How Do Cruise Ship Stabilizers Work?

By Anna Duncan

Cruise ships are designed to take passengers on a luxurious journey. They are built to remain stable and comfortable during the voyage by using stabilizers, which are special devices that keep the ship upright in rough seas. Cruise ship stabilizers work by reducing the rolling motion of the ship, which is caused by waves and other disturbances in the water.

Stabilizers are usually located in the side sponsons, or wings, of a cruise ship. The most common type is called fins, which are large plates that extend out from either side of the hull.

These fins act like wings on an airplane, creating lift and counteracting the rolling motion of the sea. As waves pass beneath them, they push up against the fins and create drag. This drag helps to keep the ship level.

Another type of stabilizer commonly used on cruise ships is called active fin stabilizers. These fins move independently from each other and can be adjusted to create greater resistance to shifting currents and waves. This helps to reduce rolling even more effectively than passive fins.

In addition to fins, some cruise ships also use gyroscopes or thrust devices for stabilization. Gyroscopes work by spinning at high speeds and creating forces that counteract any movement of the ship caused by waves or currents. Thrust devices use propellers or jets to create an opposing force against any movement.


Cruise ships use several different types of stabilizers to ensure their passengers have a smooth ride while out at sea. Fins help create drag as waves pass beneath them, while active fin stabilizers can be adjusted for greater resistance against shifting currents and waves. In addition, gyroscopes and thrust devices can be used for further stabilization when needed.