How to Survive in a Tiny Cabin

January 30, 2013 | By | No Comments

Welcome to Cabin Week! Every day this week, we’ll be highlighting our cabin-themed content, giving you great tips on everything from choosing the right cabin to getting upgrades and making a small stateroom feel more homey. Look for new blogs every day on the Lido Deck, as well as our best advice in our Ultimate Guide to Cruise Ship Cabins.
Do you love cruising so much that you would get on a ship even if it means cramming your family into a tiny inside cabin? I’ve been in that situation numerous times — from my first cruise where my family of four very tall people squeezed into an inside cabin on Majesty of the Seas to a Caribbean jaunt in the closetlike cabins of the defunct easyCruiseOne to a recent stint on Lindblad’s National Geographic Sea Bird, where even the biggest cabins are tiny.
How do you survive a week in narrow digs without becoming claustrophobic or losing patience with your cabinmates? Here are my tips for tiny cabin management.

Go solo. If you’re faced with the prospect of a closet-sized cabin, consider ditching your friends and cruising solo. Cabins seem to shrink exponentially every time you add a person sleeping in them. This might not be as fun or as economical as bringing a roommate, but it’s the No. 1 way to make that 120-square-foot stateroom feel bigger.
Pack light. The smaller the stateroom, the more your stuff seems to explode everywhere, taking up every visible surface. So pack light, taking just want you need, and use the closets, shelves and under-bed storage to stow your belongings when they’re not in use. One pair of hiking boots or high heels left in the middle of your patch of floor space will quickly become a tripping hazard … and an argument waiting to happen.
Hit the deck. Cabin feeling claustrobic? Get the heck out of it. The best way to make use of a small cabin is to sleep and bathe there, and spend the rest of your day on deck, in public areas of the ship or on shore. Want a nap? Curl up on a lounge chair in the sun. Morning stretches? There’s a gym for that. Need to monopolize the bathroom? Consider using public toilets or the showers in the spa.
Take turns. A shipmate on Sea Bird told me that on the last night, her husband packs all his stuff in their cabin while she is elsewhere on the ship, and then they swap — he leaves so she can pack. Taking turns is a great way to keep from tripping over and bumping into your cabinmate in a small space. You can also use this trick for getting ready to go onshore, dressing for dinner or even your morning routine: One person stays in bed while the other dresses, then the first person heads out while the second hits the shower.
Redecorate. Cruise ship cabin designers do a decent job of making the most out of limited square footage. But you can do better. Consider bringing over-the-door shoe bags to store small items, extra hangers to fit everything in the closet, a nightlight for better navigating in the dark and some air freshener … because smells expand quickly in small spaces.
Laugh. A good attitude goes a long way toward enjoying a vacation in less-than-ideal conditions. Sure, showering in a narrow cubicle where only a flimsy curtain keeps the toilet paper from getting drenched is no one’s idea of a good time, but as long as the water is hot, it’s not a tragedy. And jostling for the makeup mirror and dancing around each other and tightly packed furniture as you get ready for formal night might not be a Zen moment, but it could be a fun party that gets you in the right mood for an evening of dinner and dancing. Just remember: A tiny cabin isn’t really roughing it. With the right outlook, you can certainly survive for a week.
 Not all inside cabins are created equal. Here are eight great options — and three to avoid.
Find cabin-related tips and advice in our Ultimate Guide to Cruise Ship Cabins.
Sharing a cabin can be tricky. Here are 10 tips.
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