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How Do Cruise Ship Cabins Compare to Hotel Rooms?

If you are considering taking a cruise and have previously stayed in a hotel on land, you may be wondering how they compare.

In this post, we’re going to have a look at the physical differences between hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins, and also have a look at what is included in a cruise, compared to a traditional stay in a hotel room.

The average hotel room in the US is 95% larger than the average cruise ship inside cabin. Cruise ship cabins are cleaned more than hotel rooms, with many cabins being cleaned twice per day, as opposed to hotel rooms being cleaned once per day.

There is also a lot more included in the price of a cruise than a traditional hotel room.

When you purchase a hotel room, you are paying just for the hotel room whereas when you buy a stay on a cruise ship.

How Much Smaller are Cruise Ship Cabins Than Hotel Rooms?

The amenities that you will find in a cruise ship cabin are very similar to that which you would find in a hotel room on land.

The average hotel room in the US is 95% larger than the average cruise ship inside cabin.

Private BathroomBedStorageTVFridge
Cruise ShipYesYes, Twin or Double Available plus Extra BedsYesYes (May be smaller than used to on land)On Most Cruise Lines
Hotel RoomUsuallyYes, Twin or Double Available plus Extra BedsYesYesUsually

Below are examples of inside cabin sizes. If the cruise ship in question has multiple different grades of the inside cabin, an average has been taken.

The average inside cabin is 167 feet squared (15.7 metres squared).

In comparison, the average hotel room in the US is roughly 325 feet squared. – source.

 Inside Cabin Size, (Feet Squared)Inside Cabin Size, (Meters Squared)
Adventure of The Seas150ft214m2
Quantum of The Seas165ft215m2
Carnival Panorama185ft217m2
Norwegian Sky120ft211m2
Marella Explorer170ft216 m2
Costa Fortuna185ft217m2

Do Cruise Ship Cabins Have Bathrooms?

Every modern cruise ship has a private bathroom for each cabin.

Prior to the 1960s, this was not the norm – but in the last 50 years, very few ships have been built without private bathrooms.

Cruise ship bathrooms are usually pretty small, they include a sink, toilet and shower as a bare minimum. Some cabins may also include a bath – but this is usually only in suites.

The majority of hotels also have private bathrooms, although of course there are bathroom sharing options available.

p&o iona bathroom inside cabin shampoo and shower
Average cruise ship bathroom.

How Much Smaller Are Cruise Ship Cabins Than Hotel Rooms?

The size of cruise ship cabins varies.

The cheapest type of cruise cabin is an Inside cabin – followed by an Ocean View cabin, a Balcony Cabin, and then a Suite.

Suites are the most expensive and also the largest, some suites can span multiple decks and even feature things like pianos or hot tubs on the balcony.

I have stayed in some hotel rooms which were a similar size to cruise ship cabins – but usually, hotels on land are larger.

This does depend on which country you were comparing to. If you’re staying in a place like New York, where space is a premium you may find smaller hotel rooms.

norwegian prima balcony cabin
My favourite Balcony Cabin onboard Norwegian Prima

Are Cruise Ship Cabins Better Designed Than Hotel Rooms?

Because space is at such a premium in cruise ship cabins, they are usually incredibly well-designed.

There is no wasted space in cruise ship cabins and when designed well cruise ship cabins can feel incredibly spacious.

My Disney cruise cabin had a couple of unusual features. Find out more here:

Cruise Ship Cabins Are Cleaned More Often Than Hotel Rooms

In a hotel on land, it is common for your room to be cleaned once per day by a housekeeping team.

On a cruise, your cabin may be cleaned twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Some more budget cruise lines, like Costa and P&O only service the cabin once per day.

Since the Covid pandemic, many cruise lines have stopped offering a twice-a-day make-up and turn down service

Your cabin may be made up for the day cleaned and then turned down at night before you go back to sleep.

This is partly because of the smaller space, and the fact that cruise ship cabins are used throughout the day not only as a place to sleep.

Cruise Ship Cabin’s Cleanliness

The standard of hygiene on a cruise ship is incredibly high. Cruise ships are held to much higher hygiene standards than hotels on land.

The cleanliness of cruise ships is monitored and maintained by a team of housekeeping personnel.

housekeeping cruise ship

There can be multiple hundreds of housekeeping personnel on some larger cruise ships who work for up to nine months at a time continually cleaning the cabins.

Unlike in hotels where the crew go home, the crew on cruise ships do live on the cruise ship.

This means that it’s in their interest to make sure that the cruise ships are as clean as possible.

As a result, in my experience, cruise ships are usually much cleaner than hotels I’ve stayed in on land.

Find out more about the important role of the Housekeeping team onboard here:

Cruise Ship Housekeeping: Responsibilities, Salaries and Benefits

Cruise Ship Cabins May Have No Windows – Hotel Rooms Rarely Don’t Have Windows

It is very rare to stay in a hotel that doesn’t have any windows. I have done it on occasion, but only because it was an incredibly cheap option – and just for one night at a time.

To find a room without a window on a cruise ship is incredibly common.

Inside cabins are one of the most popular stateroom categories and they are located in the center of the ship without any windows.

I’m a big fan of inside cabins for a variety of reasons, not only are they incredibly cheap but you also get a fantastic night’s sleep in an inside cabin due to the lack of daylight (especially when you are cruising to places that have 20 to 24 hours of sunlight!)

To learn more about inside cabins, including who I wouldn’t recommend them to, check out this post:

Cruise Ship Interior Cabins – Simple Photo Guide

There is Less Variety in Cruise Ship Cabins Than in Hotel Rooms

When staying in a hotel on land, even if you do stay with the same hotel chain, you’re likely to see some variation between different hotel rooms.

On a cruise ship, the cabins are made as identical separate sections and then loaded into the cruise ship. For this reason, you’ll find that every single cabin on a cruise is pretty much the same.

There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, if you’ve stayed in one balcony cabin on a cruise ship, all of the other balcony cabins will be the same.

There is much less variety in cruise cabins than you would find in hotel rooms on land.

p&o iona inside cabin 2 sharing deck 11
One of my favourite cruise ship inside cabins, onboard P&O’s Iona

I stayed in an inside cabin on the more luxury ship, Azamara Onward. Despite it being advertised as a luxury cruise line, the bathroom was the smallest I have ever seen!

Find out more about that here:

What is Included in a Cruise, Compared to a Hotel Stay?

When taking a cruise, you’ll find that a lot more is included in your cruise fare than it would be if you stayed in a hotel on land.

When you stay in a hotel on land, you are paying for the physical room and the time that you’re going to spend there.

When you are booking a cruise, not only are you booking the physical cabin that you’re going to stay in, but the cruise also includes things such as your food, your entertainment, and your transport.

When it comes to value for money, cruises can often be a much better option when compared to staying in hotels on land.

Hotel StayYesNoNoNo

To learn more about the main differences in what is included in a hotel vs a cruise, check out this post below:

Cruises vs All-Inclusive Resorts – Complete Comparison

Automatic Gratuities Are Added onto Cruise Fares – But Not Hotel Stays

On a lot of cruise lines, automatic gratuities or tips will be added to your cruise account.

These go towards paying the crew, such as the Housekeeping team.

It is very rare for hotels to automatically add gratuities to your bill. It is instead, usually up to the person staying in the hotel to tip the housekeeping team as they see fit.

Even though cruises automatically add on automatic gratuities, many people still like to tip in cash, and tipping in cash is still accepted and appreciated by the crew.

Some cruise lines do not add additional service charges to your bill. These include P&O. Marella – and MSC (if you are booking from the UK.)

To learn more about how gratuities work, and how much you can expect to pay, check out this post below:

Cruise Gratuities: A Simple Step by Step Guide For First Time Cruisers

Before You Go

I was lucky enough to stay in a suite onboard the Super Yacht, Emerald Azzurra. Find out all about that room, and the other larger suites onboard here:

Emerald Azzurra Suites, Honest Review and Cabins To Avoid (Real Photos)

My parents stayed in the cheapest guaranteed inside cabin onboard the Mega ship, Costa Smeralda. Find out what they thought of it here:

Costa Smeralda – Inside Cabin Photo Guide and Honest Review

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.