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.
No matter how many cruises you've been on, there are probably some cruise cabin tips that you don’t know about. For instance, did you know that some cruise ships sailing today only have round European two-prong electrical outlets in their cabins?
The takeaway is this: If your electric devices use standard U.S. 110-volt plugs, you should have at least one adapter with you on every single cruise. Otherwise, you may be without your electronics for your entire trip.
We’ve scoured the Cruise Critic message boards and canvassed our staff for all the other things you may not know about your cruise ship room. Here are the top 10.
You might already know that your cruise cabin walls are made of steel (which means they're great for holding magnets), but that doesn’t necessarily help you use this tried-and-true organizing hack.
Look for magnetic hooks or pegs designed to hang barbecue utensils because they’ll hold enough weight for jackets or backpacks. Put one for each cabin occupant near the door and some in the bathroom for towels and swimwear. We also like magnetic whiteboards for leaving messages for cabinmates.
Cruise ship cabin door decorations can be hung up using magnets instead of tape. You can also keep all your excursion tickets, coupons, daily schedules and invitations conveniently organized. We highly recommend standard office supply magnetic clips for that in particular.
As for showers, they are usually tile, marble or fiberglass, so magnets won't work there. Take along suction cup hooks, toothbrush holders or shelves to make your cruise cabin shower more functional.
Few staterooms on cruise ships have bathrooms with ventilation fans -- a fact that can make you question your cabin choice, if not your roommate choice. But a little forethought and a scented freshener hanging from your shower curtain can make all the difference.
Whether you bring aromatherapy oils, a fragrance sprayer or a hanging car freshener, it 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, because those will likely be confiscated on embarkation day.
Plug-in scent devices may sound like a good idea until you realize how few electrical outlets are in most cruise cabins. If you are thinking of bringing an aromatherapy oil diffuser onboard, be sure to check your specific cruise line's prohibited list. For example, Disney Cruise Line prohibits diffusers.
Not all rooms on a ship are identical, but most offer some space under the bed. We suggest using that extra space to your advantage by placing some lesser used items there for storage. Try placing these items inside your suitcase and putting said suitcase beneath the bed to add tremendously to the available closet or drawer space.
Good examples of what to leave under the bed include snorkel equipment, hiking boots or poles, one of your two allotted bottles of wine you brought onboard, and the coat you wore on departure day, but won’t need in the Caribbean.
You may notice that your cabin steward stores extra linens under there, but don’t let that deter you. Just make sure the room attendant can still access what they need to make up your bed and use the rest of the space for your luggage.
Some cabins have pullman beds, which are beds that can be either folded out from the wall or down from the ceiling. Having a pullman bed on a cruise ship is a special treat because it will supply you with even more storage, living space, and overall convenience than typical beds.
Most cruise ship cabins are equipped with two twin beds that can be configured as one or two beds. Your choice is generally made at the time of booking, but if you arrive in your cabin and discover twins when you expected a queen, don’t worry. Your cabin steward will be happy to rearrange it for you.
That would be the perfect time to ask for any different placement within the room you might want as well. You may be surprised to discover that the cabin steward has suggestions for alternate arrangements. They know all the tricks.
Unless you have a suite or are on Virgin Voyages, don't plan on lots of adaptable floor space in your cruise cabin. That's because beds are the only large items in a cabin that can be easily moved.
The center table, for example, may be small, but it's usually heavily weighted so it doesn't fall over during rough seas. The same is true for most cruise ship cabin furniture -- it’s likely to be built-in, bolted down or weighted to inhibit movement (and to keep people from taking inside furniture out onto the balcony or elsewhere). Laugh all you want. It’s happened more than you can imagine.
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"? A cow isn't going to come swirling into your cabin, but a wind tunnel will whip its way between the two doors, leaving quite a mess in its wake.
Storing daily programs and receipts in travel pouches or folders will help keep you organized and prevent the scattered paper disaster that happens if/when you forget about the doors.
The tap water on cruise ships is completely safe to drink since it has gone through rigorous filtration and testing, all of which are overseen by U.S. and European health agencies.
While some cruisers claim that the tap water in the ship’s restaurants and bars tastes different from what comes out of the cabin bathroom, it is all, in fact, the same water. Carrying your own refillable water bottle saves money and cuts down on single-use plastics.
Some of the most desirable cruise rooms are actually not in the highest categories. For instance, you may find standard balcony cabins known as hump balcony rooms, which are only found on ships that bulge out in the middle. Why are hump cabins great? Expect larger balconies and more interior space.
Likewise, corner aft cabins, which may be priced the same as regular aft cabins, often feature wraparound balconies. Additionally, forward-facing ocean view cabins may be oddly sized but they're also oversized and feature one-of-a-kind views.
We already talked about magnets, suction cups, electrical adapters, a refillable water bottle and fragrance, but here’s our list of things to consider bringing to improve your cruise ship cabin space: over-the-door hooks, hanging cosmetics or toiletry organizers (or a pocketed shoe organizer), clothes pins, a thermal coffee mug, extra outlets, USBs and a nightlight.
You can ask your cabin steward for various items, such as extra hangers for the closet, mattress toppers, extension cords solely for medical equipment and extra bath mats to place beside your bedside each night (this helps keep sand out of the bed).
We’ve also noticed that the ice bucket and tongs are sometimes not replaced during turnover day. If you want ice on a regular basis or if you don’t want ice at all during your stay, don’t be shy about letting your cabin steward know your preference.
And one last thing: If you have no intention of consuming the items in the minibar but would like to use the fridge for your own private stash of snacks, beverages, or even medications, let the steward know and they can empty the fridge for you.
Updated September 09, 2022