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, for two people they normally feel comfortable.
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. And in many cases it can make a lot of sense to sail three people to a room.
Before you book that room for three, however, there are some things you should know about setting sail with three people in a cabin.
Rates Are Much Cheaper For a Third Person
The best things about sailing with a third person is that they can 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.
So 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 $769 per person. That’s what the first two passengers would pay. But the price for the third person in the cabin? Only $169!
That’s right. The cost for a third passenger was $500 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.
Bedding for Third Passengers
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 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 Crammed
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.
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 $50-$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.