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Here Are 9 Fantastic Cruise Cabin Hacks That Make Your Ship Absolutely Cozy

Cruise ship rooms are substantially smaller than a typical room at a hotel or resort.  But that’s no reason for your family to feel overly cramped or confined!  Following this handful of simple cruise cabin hacks will help you make the best use of all the space available to you. And, they’ll greatly increase your overall comfort level.  

Related Content:  63 First Time Cruise Tips That Will Make Your Family Cruise Terrific

We’ll also flag some simple organizational tools that can help as well.  Several inexpensive, time-tested convenience items are often recommended by veteran cruisers as cruise cabin hacks that will help you maximize your usable space. (This post has been updated for 2023.)

Be sure to check out our recommendations on our favorite cruise accessories.

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9 Simple Cruise Cabin Hacks


Cabin Hack No. 1: Unpack Fully and Store Luggage.

Once your luggage arrives at your cabin, unpack it all. You should make sure that all of your family members do so as well. Everyone will be much more comfortable if you’re not continually pulling suitcases out to look for things.

If you packed using packing cubes to organize your stuff, you can pull them right out of the suitcase and drop them in the drawers. Once your bags are empty, you should nest luggage as best you can and place them under the bed. (Many coordinated luggage sets are perfect for nesting!)

Cabin Hack No. 2: Clear Pre-Existing Clutter.

Cruise ship rooms often have numerous items on the counter that you don’t really need, or that you know you won’t use. (In a post-pandemic environment, perhaps there will be less of this.) All of those items can be cleared off and placed in the closet on the high shelf. For instance, if your room has an ice bucket and glasses, you probably won’t really need them.  If you are ordering room service they can bring ice and glasses for you.  And, the best part, they can be whisked away or left outside your door once you are done.  No need for a permanent station that uses up valuable counter space.  Also, if you have small children, such items are an unnecessary attractive nuisance.  

Similarly, you probably won’t need the magazine-type items or table books that you may find in your room.  In the event you really do want to read them, you can always pull them out of the closet.

Cruise Ship Rooms - Photo of Interior of Cruise Cabin with Two Beds

Cabin Hack No. 3: Search for Secret Storage.

This cruise cabin hack has the most relevance to newer cruise ships. Look for “hidden” storage spaces behind mirrors or wood paneling. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised to find additional shelves or cubbies. If you do not find any, you should ask your stateroom attendant whether you have overlooked anything.

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Cabin Hack No. 4: Increase Storage Space in Your Cruise Ship Rooms With Hanging Shelves.

A set of foldable hanging shelves for the closet can be quite handy.  Think of the kind that you often see for sweaters. These come in many variations, but the best ones for this purpose are the kind that has some kind of a stiff or supported bottom to each shelf, and where the entire unit folds up easily into a single square for easy packing.

A sturdy closet organizer provides additional storage space for clothes or almost any other item you choose.  It maximizes the use of vertical space without sacrificing overall storage capacity.  If you have one with four to six shelves, this provides storage equivalent to a small dresser. This will free up other valuable drawers, shelves, and counter space throughout your cabin. You can use them to store just about anything – clothes, shoes, swim gear, small toys, books, souvenirs acquired en route, etc.

Cabin Hack No. 5: Make the Most Of Closet Hangers.

In most cruise ship rooms, storage space will be at a premium, particularly if you are trying to accommodate the belongings of more than two people. Your stateroom will have some combination of closets, drawers, and shelves. There will be hangers provided in the closet, and you should utilize them. Drawer space is often at a premium, so you should plan to hang some clothes where practical. For instance, as noted in our Norwegian Bliss review, our mini-suite only had drawers in the bathroom.

Typically, if guests needed additional hangers, they could request them from their stateroom attendant. It is unclear at present whether people will be able to do that under the new protocols for Coronavirus. If you know you will have many items to hang, consider packing some lightweight foldable travel hangers.

Cabin Hack No. 6: Pack Handy Laundry Bags.

Bring along a couple of medium to large travel laundry bags. Place them at the bottom of your closet to collect dirty laundry throughout your trip. This will help keep your closet organized and your cabin tidy. With two or three, you can organize your laundry as you go and streamline your return packing. While cruise ship rooms usually have a bag to send in clothes to the ship’s laundry for washing or dry cleaning, these are almost always paper and not reusable. (Note: Typically, you won’t find an iron in your cruise cabin.)

Cabin Hack No. 7: Cruise Ship Rooms Need an Over the Door Shoe Organizer.

Cruise Hacks for Cruise Ship Rooms - Photo of small bathroom featuring closely clustered sink, shower and toilet.

Go ahead and bring along one of those tried and true over-the-door shoe organizers for the back of the bathroom door.  This may be the single cruise hack that you will most often see included in recommended packing lists and checklists for cruises.

Believe the hype!  It probably wasn’t until our fourth or fifth cruise that I finally broke down and decided to give this cruise cabin hack a try.  And it was totally worth it.  The bathrooms in most cruise ship rooms are positively tiny — as in you are lucky when you can fit two people in at the same time.  The storage space and counter space in the bathroom itself are very limited.  If you are a couple traveling alone, you can probably work it all out.  But if you are traveling with kids, or otherwise have a larger party, there will rarely be sufficient bathroom space (unless you are in a suite). 

Best Features for Organizers

You can find these over-the-door organizers in a variety of shapes and sizes. The ones that are plastic throughout and transparent seem to work the best. The plastic ones can easily be folded up into a variety of shapes and tucked into a spare spot in your suitcase. The transparency of the plastic allows you to quickly see what is in the various pockets at a glance.

This item will substantially increase the available storage space in your bathroom and makes it easier to organize your toiletries and the like in an efficient manner. With one of the organizers that have 20 or more generously sized pockets, you can organize numerous bathroom items for each family member – toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, shaving materials, shower caps, lotions, first aid kit, medicines, etc. And, depending on which row is selected, this can make it easier to keep certain items in or out of the reach of small hands.

Cabin Hack No. 8: Make Most of Cruise Ship Rooms’ Walls With Magnets.

Most of the walls in cruise ship rooms are made of metal.  So magnets become a very simple cruise hack. If you bring along a set of magnets, this allows you to utilize your cabin wall space as storage.  They can be used to hang papers, notes, lanyards, and other small items on the wall.  This helps reduce clutter and clear counter space.  You can also use them to help keep your family organized (or at least informed) by posting family schedules, notes, or other information.

You will find that you accumulate a great deal of paper throughout the cruise. Indeed, papers will likely be waiting for you when you first enter your stateroom. There will be daily newsletters about shipboard events, and you will also receive various flyers regarding promotions, shore announcements, or upcoming important events. One magnet can be designated to store all of the old cruise guides and various papers you get while on board, instead of leaving them strewn about the cabin.

Best Features For Magnets

You can get the most use out of the clamp/clip styles or hook styles.  These provide more versatility and can function as multiple cruise hacks. You can use them to hang up swimsuits or clothes to dry, secure beach towels to deck chairs, secure curtains, and many other helpful functions.  

For example, you can also use magnets as a cruise cabin hack to organize your cruise card lanyards. Because cruise cards are essential and used so frequently, you will find that many passengers will have the cards secured by or in a lanyard that they can wear around their neck or wrist.  Using magnets, you can position your lanyards near the door where they can be easily retrieved. And, you can position them sufficiently high up that they are out of reach of busy hands.

Cabin Hack No. 9: Make Cruise Ship Rooms Tech-Friendly With Outlet Expanders.

Most cruise ship rooms have an extremely limited number of electric outlets that are readily accessible.  Often, you will only find 1 or 2, and they won’t necessarily be conveniently located. A simple cruise hack to fix that will be packing something to maximize the usability of any electric outlets available.  A family of four with a variety of tablets, phones, and other devices will need a little help, so pack an outlet expander.  Indeed, given the number of electronic items we typically carry these days, this is really a must-have cruise accessory.

You can find these in a variety of configurations.  It would be particularly useful to grab one that has slots for several USB connections as well as traditional plug outlets. These are very compact and take up minimal counter space.

(For more recommendations, check out 9 Best Travel Power Strips For That Next Fantastic Cruise).


Don’t forget to check out our post of great travel hacks for families!

Visit our recommendations page for more cruise tips on our favorite cruise accessories.

Elaine Warren

Founder & Crew Chief

Elaine founded this website after publishing the book The Family Cruise Companion’s Guide to Cruising With Kids. She has sailed on 39 cruises (and counting). She loves helping families navigate their way to an adventure-filled, fun, and memorable vacation.

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  3. Felice says:

    My husband & I cruise all the time. I agree with all your tips, especially if you have a family. I have been using packing cubes and over the door shoe hangar in bathroom for years. My other tip bring your own hangars, either the wire or the suede coated ones, remove the ships hangars (they are wide and bulky) your hangars will double your space. This time I’m trying the closet organizer hangar that you put 5 items on and it folds down.

    • Elaine W. says:

      Thanks for your comments, Felice! I agree that using thinner hangers can add lots of additional space to your closet. So if you have room in your luggage, that’s a great extra to pack.