The Aft Deck – A Popular Spot on a Cruise Ship

The aft deck of a cruise ship is usually one of the ship's busiest areas. This guide explains why it is such a popular spot on most cruises!

If you have never been on a cruise ship, you might be surprised to see just how busy the back section of the ship is. In maritime terms, this charming area of the ship is known as the aft deck.

Despite its seemingly unexciting position at the back of the ship, the aft deck of most cruise ships offers a wide range of exciting amenities, relaxing lounge areas, and some of the most stunning views you can find anywhere on the ship!

Today, we will explore the many things the aft deck has to offer so you don’t miss out on this enjoyable area on your next cruise vacation. We will also look at aft-deck accommodations by exploring the benefits and drawbacks of booking an aft-facing cabin.

So, let’s dive right in and explore everything the aft deck of a cruise ship has to offer!

What Is the Aft Deck of a Cruise Ship?

As mentioned, the aft deck of a cruise ship refers to the stern or rear portion of the vessel. For most cruise ships, the majority of the aft deck is an outdoor space where passengers can relax and enjoy the view.

While the aft deck’s main appeal is the eye-catching views of the churning water behind the ship, the aft deck is also a space that most cruise ships have dedicated to passenger amenities and luxurious cabins.

Not only will the aft deck feature lounge areas and observation platforms, but it can also have a wide variety of exciting amenities, such as swimming pools and hot tubs, outdoor dining patios, bars and cafes, spa facilities, and even sports areas, like basketball and tennis courts!

Cabins Near the Aft Deck

Aside from the passenger-friendly amenities you can usually find along the aft deck of a cruise ship, you can also find aft-facing cabins.

These cabins differ from the other types of cabins you will find on the ship, as they are strategically positioned to give occupants stunning views of the rear of the ship.

What Are the Advantages of Aft-Facing Cabins?

Given that the views are the main appeal of cabins in this part of the ship, most will feature massive panoramic windows and private balconies that allow occupants to soak in the view.

Where many cruise ship passengers simply use their cabins as a place to sleep and shower, aft-facing cabins become an attraction for those lucky enough to have them.

Aft of the Cruise Ship
Aft of the Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock)

Just imagine how beautiful it would be to wake up to the sight of an endless ocean stretching out behind the ship. Or, imagine enjoying a romantic drink from the privacy of your own aft-facing balcony. As you enjoy the view, you will see the cruise ship’s seemingly endless wake disappear into the distance.

Another advantage that aft-facing cabins offer is their proximity to the various amenities on the aft deck. While we will explain these amenities in greater detail later, the ability to access them quickly with a short walk can enhance your entire onboard experience.

Are Aft-Facing Cabins Expensive?

While pricing will vary from one cruise line to another, aft-facing cabins are generally considered among the most premium options. As you would expect, this is due to the incredible views offered by this section of the ship and the proximity to some of the most popular amenities on the ship.

With that said, even within the context of a single cruise ship, pricing can vary depending on the type of aft-facing cabin and the amount of floorspace it offers.

Balcony Cabins Aft View
Balcony Cabins Aft View (Photo Credit: NAPA / Shutterstock)

As you would expect, more private aft-facing cabins that offer large balconies are far more expensive than smaller options that are impacted by the noise and commotion of the aft deck amenities.

Should You Book an Aft-Facing Cabin?

Where you choose to stay onboard a cruise ship will depend on your preferences, as well as your budget. While aft-facing cabins tend to be more expensive than other options, like inside cabins, they also offer incredible views and luxurious interiors.

If you want to travel in comfort and luxury, the more elaborate interior of an aft-facing cabin might be to your liking. There is also the fact that aft-facing cabins offer more of a private sanctuary than other types of cabins. They usually have private balconies that provide an atmosphere of serenity.

Living on a Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Jeff R. Clow / Shutterstock

If you are more private and looking to spend time together rather than socializing with other passengers, the privacy and exclusivity offered by a private aft-facing balcony could be well worth the added cost.

On the other hand, if you do not plan to spend much time in your cabin, you can enjoy these views by visiting the public amenities and observation areas on the ship’s aft deck.

What Types of Amenities Can the Aft Deck Offer?

While many people choose to visit the aft deck because it offers unparalleled views of the expansive waters behind the ship, another primary reason for the popularity of this section of any cruise ship is the wide range of amenities.

Read Also: Aft of a Ship – What You Need to Know

While some amenities offer the ability to relax and immerse oneself in the tranquility of being at sea, others offer fun and excitement. As you would expect, the aft deck of each cruise ship will be unique, but the following are just some of the amenities you could encounter if you venture to the aft deck on your next cruise vacation.

Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs

Many cruise ships will feature a swimming pool on the aft deck. Not only does this location provide swimmers with an incredible view of the horizon as they enjoy the pool, but many of these pools will also have unique designs that visually merge the pool with the water below.

For example, many aft deck swimming pools are designed with infinity edges, so it looks like the pool drops into the ocean or sea below.

Princess Cruise Ship Aft
Princess Cruise Ship Aft (Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock)

Depending on the particular cruise ship you are traveling on, you may notice that the aft deck features numerous pools. Each pool can have a different design or be designed for different groups. While some will have more family-friendly features, others are intended to be adults-only, so they have a more relaxing atmosphere.

Hot tubs and jacuzzi pools are also common along the aft deck of cruise ships, as the relaxing warmth of the water matches perfectly with the tranquil views found at the ship’s stern.

Restaurants, Bars, and Other Outdoor Dining Areas

The views along a cruise ship’s aft deck provide the perfect setting for dining areas. Most larger cruise ships will feature numerous outdoor, open-air dining areas, bars, and cafes.

Valiant Lady Cruise Ship Aft
Valiant lady Cruise Ship Aft (Photo Credit: Skyshark Media / Shutterstock)

More casual aft-deck restaurants can provide passengers with lunches and snacks throughout the day, and more upscale restaurants offer more elaborate meals to those looking to indulge. For many passengers, the dreamy atmosphere of the churning water below and fading daylight is an ideal setting for a romantic dining experience.

Remember that some of the more refined eating venues on the aft deck may not be included in your cruise fare. If you are looking to save money and enjoy your cruise vacation on a tighter budget, opt for some of the less expensive dining options.

Sports and Fitness Facilities

Another explanation for the popularity of the aft deck on most cruise ships is that many will feature various sports and recreation facilities.

Whether you are looking to enjoy some exciting team-based sports, like basketball and volleyball, or challenge a partner to a game of tennis, many cruise ships will feature the necessary facilities along the aft deck.

Yoga on Cruise Ship Deck
Yoga on Cruise Ship Deck (Photo Credit: Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock)

While it is not always the case, some larger cruise ships will also feature outdoor gyms and exercise equipment along the aft deck. Others will simply have an aft-facing indoor gym, which provides fitness enthusiasts with incredible views as they complete their workout. 

For those looking to embrace the mental restoration a cruise vacation can offer, many aft decks will feature yoga, meditation, and stretching areas, as well as massage and spa facilities. There is no better place to focus on your mental wellness than a location that provides stunning views and the freshest air.

Observation Decks and Lounge Areas

Unsurprisingly, cruise ships of all sizes will almost always feature an observation area on the aft deck. These areas provide passengers with views of the ocean or sea behind the ship and a comfortable and calm place to relax, rest, and socialize with others.

These areas usually offer a truly unobstructed view so passengers can look down at the churning wake created by the ship’s propulsion system or at the vast expanse of the water and sky in the distance.

View of MSC Cruise Ship
View of MSc Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel / Shutterstock)

Not only will these areas have guard rails passengers can use to lean up against safely, most observation decks will have numerous seating options, like comfortable lounge chairs, bistro sets, and benches. These areas are excellent places to take in sunsets and sunrises, so make sure you head there early if you would like to sit at these times.

Worth Reading: Best Deck on a Cruise Ship – How to Choose

While some of these areas are in the shade as it helps protect passengers and provide a more relaxing atmosphere, other ships will go for a more open-air observation deck. If you hope to work on your tan while on the vessel, this is a great place to spend some time during the peak sunshine hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there cabins near the aft deck of a cruise ship?

Yes! Most cruise ships will have cabins on or near the aft deck of the ship. These can be known as “aft deck cabins,” “aft-facing cabins,” or “stern-facing cabins.”

Can I watch sunrises and sunsets from the aft deck of the ship?

Yes! The aft deck is one of the best locations on most cruise ships for enjoying sunrises and sunsets. The views are unobstructed, so you can easily see the sun rise or set over the open water.

Is the aft deck of a cruise ship quiet?

It depends on the types of amenities found on the aft deck of the ship you are traveling on. While most cruise ships will have a more relaxed observation area, the aft deck can be slightly loud during the day if it features sports facilities, family-friendly pools, and bars.

With that said, in the mornings and evenings, the aft deck should be relatively quiet, so you should be able to rest, read a magazine or book, or just take in the view.

Final Words

While the aft deck of a cruise ship can be pretty busy, it is worth visiting. Not only can this area of the ship offer a vast array of enjoyable amenities and delicious dining opportunities, but it also offers some of the most eye-catching views you will find anywhere on the vessel!

Whether you just want to visit the aft deck or you want to book an aft-facing cabin, do not overlook this area the next time you set off on a cruise vacation!

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.


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