Some Cruise Ship Pools Are Salt Water, Some Fresh – Here’s Which

If you are taking a cruise you may be wondering if the water onboard is fresh or salt water. Many people have a preference for one or the other but it can be tricky to find out ahead of time which your cruise ship will have onboard.

Are Cruise Ship Pools Filled With Fresh or Salt Water?

The majority of cruise ship pools will be filled with saltwater which has been chemically treated. On some cruise ships you will find freshwater pools but these are less common. It is possible to have a cruise ship where some pools are fresh and some salt water, this is very common on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. 

It seems to be that the newer, generally speaking larger cruise ships have moved to using fresh water in their pools whereas the older ships have kept salt water. There could be a number of reasons for this but one of the most likely is that it is easier for cruise ships to maintain fresh water swimming pools as they’re less damaging to the pumps and filtering systems.

Golden Princess Cruise Ship Swimming Pool Middle

Above is a photo of one of the many swimming pools onboard the Golden Princess. If you are somebody who loves swimming pools you should definitely consider a Princess cruise. Their ships have more than any other line and this is one of the main reasons why I constantly recommend Princess to young cruisers, to find out why, and to find out which other lines I recommend, check out this post: Best Cruise Lines For Young Cruisers (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)


Regardless of if the water is seawater or freshwater chlorine is added to maintain the swimming pools. Cruise lines have a lot of guidelines which they must follow when it comes to cruise ship pools and as a result they usually have to continually add chlorine and refresh the water.

The below comes from Carnival cruise line:

“As per USPH, Chlorine levels need to be between 3-10mg. The water is drained out and loaded a few times during the cruise but it may depend on restrictions the ship is subject to as far where and when they can discharge water into the sea. It cannot be done in the home ports so it is typically done before arrival, if the itinerary permits.” – source.

The cruise ships usually use less chorine in the salt water pools. That said, because of the regulations in place cruise lines still have to add some chemicals regardless of how well it has been filtered.

Can You Tell The Difference?

Personally the only way that I would notice the difference would be if I was to take an accidental mouthful. I’m very lucky in that the chlorination or salt content of water doesn’t affect me in any way. This the same for the majority of people.

Some people do report having problems with heavily chlorinated fresh water pools such as their swimming costumes being bleached or their skin or eyes reacting negatively to the chlorine.

Similarly many people report problems such as itchy skin caused by the salt in the salt water pools.

celebrity eclipse top deck pools swimming sun bathing

Are Royal Caribbean’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

The following ships have only salt water pools onboard:

Brilliant of The Seas, Enchantment of The Seas, Empress of The Seas, Explorer of The Seas, Granduer of The Seas, Jewel of The Seas, Mariner of The Seas, Navigator of The Seas, Radiance of The Seas, Rhapsody of The Seas, Serenade of The Seas, Vision of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

The following ships have only fresh water pools onboard:

Anthem of The Seas, Freedom of The Seas, Independence of The Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Ovation of The Seas, Quantum of The Seas and Spectrum of The Seas.

The following ships have both fresh and salt water pools onboard:

Adventure of The Seas, Allure of The Seas, Harmony of The Seas, Majesty of The Seas, Oasis of The Seas and Symphony of The Seas.

Are Norwegian’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

All outdoor pools on Norwegian Cruise Line’s cruise ships are salt water. The hot tubs and jacuzzis are freshwater. All salt water pools are chlorinated. – source.

Are Carnival’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

Carnival don’t have a very detailed description on their website but they do say that “Swimming pool water is typically seawater.” – source.

Are Princess’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

On all Princess ships apart from the Pacific Princess the water in the main swimming pools is freshwater.  Pacific Princess wasn’t originally built for Princess and started her life as MS R Three for Renaissance Cruises, this may explain why she is different. – source.

The hot tubs on Princess cruise ships are also fresh water.

Are Celebrity’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

Celebrity don’t provide any information on their website about if their pools are salt or fresh water. The generally opinion from others who have cruised on the ships is that the newer ships such as Celebrity Silhouette, Eclipse etc have freshwater pools whereas the older ships still use saltwater. This seems to be a theme not only within the Celebrity brand.

Are Holland America’s Swimming Pools Salt or Fresh Water?

Holland America cruise ships have a mix of both salt and fresh water swimming pools. There is no definitive list on their website or any other source but by speaking to guests who have been onboard I’ve managed to find out that the Veendam uses salt water and the Volendam uses fresh water.

Again the newer ships seem to use freshwater and the older sea water.

Where To Next?

There is not a lot that I love more than going on a cruise, meeting new friends and realising that I paid considerably less that everybody else for the exact same cruise.

Finding and booking a cruise is no easy task. I’ve been able to cruise for as little as $50 per night and I regularly save over 75% compared to advertised brochure prices. You can do it too!

Start Today.

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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 and website. You can learn more here: About Me.

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