What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

What is a Pullman bed on a cruise ship? We discuss the details to help you decide if booking these cruise accommodations are right for you.

What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

There are many quirks to cruising, like getting to know the difference between port and starboard. When booking your cabin, you might come across a few terms that seem unfamiliar as well. For one, what exactly is a Pullman bed on a cruise ship and how did it get its name?

Before you book a room with a Pullman bed, read on to demystify what you can expect from this unique cruise cabin configuration.

What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

A quick history of the Pullman bed

Named after inventor George M. Pullman, a Pullman bed is one that folds down from the ceiling (an upper Pullman) or the wall. These accommodations were introduced in 1864 on the first railroad sleeping cars, called the Pullman sleeper.

Famously, President Lincoln’s body was transported in one of these rail cars from Washington, D.C. back to his home of Springfield, Illinois after he was assassinated.

What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

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What is the difference between a Pullman bed and a sofa bed?

While the surname “Pullman” is purely coincidental, a Pullman bed is in fact one that you pull down from either the ceiling or a wall. Sometimes guests will need to use a ladder to reach these top beds, or bunks, if it is above another bed. Colloquially, this sleeping arrangement is often referred to as bunk beds.

Unlike traditional bunk beds in childhood bedrooms at home, a Pullman bed can be folded away or stored when not in use to give your cruise cabin more space. Your room steward will typically do this each day, as it might be difficult to manage on your own.

A sofa bed is a sofa or couch that can be converted into a bed if needed. Both options — convertible sofa beds or Pullman beds — are available on cruise ships.

Are Pullman beds comfortable?

If you can sleep comfortably in a single bed, then a Pullman bed shouldn’t be much different. These pull-down beds employ standard mattresses. So from a comfort standpoint, they typically offer more support than a sofa bed.

Pullman beds are traditionally better for families with children, due to their size. There are usually guard rails along the side to help prevent rolling out of bed, though their size varies by ship.

While a grown adult should fit in these types of beds, the length of the bed or the space between the bed and the ceiling might be a bit tight, depending on how tall you are.

What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

Are there restrictions on who can use a Pullman bed?

Some cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, have instated restrictions on the use of these beds. The cruise line does not recommend the use of a Pullman bed for any children under the age of 6 nor anyone taller than 6 feet, 6 inches or weighing over 300 lbs.

This weight limit varies by cruise line, so always check the restrictions before deciding who is sleeping where. For instance, on Celebrity Cruises, the recommended weight limit for a Pullman bed is just 200 lbs.

Additionally, since pullman beds require the use of a ladder, guests with mobility issues should avoid these sleeping arrangements.

How do you find rooms with a Pullman bed on a cruise?

Pullman beds, like sofa beds, are available in staterooms that accommodate more than two people. Unless the room is a suite and has multiple bedrooms, these additional berths (or beds) are usually in the form of pull-down or convertible sofa sleeping arrangements. Depending on the stateroom, there may be one or two pullman beds in the cabin.

If you’re using a travel advisor, they should be familiar with the sleeping arrangements in every cabin category. If you’re booking on your own through the cruise line’s website, be sure to look at cabin photos and layouts. Further, read through the fine print to determine which cabin configuration you might want for those additional cabinmates — Pullman or sofa bed. 

What is a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship?

What are the other types of beds on a cruise?

You might see the term “convertible bed” when booking a cabin on a cruise ship. This is standard, and simply means that you can request to have two separate twin beds or have the beds pushed together (converted) to create a queen-size bed.

Another additional bed arrangement is the trundle bed, also called a pull-out bed. This is a lower bed, rather than an upper bed, that pulls out from underneath one of the existing beds in the cabin. This might be a good option for small children who are still a bit too active or unpredictable for a top bunk.

Recap: Using a Pullman Bed on a Cruise Ship

Overall, Pullman beds are a great way to maximize space in cruise ship cabins, allowing more than two passengers to occupy a stateroom. This is a great option for families traveling with children. It is also perfect for those looking to cruise for cheap, as three or four individuals can split the cost of the stateroom.

Of course, you will need to note the restrictions for your particular cruise line in terms of height, weight, and age before booking. However, you shouldn’t worry about setting up these accommodations as the stateroom attendant will take care of it all for you. Typically, they will pull down the bed in the evenings and stow it away during the day.

Further, you will need to review deck plans carefully to determine which cabins have additional berths, as well as the differences between a Pullman bed and a sofa bed. If you need help deciphering the options, you should work with a travel advisor.

If you are traveling as a family with at least two kids, cruise cabins with pullman beds are not your only option. Many families opt to book two connecting staterooms. While this will certainly cost more money, it will provide more space and two bathrooms. You can also consider upgrading your accommodations to a suite with additional bedrooms and/or more living space.

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Have you ever used a Pullman bed on a cruise ship? Do you find these additional berths helpful when traveling with family? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences with these unique cruise cabin configurations.

Brittany has covered cruising professionally for more than a decade. She embarked on a world cruise as a college student aboard Semester at Sea, and never stopped sailing. Formerly a Cruise Critic editor, Brittany now writes about ships and their many destinations for various industry and consumer outlets. She is a lifelong resident of the Jersey Shore.
Brittany Chrusciel, Contributor
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