Most of us probably don’t know and don’t care about stuff we will probably encounter once and never again (unless you’re a Love Boat fanatic), but it is nonetheless interesting to know about this stuff once it is brought to your notice. For example, ever wonder what a “poop deck” actually is?
A poop deck is not the place of choice for dog-walkers to bring their charges, but refers to the raised portion at the back end of a ship, and its etymology can be traced back to ancient Rome. Back in the day, sailors would place sacred icons on an elevated dais in that area so that the crew and ship would receive the protection of that idol. These icons were called puppis and the platforms puppin. You see where this is going.
And there is more on deck etymology. Ever wonder why most cruise ships refer to something called a lido deck, typically where the swimming pool is found? The lido deck, also typically found near the aft or rear of the ship, is derived from the Italian term lido which means “beach.” In the 19th century, it was commonly the term used to denote an exclusive beach resort, and early transatlantic steamship lines borrowed the term to characterize the sundeck as the purview of their wealthier passengers. Today, anyone can go to the lido deck, but it is still typically where the pool and other outdoor activities are held.
Okay, so much for decks. Let’s move on to some –ests. The largest cruise ship ever built is currently the Allure of the Seas of Royal Caribbean International. Although registered in the Bahamas, its home port is in Florida, and regularly makes its rounds of Antigua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. It is so big that it has its own Starbucks, the first cruise ship to have one. It has a length of 1,187 feet, which is long enough to put five 747 planes tip to tail with room left over! It can accommodate 6,318 guests and has 2,384 people as the crew.
The oldest cruise ship operating as such is the Sea Cloud, currently owned by German company Hansa Ltd. and operated by Sea Cloud Cruises GmbH. It was originally commissioned as a private yacht in 1931, but it is big enough to accommodate 64 passengers. During World War II, it served as a weather ship for the U.S. Coast Guard. It has a length of 316 feet and regularly plies its route in the Caribbean and Europe.