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I happened to be looking at some deck plans of Holland America’s forthcoming ship, Koningsdam. She’s the first of a new class of ship, “Pinnacle”. She looks to be based on the old Vista and later Signature classes, but has clearly moved on from them in one significant way – at 35ms beam, she’s wider than the previous classes and is therefore a ‘post-panamax’ ship.

Compared with Arcadia (one of the original Vistas), Koningsdam will accommodate about 600 extra passengers (standard occupancy); it looks as if there are quite a lot more cabins high up than on Arcadia. There’s also one other significant difference: although there’s a Promenade deck, and what looks (on the plans) like a wrap-round Promenade, it may not be accessible. As with other new ships, the lifeboats are mounted down at (Promenade) deck level. I understand this is to facilitate lifeboat embarkation if required, but it does mean that the lifeboats and all their associated equipment take over the Promenade deck. On the Royal Princess class (which includes P&O’s Britannia, of course), access to the Promenade – which is actually a narrow walkway behind the lifeboats – is not available during normal sailing. And from the images I’ve seen, it looks as if the same arrangements will exist on Koningsdam.

My understanding is there is in fact a legislative reason for the death of the Promenade deck – SOLAS 2010. I don’t believe there’s anything in it that specifically says “lifeboats must be normally stowed at embarkation level”, but there are some requirements about the maximum time an evacuation should take. These are (or seem to be, as far as I can make out): in the case of passenger ships with more than three vertical fire zones (which includes pretty much all modern cruise ships), no more than 80 minutes from the time that passengers are summoned to muster stations; and no more than 30 minutes from the moment all passengers have been assembled. I suspect that it’s the latter that has caused the change in lifeboat position: with the lifeboats down at deck level, passengers can be embarking them while crew members are preparing them for descent into the sea. So it’s a good thing really: but I shall miss the chance to walk around the Promenade deck. Here’s another link to a page about the SOLAS regulations – have a look at the sections listed below the linked page in the navigation bar on the left-hand side.

11 Responses to “The end of the Promenade deck (as we know it)”

  1. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Reblogged this on Malcolm Oliver's Cruise Blog.

  2. Matt B says:

    Can’t say I’ll miss prom deck that much, ok for the odd walk – (but only halfway round unless you don’t mind the smokers’ side).

    Fine in the old days when only inside/outside cabins existed, but with balcony cabins more the norm now, not missed tooooo much.

    • Tom Burke says:

      We usually zoom straight past the smokers – by the time we reach them, we’re moving at a rate of knots! But we mainly use the Promenade for exercise – four or even five complete circuits on Ventura or Azura is well over a mile, so after that we felt we’d had our exercise and could then get on with the day. Which generally meant more eating and drinking, of course.

  3. Karl says:


    A nautical tradition, our teak Promenade deck encircles the ship, offering spectacular views in every direction—the perfect place for a brisk run, an after-dinner stroll or simply relaxing in the sun on a classic teak lounge chair.

    • Tom Burke says:

      Karl: thanks for the comment, which appears to sink my post completely! I shall do some more digging…..

      • Karl says:

        Well, you do have a valid point where the traditional Promenade deck does seem to be on it’s way out. And we shall see how well HAL does with it on this new ship. But HAL is on of those lines that does pride themselves on traditions… I think Cunard and HAL will probably try to keep them for as long as they can.

  4. WandererNL says:

    Personally I think it also has lots to do with creating more on board revenue space. With lower life boats another deck of balcony cabins is possible. And the promenade deck has never been a revenue generating area. I can remember on the Century there were hardly any deckchairs as they didn’t want us to sit there in the first place.

  5. […] did a post a few weeks ago lamenting the end of the traditional promenade deck, and focusing on HAL’s forthcoming new […]

  6. cornelis says:

    To be honest i love to have a walk on the promenade deck , but safety has more priority with me. In case of an emergency all must be able to leave the ship from the muster stations. So the life boats are now in a different position making entrance faster and much more safe. So nothing to do with tradition it’s a safety matter. Koningsdam is fitted out, as i have seen myself with not only different position of life boats but with some more new things which guarantee safety and comfort of all it’s passengers.

    • Tom Burke says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      You make a fair point. Certainly some of the video scenes filmed during the Costa Concordia evacuation were quite chilling – the crew were clearly working working very hard but there was still a lot of confusion. But whenever I’m on a new ship in future I shall miss the open promenades.

      It’ll be interesting to hear how the HAL customers react to Koningsdam – most of them will be very familiar with previous HAL ships with open promenades.

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