Skip to Content

Bathrooms on Cruise Ships: What You’ll Really Want To Know Now

For those of you about to enjoy your first sea cruise, the details of the bathroom in your cabin may be the last thing on your mind. The weather, the onboard entertainment, and the fun amenities on offer are far more important factors to consider as you embark on your adventure.

While even the smallest cabin will have its own private bathroom, it won’t be as user-friendly as your en-suite bathroom at home, so we’d like to fill you in on what you need to know about bathrooms on cruise ships.

An Overview Of What You Need To Know About Bathrooms On Cruise Ships

Unless you’ve booked a suite, the average cabin on a cruise ship is small. Inside cabins run about 167 square feet on average, while outer cabins average a little more, at 180 square feet. That doesn’t leave much space for a bathroom – and in fact, “bathroom” is a misnomer because usually there’s no actual bathtub. Most cabins will have just a curtained-off shower, a toilet, and a basin.

If you’re a large person or just hate the thought of a tiny bathroom, you would be well advised to book a suite-class cabin rather than a regular stateroom, some of which have full bathrooms. Suites generally are more spacious, offering a greater level of comfort. You’ll pay for the privilege of having more space, but it may well be worth it.

Typical Sizes Of Cruise Ship Bathrooms 

The average size of bathrooms on cruise ships is 25 to 30 square feet, which includes the shower, toilet, washbasin cabinet, and storage space. If you deduct the ten square feet for the shower, three or four square feet for the basin, and four or five square feet for the toilet, it leaves very little space for a person and certainly not enough for two.  

Bathroom in a standard cabin on Majesty of the Seas – ship launched in 1991 \ E. Warren 2018

Disney Cruise Line cabins mostly have split bathrooms, with a commode room separate from the shower room. However, the combined size is still around thirty square feet, so both rooms are tiny. It is handy to have a separate toilet, but many people prefer the combined bathroom as it is just a bit more spacious.

What you need to know about bathrooms on cruise ships is most ships have accessible cabins designed for easy wheelchair movement, and the bathrooms in these cabins are much more spacious. The cruise line will gladly accommodate you if you have a medical certificate confirming your disability. For able-bodied cruisers, it may be worth enquiring about the availability of an accessible cabin. If they haven’t been allocated, you may be lucky enough to get one. 

Typical Amenities Inside Cruise Bathrooms

Bathrooms on cruise ships are not luxurious, but they are efficient units. Apart from the standard bathroom fittings of shower, toilet, and basin, the typical cruise bathroom will provide you with most items you’d find in a hotel bathroom or at home. 

Hygiene Products

What you need to know about bathrooms on cruise ships is they will all have liquid soap and shampoo, usually in wall-mounted dispensers, for convenience and space-saving. Most cruise lines also have basic hygiene products in the bathroom, including body lotion, and body wash. Sometimes the body wash will double as shampoo.

Bath towels, wash clothes and hand towels are provided by the cruise line for personal use in your cabin. Your bathroom towels will be refreshed several times throughout the day as needed.

Shower Vs. Tub

Bathrooms On Cruise Ships

In a typical cabin, there will be a curtained shower section, but there are tubs in most suites if you are prepared to upgrade. Also, some suite class staterooms will have a second powder room in addition to a bathroom.

On Disney Cruise ships, the bathrooms have a separate toilet section and the other half contains either a shower or a small tub.

Bathroom with tub in suite stateroom on MSC Seaside (launched 2017) \ E. Warren 2018

Electrical Outlets

Most bathrooms have outlets, although they may be awkwardly located near the light. However, because they are wired for low amperage, you can’t use a hairdryer or flatiron (anything in fact with a heating element) from this outlet. (Note: Although you will typically find a hair dryer in your cabin, you will not find a travel iron.)

The outlets in the cabin are suitable for those appliances but don’t plug in anything but your shaver in the bathroom.

If you have chargers, a fan, a hairdryer, and other electrical appliances, take an outlet extender so that you are able to make better use of the limited number of outlets.


Unfortunately, in such a small space, there is only enough storage for the essentials. There are short shelves on each side of the mirror to carry toothbrushes, a few toiletries, a countertop, and possibly a cabinet under the basin.

You may well have additional hygiene products that you use daily. If you want extra storage space in your cruise ship bathroom, a popular cruise cabin hack is to bring an over-the-door shoe organizer.

Cruise Ship Toilets And Water

It’s pretty ingenious how modern engineering has solved the problem of dealing with the “black water” from toilets and the “gray water” from showers and basins in bathrooms on cruise ships. 

  • The waste matter (to use a  polite term) from the toilet is not flushed away with water but drawn out by suction and sent to the ship’s inboard treatment plant.
  • At the treatment plant, it is filtered to remove any objects that cannot be treated and then aerated to speed up the biodegrading process.
  •  After this, it is sent to a settling tank to remove any undissolved solids before the water is sterilized using UV light. Once sterilized, it is returned to the ocean.  

Most of the water on board is drawn from the sea and then put through an onboard desalination process, which involves either reverse osmosis or evaporation to produce clean, potable water for use in showers, laundries, and the kitchen.

 Some water is also brought on board and stored. The desalinated water is treated further by a process known as mineralization before being made available for drinking.

Cruise Toilet Vs. Airplane Toilet

The toilet area in a cruise ship bathroom is very much the same size as you’ll find on an aircraft – just big enough! Both have a vacuum flushing system, but on an airplane, there is a liquid chemical that is used in the flushing process. On a cruise ship where there are far more people, and they’re on board for days rather than hours, no water is used to flush the toilet as it is a scarce commodity.

Other Cruise Ship Bathroom Facts

Bathroom in Veranda Stateroom on Celebrity Beyond (Maiden Voyage 2022) \ E. Warren 2022

Are There Public Bathrooms On Cruise Ships?

Yes, you’ll find numerous restrooms and toilets on all cruise ships as passengers can’t be expected to run to their cabins every time nature calls

Where Are They Located?

  • There are restrooms near the restaurants, bars, and entertainment areas on board, and the toilets are small but very usable.
  • The locker rooms at the gym or spa also have shower facilities, some of which are much bigger than your cabin bathroom.   

Making The Best Use Of Your Cruise Ship Bathroom

While it’s not going to be as comfortable as home, there are several things you can do to make your cruise bathroom work for you. Because the bathrooms on cruise ships are so tiny, only essential items should be included in your luggage so that you can avoid unnecessary and annoying clutter.

What To Bring

  • While some products are supplied in bathrooms on cruise ships, you will undoubtedly want to bring some toiletries with you. The way to do this is to bring only what you need for your time on board, using small plastic dispensers or bottles that can be reliably sealed.
  • Bring additional means of storage. A good tip we’ve seen is to use a hanging shoe organizer, one with numerous pockets that hangs over a door, to store your everyday bathroom toiletries, jewelry, medication, toothbrush, etc., that would otherwise clutter up the limited shelf space. You can also bring suction or magnetic hooks (yes, the cabin walls are magnetic!) to carry light clothing items, towels, and facecloths while drying.  

  • Pack an air freshener. The extractor in a bathroom is only designed to remove twenty percent of the air every hour, so it’s not going to eliminate the smells that will inevitably make the tiny bathroom a no-go zone. A good air freshener sprayed before the time will work, as will a hanging car fresh-air dispenser that you can hang up in the cabin.  
  • Depending on how long you will be on board, you may need to do some laundry on your cruise in the bathroom basin or shower. Take some detergent sink-packs with you for this purpose, and possibly a portable clothesline that you can hang in the shower (check with your cruise line if this is supplied).
  • A trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night can be hazardous if you don’t turn on the light. Consider packing a small glow lamp or night light to avoid disturbing the rest of your cabin.
  • This one is for parents who are cruising with babies – if you’re confident enough to take a cruise with an infant, pack a very small inflatable pool, which will fit in the shower and allow you to bath baby and then stow it away (the bath that is, not the baby).
  • Because irons and steamers are not allowed on board because of fire risk, pack an anti-wrinkle spray to use before hanging your item of clothing in the shower, where steam will also help to remove creases.    

What To Leave At Home

  • There’s no reason to pack towels -they are supplied by the cruise line and changed daily and sometimes even twice daily. Beach towels to use at the pool are provided on request and need to be returned after use.
  • Hairdryers are supplied by the cruise line, so don’t pack yours. Although the electrical points in the bathroom are not suitable for hairdryers (the wattage is too low), they can be used in the cabin.
  • Soap and shampoo are always supplied, so unless you have a brand that you find irreplaceable, don’t pack these items. Body lotion, shower gel, and conditioner are also in the bathrooms of most cruise liners, but to be safe, check with the line when booking your vacation.  

Closing Thoughts

Now that we’ve explained what you need to know about bathrooms on cruise ships, you can prepare for your cruise accordingly. Following these guidelines will make it much easier to get the best out of the bathroom facilities and give you more time and greater opportunities to enjoy the more entertaining aspects of your cruise!

Keep up with the latest cruise tips and insights! Follow us on Pinterest: