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The 1-item upgrade you need for a better cruise ship cabin experience (it’s already in your house)


Having been on nearly two dozen cruises, I've learned to always pack one essential item to enhance my cabin experience: a standard USB cord. 

Cruise ship cabins, although smaller than standard hotel rooms, try to pack as many essentials and conveniences into the limited space as possible; however, they typically fall short in the number of available charging options. Typically, standard outlets are exclusively found near the vanity, leaving those who prefer to charge their phones beside the bed at a disadvantage. 

When I sailed on MSC Seashore, I discovered that my interior cabin was outfitted with a USB port located near the bed. Unfortunately, I only brought a USB-C cable, so I wasn't able to take advantage of what would have otherwise been a huge convenience. 

celebration interior room

A few months later, I boarded Carnival Celebration for my first-ever Carnival cruise without doing any prior research on the available charging options. Once again, I came unprepared. Though the vanity area of my inside stateroom boasted seven different options, four of which were USB sockets, I was disappointed by the fact that I wasn't able to utilize the USB port found beside the bed. 

Now, I won't leave my house without ensuring that I have a USB cable packed, so I'm able to make the most out of the charging options available in my cruise ship cabin. 

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While not all cruise ships have USB ports beside the bed, I've used my USB cord more than once since my sailing on Carnival Celebration in October 2023


Had my friend and I not brought USB cables onboard Carnival Conquest, we would have been sharing the singular American outlet found near the vanity. Thankfully, each nightstand came equipped with a built-in lamp that featured two USB sockets, increasing the number of charging options in the cabin from two (including the European outlet) to six. 

The cables proved useful once again when sailing on Celebrity Ascent and then Carnival Elation, one of the oldest ships in Carnival's fleet. While I was expecting an outdated cabin that lacked outlets, I was pleasantly surprised to discover an abundance of options, many of which were USB ports. 

While there were only two standard American outlets in the inside cabin, there were a total of four USB sockets, all conveniently located near the bed. 

Read more: I stayed in the cheapest cabin on Carnival Elation. It was small and windowless, but for $145 a night, it was a great deal — take a look

While I won't leave home without a USB cable, I've also learned the importance of packing a European power adapter


Some older vessels, such as Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, haven't been updated to include USB ports. 

In addition to two regular American outlets, these ships have a single European socket. Rather than let a potential third charging option sit unused, those with European adapters can maximize their access to power sources. Note that if the adapter is too bulky, it may not work properly, so I recommend trying to find a compact option, like this one from Amazon for $5.99. Plus, the smaller the adapter, the less room it will take up in your luggage. 

Moreover, when sailing on a ship that doesn't have any beside outlets, it's important to bring a longer cable, especially if you're someone who likes to use their device while drifting off to sleep. That way, you won't have to leave your phone across the room at night. 

Read more: 15 Packing Tips for First-Time Cruisers (2024)

For the most charging options possible, you will want to purchase a non-surge power strip

USB Extender

Because of the fire hazard they pose, most cruise lines have banned standard power strips. If you're caught trying to smuggle one on, it'll be confiscated and returned to you when you disembark. 

Instead of jeopardizing having your additional power options removed from your luggage, purchase a surge-free power strip from Amazon. For just $25.99, you can increase the available outlets in your cruise ship cabin by five, as the strip comes with three standard American outlets, as well as two USB ports. 

While you may not need all of them when sailing on a new ship, those who are sailing on a ship with limited outlets will find this power strip to be an invaluable investment, so long as you pack the right cables. 

What are some other cruise cabin essentials that you should pack?

hanging organizer

While essentials such as valid travel documentation, toiletries, and clothing are among the first items packed for a cruise, there are additional necessities that you shouldn't overlook, particularly when it comes to making the most out of your limited cabin space. 

One of my travel must-haves is a hanging toiletries organizer. I love being able to keep all of my products nearly tucked away throughout the sailing, as I hate returning to a cabin that feels cluttered. The numerous compartments of my organizer can hold a lot of stuff, too, including my face wash, hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, razor, makeup remover, mouthwash, and more. 

Before I had the organizer, these items took up quite a bit of space on the shelves in the bathroom. I was especially thankful to have brought it along when I sailed on Carnival Elation, as there was just a singular shelf in the bathroom. 

Read more: What Toiletries to Pack for a Cruise (Packing List)

Packing Cubes

Another way to maximize the amount of storage in your cabin (and suitcase) is by using packing cubes. Not only will you be able to fit more into your luggage, which can be useful when traveling with a small carry-on, but unpacking on the ship will be easier, too. 

All you'll have to do is throw the cubes into drawers or on shelves in the closet. When the final night of the cruise rolls around, assuming you've kept everything fairly organized, you won't have to spend as much time packing, either! It's always a relief to tackle packing as quickly as possible, as it will allow you to enjoy all of the amenities onboard for a little bit longer. 

Read more: I packed for a 7-day cruise with just a carry-on suitcase and backpack


I won't leave home without a sizeable number of medications, either. While sailing on Carnival Celebration, I began to feel a little under the weather and realized that I forgot to bring DayQuil. 

Thankfully, we were docked in San Juan, so I was able to run to the nearest Walgreens. Had we been at sea, I would've been subject to whatever medications were available in the ship's store, which would have cost more than ashore. 

Things like pain relievers, motion sickness medication, cold & flu remedies, antacids, eye drops, and other over-the-counter medications are great to have on hand in the event that you wake up feeling a little ill. I also like to bring more sunscreen than I think I'll actually need, as the onboard price tends to be outrageous; I've seen it as high as $27 for a single bottle before! 

Read more: How to make your own DIY cruise first aid kit

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