Underwater Cruise Ship Chambers – What Are They?

Most people don’t consider what’s below the waterline of a cruise ship. However, for some it may be a curiosity. The two lower decks are generally reserved for crew members only and the areas are prohibited for guests. So what exactly are these underwater cruising chambers for?

How far below the waterline do cruise ships sit?

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

Cruise ships are massive and extremely heavy structures. Still, the ship’s buoyancy and design cause it to sit mostly above water.

Underwater cruising chambers

Submarine cruise lounge

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

On board, passengers can walk below the waterline to the saloon, where two oversized glass portholes resemble whales’ eyes, allowing passengers to have a unique view of the ocean, spot exotic fish and other forms of 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. Plus, the sofas in the living room vibrate in unison with the sea, making you feel like you’re part of the underwater world.

Crew cabins

You will find crew accommodation on one of the crew decks. On some ships they are underwater or below the waterline.

Crew cabins on a cruise ship (Photo credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock)

According to the department, crew members share dormitory-style rooms with access to communal dining areas, bars and gyms.

Orlop Bridge

The orlop is on the the four lowest bridges below sea level. It is the lowest deck on a cruise ship and the farthest aft of a ship. This area usually stores cables and cords and may have gotten its name from the overlapping cables that usually fill the space.

The Brick or the prison

No cruise line likes to use the brig to contain guests, but there are situations where they find it necessary, especially when someone has committed a serious offense or is at risk of harming themselves or others. Most of the time, passengers receive a reprimand or, in serious cases, may be forced to sign a contract to change their behavior.

Carnival Brig cruise ship
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

If the offense is more serious, they are taken into custody and have two guards posted outside the door to prevent them from getting out.

The brigs are steel pieces located on the lower decks of a ship, usually by the security office. People don’t stay in this area for long, as they are often turned over to authorities once the ship arrives in port.

cruise ship morgue

People often describe cruise ships as little floating cities, so it makes sense that there are dead on board. Although it sounds morbid and perhaps alarming, customers need not worry. Most deaths are due to natural causes like strokes or heart attacks. Although this is rare, there must be facilities on board to manage this situation.

cruise ship morgue
Cruise ship morgue (Photo credit: Fer Gregory / Shutterstock)

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

Also, if the area is not in use, it can be used as a cold room for flowers and other things. They don’t use the morgue to store food.


When chairs are damaged, varnishes wear off a table, or there are repairs to be made, cruise lines do not replace the damaged item. Cruise ships often have a carpentry shop, with carpenters who spend the day replacing, repairing and updating items found on the ship.

Read also: How much do cruise passengers earn?

However, they do not just repair furniture or wooden objects. They replace worn carpeting and broken tiles and renovate worn railing areas that the harsh ocean elements have damaged. They also take care of delicate items, such as replacing chair fabrics and curtains.

Crew bar and OB

Cruise ships have areas where customers can sit 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 ship.

Carnival value
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

Drinks are cheaper in the crew bars, and there are activities and music for the crew to unwind in their free time. This is often a place to stock up on cabin supplies.


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

If so, ports missed due to turbulent weather or other itinerary-altering situations would not make the newsletter possible. This would provide inaccurate and confusing information.

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


Although it looks like a fast-paced freeway, I-95 resides under public bridges. It is the main artery going backwards. It allows crew members to access various areas of the ship.

Cruise ship I-95
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

Over time, this bustling area has come to be dubbed I-95 after the famous highway starting from the east coast of the United States and ending in Miami (which is, oddly enough, 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 several areas. It is an effective design continuously driven by quick actions from moving personnel and crew members.


If you’ve ever wondered what the rooms of underwater cruise ships are for, now you know. Although things may differ from cruise line to cruise line, these decks are generally for maintenance purposes, areas reserved for crew membersand spaces that should be kept away from guests, such as the brig or morgue.

Underwater cruising chambers