1. Home
  2. Planning
  3. Cruise Tips and Advice
  4. 10 Etiquette Tips for Sharing a Cruise Ship Cabin

10 Etiquette Tips for Sharing a Cruise Ship Cabin

Not everyone shares a cruise cabin with a husband/wife/long-term partner, whose habits and foibles are so familiar we take them for granted. If you cruise regularly with friends or family members you don't live with at home, it's important to develop some sensitivity and develop a sense of cruise ship etiquette so you can successfully bunk together.

For example, you may think nothing of bouncing out of bed bright and early in the morning, but your cruise companion might appreciate a quiet lie-in and cringe at your pre-coffee enthusiasm. Similarly, while your long-term partner finds the sight of your undies hanging up to dry in the shower quite endearing, not everyone else will.

Having discussed cabin-sharing manners with quite a few cruisers, we've found the consensus is that it's always best to talk about potential pitfalls before you even book the cruise. If you're not sure what to bring up -- because, after all, _you_ are perfect -- here are a few cruise ship etiquette tips to employ when you're sharing a cruise cabin with someone for the first time.

Updated August 30, 2018

1. Keep the Cabin Tidy

Space is necessarily limited in the majority of cabins, but even if you have the biggest suite on the ship, you still have to divvy up the storage space. No hanger-hogging allowed! If you need more hangers, just ask your room steward, and he or she will happily oblige with some spares.

Check with your cruise companion about who will have which drawers and shelves (not everyone likes the lowest ones) and while you might drape your just-worn clothes on a bedroom chair at home, it will be much appreciated if you keep everything shipshape and stowed away in your cabin. The same goes for shoes: when you slip them off, put them away.

2. Take Turns Recharging

There never seem to be enough electric sockets for recharging all the camera equipment, smart phones, tablets and laptops we travel with, let alone enough desk or dressing-table space for the stuff two people take along. What to do? The easiest thing is to take it in turns and stash the equipment in a drawer when it's not in use. It's amazing how much you can hide away in the oft-overlooked bedside cupboards. If you are especially laden with electronic devices, consider bringing your own power strip onboard so multiple items can charge at once.

The Reflection Suite bathroom onboard Celebrity Reflection.

3. Employ Good Bathroom Behavior

When you're unpacking your cosmetics and toiletries in the bathroom, try to curb the urge to spread all your own stuff on the most accessible shelves. Worried about space? Bring an over-the-door shoe bag to stow small items. If you like to wash your undies and hang them up to dry in the shower, check with your cruise companion first. She might not enjoy the sight of dripping bras, panties or boxers in your pristine bathroom. You might also want to have a conversation on day one about shower time preferences so you don't find yourselves fighting over the bathroom 20 minutes before your shore tour leaves or dinner is scheduled to begin.

4. Keep It Fresh

Speaking of bathroom etiquette, be mindful of the various smells that can be generated in that small space. Some cruise companions agree to use a public bathroom for the "poo loo" to avoid creating noxious fumes in the cabin. Some people bring a mini canister of air freshener, but if one of you is sensitive to fragrances, this can be just as irritating as more natural smells. On that note, many people can't tolerate perfumes, so check if this is the case before you spray yourself liberally with deodorant or your favorite scent or aftershave.

5. Admit to Snoring in Advance

While many spouses have learned to live with the other's snoring and are happy to give the snorer a hefty shove in the middle of the night, nudging or yelling at a friend can lead to trouble. If you're a loud sleeper, own up prior to your cruise and warn your companion that snoring is a distinct possibility. You could also take a pack of nasal strips and earplugs (for the victim) to be extra considerate.

6. Turn Out the Lights

Many people have the habit of reading and then falling asleep with the light on, which can be extremely annoying for their cruise companions. Your life partner might not mind leaning over and turning the light off, but a friend might feel awkward looming over you in the middle of the night. Some cabins have small individual bedside reading lights, so it's not such a problem; otherwise, sleeping masks could be a solution if the reader really can't kick the habit for the duration of the cruise. When you're sharing a cruise cabin, do try your best to be courteous, and turn the lights out if you're the last to bed.

7. Night Owls and Early Birds -- Mind the Noise

If one of you likes to party late into the night and the other doesn't, you'll need to come to an arrangement about coming in to your cabin quietly. There's nothing worse than being woken up by a tipsy friend who crashes around the cabin in the dark, so leave one light on when you turn in. If you're one of those who can't sleep with a light on, resort to the sleeping mask and earplugs again. Same goes for early risers -- keep the noise to a minimum, and turn on lights judiciously when you're getting ready at 6 a.m. This could be a great time to slip out to the balcony so as not to disturb a travelmate who's still in dreamland.

Romance on a cruise ship

8. Set Rules for Romance

What do you do if your single cruisemate meets someone gorgeous on your trip and wants to spend some time with him or her? You don't want to cramp their style, but neither do you want to be left to your own devices the whole time (or, worse, locked out of your cabin for hours on end). If your companion is on the lookout for romance, it's definitely good cruise etiquette to talk this through before you embark, and set a few mutually acceptable rules. For example, you might want to establish times when the lovebirds can have some privacy in your cabin without leaving you homeless for too long.

9. Discuss the Naked Truth

Some people think nothing of sleeping naked or strolling around the cabin sans clothing, while others tend to be more self-conscious about stripping down in front of friends. Some cruisers might bury their heads in a book when a cruise companion is changing in the cabin; others might retreat to the bathroom to dress. Especially if you fall on the extreme end of the modest/uninhibited spectrum, you might want to discuss dressing arrangements in advance.

10. Stop Talking!

Some folks wake up chatty, while others can't bear to converse until they've downed several cups of tea or coffee. Definitely alert a new travel companion to your talking taboos in advance, lest they think you're giving them the cold shoulder or chatter cheerily at you while you're still clearing the fuzz from your head. It's also perfectly acceptable to seek out alone time now and then on the trip. Just tell your buddy that you need to indulge in some "me time," rather than disappearing unexpectedly.

As with all the habits mentioned above, the best thing to do when you're cruising with someone for the first time is discuss what annoys you, laugh about it and make a plan. Remember -- you want your friendship to last beyond the duration of your cruise!

Cruise Critic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by promoting and linking to Amazon.com.

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. Autumn -- or "Fall" in North America" -- foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find September and October the best time to take that Canada/New England cruise, whereas water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer to sail the region in the summer when school is out and temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travellers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your holiday schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
What to Pack for a Cruise: A Beginner's Guide
There once was a not-so-savvy seafarer who didn't feel right unless she took two steamer trunks crammed with outfits on every cruise. This, she learned, was not a good idea. Besides incurring the wrath of her male travelling companion, who pointed out that he would have to wrestle with excess baggage through airport terminals and beyond, she quickly tired of cramming her belongings into tiny wardrobes. The now savvy seafarer follows her own packing 101 rule: Thou shalt put into one's suitcase only that which will fit neatly in the allocated storage space without hogging every available nook and cranny for thyself. Following that advice is getting easier these days because, for the most part, cruising has become a much more casual holiday -- even on luxury and traditional lines. Plus, with airlines charging to check bags and imposing extra fees for overweight luggage), it's just more economical to pack light. To do so, you need to have a good sense of what you’re going to wear on a cruise so you don't pack your entire closet. If you're wondering what to bring on your next cruise, here are our guidelines for what you'll need to pack.
Secrets the Cruise Lines Don't Tell You
Cruise ship life can be a little mysterious. Your choices aren't always spelled out in black and white. The more you cruise, the more you pick up on the unofficial secrets the cruise lines don't tell you -- which give you more options, let you save money and generally allow you to have a better time onboard. Maybe it's knowing what your cabin steward is able to bring you or what the off-the-menu items are at the bar or dining room. Or perhaps it's a tip to getting a good deal on an onboard purchase. But why wait to figure these things out the hard way -- possibly after you've missed your chance? We trawled through all the great advice on Cruise Critic's Message Boards to bring you some of the worst-kept cruise secrets ... at least among our readers who love to share. But whether you're a first-time cruiser or an old sea dog, you might find there's something here you didn't already know.