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6 mistakes to avoid while planning a cruise and sharing a cabin with a friend

15 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

So you want to cruise with a friend, but can’t stop imagining everything that could go wrong.

Traveling with someone else can be awkward, or even disagreeable, without the right preparation.

You might be used to your own habits, but they can be jarring to someone who’s never shared a home or cabin with you before.

Maybe you prefer to sleep in a dark cabin late into the morning, while your friend jumps out of bed as soon as the sun rises.

When two people have different preferences or budgets for a vacation they’re both looking forward to, they’re likely to clash.

Reading a Cruise Compass

Whether you’re planning a trip with a friend, relative, or romantic partner, there are a host of things that could go wrong and create conflict.

Personal etiquette and communication are key to ensuring smooth sailing. 

After many cruises with friends and family, I’ve learned a few etiquette tips that help create harmony within a cruise cabin.

Here are the top mistakes you should avoid to prevent any awkward moments with the people you love.

1. Not splitting the beds

Did you know that you don’t have to share a bed?

Royal Caribbean staterooms have at least one bed that can be adjusted. You can either bring the beds together to create a Royal King or split them into two twin beds.

For friends who are sharing a cabin, but need some personal space, splitting the beds apart is a great hack.

You may have to request it beforehand or ask your stateroom attendant to help you move the beds apart, but it is worth it.

Split bed configuration inside cabin

This ensures that you don’t have to argue over the pillows, blankets, or mattress space.

Anyone who loves their personal space will find that separate beds will go a long way toward improving the energy of their vacation.

For added privacy, be sure to use the provided curtains between spaces. 

If there are none, you can always create your own.

Read moreI tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

2. Forcing them to buy a drink package

Castaway Spritz

The Royal Caribbean drink packages aren’t for everyone, so be sure that you discuss them beforehand with your cabin mate.

If you go ahead and purchase a deluxe drink package, every other adult in your stateroom is also required to buy one.

Royal Caribbean does not allow guests to share a drink package between multiple adults. 

Each adult of drinking age will be required to purchase one if one adult in their party does so.

Drink package

This means that you shouldn’t just go ahead and purchase one without their agreement!

Not only is it expensive, but the drink package also works best for guests who are going to have 5-6 drinks a day on their cruise.

It doesn't work for every lifestyle, so be sure that you communicate beforehand about what you’d prefer.

Don’t leave one person stuck, required to purchase an expensive beverage package.

3. Keeping your budget a secret


One of the biggest blows to a trip with friends is the clash between personal budgets.

Some people might have been saving for years, ready to blow it all, while others are hoping they’ll only spend $100-200 on their trip.

When two different budgets collide, the fallout can be intense. 

I’ve heard horror stories: one friend complaining that the other is too worried about money to have any fun, while the other feels that they’re being inconsiderate and selfish.

To avoid a friendship breakup, discuss your budgets beforehand.

While you don’t need to have the exact same budget as your friend, having a similar level of planning and communication ensures that you can stay on the same page.

Having an open, honest conversation before even booking the cruise is the best way to meet in the middle on money.

I like to call my friends even before we start planning, and honestly let them know how much I’m hoping to spend on the cruise. 

Once they reciprocate, you both can come to a compromise and discuss your various priorities.

Honesty is really the best policy when it comes to spending on a cruise. Otherwise, resentment can quickly build up and destroy a relationship, not to mention a cruise vacation. 

4. Hogging the charging ports

Cruise ship staterooms, even on Royal Caribbean, are notorious for never having enough charging ports available.

Most cabins only have a couple sockets, located by the desk, and none by the beds at all.

And we live in a time where most people have multiple electronic devices to charge, from phones to laptops to cameras. 

If you’re not careful, one guest could start to hog all the charging space. 


To avoid fighting over the phone charger, plan ahead by bringing a cruise-safe power strip or a power bank.

Personally, I like to bring along a portable charge that I can charge every couple of days, and then use to power my devices in between.

Don’t be greedy! Make sure that everyone gets a chance to charge their devices.

Read more: What to bring on a Caribbean cruise? 23 essentials to pack

5. Denying yourself alone time

Not setting aside any time alone can be the most exhausting part of a cruise, especially for those of us who are introverts.

On a cruise, you’ll often travel with at least one other person, and come into contact with many other guests, bartenders, waiters, and tour guides.

If you’re not careful, you could go the whole length of the cruise without a single quiet moment alone.

Pool on a cruise ship

And that social exhaustion can sneak up on you quickly, making a fun vacation feel more like a chore. 

To avoid turning into a cranky, antisocial mess, make sure you prioritize your alone time from the beginning.

Start your cruise by finding a few quiet spots onboard. I like to sit in Central Park, find a quiet hot tub, or chill at a dark bar alone.

If you need an excuse, bring along a book to read, or plan a quick phone call.

But it’s best if you can be honest with your travel buddy, and let them know whenever you need a quiet moment alone.

Chances are they’d be grateful for one, too.

6. Setting unrealistic expectations

Everyone dreams big for their first cruise. 

You may have hopes of huge parties, delicious food, incredible tours, and warm beaches.

But it’s important to set realistic expectations, both for yourself and with the people you’re traveling with.

For example, if you’ve selected to sail on a bigger ship, don’t expect to be delivered right to unique, smaller ports.

Wonder of the Seas docked

Or if you’re traveling with a homebody who prefers quiet evenings, don’t expect them to suddenly join you at every late-night event.

You can’t have everything, so set priorities of what’s most important to you, and release control of the rest.

Otherwise, you may accidentally build up a sense of disappointment and resentment, and end up ruining the cruise for yourself. 

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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