Crew Members Talk Living Conditions on Cruise Ships

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.


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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