Life Onboard a Cruise Ship: 18 Crew Cabins Must-Haves

Crew cabins must-haves

18 cruise ship crew cabins’ must-haves

Being a cruise ship crew member is both a challenging and rewarding experience. Living several months onboard a cruise ship, in a small cabin usually without any view (no window), and sharing your personal space with a person you don’t know doesn’t sound that fun, does it? Well, life onboard a ship means you have to adapt to these new conditions and find your way to organize your living space.

I’ve been working as a Shore Excursion staff onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships for a few years now, and in this article, I want to share with you 18 crew cabin must-haves that will make your life onboard a cruise ship easier and more organized. Regardless of what kind of crew cabin you have (single-shared or double-shared), or what cruise line you work for, my blog post will help you prepare for your cruise ship contract and make your onboard life more enjoyable!

So, here’s the list.

1. Bed Sheet Set

The bed sheet set is something I regret not bringing when I first joined the ship. The cruise line normally provides the pillows and a bed sheet set to every crew member upon coming on board, but these usually aren’t new. They have been used by who knows how many crew members, and re-washed every time. During the first few months on board, I was using cruise ship bed sheets, but later I decided to order a brand new bed sheet set and use it till the end of my contract.

So, I suggest you either bring your own bed sheet set from home that you can get rid of once your contract is finished (trust me, you won’t have space in your luggage to drag it back home), or buy a new one that is not that expensive and that you can give to someone or toss after your contract is over.

The one below is made of a comfortable material, suitable for bunk beds, and it is so cheap that you don’t have to keep it afterward. Every crew member’s ship life is all about saving money and space!

Recommended item: Utopia Bedding Printed Bed Sheet Set – 1 Fitted Sheet, 1 Flat Sheet and 1 Pillowcase – Soft Brushed Microfiber Fabric – Shrinkage and Fade Resistant (Twin XL, Navy Quatrefoil with White Pattern)

Amazon bed sheet

2. Memory Foam Pillow

Work onboard a cruise ship is hard – you don’t have a day off, and your schedule is quite busy (although this depends on your job position). Therefore, having a good and healthy sleep is essential for your well-being, and it is important to have a good rest before your next day starts. A memory foam pillow is an extremely useful thing that I highly suggest having if you are not happy with the pillow your cruise line has provided you with. I must say, Royal Caribbean provides its cruise employees with really cozy pillows (I’ve never had any back or neck issues), but in case you aren’t comfortable with your pillow (or you simply want to have a brand new one) – order a new one and you will not regret it!

Recommended: WEEKENDER Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Pillow – Washable Cover – Standard Size
Memory Foam Pillow

3. Mesh Pop-Up Laundry Basket

This is one of the most useful items when you live in a limited space and always have a bunch of dirty laundry to wash (which is the case when you work on a cruise ship). Instead of keeping your dirty laundry in a plastic bag (like I did on my first contract), a mesh pop-up laundry basket can make your life easier. It is collapsible, portable, and doesn’t take up a lot of space (although it looks like it does). I highly recommend you have this item –  it will make your crew cabin look so clean and organized!

Recommended item: Backpack Mesh Popup Laundry Hamper – Portable, Durable Handles, Collapsible for Storage, and Easy to Open. Folding Pop-Up Clothes Hampers are Great for The Kids Room, College Dorm or Travel. (White)

Mesh Pop-Up Laundry Basket

4. Air Freshener

Cruise ships are normally several years, or even decades old. Now, imagine how many crew members lived in a cabin you live in? Hundreds of them. Every cruise ship worker is responsible for keeping their cabin clean and tidy, but unfortunately, many cruise ship employees don’t care about that. As a result, crew cabins sometimes have unpleasant smells that can’t disappear even if you clean them on daily basis. What saved my life in regard to that matter is a scent diffuser (or air freshener) that I usually order online, because I can’t find the one I like when I go out in port. It is totally worth investing, as the scent lasts up to 3 months. You can choose your favorite scent – mine is lavender and was worth every cent I paid for it!

Recommended: Lavender Scent Reed Diffuser Set with Sticks, Essential Incense Oil Air Freshener for Bathroom, Office, Gym, and Bedroom Fragrance, 3.4 fl. oz

Air Freshener - Crew cabins' must have

5. Pou-Pourri Toilet Spray

Pou-Pourri Toilet Spray is a very useful item to have when you have a small bathroom, especially when you share it with another person. Cruise ship bathrooms can have very poor ventilation and you will want to have a good toilet spray, trust me! Pou-Pourri Before-You-go Toilet Spray has proven to be really handy, as it eliminates the smells straight away. It is difficult to find it in ports, and the best option is to order it online or bring it from home. Always have it in your bathroom, and your problems are solved!

Recommended: Poo-Pourri Before-You-go Toilet Spray, Original Citrus Scent, 2 Fl Oz

Pou-Pourri Toilet Spray - Crew Cabins' must have

6. Antibacterial Wipes

Cleanliness is of crucial importance onboard a cruise ship, and I always have stocks of hand sanitizer wipes.  You can either have hand sanitizer wipes in a canister or just regular packs. I like to buy in canisters because they last longer (a few canisters can last the whole contract), but I also always have several packs of hand sanitizer wipes as well.

Check out:

Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Antibacterial Wipes 100 WIPES/CANISTER, (4 CANISTERS)

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Bleach Free Cleaning Wipes, Fresh Scent, Moisture Seal Lid, 75 Wipes, Pack of 3 (New Packaging)

Antibacterial wipes in canisters - Crew cabins' must have

7. Travel Toiletry Bag

A travel toiletry bag is one of the cruise cabin must-haves if you want to keep your bathroom organized and smartly use the space. If you are sharing your cabin, you’ll have an extremely limited bathroom storage space, and I highly recommend you get this travel toiletry bag as it will significantly save your space. Your cosmetics, makeup, shower gel, shampoos, man’s razor blade, hairbrush – everything can fit! In addition, you can hang it on your door so it doesn’t take up additional space.

Recommended: Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag for Men and Women | Makeup Bag | Cosmetic Bag | Bathroom and Shower Organizer Kit | Leak Proof | Large (34”x11”)

Travel Toiletry Bag - Crew Cabins' must have

8. Travel Power Strip (Ship Approved)

As you may know, cruise ship cabins have a limited number of electric outlets, usually two per crew cabin, and only one per cruise passenger cabin. Therefore, if you want to charge more things simultaneously, and your roommate wants to do the same – you’re stuck. That’s why having a travel power strip can save you the troubles and you can charge your phone, laptop, speakers any time!

I use this one, and it is super practical and handy – Travel Power Strip, NTONPOWER 3 Outlets 3 USB Portable Desktop Charging Station Short Extension Cord 15 inch for Office, Home, Hotels, Cruise Ship, Nightstand – White

Travel Power Strip (Ship Approved) - Crew Cabins' must have

9. JBL Portable Bluetooth Speaker

If you are into music (who isn’t?), and even if you aren’t that much – you’ll need some music in your cabin from time to time! JBL portable Bluetooth speaker is one of the most practical cruise gadgets that you can use both in your crew cabin or outside in port (chilling at the beach, cocktails, friends, and music – what can be better than that?). I have both this one in the picture below, and a smaller, pocket-size JBL speaker, and both are great, except that the bigger one is louder. You can choose whichever you prefer, based on your needs and preferences.


JBL FLIP 5, Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Squad (New Model)

JBL GO2 – Waterproof Ultra Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Blue

JBL speaker JBL Speaker - Crew cabins' must have

10. External Hard Drive

Let me tell you something – I suck at technology and I had no clue what a hard drive was until I came to the ship. And guess what – this little, seemingly insignificant gadget made my life onboard a cruise ship much easier and more fulfilling! A hard drive can store a huge amount of files, including a bunch of TV shows and movies, which come in handy when you just want to chill in your cabin and avoid the crowd in a crew mess, staff mess, and other crew and guest areas. Cruises are always busy and you are always surrounded by thousands of people, but sometimes, you just need time for yourself, your thoughts, and a good movie. I always go through such a period at least a few times during my ship contract, and in those times, good movies and music are lifesavers.

Have a look at this one, I love it! – Toshiba 2TB Canvio Basics USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive (HDTB220XK3CA)

External Hard Drive - Crew Cabins' must have

11. JBL Wireless Headphones

When you share your cruise ship crew cabin with another person, you need to respect his/her needs and wishes. If your roommate is tired, or just wants to have some peace and rest, you have to respect that and remain silent. That’s why JBL wireless headphones come in handy, and they are also amazing if you want to use them in a gym or during a run. They are small and comfortable, they don’t fall off your ears and they are loud enough.

I have these, and I highly recommend them: JBL ENDURANCE SPRINT – Wireless headphones, Bluetooth sport earphones with microphone, Waterproof, up to 8 hours battery, quick charge, works with Android and Apple iOS (blue)

JBL headphones

12. Laptop

Have I said that I am not into technology? lol. Well, I had a laptop on my first contract, and I used it a lot when our cruise ship was in a dry dock and I had actual free time to spend in my cabin. The only thing that annoyed me was that my laptop was too heavy, and on my way back home I could barely carry it. On my second contract, however, I decided to leave my laptop at home, and it’s one of the worst decisions I could have made! I really missed my laptop for many reasons – I couldn’t watch movies, transfer my pictures, write emails. And, now if you ask me, I’ll tell you to ALWAYS bring a laptop with you. However, make sure you have a laptop that is light and slim, so it doesn’t take up much space and storage!

ACER laptop

Or, if you are looking into something really classy, light and professional, Mac Book Air Retina is the way to go! I am about to buy one and I am so excited!!

2020 Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) – Silver

MacBook Air Retina

13. Sony Playstation

If you are into gaming and this type of activity – don’t come on board without Sony Playstation (or come, but order Sony as soon as possible!). I’ve seen so many of my fellow crew members using it, and even I used it for some time. It’s a great way to put your stress away and have fun with your roommate and friends during your time off!

Recommended: PlayStation VR – Marvel’s Iron Man Bundle

PlayStation VR - Marvel's Iron Man Bundle

14. Over The Door Hanging Shoe Organizer

An over-the-door hanging shoe organizer is one of the best things I’ve seen people using on cruise ships! It saves you a lot of effort in properly organizing your shoes, and saves so much space! You simply hang it on your door, place your shoes in it, and you can even share it with your roommate as it has a lot of pockets!

Recommended: 24 Pockets – SimpleHouseware Crystal Clear Over The Door Hanging Shoe Organizer, Gray (64” x 19”)

Over The Door Hanging Shoe Organizer - Crew Cabins' must have

15. Refillable Water Bottle

Tap water onboard a cruise ship is pottable, but to be honest, I never drink it. I prefer to buy a water case and then pour water into my refillable water bottle that I carry with me around the ship and outside in ports. I found this one with some motivational notes to lift your spirit when you feel down and depressed. Super cool stuff!

Recommended: 2l Water Bottle with Straw Two-lid Super Leakproof Portable Big Handle, 5-way to Drink 64OZ Motivational Time Ounce Marker Increase Intake,Gym Sport Water Bottle Tritan BPA Free Half Gallon Water Jugs

Refillable water bottle - Crew cabins' must have

16. Indoor Slippers

If you are used to wearing slippers at home – don’t forget to bring them on a cruise ship, too! Although crew members live squeezed in small cabins, it is our home for several months and slippers are good to have, as floors can be cold sometimes. I never bring them from home, as I always try to save as much as luggage space on my way to the ship – Instead, I prefer to buy them either online or outside in a port.

Recommended: MAGILONA Women Mens Unisex Washable Cotton Open-Toe Home Slippers Indoor Shoes Casual Flax Soft Non-Slip Sole Shoes (6-7B/240mm 37-38, Beige)

Indoor slippers - Crew cabins' must have

17. Insulated Water Bottle

For safety reasons, it is strictly prohibited to keep any electric appliances in cruise ship rooms and cabins. A kettle is not allowed, so if you want to have a cup of tea or coffee, you have to go to the crew mess or staff mess. The best way to keep your drinks hot is to buy an insulated water bottle that you can carry around and have your tea/coffee whenever you want. You can also bring it outside in port, and have your drink at the beach or elsewhere!

Recommended: Triple Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Straw Lid – Flip Top Lid – Wide Mouth Cap (26 oz) Insulated Water Bottles, Keeps Hot and Cold – Great for Hiking & Biking (Dreamy Pink-Green)

Insulated water bottle

18. Clutch Wristlet Purse

For women, a clutch wristlet purse is definitely one of the most useful cruise ship must-have items. When I am on duty, I always carry it with me – Inside, I store my phone, schedule, a sea pass card, a pen, and that’s it! Otherwise, I would have to wear these things in my pocket! The purse doesn’t have to be fancy and beautiful – it needs to be practical, discrete, and simple, and it’s good to have a wrist strap so you can put it around your wrist (in the picture below).

Recommended: YALUXE Clutch Wristlet Women’s Real Leather Large RFID Blocking Wallet with Shoulder Chain

Clutch Wristlet Purse - Crew Cabins' must have

To Wrap Up

I hope my list of 18 crew cabins must-haves helped you plan how to organize your living space onboard a cruise ship. Whether you are joining as a new hire, or as a returning crew member, consider getting these items as they might be extremely helpful and useful to have!

This article may contain Amazon affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

You May Also Like:

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  3. 11 Things You Would Never Expect To Be Part Of Your Cruise Ship Job
  4. Life Of Shore Excursions Staff Onboard A Cruise Ship: Job Description And Daily Duties
  5. Life of a Photographer on a Cruise Ship – Crew Member’s Story

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