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9 Hidden Features on Cruise Ships You Had No Idea Existed

Whether you're a seasoned salty sailor, or a newbie to that cruise life, chances are you don't know all the hidden features found on cruise ships.

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Cruise ship in crystal blue water with blue skyViktor Hladchenko/Shutterstock

The secrets on board

Traveling again after the long, homebound months of the pandemic is going to be strange for the first few days. If you’re lucky enough to be hitting the high seas on a cruise, there’s likely to be some things you won’t be able to do on cruises anymore. Whether you’re a cruise newbie or a veteran sailor, after a week or so on a ship you might think you know it pretty well. The thing is, most cruise ships are so massive and complicated that it’s likely guests will never be able to know all the secrets cruise lines won’t tell you. To get the scoop, we asked cruise industry experts about the hidden features on cruise ships. If you’re taking a flight to port, you might want to check out these hidden airplane features too. From crew quarters to secret storage solutions, these are the hidden features most guests never knew existed on cruise ships.

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Boat deck with round windows, luxurious furnished cabin bedroom on a cruise ship, ceiling lights and wine on the desk Cryptographer/Shutterstock

The walls are magnetic

Many people don’t know that the walls of your cruise ship cabin are magnetic. Bring some magnets the next time you hit the open seas to hang up your schedule or any other papers the cruise line might give you. If you have a lot of people in your room, you can even hang up a shower curtain to create some privacy. Hanging clutter also keeps your room cleaner, which allows your steward to tidy up more easily! You don’t have to clean on your vacation, but being super messy is one of the things polite people never do on cruises.

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Woman working with a laptop on cruise shipbaona/Getty Images

Wi-Fi is strongest closest to the source

Seasoned cruisers often complain about the slow Wi-Fi on cruise ships, which makes sense when you think about it—you’re miles offshore! However, Jeremy Camosse, owner of cruise accessories company Cruise On and author of Cruise Hacks has a trick to get around the dial-up-esque speeds. “The ship’s computer area will have the fastest Internet,” he explains. That means the Internet Café, an amenity that exists on most ships. As a bonus, Camosse adds that the café is likely to have free snacks! “Often the cafes offer the best treats on the ship,” he says. If you’re hankering for a cruise this year but unsure where to start, try the ideal cruise vacation for your zodiac sign.

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Jacuzzi on the cruise ship with ocean backgroundKokoulina/Shutterstock

Hidden pools

Flavio Serreti, former cruise ship reservations manager, says that many cruise ships have hidden pools and bars for crew members because they aren’t allowed to socialize with guests when they’re not working. In fact, there can be decks and decks just for accommodating and entertaining crew members that paying guests will never see. Having a pool away from the guests can be a good thing after dealing with some of the craziest things cruise ship employees have seen onboard.

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Senior Couple on a Cruise VacationYobro10/Getty Images

For that Titanic moment

The romantic one, not the iceberg one. Travel agent Lois Barbour points out that although on some ships the bow area is restricted, on some ships there is a hidden door that allows access to the front of the ship! She notes that Princess Cruises is one of those ships with bow access available to passengers. Sneak out there with your honey for that “I’m flying!” moment, and “get a spectacular view when sailing way from port and when sailing into port,” Barbour says. If your ship doesn’t allow bow access, most cruise ship TV programming includes a bow cam, so you can watch the waves break over the prow from the comfort of your bed. If you do get out there, though, make sure you know these cruise safety rules.

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interior of a living cabin on a cruise ship - with bunk beds and windowER_09/Shutterstock

A secret guard rail

If your room has bunk beds, look for the hidden guard rail to keep you from falling while you sleep at night. “If your top bunk bed appears to have no rail, lift up the mattress and you’ll find the rail hidden underneath,” says Jenni Fielding, a blogger who has worked in the cruise industry since 2015. “Sometimes, the rail has a large gap in the middle, meaning that children can still fall out. If this is the case, just ask your room steward for an extra rail and they will bring an extra piece that goes in the space.” Other cruisers recommend using pool noodles or rolling up towels and placing them under the sheet to give kids a bumpy reminder. We tallied the votes to find 2020’s most trusted cruise line in America

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Luxury cruise ship roomRuben Earth/Getty Images

Choose the right cabin

Our experts outlined two hidden benefits to choosing your cabin: more cabin space, and access to a bigger bathroom. “One insider tip for booking a room with extra space is looking for ‘hump rooms’ where the curve of the ship means the balconies are larger, but they sell in the same category (and for the same price) as other balcony rooms,” says Barbour. “These are the most desirable cabins for experienced cruisers.”

Camosse has a tip for those who like to take their time getting ready. “Your cruise cabin bathroom is tiny,” he says. But if you book a cabin near the gym, you can “use the luxurious gym bathroom for more room and comfort.” Location is everything! That’s why these cruise lines have set up their own private islands.

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Interior of an ocean view cruise ship cabinCAN BALCIOGLU/Shutterstock

There’s probably hidden storage in your cabin

One of the most difficult parts about going on a cruise is finding a place to store all of your clothes and toiletries in your tiny room. Cabin designers know this is an issue and often add extra storage behind a mirror, under the bed, or in an ottoman. You can even find USB charging ports behind your cruise cabin television. Ask your cabin steward for a tour of your room if you can’t find any extra storage. While you’re at it, ask them for a robe, too, says Camosse. Keeping warm is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick on a cruise.

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Ferryboat corridor and stairssasaperic/Shutterstock

A morgue

This certainly isn’t a hidden benefit, but cruise ships are legally required to have a morgue on board. “Most large ships have a designated morgue in case of any deaths. The bodies are held here until the ship next reaches a suitable port,” says Serreti. “Death is more common than you would think, due to the demographics of cruises consisting mainly of elderly people.” It’s best to be prepared, especially during these times. Here’s exactly what happens if you get sick on a cruise.

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They don’t travel lightmihailomilovanovic/Getty Images

The chance to save on your next cruise

If you’re loving your current cruise, it might be time to start thinking about your next one. David Smith, marketing director for the Cruise Line, recommends looking into booking your next cruise even before you’ve finished your current one. “Generally, most cruise ships will have a sales agent office somewhere on the ship, it’s normally located close to the front desk,” he says. “[Using] the sale agent is a great way to confirm your next sailing for a lower price—there are some fantastic discounts to be had, many of which won’t be available when you return home.” We all love a bargain, especially when it’s on a vacation. Even better, with all the world and two hemispheres on offer from a cruise ship, here’s the best cruise for every month of the year.

Sources:

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.

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