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Your really dumb cruise ship cabin questions answered (2024)

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When you are new to cruising, you are bound to have a ton of questions about the basics of a cruise vacation, especially regarding accommodations. You might think your cabin questions are dumb, but it is valid to have questions about your "home away from home" for your trip! 

You do not want to end up booking the wrong room or be surprised about what is and isn’t included. 

Here are some common cruise ship cabin questions and their answers, so you can feel confident moving forward in the planning process!

What is a stateroom on a cruise ship?

HAL Solo Cabin

Stateroom, cabin, cruise room— they are all names for your private living accommodations on a cruise ship. 

Like a hotel room, your stateroom will feature one or more beds, a closet and storage space for your belongings, a private cruise ship bathroom, and in most cases, a desk/vanity and seating area. 

If you are planning on splurging on a cruise ship suite, you can expect more luxurious amenities and more space! Some even come with access to exclusive sundecks and restaurants. 

How big are the cabins on a cruise ship?

Panoramic Ocean View Celebrity Cruises

Cruise ship cabins are much smaller than traditional hotel rooms. In fact, most only have one bed that can either be kept together to form a larger queen or split into two twin beds. 

If you are booking a room for three or four people, you'll likely find that your stateroom is equipped with pullman beds, which pull down from the ceiling to form a "bunk bed" of sorts. 

When it comes to the actual square footage, interior rooms tend to be the smallest. While they range from 145 to 200 square feet, the majority are less than 180, even on the newest cruise ships at sea. 

Symphony of the Seas Interior Room

Interior rooms on Carnival Celebration, for instance, are only 158 square feet, while those onboard Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas are just shy of 175 square feet. 

Ocean view rooms tend to be a little bit larger than interior cabins. Referring back to Carnival Celebration, their standard ocean view rooms come in at 243 square feet, while those onboard Wonder of the Seas are around 179 square feet. 

Balcony staterooms have the most space out of all standard cabins, as they have a private verandah that adds to the total square footage of the room. An ocean view balcony on Wonder of the Seas measures 182 square feet of interior living space, with an additional 50-foot balcony, totaling 232 square feet!


Many first-timers are shocked at how small cruise ship cabins can be, especially the bathrooms that squeeze a toilet, small sink, and stand-up shower into a room with little floor space. Most cruise ship bathrooms don't have tubs, which is something important to note if you're traveling with younger children. 

Cruise ship designers have found creative ways to make the small rooms livable, though! Plus, the rest of the cruise ship has so many attractions that you might find you hardly spend any waking hours in your stateroom. 

Read more: Top 25 cruise cabin hacks to improve your stateroom's functionality

Will my cruise ship cabin have a television?


All cruise ship cabins, regardless of whether it's the smallest room onboard or a multi-level suite, feature televisions.

Although you might not be able to keep up with all your favorite shows, as the channels at sea are pretty limited, you'll have a short list of news, sports, and movie channels to choose from, as well as ship-exclusive channels re-broadcasting onboard events, promoting the spa and shore excursions, or showing live footage from the camera on the bow (front) of the ship.

For example, Royal Caribbean’s 29 television channels include Fox News, BBC World News, MSNBC, and ESPN, and Carnival upgraded the channel options on its in-cabin TVs to include HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, and Discovery, as well as two movie channels. 

Celebrity Cruises Stateroom

According to Carnival's website, "We pride ourselves with providing our guests with a variety of TV programming that is both entertaining and informative. The networks we license will vary according to the location of the vessel and availability within the areas where we sail."

"Original Carnival programming is broadcasted on these channels: Cruise Life Television, Fun Aboard, Carnival Adventures, Fun Finds, Fun for All, and Ocean View.  Information about your trip is available on the Good to Know channel, Audible FunTimes, and Map Channel.  Live seascape views can be seen on your Forward Camera View Channel and Aft Camera Views Channel."

"Two complimentary movie channels are programmed to show up to 16 different movies rated G, PG, and PG 13 each day of your cruise."

Inside stateroom

On many cruise ships, the televisions have an interactive portion that allows you to view the charges made to your onboard account, check the restaurant menus and activity schedule, and tune into live video feeds around the ship. Some also offer on-demand movies for an extra fee.

What is a picture window on a cruise ship? What is a porthole?

Norwegian Cruise Line Ocean View

Picture windows are large rectangular windows that dominate the upper half of the exterior wall of your cruise room. In some configurations, the picture window is above the head of the bed; in others, it runs parallel to the side of your bed.

A porthole is a smaller, round window that is often a circular piece of glass encased in a metal frame that’s bolted to the side of the ship. Some ocean view cabins will have one or two of these instead of a picture window. Disney cruise ships often feature a hybrid, and you’ll get a picture window that’s large but round like a porthole.


You will only get a porthole or picture window if you book an ocean view cabin. Inside cabins have no windows and zero natural light. However, some of Royal Caribbean's newer ships feature a virtual balcony. If you book one of these cabins, expect a floor-to-ceiling LED screen that features a live video feed from the ship's exterior.

It is also important to note that some ships feature staterooms with windows that view the interior of the ship. On Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class ships, for instance, you can book a room with a window overlooking their Central Park, Boardwalk, or Royal Promenade neighborhoods. 

Similarly, some of Carnival's ships have interior rooms with picture windows that overlook public walkways. 


These are great options for those who crave natural light but don't want to pay the extra money for an ocean view stateroom. 

Does my ocean view cabin really have a view of the ocean?


Sometimes, ocean view cabins are marketed as outside cabins. No need to worry, though, outside cabins are simply another name for ocean view staterooms that have a window looking outside the ship. 

The room is not technically outside, either! All cruise ship cabins are fully indoors with a roof and walls. The only outside portion of your room is the balcony, if you book this category of room. 

Why does my ocean view cabin look out on a parking lot?


Before you complain to the front desk about your cabin’s terrible view, remember that, unlike a hotel, your cruise ship moves. 

An ocean view room at a hotel will always look out at the beach and sea. If it does not, you’ve been misled and have overpaid. Also, remember that there is sometimes a difference between ocean view and oceanfront hotel rooms. 

On a cruise ship, the view will change as the ship sails. The same window that shows you the parking lot when it’s docked at your embarkation port is guaranteed to show you waves and sky when the ship is sailing on the open ocean. Just be patient, your beautiful sea views are on the way.

What size beds are on cruise ships?

Disney Wish cabin

Cruise ship beds aren’t always standard sizes. Most cabins contain two twin beds that can be pushed together to form a queen-sized bed. 

However, the mattresses don’t always conform to the standard dimensions of twin and queen beds you’d buy for your home. Sometimes, cruise ship staterooms will have beds with rounded corners to create slightly more walking space in the sleeping section of the room.

Some suites will feature true king-size beds, and these typically do not split into two single beds.

How many beds are in a cruise ship cabin?


All cruise ship cabins sleep at least two people unless they are designated as solo cabins and intended for a single traveler. 

However, many cruise ship staterooms can sleep additional guests— sometimes up to five people in regular cabins, though three and four are more common. 

Typical cruise rooms feature two twin beds that can be pushed together to form one queen. Those that can sleep three, four, or five guests often have upper berths that pull out from the wall or drop down from the ceiling to create bunks over the lower beds. Sofas can sometimes convert into beds for one or two, and some cabins have Murphy-style beds that pull down from a wall.


In certain situations, cribs and rollaway cots can be brought into a stateroom as beds for extra guests. 

The number of beds in any given stateroom can vary, even within the same cabin, depending on how many people are booked into it. If you booked a room with two pullman beds but only have two people, you won't even see these beds!

That being said, don't expect to walk into your cruise cabin and see two double beds like you would in most hotels! They simply do not have the space. 

Does a cruise ship cabin have its own bathroom?


Cruise ships are not like your college dorm. You do not need to don a robe and run down the hallway to shower in a shared bathroom with the other residents of your hall. You get your very own private bathroom, even though it’s a small one.

Typical cruise ship bathrooms feature a toilet, a single sink with a few shelves for storing toiletries, and a small shower. Bathtubs are not standard, though certain ships and cabin categories offer them; Disney is a great bet if you want tubs for bathing children. 

Bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths are provided, as is hand soap and some kind of shampoo and body wash, either in dispensers or in travel-size bottles. That being said, we recommend bringing your own toiletries! If you ever need more towels, simply ask your cabin steward; they will be happy to provide you with more. 

Some cabins that are designed for larger families feature a split-style bathroom. This is most common onboard Disney Cruise Line; however, Carnival Cruise Line has some ships that have implemented this concept in their Deluxe Ocean view staterooms, such as Carnival Breeze. 

Is there a hair dryer onboard?


The majority of cruise ship cabins do come with a hair dryer for guests to use. That being said, it probably won't be as powerful as the one you have at home, and if you're someone who likes to diffuse your hair with a specific attachment, there's a good chance it won't fit on the hair dryer that's provided. 

You're able to bring your own hair dryer onboard with you, as they are not prohibited by any cruise line. 

How do you work the microwave in the cabin? 


That box with the numbers on it you found in the closet of your cabin? It’s not a microwave. It’s your personal safe!

The number pad allows you to create your own code to open and close the safe, keeping your valuables safe from theft during your voyage. 

Microwaves and other appliances are typically frowned upon in cruise ship cabins, as they present a fire hazard. 

On most ships, you won’t even find a coffeemaker or tea kettle in your room. It’s a bummer for caffeine addicts, but we assure you that you have access to warm beverages and snacks 24/7, so you don’t need to heat up food in your room. 

Read more: 20 things cruise lines really do not want you to bring on ships


Just call room service or head over to the buffet or other late-night dining venue on your ship. 

If you need a fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning, consider utilizing room service! Most cruise lines offer a free continental breakfast as part of your base fare. Plus, this is a great way to save some time in the morning if you have an early excursion. You will not have to worry about going to the ship's buffet.

Can I choose my cabin?

Balcony room

Unlike with hotels, when you book your cruise, you will select the exact room you prefer. In other words, you can choose to stay in room 5142 and not 5069, and you will come away from your booking with a cabin number that’s all yours. 

You can look at the ship’s deck plans and pick out the perfect cruise ship cabin location (forward, aft, by the elevators, etc.). Maybe you want connecting rooms, so you're close to your children. Perhaps you want a room closer to the adults-only deck if you are taking a child-free trip. 

There are a few times when you would not pick your room number. One example is when you book a guarantee room. That’s when you agree to let the cruise line pick your cabin in exchange for paying a reduced rate. You book a minimum category, and before your cruise, you will be assigned a room in that category or higher (but not lower). 

Can other ships see into my cabin while docked in port?


Those with balconies and ocean view staterooms should take caution when docked next to other vessels in port— there's less privacy than you may think!

If you wake up and find yourself facing another ship, the passengers on that ship are able to see your balcony. If your curtains are open, they'll be able to look directly inside! 

Before changing, double-check to ensure that nobody can see into your room from the outside. At sea, however, you won't have to worry about this!

Read more: 15 Things You Should Never Do in Your Cruise Ship Cabin

Are there rooms meant for a single traveler?

ncl solo room

Yes! As solo travel becomes more and more popular, many cruise lines have begun investing in cabins for solo travelers. This means that, rather than book a room that's meant for two people, you might have the option to book a solo cabin, thus avoiding paying the dreading single supplement fee. 

If you travel alone and don't book a solo cabin, you'll most likely have to pay the fare for two guests. That's because cruise lines base their revenue on two passengers per cabin.

Of course, since these rooms are only outfitted for one person, you can expect them to sometimes be even smaller than interior rooms! The brand-new Prima Class of ships that were launched by Norwegian Cruise Lines have solo rooms that are as small as 94 square feet!


Since there's a limited number of solo cabins on cruise ships, they tend to book up pretty quickly. If you have your heart set on going on a voyage by yourself and saving some money, speak with your travel agent as soon as new bookings open, so they can help you secure a solo cruise cabin.

Note that not all cruise ships have solo cabins, so you might have to be flexible when it comes to choosing the ship/itinerary. Norwegian Cruise Line announced that they are adding a total of 1,000 solo cabins to all of their ships. 

Read more: Going on a cruise alone? Here are the 8 best solo cruise cabins

Can I charge my phone in my cruise ship cabin?

NoTS outlets

Yes, your cabin will come outfitted with plugs for you to charge your mobile devices, tablets, laptops, etc. Older ships, however, have fewer outlets available. It's recommended to bring a European power adapter, as well as a surge-free power strip. 

Regular power strips have a greater chance of overloading the circuit and starting a fire. Fire on a cruise ship is the greatest danger of all, so the majority of cruise ships ban surge protector power strips.

Newer cruise ships have more charging options available, namely USB ports. When sailing on MSC Seashore, I was surprised that the desk had a built-in wireless charger! 

Read more: 20 best things to bring on a cruise that cost less than $10

Who cleans the cabin?

Cabin Attendant

Don't worry, you will not be responsible for cleaning your stateroom each day. Isn’t vacation great? 

Every cabin is assigned a cabin steward who works with the ship’s housekeeping team to clean your cabin, change your linens, take out the trash, and tidy up. Your steward will also help you with any cabin-based requests, such as bringing fresh ice and taking your laundry to be cleaned.

Your cabin steward will also turn down your bed for you at night, and maybe leave you a cute puppy or swan made of folded-up towels on your bed.

Note that some cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have strayed away from twice-per-day servicing. Upon embarkation, you might be asked whether you want your cabin to be serviced in the morning or the afternoon. 

Read more: Cruise ship cabin stewards: who are they and what do they do?

Are there cruise ship cabins for crew members too?


Cruise ship crew members work long hours. It would be impossible to do their job, not to mention very expensive, if they had to commute to their job in the middle of the ocean via speedboat or helicopter. 

Rather than parachute into work every time, cruise ship crew live onboard in designated crew cabins. Usually, the crew cabins are located on the lower decks below the passenger decks; some officers do have cabins located near the bridge, such as the Captain, that are much more expansive than standard crew cabins. 

And though you didn’t ask, cruise ships also have dining rooms, gyms, bars, and outdoor space for the crew, as well.

Read moreWhat are the crew areas like on a cruise ship?

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