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Cruise Ship Promenade Decks – Photos, Uses, and History

If you’re considering taking a cruise you may have heard the term promenade deck used. Most modern cruise ships do have a promenade deck but the idea of having a promenade deck isn’t new.

Promenade deck design is constantly changing and I have cruised on ships with a variety of promenade decks.

What is a Promenade Deck on a Cruise Ship?

A promenade deck is a deck located midway through a ship that is open to the air. The promenade deck is usually covered and provides a walkway around the ship. It is common to find lifeboats and other mechanical equipment located on the promenade deck of a ship.

It is traditional for cruise ship promenade decks to extend fully around the ship however many modern cruise ships don’t have this feature.

Disney Magic Promenade Deck

Where Does The Name Promenade Deck Come From?

Many people believe that the term Promenade Deck came from the Swedish word promenaddäck which means walking deck but this is unconfirmed.

It is more likely that the deck was named after the use of the word promenade as both a verb and a noun.

The word promenade used as a noun dates back to the 16th century and it means the following:

“A paved public walk, typically one along the seafront at a resort.”

oxford dictionary

Promenade can also be used as a verb to describe the action performed.

The promenade deck as seen on ships satisfies both of these definitions.

“To walk about for amusement, display, or exercise.”

What Is a Promenade Deck on a Cruise Ship Used For?

Walking/Running on The Promenade Deck

The Promenade deck on a cruise ship is mainly designed as a place for guests to walk or run. On most promenade decks there will be markers that indicate the distance of the promenade deck.

This will typically be something like ‘3 laps = 1 mile’. It isn’t uncommon to see runners running around the promenade deck early in the morning.

On many newer cruise ships, the running track has been relocated to the top deck of the ship but the promenade deck remains a popular place for walking.

Some cruise lines will even organise group walks on the promenade deck. Many cruise lines will offer an early morning mile to those who wish to join.

Safety Equipment on The Promenade Deck

On the majority of promenade decks, there will be lifeboats and other mechanical equipment.

On some ships, these will be hanging above the heads of those walking on the promenade deck, and on others, they may be between the guests and the ocean.

I love promenade decks where I am able to walk to the edge of the ship, often mechanical equipment can turn a walk on the promenade deck from an enjoyable stroll to just a walkway.

The below promenade deck was located on the Sky Princess.

sky princess promenade deck life boats

Traditionally muster drills (safety drills) would be completed on the Promenade deck. Since the cruising shutdown of 2020, this has changed on the majority of cruise lines.

To find out what modern muster drills are like, and why I hope they never go back to their original format, check out this post: Muster Drills Have Changed For The Better (REVIEW of New After Covid Process).

The safety equipment that you will see is usually just the lifeboats. I was on a cruise recently on the Disney Magic where at the front of the promenade deck, we were able to see all of the equipment below.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it on a cruise ship before but I loved being able to have a look at all of the giant ropes and other things.

disney magic deck equipment

Sunbathing/Hot Tubs on The Promenade Deck

On many large modern cruise ships, there will be sun loungers and hot tubs on the promenade deck. This is more common on promenade decks that aren’t covered, as this is where guests will be able to get the most sunshine.

I recently took a cruise on P&O’s largest cruise ship, Iona. The promenade deck is not covered and as a result, there are lots of seats and whirlpools for guests to use.

Even if a promenade deck is covered, you may be sunloungers here. The promenade deck can provide a good alternative for those seeking shade.

Games Games Games! – Promenade Deck Fun

The most popular cruise ship game to find on the promenade deck is called shuffleboard.

Shuffleboard involves using long poles to project a disc along the floor. It is a very popular cruise ship game and some cruise ships will even hold shuffleboard tournaments.

Shuffleboard dates back to the 1500s and the game was originally called shovillaborde. There is evidence that King Henry 8th played the game.

On modern cruise ships, you may also find games like table tennis or giant chess.

I recently took a cruise on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady where they had swings and a boxing ring on the promenade deck. I’ve certainly never seen that before!

Eating and Drinking on The Promenade Deck

The importance of eating and drinking on a cruise cannot be overlooked. For me, it is one of my favourite things about cruising.

On many large modern cruise ships, you’ll find that there are restaurants and bars that line the promenade deck.

A favourite example of mine is on the newer Norwegian Cruise Line ships. They often have an area called the waterfront which is lined with restaurants and bars.

Many bars and restaurants that line the promenade deck will also have an inside area and just a few tables outside, this means that the restaurant can be used even in bad weather.

Bars on the promenade deck can be very popular, especially on warm-weather cruises.

The photo below was taken on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady.

virgin voyages scarlet lady promenade deck seating

Cabins on The Promenade Deck

It is rare to have a cabin on the promenade deck but this does happen. On older ships, this may just mean that the window from your cabin looked out across the promenade deck to the ocean.

I recently took a cruise on P&O’s ship Iona.

Iona has balcony cabins located on the promenade deck. I personally don’t like this design as it means that if you are sitting on your balcony you are almost sitting with the people on the promenade deck which I find odd.

To learn more about these cabins, and what I thought of Iona, check out this post: P&O Iona Cruise Photo Review – Ship, Food, Entertainment, and More.

P&O Iona Promenade Deck Cabins

How Has Promenade Deck Design Changed?

Traditionally promenade decks were made of teak which was hard-wearing but expensive. The look is very distinctive and can still be found on some cruise ships.

Another design change has been the reduction of wrap-around promenade decks.

What is a wrap-around promenade deck?

A wrap-around promenade deck is a promenade deck that completes a full circle around the ship meaning that guests are able to walk full laps.

In the past, the majority of promenade decks would have been full wrap-around decks. In recent years many cruise lines have decided to change this, instead focusing on using the space for other things such as restaurants or cabins.

p&o iona promenade deck

Why Has Promenade Deck Design Changed?

One theory as to why the promenade deck design has changed in recent years is the increase in balcony cabins available on cruise ships.

It’s a fairly modern idea for cruise passengers to have their own private outside space and having this may mean that guests care less about having a traditional promenade deck to walk around.

As cruise ships get bigger, many are introducing internal promenades.

Internal promenades usually look like streets and are lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. Many of the large Royal Caribbean and MSC cruise ships have designs that look like this.

Royal Promenade Harmony of the Seas

This internal promenade idea was first seen in ferries. The Silja Line Symphony ferry which cruises between Helsinki and Stockholm looks very similar to a modern cruise ship.

Did Titanic Have a Promenade Deck?

Titanic had a promenade deck located on A deck which wrapped around the full length of the ship. The promenade deck was only for use of those passengers travelling in first class and because of the enclosed design, it was well protected from the weather.

Titanic’s sister ship Olympic had a completely open promenade deck and the design proved to be a problem. As a result, they decided to enclose the forward section of the promenade deck on the Titanic.

Guests were able to play chess, shuffleboard, and dominos on Titanic’s promenade deck.

titanic promenade deck

Despite the promenade deck being for first-class guests only, guests still had to pay if they wanted to rent a deck chair.

Chairs would be rented for the entire voyage at a cost of 1 dollar.

The promenade deck can be seen in this deleted clip from the movie Titanic: Deleted scene.

Did The Queen Mary Have a Promenade Deck?

The Queen Mary had a full promenade deck which was partly sheltered. Access to the promenade deck was split between Tourist Class and Cabin Class.

The promenade deck has been restored and is now a place where guests staying onboard can order a drink or have some food.

I have stayed on the Queen Mary and strolled along the promenade deck.

Watch the video below to find out how my stay was:

What Deck is The Promenade Deck Usually On?

On most ships, you’ll find the promenade deck located mid-way between the lowest and highest decks. Many modern cruise ships have 14+ decks and the promenade deck can usually be found on decks 6, 7 or 8.

The promenade deck has to be located here because of the role it plays in safety and the deployment of lifeboats.

Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources

Book a Cruise:
Have a specific cruise you want to book or just need some help and inspiration? Get a cruise quote through us: Cruise Quote Form.

Not Sure What to Book?
Learn everything you need to know to find and book the perfect cruise in my How to Cruise For Less cruise course.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance:
You could be stranded abroad, lose your entire cruise fare, or be hit with MASSIVE medical bills if you don’t have cruise travel insurance. I use comparison websites to compare quotes: Compare Quotes Here.

Our full list of travel essentials can be found here.

Book a Cruise:
Have a specific cruise you want to book or just need some help and inspiration? Get a cruise quote through us: Cruise Quote Form.

Not Sure What to Book?
Learn everything you need to know to find and book the perfect cruise in my How to Cruise For Less cruise course.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance:
You could be stranded abroad, lose your entire cruise fare, or be hit with MASSIVE medical bills if you don’t have cruise travel insurance. I use comparison websites to compare quotes: Compare Quotes Here.

Our full list of travel essentials can be found here.