What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

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Cruise ship cabins are generally designed to support two travelers in a room. But if you book a cabin for three or four travelers, you might find a bunk bed, sofa bed, or Pullman bed.

What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

Fold out pullman bed on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America cruise ship
A fold out Pullman bed on NCL Pride of America (Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line)

A Pullman bed is a bed that pulls down from the ceiling. The bed is hidden in the ceiling or folds down from the wall of a cruise ship cabin. They are often used by children but are also suitable for adults.

Because cabin space is limited, Pullman beds allow cruise lines to fit more people in less space.

The Pullmans, sometimes called “upper berths,” in conjunction with convertible beds and sofa beds, allow cruise ships to change the room configuration as required by the number of occupants.

Disney Magic Pullman bed with guard rail 1024×507
A Pullman bed on Disney Magic

These beds allow cruise lines to transform a two-person cabin into a four-person in a matter of minutes.

When the Pullman beds aren’t needed (for example, two people booked in a four-person cabin), they can be tucked away out of sight.

And passengers save money by keeping the family together in a four-person stateroom.

Cruise ship cabins might have one or two Pullmans with a convertible beds on the floor. A convertible bed can be used as two twin beds or a queen-sized bed when joined.

Pullman beds were invented by George M. Pullman, who sought to create a space-saving solution for sleeping on trains. The style of beds was first introduced in sleeper cars on trains in the late 1850s. At the time, they were known as “upper bands,” “bunk beds,” or “pull-down beds.”

Although they were considered a luxury amenity at the time, modern Pullman beds on a cruise ship are not a luxury.

The beds are small and far less comfortable than regular beds. As an adult, getting a good night’s rest in the small, uncomfortable upper Pullman bed on cruise ships is difficult.

The Upper berth on Carnival Splendor with ladder in oceanview cabin 1024×500
An upper berth on Carnival Splendor

These fold-out beds are generally best for families or groups traveling on a budget. They provide the benefit of squeezing more people into a single cabin.

It’s cheaper to book a single four-person cabin than two double-staterooms.

The configuration of the beds varies by the cruise line. But you won’t need to worry about setting them up.

Hidden Upper Berth on Disney Wonder cruise ship
The Pullman bed on Disney Wish is barely visible when not in use

Your cabin steward will take care of raising and lowering the bed for you. If you need assistance, you can always ask your stateroom attendant.

Constellation of Peter Pan mural inside an upper berth on Disney Wonder 1024×495
The ceiling for Disney Magic’s upper bunk has a constellation of Peter Pan

Pullmans often have weight limits. And there isn’t much clearance between the bed and ceiling. The beds are generally best for children and smaller adults, who won’t hit their heads every time they sit up.

Pros

Allow cruise lines to fit more passengers in a cabin

Best for families on a budget who require a four-person cabin

Fun for kids

Cons

Some ships have low guard rails, which may be unsafe

Some Pullmans are smaller than a single bed

Uncomfortable for sleeping

What is the Weight Limit on a Pullman Bed?

Pullman bed on Carnival Liberty 1024×504
Pullman bunk on Carnival Liberty

Pullman beds have a weight limit that varies by the cruise line. Because the beds are attached to the ceiling or wall, the weight limit ensures that they can safely hold passengers.

If a bed were to break, it could cause injury to the occupant and the person sleeping underneath. Keep in mind the small size of the beds makes them unsuitable for most adults.

Below are the weight limits for Pullman beds on the major cruise lines.

Cruise LineHeight LimitPullman max weight
(lb)
Carnival110250 lbs
Royal Caribbean135300 lbs
Disney Cruise Line100220 lbs
Norwegian Cruise Line135300 lbs
Virgin Voyages135300 lbs
Celebrity Cruises90200 lbs
Princess Cruises115250 lbs
MSC Cruises150 kg330 lbs
Cunard130285 lbs
P&O Cruises115250 lbs

Safety Considerations for Children

Pullman bed on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas with a short guard rail 1024×583
The Pullman bed on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas has a short railing that might not be safe for children

Although the upper bunks come with guard rails, there are considerable size differences between ships. Even cruise ships of the same class have major variations in guard rail sizes.

If you’re worried about your child falling out of bed, here are some precautions you can take:

  • You can bring a small inflatable bed
  • Ask for an extra guardrail (only available on some ships).
  • Bring your own guardrail, or make one using extra blankets and pillows.
  • You can switch places with your child and take the upper berth. Keep in mind that the bed is very uncomfortable for an adult.
  • Your child can sleep on the sofa if your cabin has one.

How Big is a Pullman Bed?

Pullman beds vary in size but are generally the size of a single bed. They might be slightly narrower or shorter depending on the cruise ship and are rarely larger than a single bed.

The beds are close to the ceiling, making it difficult for adults to sit up fully. The beds are best for children, but if you are traveling with adults, it’s usually best if the smallest adult takes the Pullman.

Do Pullman Beds Have Rails?

The Pullman beds on cruise ships do have guard rails. However, the height of the rails varies. Some ships only have tiny rails, which do little to prevent sleeping guests from falling.

If you are worried about the height of the rail, you can ask your cabin attendant for a larger guard. But it’s important to remember that not all cruise ships provide alternative guard rails.

Can You Raise or Lower the Pullman Bed?

For safety reasons, Pullman beds on cruise ships can only be raised or lowered by the stateroom attendant. If you need help with the bed, you can ask your cabin steward or call guest services.

Is there a Height Limit for a Pullman Bed?

Most cruise lines don’t have a height limit for Pullman beds except Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, which have a maximum height requirement of 78 inches (or 6 feet 6 inches).

Do Pullman Beds Have an Age Limit?

Most cruise lines don’t have a height limit for Pullman beds. The two exceptions are Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, children must be a minimum of 6 years old to use the bed.

In our experience, the age limit is not monitored or enforced, as several friends have allowed their young children to sleep on the Pullman without any problems. Even my younger sister took a turn in the Pullman on our first cruise when she was five.

What is a Convertible Bed?

A convertible bed is two single beds that can be joined to form a queen-sized bed. After joining the beds, a thin mattress pad is placed on top so that you don’t feel a gap down the middle. Convertible beds are common on cruise ships.

Final Thoughts

Pullman beds allow cruise lines to fit more people into smaller cabins. They are a great choice for families traveling on a budget as they allow the whole family to book a single cabin.

Upper berths are not all that comfortable. And the low guardrails on some cruise ships provide a safety hazard.

The upper Pullman bed is best for children and young adults. Elderly passengers and those with mobility issues should stick to the lower twin or queen bed.

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Marcello

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.

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