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Cruise Ship Swimming Pools
Swimming Pools on Cruise Ships
People have been enjoying the 'ammenity' of cruise ship swimming pools for over a century. The main swimming pool is traditionally located on an open-air upper deck called the LIDO deck. But, depending on the vessel you choose, odds are, swimming and sunbathing aren't the only activities you'll find on the lido, and the main pool is just one of the ones on your cruise ship.
Come along with me and find out all about getting into the swim of things at sea. Find out about the what kind of water is used, what happens when the ship starts pitching and rolling in high seas, what some of the rules are, and more.
The FIRST Swimming Pool at Sea
The earliest passenger ship to have a swimming pool installed was the RMS Adriatic, of the famous White Star Line. The year was 1907.
It's Probably Sea Water
in the Ship's Pool
The water in the pools on your ship is probably SEA WATER, rather than chlorinated tap water, like you'll find in a hotel, neighborhood, or YMCA.
Before you react with a resounding "Ewwww," consider this:
Typical public water venues rely on heavy doses of chemicals - principally chlorine - for sanitation. More often that not, when a public pool is cited for a violation, it is for a chlorine level that is too low, NOT because the water hasn't been changed out recently. That doesn't seem to be a consideration. So, how healthy is Chlorine? Prolonged exposure might pose a health risk. Competition swimmers have a high incidence of asthma, and some have suggested a link to chlorine exposure.
Walk around a cruise ship late in the evening, and it's a pretty safe bet you'll find an empty pool. They are refilled with fresh sea water often... at least once a week, and daily on some ships. The sea water goes through a very advanced filtration and treatment system before the first swimmer dives in, and in the end, it's clean, healthy salt water.
Think about it! Salt water has long been lauded for its healthy properties. Historically, people have flocked to seaside resorts and salt springs to take 'health' baths. And chlorine? Not so much. Fresh, filtrated sea water every day, or the same re-chlorinated water week after week...
I can tell you that my skin feels softer and smoother after I've spent some time in salt water!
On the Lido
Swimming Goggles and Sunscreen - may come in handy!
If you plan to spend time in the pool or at the beach, and are concerned that the salt water will bother your eyes, you might consider bringing along a pair of swimming goggles. They're not terribly expensive, and come in a number of color choices for men, women, and children.
On the pool deck, you'll get plenty of sun, even if there is a cloud cover. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen.
Rules are Rules
Even on that Carefree Cruise
While you probably won't find lifeguards for at a pool on a cruise ship, there WILL be rules. sometimes, they'll be posted in the pool area. Other times, you'll find them in your 'daily.' A daily is a little printed bulletin that (among othr things) outlines the next day's activities and is delivered to your statroom each evening. You may also find port summaries, expected dinner dress, and hours of operation for shops, water venues, and other ship facilities.
Regardless of where you find them, you ARE expected to do the other passengers and the ship's staff the courtesy of abiding by the pool rules when you swim. Here is an example of one cruise ship's pool rules.
No Lifeguard on Duty - Swim at your own risk.
Max. Depth 5 ft. - 7 in.
Children must be supervised by an adult at all times.
No running or horseplay.
Use handrails and stairways to enter and exit pool.
Health rules prohibit use of pools by children in diapers or who are not toilet trained.* SEE NOTE
No glassware or food allowed in pool area.
Please refrain from walking on wood decking, which can be slippery when wet.
* NOTE -This is an IMPORTANT rule, and it applies to everyone and every child! Once, I watched as a parent rushed out of the pool, baby in hand, dribbling soggy plops of poo as he went. That pool was immediately colsed!
Motion Sickness Products for Kids
Pitching and Rolling
means CLOSED POOLS.
Pitching and rolling. Rolling and pitching. The motion of the ocean. The nature of sea travel.
ROLLING is when the ship encounters large waves in such a manner that she rocks from side to side.
PITCHING is when the ship encounters large waves in such a manner that she rocks lengthways, or front to back.
Ship stabilizers can help to moderate rolling, but not pitching.
Speaking of Pitching and Rolling . . . If it affects you, one of the best remedies is BONINE, which comes in both adult and children s' versions.
ROLLing on the Waves
Makes for an Unsafe Place to Swim
In this picture, you can see how the water in the pool is being affected by the rolling of the ship. This was from some fairly gentle rolling... but it was enough to create some waves in the pool. I didn't get to swim this particular afternoon. Not long after I took this photo, the rolling became more pronounced, the pool was officially closed, and the net was thrown over it.
While it may look like it might be fun, bobbing up and down and back and forth on those waves, remember that those concrete sides are HARD, and having your head slapped into one of them might prove uncomfortable at the very least. The roll could increase at any second, and with no warning whatsoever.
A Fevered PITCH
Made a Good Picture, but Bad Swimming Conditions
Now, take a look at the more violent effect some decent pitching had on the water in the pool of a ship we were on once. Not safe for swimming, but great fun to watch!
This pool had already been closed in anticipation of rough seas, and the net spread across it. Even though you can't see the net in the picture because of the breaking waves, I can tell you it was there.
Big Waves on the Sun Princess Cruise Shop - ... In the Pool
A friend took this amazing video a few years ago as the Sun Priincess was going through some fairly rough seas. Can you even imagine standing there to record this wave action? Just staying upright must have been a bit of a challenge. I think he said he was hanging on to an upright.
On the Lido Deck
The "Main" Pool and More
Some (not all) main pools have huge slides that twist and turn on their way to the water. Have a look at the picture to the right. See the slide to the left of the Carnival Imagination's funnel? Now that's a SLIDE! The red spiral part is the stairs, and the yellow and blue part is the slide.
A few years ago, my little granddaugter and I did a 'just us girls' cruise on the Carnival Fantasy. Oh, did she fall in love with that slide! Up and down, up and down! Now these slides are pretty special. So special, in fact, you'll even see adults making the long climb to the top, and the quick, slippery trip down, ending with a splash. I even did it once myself, much to my little companion's delight. Just ONCE. I think I did it just to show her that Nana COULD.
Not every lido deck has a slide, but most every pool has something special, be it a statue, special artwork on the bottom, fountains, you name it.
Find the Main pool - at least one of them - on the Lido deck. LIDO is the Italian word for "beach" and the earliest lido decks actually had a beach atmosphere to such a point that one of them even put beach sand in their pool! On come of today's lido decks, you'll also find bars, snack bars, and the entrance to the buffet. On many ships, you'll find a whole lot of other things there, too ... but more on that later.
Are You a Swimmer?
Can you swim?
Really well, or just well enough to get by?
Or have you yet to learn how?
THANK YOU for voting!
How well can you swim?
Cruise Tip: Pack an EXTRA Swim Suit
If You Like to Go In the Water
If, like me, you are a water lover, my advice is to pack an extra swimsuit. Things tend to dry slowly hanging in your cabin bath. I can hang a suit there before dinner, and it may still be damp the next morning when I want to take a dip. So, take one more than the number you think you'll need, just in case. I usually take at least four on a seven night cruise, but I swim a lot.
A Handy Little Item - Small Cruise Ship, Beach & Travel Waterproof Credit Card, ID & Paper Money Holder
Unless you have a companion who'll always be nearby, but never go in the water, and can tend your things, you'll want one of these.
This an inexpensive, but indispensable item for those who swim a lot, and don't have someone to leave their sea card and folding money with. I wouln't cruise without one!
You can also buy them on board, but at a little bit more of a cost. (And not until the shops on board open, which isn't immediately.)
Adult and Children's Pools
With Special Features
Ships built within the last decade or so tend to have multiple pools per ship, each of which sometimes has its own design and purpose. While most ships are more family-friendly than ever, they haven't forgotten that not everyone is sailing with children ... or even wants to.
Some ships have special shallow "splash" areas just for the little ones. These can be in a special children's area.
More and more ships have special adult only pool areas. On the Crown Princess, the staff was VERY good about making sure the serenity of their adults only Terrace Pool, located on the aft just outside the Caribe Cafe, was not shattered by invading teens and pre-teens.
On the Radiance class and larger ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, you'll find the adult pool area in a particularly beautiful area called The Solarium.
On newer Carnival ships, look for the Serenity Adult Retreat.
Sunlight Streams into the Solarium
Solarium Pools - for Adults
On Royal Caribbean ships, the Solarium pools are designated for adults only.
The solarium area shown above has a retractible roof that can be closed in inclement weather. There's also a hot tub, and a snack bar in the area.
Best of all for those who actually like to swim in swimming pools (rather than just loll around) there are swim jets in the pool!
Other Water Features Include Splash Areas
. . . and Other Water Venues
Right: A view of the H2O Zone splash park for kids on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.
Other types of pools and water venues you'll find on cruise ships include:
- Spas and Hot tubs (most all ships have these)
- Adult only retreats with pools and /or spas, and special amenities
- Splash and Spray parks
- FlowRider surfing simulators on Royal Caribbean's larger ships
H2O zone photo: My own, all rights reserved
- Specialy designated Baby Splash Zones for toddlers
- On some smaller luxury shops, there is a "marine deck" which lets you go right into the sea from the back of the ship, and complimentary equipment of various types is provided. (Kayaks, zodiacs, snorkeling, etc.) This turns quiet cove into a temporary pool!
I've probably forgotten something, but you get the idea . . . there's a lot more to today's cruise ship swimming pool than a retangular shaped water container.
The LIDO Deck
A happening Place!
A lot has changed since the time when the Lido was just a pool and some deck chairs!
Today's Lido is a real hub of activity, right from the moment the ship sounds that first blast signifying it is leaving the dock and your cruise has begun. At that moment, you'll probably find the Lido packed with cruisers high on the expectation of things to come - it's the SAILAWAY PARTY. This is the time to raise your glass in a toast and wish your traveling companion - or even a complete stranger - in a hearty BON VOYAGE!
And, that's just the beginning! Activity abounds on the Lido. There's live music, pool games, maybe even a dancing under the stars party one night.
And you may also find (again, depending on your ship) multiple food stations, each serving something different; a giant movie screen showing movies and sports events; staff-led trivia contests and belly-flop contests; ice cream; and who knows what else?
We found a charming new treat on the Lido when we were on the Ruby Princess (Princess Cruises) a couple of years ago. It happened daily at mid afternoon... the "Milk and Cookies Guy" would appear. In a crisp white apron and hat, and pushing a cart, he offered complimentary (warm) cookies and milk to anyone who wanted them. And a fabulous smile. We loved it!
Now, whoever you are and whatever you like, you/re sure to find something on the Lido that will be special to you. What do you think it will be?