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staff cabin cruise ship

Inside Crew Cabins on Cruise Ship

staff cabin cruise ship

Standard crew cabins have: - Beds (usually bunk beds). - Toilet/shower cubicle (some of the ships share one bathroom between two cabins, or the older ships have common shower areas for female or male crew). - Small to medium wardrobe cabinet. - Writing desk with drawers. - Phone. - TV and DVD/VCR player. - Small refrigerators (rarely, but some crew cabins have them). - Chairs (usually one or two). - Safe boxes. - Mirror.

You need to keep the cabin clean and tidy because you share it with different people from different cultures. Also, there are cabin inspections from time to time in order to make sure that you are living within the rules laid down by the cruise company.

bathroom-cruise-ship

See Crew cabin Gallery

There is a range of crew facilities including bars, open deck area, gym, laundry, crew mess, staff mess, officers mess, disco, accommodation, recreation area, pool, and some even sauna, especially for the crew.

Press here to take a look inside other cruise ship crew areas.

Take a look at MSC Meraviglia Crew Cabins

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CruiseShipJobs.com

Cruise Ship Crew Accommodations

One of the most common questions cruise ship job applicants have is what the crew cabins and facilities like onboard a cruise ship. Find out where the cabins are located and what to expect from your home away from home. Learn where the crew eat and where they can spend their free time onboard.

Location of Crew and Officer Cabins

There is a misconception that all crew and officers live below the water line. The fact is that there are crew accommodations throughout almost all the decks of the ship. It is true that the lowest ranking crew have their cabins on deck two and three below the water line, here is where else they live.

Some departments have their officers on decks that are close to where they work. For example, most engineer officers will have their cabins on the same deck as the engine control room which is located around deck four. This deck is just above the water line and many junior engine officers will typically have a porthole.

There are many cabins located on that particular deck because the whole deck is a crew only area. Typically that deck (usually deck 4) houses all provisions, food prep areas, the crew mess, crew office, and a corridor that goes from one end of the ship to the other.

Comparatively, most deck officers will have their cabins close to the bridge at the forward part of the ship. On many cruise ships, the forward part of deck 5 and deck 6 are also officer cabin areas with the outside cabins occupied by senior officers.

Layout of Crew and Officer Cabins

With every new ship built, cruise lines are taking the comfort of their crew into consideration. For example on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas there are more single cabins for crew compared to other cruise ships (see video of at single cabin on Oasis of the Seas, last video on this page.)  Note that this type of single cabin shares a bathroom with their next door neighbour. Here are the other types of crew and officer cabins that you can expect on a cruise ship:

Captain’s Cabin – This cabin is the biggest and best cabin out of all the officer’s cabins, obviously. But, the size and amenities of the Captain’s cabin varies from cruise line to cruise line and from ship to ship. Some of the largest Captain’s cabins feature a separate bedroom, a living room, dining room, bathroom with bathtub, and an office. He also has access to his own pantry and his own conference room.

Senior Officer Cabin – This type of cabin also varies from ship to ship, but is considered the best after the Captain’s cabin. They usually have a separate bedroom, a living room and a bathroom with a bathtub. Their office is typically located within their department rather than close to their cabin.

Junior Officer Cabin – Depending on the cruise line will determine if you are considered a junior officer and thereby get a better cabin than other crew. These types of cabins may also be given to staff holding a managerial position. A junior officer cabin is a single cabin where you don’t have to share your room or your bathroom. It may or may not have a porthole or window, depending on rank.

Deluxe Crew Cabin – This type of cabin is where two crew members share a cabin, typically with bunk beds. They also share a bathroom with each other. These types of cabins are small and don’t have a porthole or a window.

Amenities in the Crew Accommodation

Depending on how new the cruise ship is will determine how well the cabin is set up and how new the amenities are inside the cabin. Typically each cabin has one TV. Sometimes, you may get lucky that a previous crew member has left behind a DVD player or a stereo. There is always a mini fridge to be shared with your cabin mates.

The bathrooms are small in even the largest of cabins. There isn’t a lot of space to put toiletries especially if you have to share the space. There is a single wardrobe for each crew member and the space to keep your empty luggage comes down to creativity. There may be space under a bed or above a wardrobe.

Where Crew Eat On Board Cruise Ships

Where you will eat will also depend on your cruise job which is categorized by rank. Lowest ranking crew have only one option, the crew mess. The crew mess is a cafeteria style setting. There are TVs and some crew like to bring their laptops there because there is typically a WiFi signal there.

On large ships there is a Staff Mess which is offered for people that work for one of the onboard concessions such as spa, the gift shops and the photographers. The Staff Mess is typically a mini-crew mess.

There is also an Officer’s Mess onboard each cruise ship. Depending on what the cruise line considers an officer will determine who is allowed to eat there. This is a sit down service where officers are given a menu that they me choose their meal off of.

Officers and some crew members are also allowed to eat in the passengers’ buffet restaurant. Most crew are also permitted to eat in the specialty restaurants on the ship. Generally, they must pay the price that the passengers pay and they may need approval from their head of department for this occasion.

Crew Facilities on a Cruise Ship

Depending on the cruise ship, there are also a range of crew facilities (usually the bigger and newer the ship, the better the facilities). Most cruise ships have at least a crew recreation area that can be used as a crew internet area and a disco in the evening hours. On bigger ships, these facilities are separated into three separate areas. These spaces are equipped with table games, board games, library of books and DVDs and comfortable sitting areas.

Other facilities for crew include a number of crew and officer launderettes, a crew gym, and a crew store. Officers and some crew members are also permitted to use the passenger gym facilities. More and more cruise ships are making all crew cabins wireless (need to purchase prepaid internet card).

Videos of Cruise Ship Crew Accommodations

Princess Cruises:  Crew cabin on board Golden Princess

Carnival Cruise Lines: Crew Cabin on Carnival Dream

Norwegian Cruise Lines: Officer Cabin on Norwegian Jewel

Royal Caribbean: Crew Areas on Voyager of the Seas

Royal Caribbean: Crew Cabin on Oasis of the Seas

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Working On Cruise Ships

What Are Crew Cabins Like on Cruise Ships?

Entertainer Cabin

One of the most frequently asked questions I received while working on Cruise Ships was… What are the crew cabins like?

And it’s a great question because passengers know our cabin accommodations probably aren’t the best, so they’re intrigued to know exactly how bad the crew cabins can really be.

85% of cruise ship employees (mostly crew) live below the waterline and share very small and dark 9 x 9 cabins with 2 to 4 people in each one. There are bunk beds to sleep in, a small desk and chair, tv, phone, a wardrobe and mirror, a small fridge, and only one bathroom with a sink and shower, shared by all.

Some of the crew member jobs in these types of cabins include cooks, waiters, bar staff, laundry staff and more.

Crew Cabin

These cabins are also so notoriously small that only one person can be standing at a time – everyone else has to jump in their bunks, waiting their turn.

Having a small cabin with lots of people also means you’ll have to get used to waiting for the bathroom. If you all have similar job positions, you’ll need to be creative in terms of working out a schedule so everyone makes it to work on time.

Earplugs are also a must. You’d be surprised how loud someone snoring in a small cabin can be. Or, if they’re doing other things you may not appreciate – like having sex. Yep – be prepared for it!

Once, while working on cruise ships…

I shared a cabin with the Sommelier (Wine Steward). It was a tiny cabin with a small bunk bed (you can see the image above). I had the bottom bunk and he had the top – separating us vertically by no more than 3 feet. One night I was woken by the sounds of him and his casino girlfriend trying to “quietly” have sex together.

Unfortunately, the noises only got louder, and worse. After 20 minutes with no end in sight(!), I put in my earplugs and finally fell back to sleep again.

This happened every other night (as they had the courtesy to spend every other night in her room) and after about the 3rd time I didn’t even hear it anymore.

I know, strange right? It’s amazing what you get used to working on a cruise ship!

You may also want an eye mask as well, as people are coming in and out at all times of the night and the light from the corridor can be blinding. If they’re really courteous, they won’t turn on the cabin light when they come in!

Small cabins like this really suffer if one or more people are messy. Make sure you always keep your small section clean – don’t leave clothes and dirty laundry hanging around.

As the Internet Cafe Manager, one contract had me in my own cabin for most of my contract. Near the end, a brand new bar waiter was put in my cabin, which is always a little frustrating when you’re used to your own space for so long.

This was his first time at sea and first time away from home. He didn’t really understand the concept of cleaning up after himself, and I was constantly asking him not to leave his dirty clothes all over the floor.

Things finally came to a head one night after I found his dirtly underwear on my pillow. Yep. On my pillow. Last straw…

After a quick chat with the HR manager, he was thankfully moved to another cabin soon after.

And you guessed it – the lower your rank or rung on the ship’s hierarchy, the deeper into the depths of the ship you’ll be. So don’t expect a porthole or window.

In some cases, your lower position may even place you near the bow (front) or stern (back) of the ship where the worst weather is felt as the ship heaves up and down in the waves.

If you’re tendering at a port where the ship can’t dock alongside, the bow of the ship may have the gut-wrenching sound of the ship’s anchor being dropped in the early morning.

The stern has those big ship engines that continuously hum. You may love that sound, or not.

Having said all this, many of my friends in these cabins did get used to the close quarters and really loved it. They made some life-long friends and created some amazing memories.

Also, being in such close quarters and learning to constantly share and be graceful with others can definitely make you a better person, if you choose to learn from it.

The higher your rank, the better your accommodations

If you are one of the staff, you’ll most likely have a slightly larger cabin (10 x 10), but chances are you’ll only share it with one other person or have it all to yourself – making it feel much bigger.

Along with all the amenities you’ll find in the lower ranking cabins (desk, chair, tv, phone, wardrobe etc.) there may be a small couch to hang out on – perfect for having small parties or taking a nap.

Internet Manager Cabin

There may be a slightly larger single bed due to the extra space.

You’ll also have your own bathroom, or at worst, be sharing a bathroom with the cabin next to you.

I had a cabin that shared a bathroom with the cabin next to me. When using it, the trick was always to remember to lock their bathroom door, so they don’t walk in on you.

You can imagine how many times I forgot to do that. And how many times I forgot to unlock their door after I was done. Sometimes I was not very popular with the neighbors!

And being above or on the waterline, you may even get to enjoy a porthole or window as well. But, while in port or tendering, be sure to be discreet as I’ve had passengers looking in my porthole!

Staff positions that get cabins like these include managers of departments, concessions like gift shop, casino, spa, music, entertainers and more…

I was fortunate enough to spend half my ship career in these types of cabins – sometimes on my own, but often with roommates.

And roommates can often be the best thing about a contract, especially if you get along and are respectful of each other’s space.

I had a roommate who had a hard time waking up each morning.

His phone alarm went off at 5:30am every morning – an annoying little tune that would repeat itself continously until his final alarm at 6am.

Since I didn’t have to get up until 7am, it drove me absolutely crazy. I would throw my pillows and yell at him to turn it off EVERY morning.

After no success, I resorted to turning his first alarm off when he was in the bathroom. He soon figured this out and checked each night before going to sleep.

I then turned the volume off on the alarm, which he also discovered. I even overwrote the alarm sound with a white-noise file. He figured that out too.

After 3 months, his contract ended and I was finally able to get some sleep. We remain good friends to this day, but not without always reminding him about his annoying alarm habits!

Who has the best crew cabins on a cruise ship?

By far, Officers have the best cabins. Complete with spacious larger rooms, sitting areas, office areas, large personal bathrooms, decorative art on the walls and more, the officers often have mini-suites instead of cabins. 

And the higher your rank, the better your “suite”.

The Captain obviously has the best of all these accommodations. The bed is usually a double too, if not a queen. And don’t be surprised to see a dresser or chest of drawers as well.

This isn’t too surprising though, as many of the senior officers have their family onboard from time to time and need the extra space.

You’ll also find many of the officers on the top decks at the front of the ship right near the bridge – the perfect place to be if there are any emergencies.

But it’s not all roses for the officers – being at the front of the ship means they feel the brunt of the bad weather.

And when the fog horns are going all night, guess who doesn’t get a good sleep?

My position as the IT/Communications Officer placed my cabin on deck 10 near the bridge. I was right beside the Hotel Directors cabin, who was often up late at night taking care of passenger issues.

The number of phone calls he would get after midnight, along with our paper-thin walls, made for some pretty sleepless nights.

But other than that it was a great cabin with a big window and an amazing view, and I was lucky to have it.

Rob Lilley

A Little About the Author...

Rob Lilley is passionate about working on cruise ships, and spent 5 years of his life travelling the seven seas and touching ground on all 7 continents.  With the experience of 2 different job positions in multiple contracts with different cruise lines, from explorer ships to full-sized cruise liners, Rob is keen to share his insider insights with all of those interested in working at sea! More…

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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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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!

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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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.

staff cabin cruise ship

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.

staff cabin cruise ship

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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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.

Recommended:

staff cabin cruise ship

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.

staff cabin cruise ship

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.

staff cabin cruise ship

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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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!

staff cabin cruise ship

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.

staff cabin cruise ship

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).

staff cabin cruise ship

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:

  • New Hire? This is How the First Day on a Cruise Ship Looks Like
  • Working On A Cruise Ship: How To Apply For Cruise Ship Jobs?
  • 11 Things You Would Never Expect To Be Part Of Your Cruise Ship Job
  • Life Of Shore Excursions Staff Onboard A Cruise Ship: Job Description And Daily Duties
  • Life of a Photographer on a Cruise Ship – Crew Member’s Story

1 thought on “Life Onboard a Cruise Ship: 18 Crew Cabins Must-Haves”

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Such a great article. Keep up the good work.

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staff cabin cruise ship

staff cabin cruise ship

TRAVELLING STEWDIO

Learning Is Fundamentally Essential

staff cabin cruise ship

Crew cabins on a cruise ship

Ever wondered about the crew cabins on a cruise ship? Well, a ship is designed to carry hundreds, sometimes thousands of guests and crew. For this reason, the space is used as efficiently as possible. This is to comfortably accommodate all the guests, guest facilities, crew and crew facilities.

Some questions that persons usually ask me are:

Are the crew cabins big?

The crew cabins on a cruise ship are not very big (it’s cosy) for efficient use of space. Therefore, storage is limited. So, it is always a smart idea to pack light. Likewise, packing light also makes it easier to travel around, especially if you have several connecting flights. Additionally, work on a ship is very dynamic so there can be changes. For instance, you may be transferred to another ship based on operational needs.

Will I be in the cabin by myself?

Depending on your rank/position and also the cruise line company, you will be assigned to a single, double, triple or sometimes quad occupancy cabin. Higher ranks are usually assigned to a single or double cabin. Therefore, most crew on a ship will have a shared cabin. With this in mind, your cabin mate may be of a different nationality or work in a different area of the ship. This is one of the many advantages of working on a ship. Because you are exposed to many cultures different from your own, it helps you to develop good communication skills. But many will say this is one disadvantage to working a a cruise ship. But to me, it is an amazing opportunity to develop your people skills .

Will someone clean my cabin?

Some cabins are cleaned by the housekeeping department. The crew who clean (service) the crew cabins are usually called “officer/staff stewards”. Cabin service is limited to those crew who have the privilege (varies across companies and ships). Different ranks have different privileges on the ship. These are usually, the officers, the concessions (shops, salon, photo etc), managers and supervisors.

The cabin set up will vary depending again on the ship you are assigned to, but generally cabins will have the following:

  • Bathroom with shower, face basin, cabinet with mirror and toilet (some ships have communal bathrooms)
  • Bed (usually bunk beds depending on the occupancy)
  • Locker/closet
  • Small garbage bin
  • Metal safe unit (sometimes, so do not expect it)
  • Small refrigerator (sometimes, so do not expect it)

Crew Cabin Corridor on Deck 2

When crew members complete their contracts, they are expected to clean the cabin and leave fresh linen in the cabin for the newcomers. Sadly, this rarely ever happens. So, although you maybe very tired and disoriented, you might have to get new linen. The linen is located in the linen store and managed by the Linen-keeper. Usually, new crew will collect shower curtain, bed sheets (fitted and cover), pillow cases, blanket and towels. The Linen-keeper is also in charge of your uniform (shirt, pants, skirt, apron, scarf etc)

This will be your home for the duration of the contract and you have to share it with others (sometimes person from different nationalities). So be respectful and keep it clean and tidy.

Also note, there is a weekly scheduled crew cabin inspection. The reason for this is to check the overall cleanliness of the cabin and to address maintenance issues. You will be advised when there is an inspection and the requirements are usually posted or outlined in the company procedures or crew handbook. Depending on the circumstances, random cabin inspections are also a possibility, so just be clean and you will be fine.

Remember, the cabin is your home away from home and you might not be the only occupant, so be respectful, and maintain it in good, clean condition.

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How to pack your luggage for a cruise ship?

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  • May 31, 2017

You got the job! Now how to pack your luggage for a cruise ship? Whether it is a short or long contract, my luggage is almost always the same. This is mostly due to the fact that I am a minimalist. I […]

Is the Training and Recruitment Centre (TRC) a scam?

Is the Training and Recruitment Centre (TRC) a scam?

  • April 13, 2020

Is the Training and Recruitment Centre (Jamaica) a scam? So many persons have asked this question. And rightly so. Because there are many agencies promising local, overseas and cruise ship employment, but then it never materialises. These companies take advantage of the […]

Terms to know on a ship

  • April 17, 2020

If you are new to sea life, there maybe some terms used on the ship, that you would not otherwise hear on land. But no worries, they are very easy terms to remember. And besides, once you get your “sea legs”, then […]

Communicating effectively with other cultures

Communicating effectively with other cultures

  • April 23, 2020

Communicating effectively with other cultures can be challenging, if you allow it to be. This challenge does not mean that living and working with several different cultures on a cruise ship ship will be a problem. “Communication is the imparting or exchanging […]

Special message for ship crew

Special message for ship crew

  • April 19, 2020

Special message for ship crew: As a member of the cruise ship crew community, I wanted to reach out to crew members to let them know that in due time everything will work out as it should. Until then, it is very […]

Crew activities on a cruise ship

  • March 18, 2018

Crew activities on a cruise ship can be exciting. The cruise ship will be your home for the duration of your contract. Usually after a hard day’s work, you want to relax and have some down time. So, there are several organised […]

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Thinking of working on a cruise ship? My Advice: Do it!

June 19, 2017

Make the most of your time on a ship

October 27, 2017

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Crew Members Talk Living Conditions on Cruise Ships

  • June 6, 2021

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The cabin options for cruise ship guests are usually if not endless, then at least plentiful. For a pricey fee, guests can upgrade all the way to penthouses and ship-within-a-ship concepts onboard most major cruise lines.

But what about crew accommodations?

Cruise Industry News spoke with several crew members working on different ships to find out. They agreed to provide comments on the grounds of anonymity.

Cabin Types

A crew member who worked for all the major cruise lines – Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International – said that the higher the position of the crew member, the higher will their deck usually be.

“Management onboard and most ‘second’ management get their own cabins. On Norwegian and Princess, you have the best management cabins that are like guest staterooms, with many perks. Royal Caribbean and Carnival management cabins are not as luxurious as most and vary between the size of the ship and position,” they said.

“Crew and staff cabins are anywhere between two and four team members. Four members are usually with housekeeping/bar/restaurant as these are the biggest departments. During the comeback to sailing, all cabins are limited to two crew members. Cabins with more than one crew member have bunk beds with curtains and are not made for privacy. You need to time your morning showers and so on properly – otherwise, you will be late for your shifts,” they added.

The crew member explained that crew cabins are made only for resting, not living. And closet space can barely hold the cruise uniform and some personal belongings.

A crew member on a Disney Cruise Line ship told Cruise Industry News that they had a cabin to themselves.

“All officers have their own cabins while the rest of the crew used to share a cabin (two per room). It seems like as of now, all crew members will have a single cabin. Cabins are, I would say, ok … There are three cabinets, bed, sofa, working desk and chair, tv, porthole, bathroom including shower cabin,” they said.

A crew member with Viking Ocean Cruises said that crew members on their ship shared cabins with a fellow department staffer.

“The cabins are really tiny, and you will have to think wisely before purchasing anything. They are all inside cabins,” they said.

Two crew members from AIDA ships said that until passenger sailings resume, they got to stay in a passenger room with a balcony on their own. However, normally, a cabin is shared between two crew members.

An employee with Silversea said that “in general,” they liked their cabin. It was “nice” and a “perfect” size for one. The bed was comfortable, the pillows were of good quality, the linen was great, they said. The TV was 39 inches, with “lots of movies on demand.”

They also said they were given $25-worth of free laundry, and their cabin was cleaned twice a week.

“That we can’t complain about. And we have a minibar. And good entertainment on TV. I’m happy with my accommodation; I had it much worse on other ships,” they said.

“Some positions – such as waiters, bartenders, housekeeping, cooks etc – always share a cabin between two people. But it’s enough space for two,” they added.

Improvements?

A crew member with one major cruise brand said that usually, crew cabins get virtually zero improvements.

“There are very often some minor improvements – like new carpet, new shower cabin … but in general, no improvement,” they said.

The crew member with Silversea said that crew cabins had gotten better over time.

“Cabins got better and a little bigger. The bed is now higher – that was a smart thing to do, so we have a lot of space for our luggage and storage,” they said. “The new air conditioner system is modern and can be adjusted by a little screen on the wall.”

The crew member who worked for multiple cruise lines said that, despite numerous drydocks and wet docks, crew cabins rarely undergo major changes.

“I’ve been working on ships for many years on many brands. Cabins have not changed at all, bar refurbishment. During wet and drydocks all cruise lines maintain the same cabin structures,” they said.

They warned that cruise ship crew members’ life often looks glamourous on the outside, but a lot remains hidden behind the façade.  

“You will become very close to your peers as they are constantly in your face from the second you wake up …

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Crew Cabins

  • Scarlet Perez
  • 3 April 2011

Your cabin will be your home for the next 4, 6, 8 or more months, depending on how long your contract will be.

Crew Cabin

If this is your first contract it is almost certain, that you will share a cabin, since single cabins come with higher positions.

The space in your new living space is very limited. Often Bunk beds, a small tiny bathroom, a little locker, a few drawers and not much space to store your luggage.

However, this also is a good thing: When it comes to keeping your cabin clean.

Crew Cabins

Crew Cabin Inspections

Once a week, a crew cabin inspection will be done by middle and senior management onboard. Each cruise company organizes this a little differently.

Crew Cabin - bathroom

Crew Cabin inspections are announced and serve two purposes. The one is to keep the living quarters tidy and clean, the other one is to check that there are no items which require repairs.

How the cleaning is organized among you, the occupants, is basically up to you. If one cleans the bathroom, the other the living space, if one cleans the entire cabin – taking turns, or if you alone or together decide to pay another crew member to clean your cabin.

It is expected, that the garbage has been removed from your cabin, that no food is found in the cabin (code of conduct), that the beds are made, that the bathroom is cleaned.

And yes at inspection time the toilet is checked, the drain in the shower, the floor, the mirror. Checks also include, if your life jackets are at the designated spot and not obstructed by other items.

Things like an unclean cabin, perishable food in the cabin, glass-and tableware in your cabin, transformers, tampering with safety items or taking your garbage to the next "public garbage bin" instead to the garbage room can get you into quite some trouble including a warning or even dismissal for tampering with safety items.

If items in your cabin are broken or don't work any longer, follow the ships reporting system as soon as you discover a problem.

Your cabin will be your home for many months and up-keeping therefore is in your own interest.

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Cruise ship boss explains why staff will ignore cabin 'do not disturb' signs after 24 hours

Cruise ship boss explains why staff will ignore cabin 'do not disturb' signs after 24 hours

Your 'do not disturb' sign means nothing after a certain while.

Tom Earnshaw

Tom Earnshaw

Another day, another cruise ship rule explained by those who run the industry.

It's no secret that the massive floating holiday boats come with their own specific rules that passengers have to follow .

Staff aren't exempt from this either, with one very strict rule often broken by cruise liner employees .

And when it comes to departures, there is one timing rule that has been brought to light in some very brutal footage .

The latest little known rule issue has been brought to light by one of the bosses of Florida-based Carnival Cruise Lines.

Englishman John Heald, a senior cruise director for the company, took to his official Facebook page to share a complaint he had directly received following a customer's recent trip on a Carnival cruise liner.

The complaint revolved around 'do not disturb' signs placed on cabin doors by customers.

For Carnival Cruise Lines, they don't have actually have 'do not disturb' signs. In their place, they have 'Snoozin' signs that come in a variety of designs.

Other ships opt for magnets, with most walls on a cruise ship magnetic due to the metal frame throughout the vessels.

A do not disturb sign to let staff know not to enter your room (Getty Stock Images)

Sharing a customer complaint about the 'do not disturb' signs on Carnival cruises, they asked John: "How would you like it if the cabin cleaner walked in on you John Herald.

"Our cleaner knocked and walked in on us ignoring the do not disturb sign we had out. This was not acceptable.

"We took away the gratuity and gave it to other crew people. Is this how Carnival trains their workers?"

Responding, John explained exactly what had happened in this particular case after investigating it within the Carnival cruising company .

Explaining the situation on his Facebook page so other cruise-goers could see it, he carefully said the exact reason for why cleaners went in to their room.

John wrote: "The reason I am sharing this post is because when it was made, early last week, it had lots of you adding your thoughts saying that this was indeed wrong and that it should not have happened.

Gorgeous waters surrounding a cruise ship (Getty Stock Images)

"I have since spoken with the Housekeeping Manager who explained what had happened. The guests had their 'SNOOZIN' sign out for more than 24 hours.

"So it is company policy that we check the safety and well being of the guests and that is what happened here.

"The state room attendant did knock as they always do before entering and as there was no reply they entered the room with the floor supervisor also there.

"The crew member was simply doing her job. I hope this explains the other side to the story. Thanks so much."

More than 1,500 people responded to John, with one saying: "Two sides to every story. I’m glad there is a policy to check on guests, this is good."

A cruise ship cabin (Getty Stock Images)

A second wrote: "Simply answering yes, we’re OK or opening the door would suffice. I’m glad it’s a policy if something happened to me while I’m on the ship I’m glad they’re looking out for my health and safety."

And a third added: "I’d definitely want someone to check on me if I hadn’t been seen or had a sign up for an extended amount of time.

"I think it’s especially important on a cruise, we run into our room attendant multiple times a day so if they don’t see me they know it’s weird."

Topics:  Cruise Ship , Holiday , World News , News , Facebook , Viral , UK News , US News , Social Media

Tom joined LADbible in 2024, specialising in SEO and trending content. He moved to the company from Reach plc where he enjoyed spells as a content editor and senior reporter for one of the country's most-read local news brands, LancsLive. When he's not in work, Tom spends his adult life as a suffering Manchester United supporter after a childhood filled with trebles and Premier League titles. You can't have it all forever, I suppose.

@ TREarnshaw

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I live on a cruise ship in a tiny cabin – two bargain buys that completely changed the space and made it feel cosy

  • Becky Pemberton
  • Published : 6:46 ET, Apr 14 2024
  • Published : Invalid Date,

DO you dream of travelling the globe in style on a cruise ship?

A woman shared how she does it full-time as dance manager on board the Liberty of the Seas and she gave a tour around her cabin.

Cruise ship worker Alley gave a tour around her cabin on Liberty of the Seas

In a clip on her Wanderlust Alley YouTube channel, she said: “Believe it or not, yes, I do actually live here but I understand that this is not your typical house.

“For me on this ship, managers are guaranteed a single room and porthole, yey.”

Despite having her own room, she still has bunk beds which lets her have a separate sleeping and lounging space.

Showing inside her private tiny bathroom, she said: “On this class of ship we don’t have single shares.

“Here it is in all its glory.

“Not going to lie, it’s probably the smallest shower I’ve ever been in.

“Personally I don’t have an issue with it, it gets the job done.”

The dancer shared how she has to “get creative” when it comes to shaving her legs due to the small space, and typically puts her leg up against the wall.

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One of Alley’s top space-saving tips is to invest in a plastic shoe rack.

She said: “It was only $5 (£4) and it is by far the best investment I had when coming to the ship.

“It holds my stuff so perfectly.

“I like to keep the shoe rack on the inside of the door so when I close the door it feels like all my things are shut away.

“For that reason I wanted to make sure I had a plastic one as it’s going to get wet.”

Alley showed the storage units around her desk and bed, and another essential item is her jewellery holder. 

Believe it or not, yes, I do actually live here but I understand that this is not your typical house. Alley dance manager on Liberty of the Seas

The fabric pouch lets her keep her necklaces and bracelets organised and protected.

The highlight of her room is her neon light system, which she can programme from her phone.

Alley shared: “It was only $15 I think from Amazon. These things are a game changer, they change your environment so much.

Liberty of the Seas - in numbers

  • Year built : 2007
  • Capacity : 4,960 passengers
  • Number of Crew : 1,360
  • Cruise Line:  Royal Caribbean International
  • Length:  1,112 ft

“You can control the colours from your smartphone device.”

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Many people thanked her for giving her behind-the-scenes tour, with one saying: “Awesome tour, thanks for sharing this with us.”

Another added: “This is great information for anyone wanting to travel on a cruise as well.”

She also has installed neon lights that change colour and make it more homely

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What to pack for a cruise

Our writer has sailed on more than 50 cruises. Here are her tips on how to pack for a cruise—and the items she always takes along, for every stage of the journey.

These days, there seems to be a cruise for every type of traveler, from luxury liners with all the comforts of a hotel to expedition-style sailings equipped for adventure. No matter what type of cruise you’re planning, it makes sense to make a packing list so you can make the most of your time onboard.

After sailing on more than 50 cruises, I’ve learned a thing or two about what to pack for a cruise. Besides the necessary cruise clothes, my packing list includes key items, such as towel clips and a hand scale. Of course, there’s lots more to consider. Read on for the 20 products I always pack for a cruise.

What to pack for a cruise — a checklist

Before getting into what to pack, it’s important to know that this list is organized into categories. That makes it easier to consider other essentials before you drag out your suitcase.  

For traveling to the cruise

Getting to the terminal is the most difficult part of going on a cruise. Being prepared with a few essentials will make the check-in process and the first few hours on the ship more pleasant.

Passport with cover

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Buy it now on   Amazon

No matter where you’re sailing, you must bring identification. Many cruisers bring their passports. A colorful or unique passport cover will help you quickly find it in your bag.  

Bluetooth luggage trackers

staff cabin cruise ship

Packing trackers, such as Apple AirTags, in luggage and any other bags can help make embarkation day feel a little less stressful, especially if anything gets lost.  

Digital luggage scale

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Everyone picks up a souvenir or two on vacation. Packing a digital luggage scale can help keep your luggage under weight regulations for flights. The Etekcity scale is easy to read, and in my experience, accurate to within a few ounces of the scales at the airport.  

Travel pill organizer

staff cabin cruise ship

This simple pill organizer keeps all your medications, vitamins, and supplements in one light, packable container. I love that there are eight compartments and that each open and snap closed.

For the cruise ship  

Whether you’re sailing for three nights or three weeks, these four items will help you enjoy your time onboard.  

Corkcicle reusable water bottle

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Whether you’ve paid for a drink package or plan to sip on included beverages, a reusable water bottle is always handy. The Corkcicle bottle is insulated, has a fun floral design from Rifle Paper Co., and can keep drinks cold for up to 25 hours, according to the company. I love that the lid is designed with a built-in straw, which is a little more environmentally friendly.  

Wet-dry bag  

staff cabin cruise ship

A wet-dry bag is one of the most important things to bring on a cruise, especially if you’re looking forward to a dip on the last day aboard. Toss wet bathing suits into one of these bags and pack it in your suitcase without worrying about getting the rest of your clothes wet. These wet-dry bags are large enough for at least two adult-sized swimsuits.  

Towel clips

staff cabin cruise ship

The upper decks can get quite breezy. To prevent towels from flying off chairs, consider bringing some towel clips. They’re lightweight and easy to pack, but strong enough to hold standard pool towels in place. Towel clips are handy for private island destinations too. They can help you find your beach chairs among the mass of lookalikes.  

Sun Bum sunscreen

staff cabin cruise ship

Sunscreen is a must no matter where you travel. I love Sun Bum because it goes on smoothly and doesn’t feel sticky or heavy on my skin. It’s vegan and gluten free, but most importantly, it’s safe for reefs.

For your cruise cabin

These four items will help keep your cabin tidy and organized.  

Magnetic hooks  

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Because most of the walls in cabins are magnetic, many cruise lines allow travelers to use magnetic hooks. These hooks can support 27, 40 or 130 pounds. But the 27-pound option should be enough for a cruise. Use them to hang hats and lanyards, or decorations if you’re celebrating a special occasion.  

Collapsible laundry hamper

Cabins tend to be small, so it can be difficult to figure out where to put dirty clothes. A collapsible laundry hamper is a great way to keep clothes in one spot. Once the hamper is full, I refold the clothes and put them in my suitcase. The hamper folds flat, so it’s easy to pack too.

Magnetic door decorations

staff cabin cruise ship

Cruise ship hallways can seem endless. An easy way to find your cabin is to put magnetic decorations on your door. They’re also a snap to remove and pack when it’s time to disembark.  

Over the door hanging shoe organizer  

staff cabin cruise ship

Shoe organizers are great for holding almost anything in tight quarters, from toiletries to hairbrushes, first-aid kits, and medicine boxes. You can purchase separate magnetic hoods to hold them up.  

For travel and excursions

These items can be a big help during excursions or on travel days before or after your cruise.

RFID wallet  

staff cabin cruise ship

Radio frequency identification, commonly known as RFID, is a high-tech way to steal credit card information. To protect yourself on excursions, carry cards in an RFID-blocking wallet. This one is slim, easily fits into a fanny pack or purse, and has room for a handful of cards.  

Swimsuit coverup

On many cruises, you can go from ship to beach to shopping in one day. A swimsuit coverup is a great versatile piece to pack. It’s lightweight yet provides enough coverage for the beach, and you can wear it as a casual dress for lunch in port.  

Crocs Classic Clogs

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Buy it now on   Amazon  

These shoes for kids and adults are great if you’re headed to the beach or a day resort. They’re comfortable and non-slip—ideal for wet pool decks. They come in an abundance of colors and can be customized with   charms .  

LugLife Puddle Jumper SE Backpack  

staff cabin cruise ship

A backpack is a travel and cruise essential. I like this one from LugLife because it’s loaded with pockets inside and outside. It has plenty of room for everything you need for a day of exploring, plus it’s water-repellant and has a convenient handle on top.

What not to pack on a cruise

As you prepare your packing list, keep in mind that many cruise lines ban certain things. Some are obvious—firearms, fireworks, drones, hard liquor—for passenger and crew safety. Others are less so. Your cruise line’s website should have a list of prohibited items. In general, here are a few other items you can’t bring on a cruise:

Scissors:   While some scissors for grooming and medical kits are allowed, any pair with blades four inches or longer are not permitted.  

CBD products: Most cruise lines ban anything containing cannabidiol. Don’t risk not being able to board the ship by packing these items in your day bag or larger pieces of luggage.

Anything that produces heat: Cruise lines are very cautious when it comes to items that produce heat. Things like coffee machines, candles, heating pads, and travel steamers are not allowed. The only permissible heat-producing items are hair straighteners or curling irons.

Some sporting equipment: Rollerblades, hockey sticks, and pool noodles are not allowed on cruise ships. Additionally, scuba diving equipment is prohibited. If you’ve booked a scuba excursion, the outfitter will provide the equipment you need.

Cruise packing tips from someone who’s been on more than 50 cruises

From ocean liners sailing the Mediterranean to river boats traversing European waterways, I’ve been on dozens of cruises. Yet, I still find packing for a cruise one of the most difficult things to do before setting sail. Fortunately, I have honed a few top tips for packing for a cruise.  

Think about where you’re going and how long the cruise is.

If you live within driving distance of your cruise terminal, you won’t have to worry about weight restrictions. In general, pack at least two outfits for each day—one for an excursion and one for dinner and late-night events on the ship. If possible, you can pack less by doing laundry on the ship on sea days.  

Make two packing lists for every sailing.  

Because suitcases are delivered to your cabin, I always make two packing lists for every cruise I take. The first includes everything I need to pack in my suitcase. The second—more important—list has everything I need in my embarkation day bag, such as passports, medications, a swimsuit, and sunscreen.  

Use colored packing cubes to keep everyone organized.  

Packing cubes are helpful for keeping small stuff, such as socks and underwear, organized on a cruise ship. Use different colored packing cubes for everyone in your travel party. That way, you can share drawers in cabins without mixing everyone’s things together and still keep the room tidy.  

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Top lawyer died after falling from balcony on luxury cruise ship

A lawyer who disappeared from a Mediterranean cruise ship died after falling from his cabin’s balcony, a judge has found.

Nigel Blythe-Tinker, 72, went missing while on board the Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship last July 21.

The alarm was raised when Nigel, who had previously worked as the head of legal at William Hill, didn’t depart the ship in Barcelona, Spain , having been on board when the ship left Marseilles in France the day before.

Ship staff found his cabin empty with his clothes ‘neatly folded’ on the bed after his family’s ‘desperate attempts’ to contact him failed.

Now a High Court judge has declared that Nigel met his death after falling from his cabin’s balcony in the early hours of the morning.

Analysis of ship CCTV later found footage of an object – which appeared to be a person ‘feet first’ – falling from the ship near to Mr Blythe-Tinker’s cabin balcony and hitting the water.

The Seven Seas Mariner was the first cruise liner to boast ‘all suite, all balcony’ cabins, with every cabin featuring its own private balcony.

Nigel, originally from Worksop in Nottinghamshire, had been married three times and had two adult daughters. He was in the process of moving back to England following a period of living in Australia when he vanished.

During the cruise his family became concerned when he started displaying unusual behaviour and sending messages in which he ‘wasn’t himself’.

His daughter Sophie Blythe-Tinker told judge Chief Master Karen Shuman that Nigel had told his cousin he’d had ‘a suicidal thought’ and also seemed confused in messages with other family members.

A ship doctor was dispatched to check on him, but he told the doctor he’d had ‘no suicidal thoughts’ and was physically well apart from back pain.

Sophie, who brought the case to court looking for clarity over her dad’s death, told the judge that he had seemed ‘strange’ in his responses to messages and emails shortly before his disappearance. 

Giving judgment in the case and declaring the missing lawyer officially dead, the judge said Mr Blythe-Tinker had been ‘an active 72-year-old’ who ‘travelled extensively’.

However, he ‘wasn’t himself’ and had became ‘increasingly abnormal’ during his time on the ship, she said.

Chief Master Karen Shuman concluded: ‘I have viewed the video evidence. Something descends from the ship at 4.28am.

‘I’m prepared to accept that was a body and the direction is consistent with it coming from the suite Mr Blythe-Tinker was in.

Need support?

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123 , email [email protected] , visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website .

If you're a young person, or concerned about a young person, you can also contact PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide UK. Their HOPELINK digital support platform is open 24/7, or you can call 0800 068 4141, text 07860039967 or email:  [email protected] between the hours of 9am and midnight.

‘The ship was miles from any port or land at the time.

‘I’m satisfied on the evidence before me that Mr Blythe-Tinker died at 4.28am central European time by falling to his death from the ship that he was on.’

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Nigel Blythe-Tinker disappeared while on a cruise ship (Picture: Supplied by Champion News)

I sailed on Royal Caribbean's 2 largest cruise ships. They were shockingly similar for the $1,000 difference

  • Royal Caribbean operates many of the cruise industry's biggest ships.
  • Icon of the Seas  launched in January, dethroning its predecessor, Wonder of the Seas, as the world's largest.
  • Here's how the two mega-ships compare in size, neighborhoods, amenities, dining, cabins, and costs.

Insider Today

Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's new mega-cruise ship darling, was deemed a success before it was even built.

In January, the highly anticipated vessel — complete with more than 40 bars and restaurants, a six-slide waterpark, and a waterfall — set sail, dethroning its less than two-year-old precursor, the Wonder of the Seas , as the world's largest cruise ship.

Before its debut, Michael Bayley, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, had already repeatedly called Icon its "best-selling product" yet. The company experienced its largest booking day ever when reservations opened for Icon of the Seas more than a year before its launch, it said

Despite all of this fanfare, you might be surprised by how similar it is to its predecessor.

I've sailed on both ships. Let's see how Icon and Wonder compare in six categories: size, neighborhoods, amenities, dining, cabins, and costs.

Both ships stunt the size of their competitors.

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Wonder of the Seas debuted in 2022 as the then-world's largest cruise liner, measuring 235,600 gross-tons, 1,188 feet-long, and 18 decks-tall. The ship can accommodate up to 9,288 people, including 2,204 crew.

Icon of the Seas is, comparatively, 13,063 gross-tons heavier, eight feet longer, and two decks taller. It can sail up to 9,950 people, including 2,350 crew, although it's 52 feet less wide than its predecessor.

Both vessels feel more like amusement parks than traditional cruise ships.

staff cabin cruise ship

Royal Caribbean invited me on complimentary, non-revenue sailings on both ships: two nights on Wonder in late 2022 and three nights on Icon in January.

I spent most of my time lost, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

It's no surprise both ships are operating weeklong itineraries this year. Any less, and you might not have time to experience all the activities and restaurants on your list.

Like other Royal Caribbean ships, Wonder and Icon have eight 'neighborhoods' that serve separate purposes.

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The new ship shares three of Wonder of the Seas' neighborhoods : Central Park, Royal Promenade, and Suite.

Icon's other five — Thrill Island , Surfside, Hideaway, Chill Island, and AquaDome — are a first for the cruise line.

Many of the ships' amenities overlap, but in differing quantities.

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Wonder has three waterslides. Icon has a six-slide waterpark complete with rafting and racing options.

Both have increasingly popular cruise amenities like decks-long dry slides, mini-golf courses, rock climbing walls, and playgrounds.

But instead of Wonder of the Seas' zipline , Icon of the Seas has Crown's Edge, a thrilling agility course with a small zipline that leaves travelers dangling 154 feet above the ocean.

Wonder’s Boardwalk neighborhood was my go-to.

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Boardwalk delivered exactly as it had promised: an open-air space grounded by wood-planked floors, a hot dog stand, a sweets store, and kitschy, colorful decor.

Icon of the Seas' Surfside , designed for families with young children, felt like its closest dupe.

Both neighborhoods had a carousel, an outdoor playground, and family-friendly dining. But Surfside was more toddler-friendly, as suggested by the children's water play area and nighttime story readings.

On to entertainment: Both mega-ships have ice skating performances and exciting multi-disciplinary shows at the AquaTheater.

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But travelers who enjoy musicals at sea will want to stick to Icon.

Unlike its predecessor, the new ship shows a rendition of Broadway hit "The Wizard of Oz" — Munchkins, a puppet Toto, and a 16-piece live band included.

The layout of Icon's amenities were better than its cousin.

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Some of Wonder of the Seas' enticing outdoor amenities — like the surf simulator, zipline, and mini-golf course — are clustered on the deck above and away from the pools and water slides.

This layout might be difficult for parents with children who bounce from one activity to the next. Wouldn't it be easier to have all of these outdoor extras near each other, or at least on the same deck, for parental supervision purposes?

This is where Icon of the Seas excelled: All its exciting open-air activities were adjacent.

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The rows of pools flowed perfectly into Thrill Island's waterpark , rock climbing walls, mini-golf course, and Crown's Edge.

The best part? The adult-only Hideaway — which flexes an infinity pool club with a DJ — is right behind Thrill Island, creating a clear separation between parents and their children without being too far from each other.

'Free' options like the buffet and build-your-own tacos and burritos bar are available on both ships.

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But you won't find the larger vessel's five-stall food hall or mini-golf-adjacent finger food stand on Wonder.

As expected, Icon of the Seas has more dining options than its predecessor, although there are some overlaps.

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Wonder of the Seas has 11 bars and 21 dining venues (9 complimentary and 12 upcharged).

Icon of the Seas has eight more bars, four more complimentary restaurants, and three more specialty dining choices.

Nor will you find the new ship’s plush $200-a-person Empire Supper Club on any other cruise liner.

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The multi-course dinner, paired with cocktails and live music, stunts the cost of either vessel's other dinner options.

But if you love Johnny Rockets, you’ll be disappointed by Icon of the Seas.

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Restaurants like the popular burger chain and Southern comfort-inspired Mason Jar are only on Wonder of the Seas. Fine by me: My fried chicken at Mason Jar was as dry as a desert.

The younger ship doesn't have Wonder's robot bartender-armed bar either. It does, however, have new watering holes with dueling pianos and live jazz.

Surprisingly, Wonder of the Seas has 65 more cabins than its new cousin.

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But several of Icon's 28 stateroom categories are a first for the cruise line.

This includes the new family infinite balcony cabin, which has a small bunk bed nook for children.

Royal Caribbean assigned me an ocean-view balcony stateroom on both ships.

staff cabin cruise ship

My Wonder of the Seas' cabin was 20 square-feet smaller than the one on Icon. But my bathroom on the latter was so tiny, I accidentally elbowed the walls at almost every turn.

Sailing on the world's largest cruise ship doesn't mean you'll have the world's largest cabin after all.

Wonder and Icon are both operating seven-night roundtrip itineraries from Florida to the Caribbean.

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In 2024, Wonder of the Seas is scheduled for year-round sailings from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean and Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay , starting at $700 per person.

Icon of the Seas is spending its first year in service operating nearly identical itineraries but from Miami instead. The cheapest 2024 option is $1,786 per person.

That's a difference of more than $125 per person per day.

"Bookings and pricing for Icon of the Seas can only be described as 'iconic,'" Naftali Holtz, the CFO of Royal Caribbean Group, told analysts in February.

Icon of the Seas’ name speaks for itself.

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If your family is looking for a jam-packed kid-friendly cruise with enough amenities to stay entertained for a week, both ships are a great option.

But if you're a seasoned mega-ship-cruiser looking to experience something new, Icon of the Seas is your best bet.

They may be similar, but no other behemoth cruise liner has a waterpark for children and a pool club for adults just dozens of feet from each other.

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  • Main content

IMAGES

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