main hub level where all the action is. Making a stop here can make all the difference between what you’ll pay for your next cruise by purchasing onboard in advance. The sales offered here are stated to be top-tier and not available anywhere else, to anyone else.
Plus, what a better way to get over the post-cruise blues than by booking another cruise?
Read more: Cruising on a budget: 12 money saving tips
9. Folding Machines
With so many passengers on board (think: thousands) it is imperative that the laundry facilities be paramount to keep up with the influx of dirty linens.
On the lowest decks, there are industrial-sized folding machines that work automatically day and night to press and fold sheets, towels, tablecloths and more!
While it’s not surprising to learn of the efficiency of the laundry system on board, as cruise ships are known to be organized and efficient, it is cool to think of how these operations work behind the scenes.
Next time you take a cruise vacation, you’ll likely be overwhelmed at all of the seemingly endless array of things to see, do, eat and experience. When considering all of your options, it’s impossible to consider what’s going on behind the scenes, or below deck.
Now that you’re aware of some of the places on a cruise ship you never knew existed, you can surprise some of your fellow passengers while on board!