Is There a Poop Deck on a Cruise Ship? The Real Poop Deck Meaning and Why It Matters!ย 

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Ever done a search for “poop deck meaning” in an effort to find out why it’s called that.

Well, you are not alone. Thousands of people search for this every month, so we thought we would help solve the mystery of what a poop deck is and why it’s called that.

This article dives into the fascinating history, purpose, and evolution of the poop deck, and how relevant it is to modern cruise ships.

Stick around to learn why this oddly named deck area is more than just a punchline to one of my awful jokes.  Don’t worry I’ll tell you the joke at the end LOL  

What Exactly is a Poop Deck?

Poop Deck Meaning - Where is the poop deck on a modern ship
Can You Spot Wonder of the Seas Poop Deck? Neither Could Morag

The poop deck is a raised deck that was located at the aft of the ship (aka the back of a ship), providing a high point for observation. 

It was traditionally part of the main deck area and the small deck was elevated by a few feet. On sailing ships, it was an essential part of the ship’s design, allowing sailors to navigate the ship effectively. 

On modern cruise ships, however, the poop deck has evolved into more of a leisure area and is therefore no longer referred to as a poop deck. Think “Sky Deck”, “Sun Deck”, “Deck 16”, nowadays.

Why is it Called the Poop Deck?

Mural on wall of Wonder of the Seas Gents Toilets showing a large Sheep wearing glasses
The Incredible Murals from the Gents Toilets on Wonder of Seas – Not a Poop Deck!

The term “poop deck” might make you chuckle, but its origins are far from bathroom humor.

The name comes from the French word “La Poupe,” or could also have been taken from the Latin word โ€œpuppisโ€œ meaning stern. Over time, the term has evolved to refer to any elevated deck area where people can enjoy views. So, in case you were wondering you don’t poop off the poop deck!

Do Modern Cruise Ships Have Poop Decks?

Modern cruise ships don’t usually contain a poop deck as navigation is all done from the ship’s bridge, located at the front.

However, some cruise lines still offer traditional deck areas, sometimes even “informally” calling them poop decks because, let’s face it, the name is too good to let go.

What Was the Poop Deck Used For?

Morag on deck of cruise ship as it sails through the Norwegian Fjords
Poop Decks Were Used As a High Vantage Point For Navigation

Back in the day, the poop deck was used to provide a high vantage point for navigational and observational duties. The raised deck provided a high point for the ship’s crew to steer the ship and keep an eye on the surrounding waters.

It was also a place where important orders were given, making it a crucial part of the ship’s operation.

Swabbing the Poop Deck: What Does it Mean?

Ever heard the phrase โ€œswabbing the poop deck”? Well, It’s not as gross as it sounds. 

Swabbing the poop deck of the ship means mopping the deck to keep the wood damp, slowing down decomposition. This was something that was done a lot on old wooden ships. It was also a way to reduce the risk of fire on the deck of a ship, especially with cannons and gunpowder onboard.

Did the Titanic Have a Poop Deck?

Interestingly the Titanic is often claimed to be the last known vessel to have a traditional poop deck on a ship.  You can see the location of the Titanic Poop Deck at the stern of the ship on these Deck Plans.

The Titanic’s poop deck was 128 feet long and served as an outdoor small “promenade deck” type of space for third-class passengers.  The Titanic sank in 1912.

Poop Deck on the Titanic: A Closer Look

Newspaper cutting with details of Titanic sinking
Titanic Sinks – Newspaper Headlines 1912

The poop deck on the Titanic was more than just a deck; it was actually a gathering point during the ship’s final moments. 

About 1100 people gathered at the poop deck just before the Titanic fully submerged, making it a poignant part of maritime history.

HMS Britannic, the sister ship of the Titanic was the last of the three Olympic-class cruise liners to be built. It didn’t have a poop deck. 

Where Do Sailors Poop? Do They Poop Off The Poop Deck

Contrary to popular belief, sailors didn’t use the poop deck as a restroom. They would often go to the toilet at the front of the ship or use port facilities.  However, due to its high point on the ship, it is known that Sailors did occasionally throw waste over the side from the poop deck. 

So, the poop deck is not where sailors poop, in case you were wondering.

What’s the Difference Between a Poop Deck and a Quarterdeck?

Highest deck on Carnival Pride
Quick Quiz – Poop Deck Quarterdeck or Top Deck?

The quarterdeck is a raised deck located behind the main mast of a sailing ship. While both the poop deck and the quarterdeck are located at the aft of a ship, they serve different purposes.

Traditionally, the quarterdeck was the command center of the ship where the captain and officers would be. Over time, the quarterdeck has also become the main ceremonial and reception area on board. 

So, the traditional concept of a quarterdeck, where the captain and officers would command the ship, doesn’t really apply here.

However, the spirit of the quarterdeck lives on in exclusive areas like the bridge or certain VIP lounges, where the captain and crew might entertain special guests.

These areas serve as the modern-day equivalent of the quarterdeck, offering a blend of command, ceremony, and social interaction.

The Evolution of Poop Deck Meaning: From Sailing Ships to Modern Cruise Ships

Golf play area on the Wonder of the Seas
The Poop Deck Area is Now Liklely To Be a Leisure Area on the Ship

While traditional poop decks may be a thing of the past, their spirit lives on in modern cruise ships and ship design even though they donโ€™t have a poop deck.

These days modern ships have created lots of more interesting facilities in search of the perfect cruise, Nowadays you’ll find fun activities like mini-golf and surfing simulators at the back of the ship, where the poop deck would have been.

So, the next time you’re on a cruise, and someone mentions the poop deck, you’ll be the smarty pants correcting them that it’s not what they think.

My Favorite Poop Deck Joke

Alan taking a selfie with a bunch of fellow cruisers
Yes, All These Fellow Cruise Fans Liked My Joke – Honest!

Oh I almost forgot to tell you my awful Poop Deck Meaning joke! 

“Why did the sailor bring a newspaper to the back of the ship? He thought it was the “poop deck”!”

Okay, I’ll get my coat….

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for CruiseNonstop.com you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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