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Friday, February 17, 2017

Squeezing an SUV into a VW Beetle or How to Get What You Pack into Your Stateroom

How small is a cruise ship stateroom?

Well, the average U.S. hotel room is 300 square feet.¹

College dorm room? Around 180.²

And the ship stateroom? Sadly, about 175.¹

Smaller than a dorm room.
When you consider how much you’re going to pack into that room—play clothes, formal clothes, travel clothes, electronics, and so on—you can’t help but wonder, how is that going to work?

Luckily, the cruise lines have managed to work a fair amount of storage space into that bite-sized room that’s going to be your floating home for a week. Some ships have more than others, but here are some tips for finding a spot for all that you’ve got:

Off the door and into the closet. Carnival recently made waves with some restrictions on over-the-door shoe organizers. You can get around this by bringing the kind that fit inside the closet (it has hooks on the top that hang from the bar). Yeah, it eats into your space for hanging clothes, but you’d be surprised how much extra storage this adds. Three of these (one for clothing and two for shoes/knickknacks) fit very comfortably in Princess’ large closets and even (though snugly) in the smaller Royal Caribbean ones.

This organizer is perfect for shirts and
underwear and folds into a compact package
for your suitcase. Get it at
Target or Walmart.
Look under the bed. There’s a lot of space down there. When closet and drawer space is tight, consider keeping half of your clothes in your suitcases stored under the bed. About midway through the trip, I do a swap—take the clean clothes out of the suitcase and onto the shelves, and store the dirty ones back under the bed.

Climbing the walls. You don’t need to take up space on your night table—your walls function as a note-holding device. Just throw a few magnets in your suitcase before leaving home.

Bare the frig. On embarkation day, ask your room steward to take all those high-priced drinks and snacks that you won’t touch out of the frig, and use it for the wine or water you bring, or snacks from the buffet. Some cruise lines are now just providing an empty frig.

Safe and sound. Don’t forget about the safe—in addition to wallets, keys and jewelry, it’s also a great place to store smartphones, smaller tablets and anything else you’re not likely to use as you cruise.

Pack your smarts. If you’re flying to the cruise, you’ve got built-in over-packing protection—it’s called baggage cost. But if you’re driving to the port, there’s nothing stopping you from stuffing your bags—except self-control. What’s worked for me—uh, sort of—is to pack, and then repack, saying over and over in my head, “am I really going to wear this?” I pull out a few things…and then still take too much.

²WSJ, 8/12