For the most part, cruise ship cabins are designed to hold two people, and usually they do. Sometimes though people cruise in larger groups and more than two stay in the same cabin. Different ships have different ways to accommodate extra people. Most ships have cabins that will sleep 3 or 4 people and a few even have some cabins that sleep more. When planning to take more than two people it helps to look at the deck plans to find out where the cabins that hold more people are, how many they hold, and most important how big the cabin is. Putting 4 people in a room that has some space to move around in works out fine, but 3 or 4 people in a room where you can barely walk around the beds could get rather uncomfortable.
How do cruise ship cabins with just two beds sleep more than two people? Couches that convert to beds or bunks that drop down from the ceiling or wall add to the amount of occupants a room can hold. Adjoining rooms with a connecting door make traveling together with a larger group easier, but also mean booking more than one cabin.
Normally I just cruise with my husband, or if we travel with other people they have their own room. A few times though I have traveled with more. I took a cruise to Alaska with my son and grandson. The three of us shared an inside cabin on the Norwegian Sun. Some years later I took another Alaskan cruise on the Holland America Westerdam, this time with a group of 9 relatives, of which I shared a balcony room with my aunt and sister. Just recently I took a Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Splendor with a group of 6. My folks had their own room, but my grandson and his mother and my husband and I all shared an oceanview cabin to keep our cost down.
Each of these rooms had a different size and configuration, and with each group we had a different way of coping with the extra people. Some things help on any ship though. Use all the storage space available, including inside the nightstands and under the beds as well as the drawers, closets and any cubbyholes or open shelves. Bring extra hangers because often the ship doesn’t even have enough for two people. Also bring a power strip because there are never enough outlets – often just one for the entire cabin.
It’s hard to keep a small space organized and the more people in it, the more stuff there is to keep track of. The walls and doors of cruise ships are magnetic, so bringing some magnets along works wonders for keeping things like shore excursion tickets and key cards handy and easy to find. You can also post your itinerary if you print that out before you go, as well as the daily newsletter and whatever other papers you want to find at a glance. Posting loose papers on the wall with magnets also keeps them from cluttering up the countertops.
Inside cabins can be very tiny on some ships, and the ones that hold 4 may be no bigger than the ones that hold 2, they just have drop down bunks for extra sleeping space. We got lucky on the Norwegian Sun in that though we had an inside cabin, it had a fair amount of space. The room had three beds in a row with the heads against the back wall and nightstands in between each one. Two were the actual beds that can be either pushed together or separated depending on who stays in the cabin. The third was a couch, of which they removed the back and left it as a bed for the entire voyage. Between the feet of the beds and the closets there was plenty of space for a 6-year-old to play with his toys.
We didn’t really have any issues with the bathroom because I would get up before the other two and go to the gym, then come back and be done with my shower before they woke up. Men and small children don’t seem to take long in the shower so we never came across anyone needing the bathroom while someone else was in there If we all needed to change clothes at the same time I’d just go in the bathroom and they could change in the room.
Although we had a balcony on the Westerdam, the room wasn’t quite as big. It had two beds with the heads against a side wall and a loveseat sized couch that folded out to make the third bed. The steward had to open the couch bed out each night and fold it back up again in the morning. The little table had to go out on the balcony at night as there was nowhere in the room for it to go with the bed folded out.
I wasn’t bothered by that as we still had space enough to walk between the beds or to get to the bathroom. The foot end of the couch bed blocked both access to the balcony and to the refrigerator (which is supposed to be a mini-bar of small expensive items they can add to your bill if you consume them, but you can have the steward clear their stuff out so you can put your own things in there if you want to.) My sister has food allergies and had brought some of her special products so she did not like it when the refrigerator got blocked. The room had a curtain that could be pulled across between the couch bed and the other two, which was nice.
Three women sharing a room with one bathroom could have been a problem, but we took the spa tour on boarding day and they had a special for two on the thermal suite and gave us an even better deal for three. Since we were up at the spa every day using the hydrotherapy pool and heated ceramic chairs we would just shower in the changing room at the spa, which left our bathroom available most of the time. Cruise ship rooms normally have a nice big mirror so that access to the bathroom mirror isn’t necessary for things like doing hair or make-up. Our cabin steward may have thought we were the dirtiest people on the boat though since he never had to pick up any used bath towels.
The oceanview room on the Splendor had quite a lot of space and we never felt crowded with 4 people in it. The two regular beds were at the end by the window, with the heads against a side wall, a nightstand between the beds, and space to walk around the last bed to look out the window. A full sized couch ran the length of the sidewall between the bed farthest from the window and the wall of the bathroom. They took the back off the couch to make it a bed and left it as a bed for the duration of the journey. A drop-down bunk folded out of the ceiling above the couch bed.
The area between the couch bed and the drawers along the opposite wall had a significant amount of floorspace. The door into the room opened into a little hallway with closets on one side and the bathroom on the other. If somebody needed privacy for changing clothes while the bathroom was occupied and other people were in the room they could open a closet door to block the view of the hallway from the room and have a private little changing area there behind the closet door. There were times when someone wanted to use the bathroom while another person was showering, but there was a public bathroom easily accessible just up two flights of stairs so that took care of that problem.
Overall I felt quite comfortable sharing the cabin with more than two people and since the per person price normally goes down when you add extra people it’s a great way to cruise on budget as long as you choose your room wisely.
It also helps to choose the ship wisely. While I like all cruise ships, it helps to take into account who else is on the cruise. My 12-year-old grandson for example spent all the time he could on the Splendor’s waterslide and would not be happy on a ship without one. Some of my other relatives are uncomfortable on a very large ship and prefer to book a medium size to small one. They probably wouldn’t go down the slide anyway even if the ship did have one. All the major cruise ships have pools and hot tubs, and not everyone even uses those.
When cruising with other people, look to see which ship has what and pick one that suits the needs of your group. Some have all sorts of amenities for passengers to entertain themselves and others rely more on entertainment provided by their staff. Passengers differ too as some could entertain themselves for the whole cruise on a ship with no amenities and others need to have something scheduled to provide entertainment for them every hour of the day.