1. Home
  2. Planning
  3. Cruise Tips and Advice
  4. 9 Things You Don't Know About Your Cruise Ship Cabin

9 Things You Don't Know About Your Cruise Ship Cabin

  • Whether you've never been on a cruise ship or have been on 50, we bet there's something surprising you don't know about your cruise ship cabin. Staterooms are a little more complicated than hotel rooms, and you can learn a few tricks of the trade to make them more user-friendly. Most people stumble upon them over time -- through self-discovery or getting tips from Cruise Critic readers on our message boards -- but we thought we'd speed up the process for you.

    Here are nine (sometimes unexpected) things the Cruise Critic team has learned about cruise cabins after hundreds of sailings on ships of all types:

    Photo: Cruise Critic


    Booked? Find your Roll Call, and get advice and tips before you go!

  • 1

    It's magnetic, baby.

    A cruise ship is really just a big, beautified floating piece of metal, and that includes your cabin. So even if the walls don't look or feel metallic, they are -- and that means you can use magnets to help organize the abundance of papers the ship's crew will usually throw your way. For instance, have a cocktail invitation you don't want to lose? Use a magnet to stick it to the wall nearest the door so you can grab it on your way out.

    Photo: Amazon

  • 2

    What's the smell?

    With so much hearty food on a cruise, a stomach can't be blamed for a little rebellion. But that's when you realize few cruise ship bathrooms have ventilation fans, and it's not long before more than just the bathroom smells, well, funny. But a little forethought and a scented freshener hanging from your shower curtain can make all the difference. Whether you bring some aromatherapy oils or a hanging car freshener doesn't matter -- they'll all do the trick. Just don't bring anything you need to light with a flame, such as a scented candle or incense.

    Photo: Amazon

  • 3

    Look under the bed.

    On my first few cruises, I often found myself complaining that my dresses and skirts couldn't hang nicely in the closet because our big suitcase took up so much space. Then one day, on perhaps our third or fourth cruise, my husband looked under the bed and found lots of empty space there. We didn't have to shove all our bags into the closet. We have since learned that not all cabins are the same, however. On a recent Norwegian Cruise Line cruise, half the space under the bed was taken up by the bedspread during the day. But we were still able to put one suitcase and our case of water under there.

    Photo: Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

  • 4

    Presto-change-o beds.

    While it's always best to request the bed configuration you want before your cruise, just because you enter your cruise cabin to find two beds when you're traveling with your spouse, or one bed when you're traveling with a friend, doesn't mean you're in trouble. Beds on most ships can easily be pushed together or separated; just ask your cabin steward to do it while you're out of the cabin. (If you’re a light sleeper and worried about the cruise ship mattresses, you can always bring your own travel mattress overlay set).

    Photo: Cruise Critic

  • 5

    Any which way.

    One last note about cruise-ship beds: Not all beds face the same direction. In fact, on many ships, the positioning alternates between cabins or from side to side. Beds can be aft-facing, forward-facing and even port- or starboard-facing. If there's room (and you wouldn't be blocking furniture or a doorway), you could ask your steward to switch the beds or move them yourself. Just keep in mind that the chances you'll feel any movement akin to riding backwards in a train is pretty slim. (We always carry motion sickness pills as a backup, just in case).

    Photo: Cruise Critic

  • 6

    The furniture stays put.

    Unless you have a suite, don't plan on lots of dancing around your cabin. That's because beds are the only large items in a cabin that can be easily moved. That center table, for example, may be small, but it's usually pretty heavily weighted so that it doesn't fall over during rougher seas. The same is true for just about every other piece of furniture in the cabin. So get used to moving around the furniture, because you're not going to be able to move it out of your way. (If you chronically bump into furniture – and have the bruises to prove it – a pack of removable child safety edge protectors can help).

    Photo: Cruise Critic

  • 7

    Whoosh.

    Here's a science experiment to try on your next cruise (or not!). What happens when you open both your balcony and cabin doors at the same time? Ever seen the movie Twister? Okay, so a cow isn't going to come swirling into your cabin, but a wind tunnel will whip its way between the two doors, leaving a mess in its wake. Travel pouches for documents, daily programs and receipts will help keep you organized.

    Photo: TijanaM/Shutterstock

  • 8

    Water, water everywhere.

    No need to lug a case of water with you when you go cruising. The tap water on cruise ships is completely safe and drinkable, having been through rigorous filtration and testing, all of which are overseen by U.S. and European heath agencies. While some cruisers claim that the tap water in restaurants and bars tastes different from what comes out of the cabin bathroom, it is all, in fact, the same water. Carry a collapsible water bottle so you always stay hydrated.

    Photo: Amazon

  • 9

    Humps and afts.

    Not all cabins or cabin balconies are created equal, and we're not just talking about category differences. Just because two cabins are in the same category doesn't mean they're identical. In fact, some of the most desirable cabins aren't in the highest categories. They're the "special" standard balcony cabins that just happen to offer a little something extra, like the "hump" balcony, which is only found on ships that bulge out at the middle, therefore offering a larger balcony and interior space. Likewise, corner aft cabins, priced the same as regular aft cabins, often feature wraparound balconies.

    Have you made a "discovery" about cruise ship cabins that you'd like to share? Post in the comments section below.

    Photo: EMc&DrS/Cruise Critic Member

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

Cruise Packing 101
There once was a not-so-savvy seafarer who didn't feel right unless she took two steamer trunks crammed with outfits on every cruise. This, she learned, was not a good idea. Besides incurring the wrath of her male traveling companion, who pointed out that he would have to wrestle with excess baggage through airport terminals and beyond, she quickly tired of cramming her belongings into tiny closets and bureaus. The now savvy seafarer follows her own packing 101 rule: Thou shalt put into one's suitcase only that which will fit neatly in the allocated storage space without hogging every available nook and cranny for thyself. Following that advice is getting easier these days because, for the most part, cruising has become a much more casual vacation -- even on luxury and traditional lines. Plus, with airlines charging to check bags and imposing extra fees for overweight luggage), it's just plain economical to pack light. To do so, you need to have a good sense of what you’re going to wear on a cruise so you don't pack your entire closet. If you're wondering what to bring on your next cruise, here are our guidelines for what you'll need to pack.
7 Best Adults-Only Cruise Sun Decks
Cruise ship sun decks offer all the convenience of loungers, hot tubs and beverage service -- and all the headaches of screaming children, rock concerts on poolside screens and live bands playing "Hot Hot Hot" for the 20th time. Adults-only sun decks offer all the former in a much more serene environment. We have nothing against kids, but even on the most family-friendly cruise ships, an area explicitly excluding children gives parents a valuable hour or two of "me time," while maintaining the sanity of fellow cruisers who came on vacation for peace, quiet and minimal crying. Adults-only sun decks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many have amenities not available in the main deck areas and nicer loungers or sun beds; some also require an entry fee. We have not included adults-only solariums that are strictly covered pools. If the only "whining" you want comes with dining, then consider the following seven sun decks that maintain a strict adults-only ambiance.
Onboard Credit: How to Get It, Where to Spend It
Free. Money. Are there two more beautiful words in the English language? While money doesn't grow on trees, increasingly it can be found somewhere else -- on the high seas. Call it an incentive, call it a bonus; whatever you want to call it, onboard credit lets you spend more freely with less guilt. You've paid your cruise fare, and now you can splurge on those enticing extras -- Swedish massage, specialty restaurant, an excursion to snorkel among shipwrecks -- without busting your budget. Not many need convincing as to why onboard credit -- money automatically deposited into your onboard account-- rocks, but finding out exactly how to get it and where you can spend it is a bit trickier. We found eight ways to hit the OBC jackpot and offer even more suggestions on how to burn through it, although you probably have your own ideas already.