Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Unlucky 13: Why is there no deck 13 on cruise ships

13 Oct 2023
Matt Hochberg

Have you ever noticed there is no deck 13 on most cruise ships?

Deck 13

Historically, the maritime industry has been quite superstitious and some of that even holds up today with how decks are planned.

When you go on most ships, the elevators will have deck 12 followed by deck 14.  Not all ships do, but some certainly have this idiosyncrasy.

This can confuse some people that they missed a stop on a non-existent deck or simply wonder why it doesn't exist.

Wonder of the Seas elevator

As you might imagine, the reason for skipping deck is out of fear the number brings bad luck.

As an example, Royal Caribbean's ground-breaking new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, doesn't have deck 13.  A brand new cruise ship that launches in 2024 omits number 13 from its layout!

In fact, there's not even a room that ends in "13". 

Read more11 reasons Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas will change the cruise industry

Most Oasis Class ships skip deck 13, however, Quantum Class cruise ships have deck 13.

Ovation of the Seas cabin sign

Radiance, Voyager and Freedom Class ships have it.  The Vision Class is too short to reach deck 13.

Another interesting twist is you wont find cabins on deck 13.  If a ship has a deck 13, they use it for sports activities or other public venues.

Part of the reason is higher decks are usually where you find public venues, but there may be a part of sailing public that would not want to stay on deck 13 because of the unlucky connotation the number has.

Hotel elevator

It's probably why many hotels in the United States also don't have a floor 13, because some customers wouldn't want to stay there.

Other cruise ship superstitions

Freedom of the Seas in 2023

Deck numbering isn't the only superstition that holds up to this day.  

If you cruise enough, you'll probably run into at least a few other superstitions within the cruise industry.


Odyssey godmother

Every cruise ship has a godmother, which serves as a ceremonial position, and yes, it's almost always a woman.  Other ships have had women hold the role, including renowned athletes, celebrities and royalty.

The godmother's job is to give the ship a blessing for the safety of the crew members and passengers who will sail onboard it. 

Not only does having a godmother ensure luck is on the side of the ship and crew, it's a great marketing opportunity for the cruise line.

Lucky coins

Keel coin

New cruise ships also have a coin ceremony, which takes place at the time of keel laying.

Keel laying is an important milestone in new cruise ship construction. It's when shipbuilders place a pair of coins under the keel block of the new ship to bless the ship and as a symbol of good fortune.

Lucky coins from Oasis

Some Royal Caribbean cruise ships indicate where the coins are located. In the case of Oasis of the Seas, you will need to head up to the bow sundeck on deck 14.  The lucky coins are held in a cabinet that is welded to the ship and has a small commemorative plaque. 

Naming ceremonies

Symphony naming ceremony

The Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans called upon their respective Gods to protect their ships and crew. 

The Vikings would make human sacrifices in honor of a new ship to appease the gods, and Greeks drank wine while blessing the new ship with water.

Many decades ago, they would smash a bottle of Champagne across the hull of a new ship for good luck.  They still do that today, but usually it's done mechanically, with the godmother pressing a button to make the magic happen.

Missing deck 17

Similar to skipping 13, some European cruise ships skip deck 17.

In Italy, the number 17 is considered unlucky, because the number 17 written in Roman numerals is XVII, which is an anagram of VIXI. This translates in Latin to "I have lived", which means to be dead.

For that reason, you may not find a deck 17 on their ships.  MSC Cruises is one line that goes from deck 16 to deck 18, such as on MSC Meraviglia, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Bellissima.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy