Poop Deck on Ships: What It Is, Where It's Located, and Why It's Called That! - Cruise with Leo

Poop Deck on Ships: What It Is, Where It’s Located, and Why It’s Called That!

Photo of author


cruise poop deck

I know what you’re thinking, I thought the same thing when I first discovered the existence of this particular deck.

In fact, several thousand people search the web for the meaning of this term every month.

But does the poop deck really have anything to do with the toilets on the ship?

Actually, no, its use is completely different, and in this article, we will discover why it is called that, where it is located, and what its uses are.

Where does the name poop deck come from?

Cruise ship bathroom

This unique name has very ancient roots in the maritime world, and its origin dates back to many years ago.

In particular, the word “poop” comes from the Latin word “puppis” which refers to the stern or the rear part of a ship.

As you probably know, the stern was a crucial part of the ship because it housed the steering mechanism and was typically where the captain or commanding officer would be located.

A few years later, in old French, the term evolved to “poupe” which was then adopted into Middle English as “pope” or “pope deck”.

Probably through pronunciation errors, the term finally came to our days as “poop deck.

Do modern cruise ships have a poop deck?

control bridge on a cruise
Control bridge of a cruise ship

No, they don’t. Modern cruise ships only have a bridge, which is located at the front of the ship, and that’s the only place from where the ship is steered.

Given the change in ship design, the poop deck has been increasingly abandoned.

Nowadays, it can be found exclusively on small ships, vintage ships, and big ships that maintain a historical design.

What was the poop deck used for and where was it located?

The poop deck is a raised part at the back of a ship. It looks like a small platform above the main deck where the captain and officers can stand to steer the ship and keep a lookout.

It was widely used because it was located higher up, so officers could see better and give more precise orders.

In the diagram below, you can see it quite clearly.

Poop deck diagram
Poop deck diagram

Did sailors poop off the poop deck?

Over the years, several strange theories have spread, mainly related to the name of this deck.

Some people speculated that it was so named because sailors used to relieve themselves on this deck, or even poop from this deck directly into the sea.

Various historical researches have found no evidence for these speculations.

To date, the only accepted explanation for this name is an etymological derivation from ancient languages.

Moreover, the cabin that was usually located under the poop deck was also called the poop cabin, but again it had nothing to do with the toilet.

Where did sailors poop?

Cruise ship urinals with ocean view

If the poop deck wasn’t used for that need, where did the sailors poop?

I don’t know why you would be interested in knowing all these details, but I understand that there is a lot of curiosity around this topic.

We saw that the poop deck was located in the back part of the ships, well the sailors did their needs in the opposite part i.e. at the bow or head of the ship.

For this reason, in sailing vessels, the toilet is also known as “the head“. A term that is sometimes still used today.

Its position was not random, but carefully planned. Many people used the toilet, since only the captain had a private one, and it was important to keep it clean.

Therefore, there were small cuts near the floor level and the position at the front of the ship allowed the natural flow of water to clean the area and wash out the facility.


Leave a Comment