This article offers an interdisciplinary account of gender in relation to ocean liner interior design. It outlines a case study of what the discipline of design history can bring to gender and maritime history. A historiography of the subject is followed by an analysis of the ways in which the spaces on board British ocean liners were conceived of, designed and used in terms of gender. Some spaces on board were designated as female only and other spaces understood to be male only – particularly the smoking room. The concluding part of the article considers the role of women designers within the patriarchal world of ship design and construction, by investigating the contributions of Elsie Mackay at P & O and the Zinkeisen sisters on the Queen Mary. Using primary sources, including visual evidence, the article considers a range of liners, from the Hindostan (1842) through to the Orontes (1929; refitted 1948). This bridges the gap between design history, gender and maritime history and adds to debates around gender and maritime history with a consideration of the overlooked area of design and its histories.