Upper deck plan from Princess Cruises website; lower deck plan from Disney Cruise Line website.
Maybe it’s because I studied as a graphic designer, but there is something actually beautiful about cruise ship deck plans to me that you may have never noticed before. After all, they are very much a part of the marketing plan of a cruise line to get potential travelers excited about what public venues to explore and where their private accommodations will be located onboard.
Of course, some deck plans are better than others at drumming up interest in ships. Back in the day, cruisers relied exclusively on printed brochures to visualize their layouts. Now, deck plans are available in print or online to peruse, and the best, in my opinion, employ color to accentuate the diagrams.
That’s why I’ve always been most fond of Princess Cruises’ deck plans. Monochromatic ones are somewhat difficult to map out, but those for the line’s latest Regal Princess (pictured above top), for instance, utilize both alternating solid colors and gradient fills to better delineate lounges, restaurants, bars, shops and more. Quite frankly, the results are artistic.
What’s more, Princess’ bold venue text labels are also welcome inclusions. Too many other cruise brands like its corporate cousin Carnival Cruise Line display typography too thin and small to be read legibly without a magnifying glass or zooming in quite a bit farther online. At least, the company makes up for it digitally by having excellent interactive rollovers that list the venue titles in a much larger fashion.
Most lines also color-code staterooms and suites to label different cabin categories, like for Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy (pictured above bottom). This way potential guests can use the colors as a key to understanding what amenities are available to specific accommodations.
Online, you may sometimes even notice that links to deck plans are divided by sailing date. Periodically, cruise lines shift cabin category labels around as ships are remodeled and staterooms and suites are reconfigured. Some are even dynamically displaying cabins as current outlines are cleverly drawn on the fly when the web page loads.
At other times, deck plans are formatted as PDFs that can be downloaded to your computer or mobile device, which is a good thing to do to either print them out for reference or pull them up on your smartphone as a quick guide to finding your way around. Thankfully, more and more lines are offering some form of app that allows you to access deck plans natively.
I believe the next step will be for such apps to be capable of locating you and displaying a “You Are Here” pin for even better onboard navigation, but until then, interactive way-finding signage is available on newer and remodeled ships at most elevator lobbies as on Norwegian Cruise Line to help you on your way. Oh how far the humble deck plan has come.