Nearly every oceangoing cruise ship is set up with two twin beds or one two-person bed, ranging from a double to a king, depending on cruise line and cabin type. You will not find the two-double-bed setup so common in hotel rooms. Some river and expedition ships do have rooms with beds that are only singles or only doubles and cannot be switched. Solo cabins, found on a handful of lines, feature one bed, which will either be a twin or a full, again depending on the line.
Beds are generally flanked by nightstands and reading lights.
Yes, most oceangoing cruise ships have convertible beds, meaning that a double bed is actually made up of two twins pushed together, often with some kind of mattress pad on top so you don't feel the crack between the two beds. You can request your preferred bed configuration on your cruise line's website for booked passengers or from your travel agent. If the room still isn't made up to your liking when you arrive, just ask your cabin steward to split the beds or push them together, as desired.
Some standard cruise ship cabins can only sleep two, but many can sleep three, four or five passengers. Extra berths are either pullout sofas, bunkbeds that pull down from the wall or drop from the ceiling or rollaway cots. In addition, special family cabins or multi-room suites intended for large groups traveling together can have multiple bedrooms and sleep six or more passengers.
Most mainstream and luxury cruise ships do carry portable cribs (of the pack-n-play variety) for babies. River and expedition lines generally won't, as they don't cater to very young children. It's best to request a crib when booking your cruise, to make sure there's one available, but if you forget, you can ask for one onboard.
People have varying tastes in mattress firmness and bed linen type, but cruise lines do put effort into making their beds as comfortable as possible. You can expect high-quality cotton or cotton-blend sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers, fluffy pillows (down or memory foam) and duvets, and often custom mattresses. Luxury lines pride themselves on high-end bedding collections with 1,000-count 100-percent Egyptian cotton sheets, down duvets and mattresses made exclusively for the line.
If you are particularly sensitive to down, most cruise lines will have an alternative, with cotton, polyester or cotton-poly blend blankets, pillows and sheets.
Just ask your cabin steward if you can swap. As noted above, most lines will carry blankets for those allergic to down duvets.
Standard cruise cabins on mainstream ships don't offer a choice of pillows. As noted, you can request a hypoallergenic pillow, but if you haven't requested one in advance, you take your chances that a spare one is available. Upper-category suites and luxury lines often offer a pillow menu. For example, Silversea Cruises offers multiple options, including various down-and-feather blends, memory foam, buckwheat, body, polyester and scented silk.
Generally, your cabin steward will change your sheets every three days -- unless you request a different schedule or your sheets are obviously dirty (ie, you spilled wine on them or inadvertently slept on your pillow chocolates). Some high-end suites receive new sheets daily.
Most stewards will make your bed every morning and remake it for turndown service every evening, so you never have to worry about having a neat bed to sit, nap or sleep on.
Yes, most cruise ship beds are raised high enough to store your empty suitcases underneath. Occasionally, you'll find below-bed drawers to hold extra duvets and linens.
Some cruise lines carry egg crate mattress toppers, so if you're uncomfortable, ask your cabin steward if your ship has any. You can also inquire about alternative pillow or blanket types. If you're really uncomfortable, it might be because you're sleeping on the pullout couch as a third passenger in a cabin; they usually have different mattresses from the regular beds and aren't as comfortable. Ask for extra padding to soften up the firm mattress.
Some cruise travelers are picky about the direction their bed faces, often preferring to face the same direction the cruise ship is traveling. They don't like when their bed faces backward, or aft. (Most people don't even notice.) There's not much you can do once onboard, other than inquire if there's an open cabin in a similar category with a bed facing the right way. Better to inquire when booking if there's a way to book a cabin with a forward-facing bed.
Yes! Many cruise lines -- including Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas -- sell their exclusive mattresses and bedding collections, so you can recreate your luxurious cruise bed experience at home. Often, you'll get flyers onboard or you can purchase through the cruise line's website.
The What to Expect on a Cruise series, written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, is a resource guide, where we answer the most common questions about cruise ship life -- including cruise food, cabins, drinks and onboard fun -- as well as money matters before and during your cruise and visiting ports of call on your cruise.
Updated January 08, 2020