Do Cruise Ships Have Air Conditioning?

In this post, we will explore whether cruise ships have air conditioning. I’ve been on 22 cruises to date and have put together this guide to air conditioning in the public spaces and cabins.

We will also talk a little about when cruise ship air conditioning goes wrong and when the first air-conditioned cruise ships went into service.

Do Cruise Ships Have Air Conditioning?

Yes. All modern cruise ships have air conditioning. Most have air conditioning in all public spaces and also in cabins. The temperature onboard is generally held at a relatively stable temperature regardless of where in the world the cruise is. 

When packing for your cruise it is important that you take into account the effect of the air conditioning on the temperature within the ship. Many make the mistake of packing clothes for hot weather if they are cruising somewhere warm without realising that they will need different clothing when onboard.

I’ve made this mistake before. Last year I took a cruise to Asia which was incredible. It was REALLY hot outside but really cold inside the ship. I only packed a couple of cardigans/sweaters/jumpers and was not prepared at all. I found myself wishing that I had packed some jeans because my legs were so cold. The weather in the picture below may not look warm but it really was, it was the muggy sticky type of heat.

Asia Cruise Air Conditioning

Do Cruise Ships Have Air Conditioning in Public Spaces?

Yep. All public spaces will be cooled using air conditioning. Cruise ships don’t normally have any windows that open on any deck other than the top decks so the temperature onboard is controlled solely by air conditioning.

Ships used to be cooled by opening portholes but this rarely happens on modern ships.

How Cold is The Air Conditioning on Cruise Ships?

Big spaces like atriums, dining rooms, and theatres can be particularly cold. On a number of occasions, I have been sitting in the theatre watching a show and have actually put something over my knees to keep warm. I would definitely recommend that you bring some form of shrug or jumper/sweater if you are going to the theatre in your evening wear. I often wear a dress to dinner and then sit there shivering in the theatre!

I honestly believe that the warmer it is outside the colder it is on the ship. I’ve been on 22 cruises to date and this always seems to be the case. When cruising somewhere warm it is almost as if the ship ‘makes up for it’ by turning the air conditioning up high. If the ship is cruising somewhere cold it is often warmer inside the ship.

Do Cruise Ships Have Air Conditioning in The Cabins?

Cruise ship cabins do have air conditioning and you are able to control this yourself using a thermostat in the room. On some older ships, the air conditioning can be less powerful but I’ve never been on a ship where the room wasn’t adequately cooled by the air conditioning.

Air conditioning on newer cruise ships is generally really powerful. They cool the room far below what I would consider comfortable for me. Some thermostats will just be a sweeping scale from blue to red and others will display the room temperature which you can change. It can take a little while for the cabin to reach the temperature that you set so don’t be dishearted if the room doesn’t instantly chill.

Sometimes the air conditioning system will be in one location over by the bathroom blowing cold air into the cabin in the direction of the bed. Other cabins will have air conditioning systems on the ceilings which push the air downwards.

Marella Tui Discovery Junior Suite Cabin

Portable Fans

Some passengers bring small fans to have in their cabins. I personally don’t feel the need to do this but if you are somebody who likes to feel airflow when you sleep it might be a good idea.

You can pick up a small fan relatively cheaply and they are easy to pack in your suitcase. You’ll find one recommended by members of our Facebook group on amazon here: Cruise Essentials (affiliate link).

Air conditioning In Balcony Cabins

If you are in your balcony cabin and are wondering where your air conditioning isn’t working it may be because you have your balcony cabin door open. On many cruise ships, the air conditioning in the cabin actually turns off when the door is open.

This is a power-saving feature. There is little point in the air conditioning blowing cold air into the cabin if hot air is coming in through the balcony door. It makes sense really, you wouldn’t have the air conditioning on and doors open at home!

Some cruise ship cabins do have a ‘fast chill’ button which can be used to bring the temperature down fast. I found one of these buttons on Saga’s Spirit of Discovery but didn’t try it out.

Cruise Ship Balcony Air Conditioning

Air conditioning faults

Occasionally the air conditioning does break as it would anywhere. When it happens on a cruise it generally is BIG news. This happened recently on Anthem of the Seas and guests had to go around 5 days without any air conditioning. Passengers received compensation for the time that they went without air conditioning. Thankfully this is very rare!

Does The Air Conditioning on Cruise Ships Spread Illness?

This is a hot topic between cruisers. Much of the air passing through the air conditioning is recirculated similar to how it might be if you are in a shopping mall/centre or an office building. A small portion is fresh air from outside, around 20%, but the majority is just being chilled and recirculated around the ship.

Being in a heavily conditioned place for a long period of time may cause some health problems for some guests although I don’t think we can really blame the air conditioning for ‘spreading illness’.

I have come back from a number of my cruises with a cough or a cold which I’ve heard many other guests attribute to the air conditioning, personally, I think some illnesses are inevitable when so many guests are together for an extended period of time.

Related Questions:

When Did Cruise Ships Get Air conditioning?

Amazingly the first record of air conditioning on cruise ships is back in the 1930s! The SS Victoria had air-conditioned dining rooms and some of the more expensive cabins were also air-conditioned. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a ship would be made that had air conditioning in all public areas.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth II revolutionised cruise ship air conditioning.

Do Cruise Ships Have Heating?

Yep! Cruise ships have heating in all public spaces and also in the cabins. The heating does work relatively well but I would recommend you pack a few warm items of clothing no matter where you are cruising to.

Cruise ships usually try to avoid having the dining room being too warm because men may be wearing a jacket, particularly on formal nights, and it would be uncomfortable if the dining room was warm.

Where To Next?

If you have any cruise questions or any photos/stories that you’d like to share, join us in our Facebook group by clicking here.

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Emma Le Teace

Hey! I'm Emma. A cruise blogger, YouTuber and founder of the 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' Facebook community.

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