Not sure what to expect when sailing with a third person in a cruise cabin?
Even if you’ve never taken a cruise before, there’s one thing you might already know — cruise ship cabins are normally pretty small. Unless you’re sailing in a mega-suite (and spending some serious cash to do so), then you can expect a room that’s between 150-180 square feet. That’s way smaller than most hotel rooms.
Even so, cruise ship cabins are thoughtfully designed. While they are small, they make the most of the space. Two people they will feel comfortable with plenty of room.
But what if you add a third person into the cabin? You might not realize it, but while most people cruise with two to a cabin, you can cruise with three people… and even a fourth cabinmate.
For some passengers this is a great way to sail with family or friends, without the cost of an additional room. Before you book that room for three, however, there are some things you should know about setting sail with more than two people in a cabin.
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Rates Are Much Cheaper For a Third Person
The best thing about sailing with a third person is that the extra can usually sail for much cheaper than the first two people in the cabin.
You might have noticed that the headline prices of cruises aren’t actually what you’ll pay for the entire trip. Instead, they are quoted as the price per person, based on double occupancy. So a $399 headline price is actually $798 for the cabin — and that’s before port fees, taxes, and gratuity is added in.
But while the first two people in the cabin will pay the full price, the third person pays a discounted rate. How much cheaper?
We looked at an example Carnival cruise out of Galveston. The headline price for the trip in a balcony cabin was $974 per person. That’s what the first two passengers would pay. But the price for the third person in the cabin? Only $129, plus taxes and fees.
That’s right. The cost for a third passenger was $845 cheaper for this trip. That’s a huge savings and an unbeatable bargain for any vacation.
Gratuities Still Apply to Third Passengers
While the price break on the fare of a third passenger is nice, one area where they don’t get any relief is in gratuities. Third passengers pay the same gratuities as any other guest. This makes sense for the dining rooms; after all, even if you are the third person in a cabin you are still eating just like anyone else. But the gratuities also apply to the cabin steward who takes care of the room, even though they still have the same amount of space to tidy up.
So if the gratuities are $16 per person, per day, three people would pay a total $48 each day. You’ll want to factor this into your budget for the cruise.
Where the Third Person Will Sleep in the Cabin
Where will that third person sleep in the room? Cruise ships do a great job of maximizing space, and that includes things like beds that drop down from the ceiling and/or couches that turn into beds to sleep another person.
If your third person is an infant or a toddler, then the cruise line can supply you with with a crib (sometimes a “Pack-and-Play”) for your kiddo to sleep.
Interior Cabins Are Going to Be Especially Cramped
It’s obvious, but we should still mention that your cabin — especially if you are in a small interior room with no balcony space — will be cramped.
Cabins are designed with two passengers in mind. With three, things get crowded. If you plan on sailing with three, we’d suggest a balcony cabin (which offers a little outside space) and/or plan on spending time in the public areas around the ship or in port.
Sailing with two adults and a younger child is fine for an interior cabin. Older kids or a third adult? You’ll want more space than interior rooms provide.
A Third Passenger Could Make Drink Packages Expensive
While a third passenger can sail for cheap, there’s one area that could end up costing a lot more money — drink packages. Drink packages have become popular among cruise passengers. You pay one set fee and can drink your fill. For between $60-$100 per day (plus gratuity), you can just ride up to the bar and get pretty much anything you want, from cocktails to beer to wine to soda and more.
However, if one adult in the cabin buys the alcoholic drink package, then most cruise lines make each adult in the cabin purchase it as well. If everyone planned to buy the package anyway, this is no big deal. But if there is a person that won’t get their money’s worth, then the drink package is a huge added expense to cruising with another person.
Sometimes There Are Sales for Free Third Passengers
We’ve already mentioned that third passengers can sail from cheap. But what if they sail for free? We’ve seen sales from the major cruise lines where third (and fourth) passengers can sail for free. For instance, Norwegian’s Free at Sea offer has a perk that extra passengers beyond the second guest can sail for free. We’ve also seen Royal Caribbean offer cruises where kids sail for free. It’s a great way to save even more when having an extra person in the cabin.
Some Helpful Things to Pack With a Third Passenger in the Cabin
If you are sailing with more than two people in the room, there are some things we think are a must to pack with you in order to make life bearable for all involved.
First, we’d suggest an outlet adapter like this one that plugs in one outlet and provides more spaces. Cruise ships are known for having limited outlet space, even for a couple of people in a room. Add another and you’ll definitely be fighting over plugs.
Next, we’d suggest bringing a hangable shoe organizer. These can hang over the bathroom door and provide a number of pockets that allow you to store small items ranging from sunscreen to sunglasses to toothbrushes. With that many people, in the cabin, there’s a lot of items that can lead to a cluttered room.
Finally, magnetic hooks like these are a good idea. The walls and ceiling in the cabin are actually metal. These hooks attach and provide a spot to hang things like swimsuits to dry.
With more people in the cabin, it’s important to make the most of your space.