What does a cruise ship engine room look like

Whether you’re curious about a cruise ship’s engine or just want to avoid the cabins surrounding that noisy area, an engine room can be an interesting place.

We describe what the engine room of the cruise ship contains, what it does, and the amount of noise and vibration generated in this area.

Where is the engine room on a cruise ship?

On newer cruise ships, engine rooms are located aft of the ship and on the lower decks. They are not completely aft but closer to midships.

Regardless of vessel size and engine type, engines are extremely noisy. Engineers compensate for this by incorporating sound reduction features and technology to keep the room well insulated, so it’s less noisy for guests.

Insulation, in this case, has a dual purpose. It reduces noise and prevents the heat generated by a running motor from escaping onto adjacent decks. On a cruise ship, this is very important, where comfort is one of the top priorities for the cruiser.

How noisy is the motor?

The decibel range for a standard cruise ship engine exceeds 173 decibels. It’s extremely loud and in a range that can damage hearing in seconds. With good insulation and soundproofing functions, it won’t sound so loud.

If you are in the engine room while the engine is running, it will still be very loud, regardless of the noise reduction technology used. To put things into perspective, those entering the room are required to wear hearing protection. Otherwise, they may suffer hearing damage.

However, customers need not worry if their cabins are in this area. The noise level will not damage your hearing as the surrounding cabins are well insulated. However, you can still hear noise and feel vibrations through walls and floors.

As mentioned, the motor vibrates while it is running. They can be felt in the surrounding areas, including the huts adjacent to them. This can cause the hangers to vibrate or move other objects in the cabin, which can disturb your rest.

What is the engine size?

Modern cruise ships have more than one engine. Larger ships, such as the Oasis-class of Royal Caribbean, contain six engines. Other ships – like the Carnival Splendor from Carnival Cruise Line – may be as few as four, depending on the size of the ship, its age and the cruise line.

Royal Caribbean Oasis Class Cruise Ships
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The engine room itself is vast and spans several decks. Space is needed not only for massive engines, but also for fuel tanks, generators, engine workshop and control room.

How does the heat escape from the machine room?

Heat from the engines is removed through a series of heat exchangers. This is on the exhaust path that precedes the turbocharger on the path to the scrubber. The exhaust gases reach a temperature of 663°F but are continuously cooled by heat extraction until they reach 86°F as they exit the funnel.

The engines are fuel and heat efficient. The recovered heat is used for many services, including the desalination of salt water into fresh water and oil heating (if heavy fuel oil is used). Soft water can be produced by reverse osmosis to supplement an evaporator.

Where is the fuel stored?

Fuel is usually stored in double bottom tanks. They are distributed along the entire length of the cruise ship with ballasts. The only fuel tanks located in an engine room are the service and slop tanks.

cruise ship engine
Photo credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock

What are the cabins like at this location?

Most people avoid this area because of the noise. However, there are other reasons why these cabins are less desirable besides the fact that they are noisy.

The cabins close to the engine room can be:

  • Smaller than average cabins
  • Do not contain windows
  • Receive engine noise
  • Be subject to vibrations, especially when docking

These rooms tend to be cramped and small. They are also not priority parts in the design of the ship. Booking this room may mean you will experience vibrations and noise from the engine. You can hear the crew going back and forth in the engine room throughout the day and night.

These cabins are located on the lower deck and amidships. They tend to be windowless and dark. Rooms located in the center of a ship usually do not contain the luxury of windows, which can make people feel claustrophobic.

Are there any benefits?

Some people argue that most people don’t spend much time in a cabin – they’re too busy exploring the cruise ship. There’s plenty to do on board, and if you like the social scene, you might not spend much time inside the cabin other than sleeping.

The main reason people choose an inside cabin on a lower deck is because it is cheaper. Most people book a cruise for the experience, not for the sleep. Also, what most people don’t know is that if you book a cabin near the engine room, you may be able to upgrade.

An upgrade option does not necessarily mean that more money will be needed. This means that if a better cabin is available or vacant, such as last minute cancellations, you can be upgraded for free. However, this is not guaranteed.

The engine room is truly the heart of the ship. This is where the crankshafts, pistons and hammers turn to move the ship forward. The chief engineer and crew work 24/7 to keep the entire vessel running smoothly. It allows onboard luxuries like electricity, plumbing and air conditioning to work.

Besides housing the generators and engines, pumps and heat exchangers are located here to cool the engine and stabilize the engines and fins, in addition to the bow thruster system. Since the equipment is dependent on electricity, modern ships contain backup generators outside the main engine room in the event of a fire.

Also read: Future Fuel – What is an LNG-powered cruise ship?

Generators power all vital functions to run a vessel, such as emergency lights, communications and navigation systems. If the generator fails, there are also backup batteries that can be used for short periods.

All of this machinery is overseen by the engine control room, which contains lights, displays, alarms and switches where every piece of equipment can be monitored to ensure the cruise ship is running smoothly.

What does a cruise ship engine room look like