While some lavish and expensive suites on cruise ships are apartment-sized, most cruisers stay in cabins that are not particularly spacious or fashion-forward.
The decor is designed to appeal to everyone, no matter their personal tastes, with mellow or nautical colors and nothing too distracting. Storage space may be at a premium and a cruise ship cabin’s bathroom may be far smaller than yours at home.
There are ways to jazz up your space, however. Here are some easy cruise cabin hacks to help make your onboard accommodations more livable, more personalized and less cluttered.
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Add personalization to your cruise cabin
- You will be in your cruise ship cabin for several days, a week or more. So go ahead and bring your favorite pillow, a picture of your kids/dog/cat, a teddy bear, a throw blanket or any other comfort objects you cherish at home – keeping in mind luggage space if you are flying to reach the ship.
- When traveling with kids, let them bring a few of their favorite toys, along with a pillow and blanket.
- A fun cruise cabin hack is to bring an erasable, magnetic-backed whiteboard (which will easily attach to the cabin’s metal door) and washable markers so you can draw pictures and leave messages – whether you’re with kids or being flirty with your soulmate.
- While real candles are banned on cruise ships, battery-operated flameless candles can add a touch of romance to your room (and also serve as nightlights).
Don’t be afraid to move the furniture around
- Standard cabins have twin beds that can be combined into a queen bed, next to two side tables. You might also have a sofa or upholstered chair, vanity or desk, and a coffee table. If you have a balcony, it will be equipped with a pair of chairs or loungers and a drinks table. Don’t be afraid to move the furniture around — you can ask the crew to help — into a configuration that works for you.
- Ask that any objects in your way be removed. For instance, if you keep bumping into the coffee table, get it out of the room. Clearing away the ice bucket and wine glasses and anything else you’re not using will add additional counter space.
- Furniture may also be added; for instance, a stool can be replaced with a chair that may be more comfortable for your back. Ask your cabin steward for assistance.
- If the mini-fridge is filled with soda and booze that you have no intention of buying, have it cleared away. You can use the space for any soda or water you brought from home and for snacks gathered at the Lido buffet (which will also save you any room service charges).
Beef up the bathroom supplies in your cabin
- Most mainstream ships now have shampoo, conditioner and liquid bath soap you pump from containers in the shower — an ecological and cost-saving measure that eliminates little plastic bottles. That’s all fine and dandy, but what you get will likely be generic brands and not quite what you are used to at home. The same goes for any provided hand or body lotion. If you’re fussy about products, bring your own.
- If you are not a shower gel fan, bring your own bar of soap. If your cabin includes a soap bar it likely will be a tiny chunk of soap like you get at motels. On the flip side, if you prefer liquid soap to wash your hands, bring a bottle so you don’t have to reach into the shower every time you want to wash up.
- Another clever cruise cabin hack is to attach a hanging makeup or toiletry kit to the bathroom door. This will allow you to free up space around the sink and more easily keep track of your own supplies. The sink may or may not have a drawer or shelves.
- The switch for bathroom lights is often outside the door, meaning you will beam light into the whole cabin as you enter the bathroom in the middle of the night. Bring a plug-in or battery-operated nightlight for navigating around the bathroom without waking your cabinmates.
Improve your cruise cabin with helpful gadgets
- You and your family will likely bring along a selection of electronics — tablets, phones, cameras, an electric shaver and maybe even a curling iron or other gizmos. That’s a lot of stuff to plug into what may be a very limited number of outlets. Bring an outlet extender to accommodate all those cords (though make sure it is not one with a surge protector, as those are banned by cruise lines).
- If you’re a light sleeper, you might want to bring a travel-sized sound machine or get a white noise app on your phone. Cruise ships have lots of creaks, rattling and other noises that might keep you awake.
- If you plan to sleep in, pack some binder clips or even paper clips to keep the curtains drawn tight, which is especially useful in the sunny Caribbean. They’re also useful in Alaska when it’s light out at midnight when you’re trying to go to bed.
Find clever hacks to create more storage space
Cruise ship cabins have a closet with hangers and shelves. There may or may not be drawers for clothes. Additional drawers for knickknacks may be located in the side tables near the bed or in the desk. When you are packing for a week — and especially if you are packing for a family for a week — there will not be enough closet and drawer space for everyone’s clothes and gear. There are ways to improve the situation.
- Ask your cabin steward for more hangers if your closet does not have enough to hang all your clothes.
- Alternatively, double up clothes on the hangers — a blouse or jacket on top of a sundress, for instance.
- Your cabin may have a couple of hooks for bathrobes. On many ships, the walls are made of metal, and magnets will stick to them. Bring some of your own magnetic hooks so you also have room for hats, snorkels and other hangable paraphernalia.
- A hanging or over-the-door organizer can help you easily tuck away socks and undies, or slot sunscreen and other small items into their own spaces.
- A laundry bag on the floor of the closet lets you corral dirty clothes and keep them from getting in the way or mixing with your clean, unworn clothing.
Make use of the space under the bed
- Your suitcases can be tucked under the bed, so they don’t take up space in your cabin or closet. If you keep one open, you can use it as an additional drawer.
- If you’re not using the bathrobes, slippers, hair dryer or other items provided — including decorative pillows if they are in your way — these can go under the bed as well.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise