Life aboard a cruise ship

Layout and facilities onboard a cruise ship

You've never taken a cruise? Would you like to make a cruise vacation? Do you want to know what life aboard a cruise ship is all about? Here's some more information.


Layout of a cruise ship

Each cruise ship is different, but there are some recurring elements. A cruise ship consists of rooms for the staff, public areas and private rooms. A ship is constructed from decks or floors, which are connected through central stairs and elevators. The storage and the staff cabins are located on the lower decks. The middle decks are occupied by the passenger cabins. On the upper decks you will find restaurants, bars, casino, theater, pool, spa, etc. The top deck is often completely open, with swimming pool, water slides, snack bar and sun deck chairs.


The Atrium and reception desk

On most ships the Atrium is the central point. It’s located in the middle of the ship. Horizontally as well as vertically seen. The Atrium is often very large and spectacularly decorated and sometimes occupies several floors. You could compare it with the lobby of a hotel. In the Atrium are usually the reception, shore excursion desk and a few shops.


Stateroom an a cruise


During your cruise you'll stay in a cabin or stateroom. These are equipped with every comfort, but are often slightly smaller than a hotel room. There are different types such as:

  •      inside stateroom (no window)
  •      outside stateroom (with window)
  •      outside stateroom with balcony
  •      suite



You can find great food and drinks aboard a cruise ship

Food and beverage

Most cruises are on full board basis. All meals (breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner ...) are included. Also, some beverages such as water, coffee and tea are included. Often there are 1 or 2 large buffet restaurants, some smaller restaurants and some specialty restaurants (steakhouse, tepanyaki, chinese, ...). For the latter you need to pay extra. Also soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are  often subject to additional payment. Depending on the formula one works on board with an open seating (you eat when and where you want) or first and second seating (you must book in advance at fixed times).


Onboard facilities

During the day on a cruise vacation you make excursions and trips while your cruise ship is docked in port. During evenings and on sea days (you're the whole day at sea) you can enjoy all facilities on board. Almost all cruise ships feature the following facilities:

  •      restaurants
  •      bars
  •      shops
  •      spa center and beauty salon
  •      fitness
  •      casino
  •      swimming pools, waterslides, Jacuzzi
  •      internet cafe
  •      library
  •      childcare
  •      theater (shows, entertainment ...)

Most of the facilities you can use for free. For spa, casino and internet are often surcharges.


You can make great shore excursions during a cruise

Shore excursions

During evenings and nights you sail to your next destination. Your ship docks in a port during daytime so you can make shore excursions. These are usually not included in the price and you need to book them additionally. You can book excursions through the cruise line company, through a third party organizer or go on your own. You are completely free to do what you want. Each choice comes with advantages and disadvantages. The excursions are an important source of revenue for the cruise line companies and the prices are often expensive.