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What I wish I knew before my cruise about my cruise ship cabin


Between exploring new ports of call, enjoying the onboard amenities, and indulging in delicious meals, you'll need a place to rest while on your cruise— enter your cabin. Also referred to as "staterooms," your onboard accommodation, whether an inside room or lavish suite, offers a retreat amidst the excitement of your cruise adventure. 

With carefully designed layouts, attentive service, and thoughtful amenities, cruise cabins ensure you can relax and recharge to make the most of your time at sea. Unlike standard hotels, staterooms are tailored to the cruise experience, meaning they're a blend of comfort and functionality. 

There are cabin hacks that can enhance your cabin experience, as well as facts that are simply interesting to know, regardless of whether you're a first-time cruiser or a seasoned veteran. Here are 16 things I wish I had known about my cruise ship cabin before my first voyage. 

Standard cabins only have enough room for one queen-sized bed

Balcony stateroom Royal Caribbean

When families of four book hotel rooms, they typically don't have to worry about space, as many offer rooms with two double beds. Cruise ship cabins, however, are much smaller. 

Rather than allocate space for two larger beds, cruise lines get creative with solutions to sleep larger families. You might, for instance, have a stateroom with a queen-sized bed for the parents and a sofa or pullman bed for the children. 

Additionally, to allow for flexibility in sleeping arrangements, the queen-sized bed is comprised of two twin-sized beds that can be separated if needed. When I recently sailed with my father on Quantum of the Seas, we opted to separate the beds for more comfort and space; however, whenever I sail with my finacée, we keep the two beds together. 

The suites onboard offer more than just additional living space, but they come with a hefty price tag


With standard cabins typically measuring no more than 300 square feet (though most are much smaller), some cruisers may debate splurging on a suite for extra space while onboard. Additionally, you can enjoy amenities like private hot tubs, butlers, and even access to exclusive restaurants and sun decks. The most opulent, however, aren't cheap. 

The Ultimate Family Townhouse on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas is a one-of-a-kind suite offering a kid-centric design, colorful decor, and unique features not found in any other stateroom or suite onboard. The three-story abode measures 1,772 square feet, making it one of the largest suites in Royal Caribbean's fleet. 

Between the movie viewing room, in-suite slide, interactive game table, and private outdoor hot tub, those lucky enough to reserve this suite are in for an unforgettable vacation experience. To afford it, however, you have to be willing to shell out at least $70,000 for a family of four. It's not uncommon to see the price for a 7-night cruise soar over $100,000, either! 


Though you can find suites far less expensive, you'll typically pay more than you would for a standard cabin. If perks and exclusivity are important to you, looking into a suite for your next cruise may be worth the extra money. Some, however, may prefer to save their money for future sailings, rather than blowing their entire vacation budget on a single trip. 

Cabins are designed to be low-maintenance


When you enter your cabin, you'll find that it is the small details that make it feel like a home away from home, rather than extensive decor. Most surfaces, for example, won't be painted, as it would be easy to show wear and tear with the constant turnaround of guests. Moreover, moisture can cause paint to peel, blister, or bubble, which isn't ideal when sailing to destinations with high humidity like the Caribbean. 

You will also find that most surfaces are smooth with minimal seams and edges, making them easier to wipe down. Most cruise ship bathrooms do not have natural stone countertops, like granite or marble, either, as they require more maintenance and easily stain. 

The walls and ceilings are made of metal


First-time cruisers are usually surprised when they learn cabin walls are magnetic. Though cruise lines design staterooms to have as much storage space as possible, sometimes, passengers bring magnetic hooks to help keep the cabin organized throughout the voyage. 

You can hang various items to clear clutter off the vanity, such as shore excursion tickets, the daily schedule, hats, small tote bags, lanyards, disembarkation information, and more. Plus, having them hung on the wall keeps them easily accessible, ensuring you don't waste valuable vacation time looking for your misplaced cruise card or excursion tickets.

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

Cruise ship cabins are designed to maximize limited space

carnival celebration closet

While storing clothes in the closet and drawers is common sense, you may be stumped about where to keep your suitcase. Rather than keep it in the corner or try to shove it in a closet, slide it underneath the bed! 

When sailing on Quantum of the Seas, I was impressed my interior cabin had overhead storage, as it was something I had never seen on a cruise ship. Though I didn't need to utilize the extra cabinets, they provided an additional option for storing anything from bulkier items to t-shirts and shoes, ideal for those on longer voyages. 

In short, everything about the design of cruise ships, particularly their cabins, is intentional. The clever storage solutions allow passengers to comfortably unpack and settle into their stateroom for their voyage. 

There will be few outlets if you're sailing on an older ship

NoTS outlets

Sometimes, there may be just one or two standard American outlets, as on my Freedom of the Seas cruise. Even if you're sharing the cabin with just one other person, it's likely you will each have more than one device you want to charge, whether headphones, a tablet, laptop, smartwatch, or camera. 

Veteran cruisers have a trusted surge-free power strip on hand, as standard extension cords are prohibited due to their fire hazard. Alternatively, most cruise ships have at least one European socket, so if you have a European power adapter on hand, you can bring it to utilize all available charging options. 

If you're sailing on a newer ship, such as Carnival Celebration or Celebrity Ascent, you won't have to worry about outlet shortages, as modern vessels are equipped with more options to accommodate the growing number of electronic devices passengers bring onboard! Some even have plugs beside the bed, which is nice for those who do not have long cables. 

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

Sometimes, light switches are located near the door and the bed, meaning you don't have to get up to turn off the lights at night


Though minor, this design feature adds an element of convenience to your cabin, as you can adjust the lighting from the comfort of your bed. Whether you're enjoying a late-night slice of pizza or winding down with a book, you do not have to worry about getting out of bed to turn the lights off. 

Similarly, you're able to easily turn the lights on in the morning, which helps prevent those staying in interior rooms from stumbling around in the dark. 

Newer ships require you to insert your cabin card into a slot to turn on the electricity


Today, cruise lines are striving to become more environmentally friendly. One way they're achieving this goal is by implementing energy-efficient lighting solutions on newer vessels. 

Rather than simply being able to turn the lights on and off, you may have to insert your cruise card into a slot near the cabin's door to generate power. When it's removed, the power to the stateroom is cut off to help conserve energy.  

When you are leaving your cabin, make sure you're not leaving your card behind. I've done this one too many times by accident!

Bathrooms typically have fewer amenities


Whereas hotels keep their bathrooms stocked with everything from hair nets to body lotion, cruise ship bathrooms are more bare-boned. Royal Caribbean, for instance, only provides guests with a shampoo/body wash hybrid and a bar of soap. While Carnival at least has separate shampoo and body wash, you still won't find a wide array of toiletries

Those who swear by a specific brand of hair product or skin cleanser will want to ensure that it's packed before leaving, as the ship's store has limited inventory. If you forget anything essential, you'll be subject to purchasing whatever they have in stock. 

Read more: 11 bathroom hacks for your cruise ship cabin

You're allowed to bring food and drinks back to your cabin

Jewel of the Seas

If you're looking for a peaceful sail away, there's no better place than your private balcony. Before the ship departs, you can head to any open bar onboard and bring a refreshing cocktail back to your cabin to enjoy from the comfort of your balcony, rather than getting caught up in the sailaway festivities on the lido deck

Worried about getting to breakfast on time for an early excursion? You can order room service to enjoy while getting dressed for the day's adventure. Plus, there's nothing like sipping a hot cup of coffee on your balcony while pulling into port. 

Those without a balcony can take food and drinks back to their cabin, too. Whether you want to enjoy a piece of pizza in bed or have a quiet dinner away from the buffet's crowds, you'll see folks carrying plates and cups back to their staterooms throughout the sailing; you won't be the only one! 

Read more: Top 10 Cruise Dining Mistakes

TV at sea isn't the same as on land


At home, you are likely used to having seemingly endless options for television, from cable to streaming services. Channels onboard cruise ships, however, are far more limited. In fact, the majority of them are the cruise line's personal channels, advertising ongoing sales and shore excursions, the daily schedule, ship cameras, and more. 

Rather than relying on provided programming for late-night entertainment, download your favorite movies and TV shows to your tablet or mobile device before boarding. That way, you know you have something to fall back on during moments of downtime. 

Guests will have left your stateroom hours before you enter


Though this is often the case for hotel rooms, too, on embarkation day, someone will have woken up in the same bed that you're going to be falling asleep in. Turnaround day on a cruise ship is busy, with hundreds, if not thousands, of crew members springing into action to get the ship ready for the next batch of passengers. 

In addition to restocking the ship with the supplies necessary for the sailing, offloading and reloading luggage, and refueling, cabin stewards are busy ensuring each stateroom is cleaned and prepared for the next guests. 

All linens and towels will be replaced, and the bathroom will be cleaned and sanitized. They will also restock amenities like shampoo and bottled water and leave any relevant documentation, such as shore excursion tickets. 

Your cabin steward can accommodate various requests to make your stateroom more comfortable

Cabin Attendant

Stateroom attendants are more than just housekeepers. In addition to maintaining your cabin, they're able to accommodate special requests to make your stay more comfortable. 

From extra bathrobes to mattress toppers, wine glasses, an ice bucket, maintenance issues, and more, cabin stewards are there to ensure your stateroom experience exceeds your expectations. 

On your next sailing, do not hesitate to ask them for anything! If they cannot meet your needs, they will direct you to the crew member who can better assist you. 

Read more: 20 questions to ask your cruise ship cabin attendant 

Make sure that you close your balcony door before opening the cabin's door


Be cautious when opening your stateroom door when the balcony door is open. 

While there's nothing wrong with enjoying the fresh air and sea breeze, especially on a beautiful day at sea, the pressure difference creates a "wind tunnel" when both doors are open. 

You don't have to fear being blown overboard, but loose papers, such as shore excursion tickets, may get blown off the vanity, and doors can be slammed shut. 


TikTok user @🏳️‍🌈tracey❤️lynn🏳️‍🌈 shared a video of their experience trying to open their cabin door when they left the door to their balcony open. 

As the passenger tries to open the stateroom door, it is evident that there's some resistance due to the pressure difference. The wind's strength becomes stronger as they force the door open more, with their hair blowing like they were on the top deck of the ship! 

Cabins have small mini-fridges


In reality, the mini-fridge is more akin to a small cooler. While you shouldn't expect bottled water to come out icy cold, some work better than others. Having fresh ice in your cabin ensures you always have access to a refreshing beverage, which is something your stateroom attendant can provide. 

If you notice that your mini-fridge comes pre-stocked, you can ask your cabin steward to remove the items to make room for your own. Additionally, if you need an actual refrigerator to keep medication cool, ask for a medi-cooler. 

Cabin location makes a difference


Worried about motion sickness? Then you won't want a cabin at the front (forward) of the vessel. Seeking amazing wake views at sea? A mid-ship balcony won't do you much good. The best staterooms on a cruise ship have to do with personal preferences. Factors such as cabin size, proximity to specific amenities, and view can influence your choice. 

If you're picky, you will want to avoid choosing a guaranteed rate. Though you'll save money on your cruise fare, the cruise line will assign your stateroom at random, meaning that you could end up with a cabin that doesn't meet your expectations. 

For the best selection of staterooms, you will want to book your cruise as soon as possible, as the most desirable rooms, including suites, cabins with large balconies, and those that are centrally located, sell out quickly. 

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