Cruise Ship Beds: Here’s What’s Under the Blanket

Walk into your cruise cabin to start your trip and the first thing you’ll notice is a perfectly made bed. With crisp white sheets and a soft, fluffy comforter, the bed looks so inviting. But have you ever wondered exactly what you’re sleeping on?

After all, dozens of people will sleep in that same bed over the course of a year. Meanwhile, if you’re particular about bedding, how do you know if the bed will be comfy or if it will be hard as a rock with scratchy sheets?

If you’re wondering more about what exactly you’ll be sleeping on during your cruise, then we have you covered.

The Bed You Sleep on When Cruising

Cruise ship bed

The first thing to keep in mind is that different cruise lines will have different bedding available, so exactly what you sleep on may differ from what’s shown here. However, in our experience the major cruise lines seems to have similar beds and sheets. The bed featured in this article was aboard a recent cruise with Carnival.

If you’re expecting the sort of mattress and bed that you’d find at a five-star hotel, then you should temper your expectations. Cruise ship beds are designed more for utility than comfort. With thousands of passengers coming in and out each week, beds see a lot of turnover.

That means cruise line beds need to be able to be configured as one king-sized bed or two smaller beds. They also need to be able to be moved quickly by a single room steward instead of being a heavy mattress that requires multiple people to move.

Beds are thinner and lighter than what you might find in a traditional hotel. For instance, the bed frame is a simple metal frame with a wire mesh to support the bed. The mattress simply sits right on top of the metal.

Cruise ship bed frame
The bed frame the mattress sits on is made of metal.

The mattress is utilitarian as well. Don’t expect to see pillow-top mattresses on your cruise. In our experience the mattress are comfortable enough if you don’t mind a firm bed. What is an issue is mattress wear. Often you will find the middle of the mattress (where people position themselves at night) to be more compressed than the edges. So you end up sleeping in a small bowl. If your mattresses are pushed together to form a king-sized bed, don’t be surprised if there is a definite “ridge” where the two beds connect, with dips on either side.

Cruise ship mattress

Bedding on the Cruise

Like the mattress and frame, expect the bedding, sheets, and pillows to be commercial grade. Here, Carnival’s supplier is Harbor Linen. The company is known as a “a leading manufacturer and distributor of institutional linens, case goods and apparel to the hospitality, healthcare, cruise line and food service industries” according to their website.

Pillows are a nice medium when it comes to comfort. They are not paper thin, nor are they extremely fluffy. Stomach sleepers will appreciate that they offer plenty of support without being too suffocating.

Sheets are a blend of 60% polyester and 40% cotton. They certainly aren’t the softest, but the repeated washings do soften them somewhat.

Pulling back the top sheet, cruise ship beds have a bottom sheet along with mattress covers. That means there are at least two layers between the mattress and your body as you sleep. Our bed recently had three layers.

Pillow are similar. The pillow itself is encased in a fitted cloth pillowcase, which is all then wrapped in a regular pillowcase. There are two layers between your head and the actual pillow.

Top: Different layers of bedding over the mattress. Bottom: The fitted and regular pillowcase that cover the pillow.

Cleanliness of the Cruise Ship Bed

If you think about it, staying in any hotel bed is a little strange. Different people sleep there every night. Even if you’re not a germaphobe, sleeping in the same bed as a stranger — even if everything has been washed — is a little unsettling.

In our experience, cruise lines do a good job of keeping things clean. All sheets have been clean and free of stains. As well, even when we took off the sheets, the mattress was clean and stain-free, as was the pillow. (Note: in some pictures the sheets look “yellowed”. That’s due to the lighting in the cabin and our camera.)

Final Thoughts

All in all, cruise ship beds are best described as adequate. You won’t go home wishing you could bring the cabin bed back with you, however, you also likely won’t tossing and turning all night. The beds serve their purpose without being too extravagant.

After all, you likely didn’t book a cruise to spend all day laying in bed!