–By Dori Saltzman, Editor
Your cruise ship cabin is your home away from home when you’re at sea. But unlike your own bedroom, you can’t tweak the space given to you by the cruise line if you find something lacking (like having nowhere to hang your jacket or struggling with where to put your wet bathing suit).
Or can you?
Given the growing popularity of life hacks (those nifty tweaks you can use to make life just a little bit easier), Cruise Critic has put together a list of clever solutions to minor cabin irritations like the lack of hanging or drawer space or the need for a night light. And we’re not just talking about that tried-and-true hack of throwing an over-the-door shoe holder on the bathroom door to collect all your bits and bobs.
Here are seven great cruise cabin travel hacks that will change the way you cruise forever.
1. How to Create More Hanging Space
If you’ve cruised regularly, you know cruise ship cabins tend to be stingy when it comes to wall- or door-mounted hooks. Two hooks are pretty much the norm, which means if you’ve got anything more than two jackets to hang up, you’re stuck throwing things over the edge of a chair or on the couch. But with all cruise cabins made of metal, it’s easy to bring your own hanging space. Before your next cruise, head out to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a pack of strong magnetic hooks. Just stick ’em on your wall and start hanging your windbreakers, baseball hats, swimsuits and whatever else you’ve been struggling to find space for.
2. How to Create More Drawer Space
Unless you’re an overpacker (and if you are, we’ve got somepacking tips for you), you should be able to find enough drawer and closet space in a standard cruise ship cabin to unpack the belongings of two adults. But add a third person, whether adult or child, and finding space is a bit more problematic. Never fear. There’s an easy fix that will cost you nothing. Just slide one of your suitcases under the bed, but leave it open. Now you’ve got convenient under-the-bed storage space, without having to fiddle with zippers. We suggest putting items you know you won’t need as frequently in your new “drawer.” (It’s also ideal for stowing dirty laundry.)
3. How to Air-Dry Wet Bathing Suits and Clothing
With the dearth of hanging space in cabin showers, and the cruise lines asking passengers not to leave items out on balconies to dry (assuming you even have a balcony), finding a spot to air-dry your bathing suit or sink-washed clothing can be nigh on impossible. A very easy solution is to bring along a few deflated balloons. Blow one up, drape your wet clothing over it in a corner of your cabin (or in the bathtub or shower) and, voila, you’ve got an individual drying rack.
4. How to Create Mood Lighting
A cruise vacation can be a romantic getaway for a couple looking to reconnect — sunsets, dinners for two in quiet Italian restaurants, a couple’s massages. But options for setting the mood in your cabin are much more limited. With open-flame candles off limits, a set of battery-operated tea lights is the perfect choice. Not only will they give your room a dreamy glow, you can use one later as a night light.
5. How to Separate a Room in Half for Privacy
In the vast majority of cruise ship cabins nothing separates the sitting area from where the bed is situated, making sharing a cabin with a third person (or more!) more intimate than you might like. Whether you’re traveling with your child or friends, you can give yourself a modicum of privacy. All it takes are a few magnetic ceiling hooks and a shower curtain to hang from them. Even just two friends sharing a cabin can use this trick to put a little more “distance” between the two twin beds.
6. How to Side-Step Energy-Saving Power Switches
We’re not advocating wasting electricity, but we also recognize those energy-saving light switches (you know, the ones that require you to leave your key card in the slot in order to power the room) can be a bit frustrating when you want to charge electronics while you’re out for the day. It’s very easy to side step these devices; all you need is another wallet-sized card to stick in the slot. A business card, library card, heck even tearing off a piece of a cruise brochure roughly the size of your key card will work. Leave it there from day one and you can charge your camera battery or phone while you’re elsewhere. Just remember to switch the lights off when you don’t need them.
7. How to Prevent Losing a Room Key
Unless you always have a wallet with you — or, at the very least, a pocket in your clothing somewhere — it can be difficult holding on to your cruise ship keycard without worrying about losing it. An easy solution is to pack a lanyard (that shoelace type thing you wear around your neck, usually to hold ID badges), then visit the purser’s desk with your keycard when you get onboard and ask to have a hole punched in the corner of the card. You can pop it onto your lanyard and wear it around your wrist or neck; no need to worry about losing your card again. For the fashion conscious, you can order lanyards in virtually any color or pattern, or check out the Cruise Critic store for a Cruise Critic branded lanyard.