On a cruise back in the 1990s, a guest comedian joked that the most effective way to shower onboard was to soap the walls of the cramped shower and spin around a couple of times.
Cruise ship bathrooms, for the most part, aren't quite that tiny -- but they are generally small, lacking in storage space and aren't the best at circulating odorous air. While some people simply give up on the ensuites and wash in the larger showers in the spa instead, we've learned a few tricks that can improve your in-cabin experience.
Here are seven cruise ship cabin bathroom hacks you must know before your next sailing.
1. Bring a shoe organizer for extra storage.
In many onboard bathrooms, there's just not enough space for all your toiletries, cosmetics, jewelry and other personal items you like to keep by the sink and shower. An old favorite trick of many cruisers is to hang up an over-the-door shoe organizer and fill the pockets not with footwear but with hairbrushes, detangling spray and other beauty needs. The cloth organizers are easily foldable to fit in your luggage.
2. Bring magnetic or suction hooks to hang on doors and walls.
From what we've seen of cruise ship showers, cabin designers must think all we use to wash is one bar of soap because the teeny soap dishes can't accommodate multiple bottles of shampoo and conditioner, razors or poufs. If you're fed up, pick up some suction hooks or small shower baskets to affix to the walls for extra toiletry storage. (Some people hook elastic hair ties through the suction hooks and slide toiletry bottles through the bands.) Or, for more (or better) hooks for towels and accessories in the bathroom, bring magnetic hooks to use on the door and walls.
3. Banish bad smells with air freshener.
Let's be honest, your daily ablutions don't always leave your bathroom smelling like roses, which can make life difficult for your cabinmates. Older ships can often have interesting ensuite smells, as well. An air freshener can work wonders here. Bring a lightly scented room spray or aromatherapy oils, or hang car air fresheners from the shower. Buy the right kind and your bathroom really will smell like roses.
4. Bathe little cruisers in an inflatable tub.
If you're saving money on your family cruise, you'll likely be in a cabin with no tub, just a shower. Many kids don't like the force of a shower nozzle, especially when used to baths, but after days on the beach or playing in sea air, you'll need to hose them down. We recommend bringing an inflatable baby tub or small kiddie pool that will fit in your shower or in the open space in your bathroom. You can fill it up from the shower, but you'll want to empty it out with a cup or pail. (We can tell you from experience if you pick the tub up, it will fold and water will go everywhere!)
5. Have a hand wash party with balloons.
Most cruise ship showers include a handy retractable clothes line for drying swimsuits or your hand-washed unmentionables. If you expect to max it out and need more drying space, make sure you pack some balloons. Blow them up, drape your undies over them and -- voila -- individual drying stations.
6. Solve shaving woes with a suction-cup footrest.
This one's for the ladies. Most bare-bones cruise ship showers don't have a place to prop your leg up for shaving purposes. Some Cruise Critic readers stick their legs out of the shower and prop them on the toilet, but this trick only works if your bathroom is arranged with the toilet close to the shower. If you're concerned about looking your best for a beachy sailing, purchase a suction-cup footrest to affix to your shower.
7. Avoid shower cling with binder clips or clothes pins.
We've never experienced the infamous clingy shower, but plenty of people have. If you're concerned, pack a few of those giant binder clips or clothes pins and attach them to the bottom of the shower curtain. The extra weight will keep the curtain from billowing about and attaching to your legs or backside.