Are Cruise Ship Pools Ocean Water or Freshwater? – Chlorination Guide


If you are taking a cruise you may be wondering if the water onboard is fresh or saltwater. Many people have a preference for one or the other but it can be tricky to find out ahead of time which your cruise ship will have onboard.

Are Cruise Ship Pools Filled With Fresh or Saltwater?

Cruise ship pools are usually filled with saltwater which has been chemically treated. On some cruise ships, you will find freshwater pools but these are less common. It is possible to have a cruise ship where some pools are fresh and some saltwater, this is very common on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. 

It seems to be that the newer, generally speaking, larger cruise ships have moved to use freshwater in their pools whereas the older ships have kept saltwater.

There could be a number of reasons for this but one of the most likely is that it is easier for cruise ships to maintain freshwater swimming pools as they’re less damaging to the pumps and filtering systems.

Golden Princess Cruise Ship Swimming Pool Middle

Above is a photo of one of the many swimming pools onboard the Golden Princess. If you are somebody who loves swimming pools you should definitely consider a Princess cruise.

Their ships have more than any other line and this is one of the main reasons why I constantly recommend Princess to young cruisers, to find out why, and to find out which other lines I recommend, check out this post: Best Cruise Lines For Young Cruisers (Tried & Tested Pros & Cons!)

Cruise Ship Swimming Pool Chlorination Systems

Regardless of if the water is seawater or freshwater chlorine is added to maintain the swimming pools.

Cruise lines have a lot of guidelines that they must follow when it comes to cruise ship pools and as a result, they usually have to continually add chlorine and refresh the water.

The below comes from Carnival cruise line:

“As per USPH, Chlorine levels need to be between 3-10mg. The water is drained out and loaded a few times during the cruise but it may depend on restrictions the ship is subject to as far where and when they can discharge water into the sea. It cannot be done in the home ports so it is typically done before arrival, if the itinerary permits.” – source.

The cruise ships usually use less chorine in the saltwater pools.

That said, because of the regulations in place cruise lines still have to add some chemicals regardless of how well it has been filtered.

Can You Tell The Difference?

Personally, the only way that I would notice the difference would be if I was to take an accidental mouthful.

I’m very lucky in that the chlorination or salt content of water doesn’t affect me in any way. This the same for the majority of people.

Some people do report having problems with heavily chlorinated freshwater pools such as their swimming costumes being bleached or their skin or eyes reacting negatively to the chlorine.

Similarly, many people report problems such as itchy skin caused by the salt in the saltwater pools.

celebrity eclipse top deck pools swimming sun bathing

The Titanic’s Swimming Pool

The titanic was one of the first ships to have an inside swimming pool:

Inside Titanic’s Swimming Pool – Real Photos, Restrictions, and Design

Are Royal Caribbean’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

The following ships have only saltwater pools onboard:

Brilliant of The Seas, Enchantment of The Seas, Empress of The Seas, Explorer of The Seas, Grandeur of The Seas, Jewel of The Seas, Mariner of The Seas, Navigator of The Seas, Radiance of The Seas, Rhapsody of The Seas, Serenade of The Seas, Vision of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

The following ships have only freshwater pools onboard:

Anthem of The Seas, Freedom of The Seas, Independence of The Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Ovation of The Seas, Quantum of The Seas, and Spectrum of The Seas.

The following ships have both fresh and saltwater pools onboard:

Adventure of The Seas, Allure of The Seas, Harmony of The Seas, Majesty of The Seas, Oasis of The Seas, and Symphony of The Seas.

Are Norwegian’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

All outdoor pools on Norwegian Cruise Line’s cruise ships are saltwater. The hot tubs and jacuzzis are freshwater. All saltwater pools are chlorinated. – source.

Are Carnival’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

Carnival doesn’t have a very detailed description on their website but they do say that “Swimming pool water is typically seawater.” – source.

Are Princess’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

On all Princess ships apart from the Pacific Princess, the water in the main swimming pools is freshwater.  Pacific Princess wasn’t originally built for Princess and started her life as MS R Three for Renaissance Cruises, this may explain why she is different. – source.

The hot tubs on Princess cruise ships are also freshwater.

Are Celebrity’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

Celebrity doesn’t provide any information on their website about if their pools are salt or freshwater. The general opinion from others who have cruised on the ships is that the newer ships such as Celebrity Silhouette, Eclipse, etc have freshwater pools whereas the older ships still use saltwater. This seems to be a theme not only within the Celebrity brand.

Are Holland America’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

Holland America cruise ships have a mix of both salt and freshwater swimming pools. There is no definitive list on their website or any other source but by speaking to guests who have been on board I’ve managed to find out that Veendam uses saltwater and Volendam uses freshwater.

Again the newer ships seem to use freshwater and the older seawater.

How do Cruise Lines Keep Their Pools Clean?

Cruise lines keep their pools clean by draining and replacing the water each night. To learn more about how and why this happens, check out this post: 

Cruise Lines Drain The Swimming Pools at Night – Here’s Why

Emma Le Teace

Hey, I'm Emma, an award-winning cruise blogger, and YouTuber. I share cruise tips, tours, and videos on this website to help you master cruising on a budget. You can learn more here: About Me.

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