What is a lido deck on a cruise ship?

Think of a cruise vacation, and images of sunny weather and fruity drinks on the lido deck are likely to come to mind. But exactly what is a lido deck, anyway?

The word “lido” in Italian refers to a beach or seashore where people gather to swim. So, fittingly, a cruise ship lido deck is a centrally located outdoor area where passengers will find a pool or two, along with hot tubs and lounge chairs.

Norwegian Breakaway waterslides
Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest ships are loaded with family-friendly attractions such as giant waterslides. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Depending on the layout of your vessel, the lido deck could also be the place where passengers exit the onboard water slides after some wet and watery fun.

Lido decks are practical, too. Restrooms and outdoor showers for rinsing off after swimming are common lido deck amenities.

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If you’re in need of a beach towel, rental kiosks are always found poolside. Swipe your card, or give your room number to the attendant, and you’ll have a towel that’s yours to use for the day. (Just be sure to return it, or it’ll end up being yours to keep — including a fee that will be added to your onboard bill.)

Crew serving fruit at the buffet on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

No lido deck is complete without easy access to pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris. The area is sure to feature at least one bar so those fruity drinks will be easy to track down between sunbathing stints.

The pool will also be situated close to the vessel’s buffet or have a couple of small window-service eateries nearby so you don’t have to give up your spot in the sun or change out of your bathing suit in order to grab a bite. A grilling station for burgers and hot dogs and soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt machines are lido deck hot spots.

Having snacks nearby is also convenient if you’re enjoying a film, concert or sporting event on your ship’s outdoor movie screen, which will almost always overlook the lido deck area.

Carnival Breeze Seaside Theatre, on the lido deck, is a poolside LED screen offering nightly “Dive In Movies” along with concerts, sporting events and other programming throughout the day. (Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

On a small, luxury ship, the lido deck might be a quiet place to go for a dip or take a nap in the sun. But on a big-ship cruise, lido deck shenanigans often include belly-flop contests, hairy chest competitions and group dance parties, plus sailaway festivities that invite all passengers to join in the fun. Expect loud, enthusiastic crowds and both live and DJ’d music.

But beware: Among all the great things you’ll find on your vessel’s lido deck, there will almost certainly be chair hogs, as well. These inconsiderate fellow passengers rise at the crack of dawn to claim prime poolside deck chairs. They’ll drop their personal items — books, beach bags and flip-flops — to reserve loungers and then leave for hours. They don’t want to use the chairs until later, but they don’t want you to use them, either.

Have other questions about cruise-related terms? Check out our glossary of cruise terms or see our answers to common cruise questions:

Featured photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy.