Before you close your cruise cabin door behind you, there are a few things you should check first.  Whether you leave your stateroom for a few hours or for the whole day, this little checklist for your balcony, bathroom, and other areas will save you some frustration.

Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

You just had a great night of sleep on a cruise ship, and now you’re ready to get out there and enjoy an amazing sea day or port day on your vacation.  Or maybe you just really want to eat a great breakfast before meandering about the ship.

Having a great cruise is all about the details and following a few of these tips will help ensure a smoother cruising experience.

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1. Make sure the balcony door is closed and locked

It can be really easy to miss this one. Sometimes the balcony door is closed but not locked, so some hot air can still get in.  Not only will this make your room much hotter when you get back, but it will cause some wind tunnel issues when you open that cabin door.

While you’re checking that door you should also bring those swimming suits inside that you hung up to dry on your balcony chairs.  We’ve all done it, even though we are told not to dry our clothes out on the balcony.  But if it’s a sea day, a big gust of wind could easily carry your last good swimsuit out into the sea.

You can use your shower clothesline, but let’s be honest.  It can take forever for anything to really dry out on there.  I will sometimes use the stateroom hair dryer to help speed up the process.

Related: 10 things you should NEVER do in your cruise cabin

2. Take the “do not disturb” sign off door

If you want your cabin to be clean when you get back, you don’t want to ignore this step.

Every cruise line has a catchy phrase on their “do not disturb” signs that can be placed outside the door.   Carnival uses “Snoozin’” or “Cruisin’” on either side of the door hanger, and Royal Caribbean has magnets with “Out catching thrills” and “Sleeping off the adventure” on them to signify if they need some peace and quiet or not.

Some newer cruise ships with some cruise lines have employed a simple button or switch you can hit that puts a light on outside your door, indicating that you need your cabin cleaned or you are taking a nap.

The problem comes when you forget the sign (or light indicator) outside your door.  You may return to your cabin to find that has not been cleaned because the sign indicated you were still “snoozin”.

So, switch that sign over to the “service please” side before you leave your cabin to make sure everything is tidy and clean again when you get back from your adventure.

Related: Cruise cabin checklist: 11 things to do before you empty your suitcase

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3. Throw those towels on the floor

This one always throws me for a loop because I don’t typically leave my towels on the floor at home on purpose.  But if you want to have clean and fresh towels later, you will want to leave the used towels on the bathroom floor.  This lets the cabin steward know you would like them replaced.

Even if the towels are somewhat clean but wet, I would leave them on the floor.  Those tiny stateroom bathrooms can stay pretty humid and it takes a very long time for things to dry out in there.  The last thing you want when coming back to your stateroom and in desperate need of a shower is to find there are no dry towels to use.

By the way, if you need extra towels don’t hesitate to ask your cabin steward and it will be no problem at all.

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4. Pick up any dirty clothes

Cabin on Norwegian Encore

I know I just said to throw your dirty towels on the floor.   But now I’m saying to pick up your dirty clothes.  The reason isn’t just because it’s easier for your cabin steward to do their job, although it is.  The main reason is that you could easily lose some articles of clothing by accident if you leave them strewn about the room.

In the process of taking off your bed sheets and picking up and dirty towels around the cabin, your steward could easily pick up your dirty sock that was left under one of the sheets by mistake.  This is especially true if there is a 3rd person in the cabin in that tight space with even more sheets to change.

You don’t need to actually clean your cabin, but make sure any personal belongings are not left on the floor or on the bed to make sure nothing get lost or broken during the turndown process.

Related: Cruise ship laundry: list of every cruise ship with self-service laundry

5. Keep an extra card in the card slot to keep the AC on

This one could be a little controversial.  Typically, when you remove your cruise card from the card slot on the wall the lights and and electrical outlets are automatically turned off as well.  This is to save on cost and energy, and it makes total sense.  The issue is that many times the AC also turns off and when you get back it can take a very long time to cool the room down again.

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So, I recommend a compromise.  Use an old cruise card, library card, or any kind of card that is the same size, and put it in the card slot.  Then set the AC at a moderate temperature.  You don’t need it blasting cold air while you are gone.  You just want to keep the room at a reasonable temperature.  And it’s another reason to follow step one in keeping your balcony door closed tight.

If you know you will be gone for most of the day, it might make more sense to skip this step altogether.  This step is only for when you will be gone for just a few hours or so.

6. Unplug electronics from charging

As I mentioned above, electrical outlets won’t be able to charge your phone and other devices if your room key is not in the wall slot.  But if you do leave a card in the slot do make sure to unplug all electronics, as it can be a fire hazard.  Even if you don’t do this your room steward will often unplug them for you according to the cruise line’s protocol.

It’s best to charge up all of your devices overnight or while you’re taking that afternoon nap.  I know it’s annoying, though.  I like to pack a portable charger with me on cruises which helps with this.  And it also helps while walking around a port to make sure I don’t have my phone on 1% battery when I find the perfect picture to take.

Read more: 18 worst things to pack on your cruise (banned items)

7. Make sure you have all the essentials

And of course you need to make sure you have everything you need for the next few hours if you plan to get off the ship.  Here are a few essential items you should take with you on a port day.

I should have brought the last item on this list for my most recent cruise.  The mosquitos in Cozumel, Mexico were as bad as I’ve ever seen them.  They filled the air everywhere we went.  At one point I looked down at my leg and saw 5 mosquitos looking to draw blood.  I ended up overpaying for a very pricey bottle of mosquito repellent at a gift shop which was a lifesaver.

Read more: What items you should take with you off the cruise ship in port

Some bonus things to do:

8.  Put some items in the safe

A few readers mentioned this point as well, and I felt it was a great addition.  Especially if I am going to leave the cabin for the entire day or step off into port, I will put some valuables in the safe.

Things like jewelry, expensive electronics, or wallets can be kept in the cabin safe for more peace of mind.  Sometimes I will even keep a photo copy of my passport in the safe, just in case anything happens to my real passport while off the ship.

Final Thoughts

Depending on the exact cruise line a few more things could be added to this list.  The main thing is to think about everything you need for where you are going before you close the cabin door behind you.

Going to the pool? Grab those extra pool towels.  Doing the ropes course? Put on some closed toe shoes (You can’t wear flip-flops on the ropes course or on the sports court).

Those cruise ship hallways can be very long, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked the entire length of the ship only to remember something I needed back at the cabin.

What is something you check in your cruise cabin before you leave?  Let us know in the comment section below.

Read more: 9 things you should do right after your cruise is over

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