Photos of Crew Room vs. Passenger Room

Crew rooms are never as nice as passenger rooms – of course they aren’t. Crew rooms are generally located below decks – meaning below the water line – and usually lack windows. Musicians are typically paired with 1 roommate.

I would argue that crew rooms really aren’t that bad. I think what makes crew rooms suck is having a roommate. I don’t care how great your roommate is, it still blows to have to share such a small space with another human. Especially if they snore/smell/never leave the room.

Here are two pictures of the room I had on my first ship.

Crew room on a cruise ship
Crew room on a cruise ship

Crew room on a cruise ship
Crew room on a cruise ship

You’ll notice a few things. There’s a desk with a TV. The crew channel is on the television, showing (if I remember right) the movie 6 Days, 7 Nights. There’s two bunk beds and a folding chair. Under that bottom bunk is the storage area for your luggage (you have to flip the mattress up to get under there). There’s a bookshelf and a full-length mirror mounted on the wardrobe. There are two spaces in the wardrobe for the two different crew members. The mattresses are regular foam (mostly uncomfortable) mattresses with cheap bedding. The ladder is to get to the top bunk, but it’s rarely used. There are privacy curtains mounted on each bunk. If you’re roommate wants to sleep and you want to read, you can turn your light on and close the curtain.

The bathroom for this crew cabin is behind the camera, and I never did take a picture of that. To take these pictures I think I was probably standing in the bathroom, which might give you an idea of the size of the room. The bathrooms are the same in both crew cabins and passenger cabins. Toilet, sink, mirror, shower. There’s nothing special about the bathrooms.

This is a regular crew cabin similar to what many musicians would find on a ship. If you are a headliner, or a music director, though, you’d get an “officer cabin”. These sometimes have small windows, usually have a full-size bed and sometimes a fridge.

If you are a guest performer, you usually get a passenger cabin. Here’s a picture of a passenger cabin.

Passenger room for a guest performer
Passenger room for a guest performer

You’ll notice it’s much larger, and in this case has a window with a wonderful view of a lifeboat. These kinds of cabins are called “obstructed view” cabins, and they are sold to passengers at a cheaper rate (although still more expensive than rooms without windows at all). Having a window is a huge value to a room because of the natural light and because it often allows you to have cell phone service in your cabin (if that’s important to you).

You’ll notice this room has a couch (where my suitcases are sitting), a desk, a TV, full-size bed. There’s also a fridge behind that small wooden door. The bathroom is, again, behind the camera but is exactly the same size as the one in a crew cabin. There’s also a wardrobe behind the camera. Look – there’s even a hair dryer! Remember, this is a normal passenger cabin, so there is also room service and a passenger room steward (read: mints on your pillow), and (on this ship) beach towels are provided. Obviously, having a cabin like this is one of the best benefits to being a guest performer on a cruise ship.

Also: no roommate!

Below is another passenger cabin, this one from a different cruise line. The basic difference here is the mattress (that’s a hella comfortable bed you’re looking at).

Passenger room on a different cruise line
Passenger room on a different cruise line

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David J. Hahn

David J. Hahn

David J. Hahn (@davidjhahn) is the co-founder of and a former Broadway conductor. He grew up near Chicago, lived in New York City, and settled in California. In 2012, he left the music business to found California Surfcraft, a San Francisco-based start-up that makes high-performance surf gear out of fiberglass-reinforced cork. He is the inventor of the Bodypo®, a sustainable alternative to the traditional bodyboard. He is a cancer survivor, an advocate for unlikely career paths, and, beginning in spring of 2015, a father.

41 thoughts on “Photos of Crew Room vs. Passenger Room”

  1. Hello, thank you for all the information. I was wondering if I decided to go through with this I would audition as a solo pianist. Do you think they would put me in a crew cabin or a passenger cabin? Thanks.

  2. Hi Salvador –

    Probably a crew room, but possibly a private room depending on the gig. That said, I heard recently from a reader who got a cocktail piano gig and they gave him a passenger cabin with a port hole. I guess you never know.

    Definitely ask about this before you sign a contract, though. Whatever the arrangement is, make sure it’s in writing.

  3. Hi Dave,

    Great info here for guys like me who are considering a musician gig on a cruiseship. One question related to the cabins and recent cruise line policy; I’ve read that some cruise lines such as Celebrity, Oceania, Disney and Royal now have non-smoking policies in the cabins. Does this apply only to passenger cabins or the entire ship? I have a concern here since I have a health condition (asthma which is triggered by being in small smoke filled areas). If there is no non-smoking policy in place I’m wondering if the cruise line would accomodate my request for a roommate whose either a non-smoker or who would at least agree to not smoke in the cabin. I’m not trying to be the typical jerky, whinning non-smoker (yes, I know this is a heated issue) but in my case I really couldn’t live in a cloud of smoke. What do you think? Any experience with this?

    Thanks again,


  4. Hi Rick –

    I’m a cancer survivor myself, and I can’t stand second-hand smoke, so I stay away from it too.

    In my experience, there are smoking and non-smoking rooms for the crew, but you have to request a smoking room in order to have one. You’ll never be assigned a smoking room against your will – especially if you have asthma.

    Cruise ships are very controlled about smoking because of fire codes and the fear of fire aboard ship, so it’s an important issue for them as well. Where you can smoke is tightly managed on modern ships.

    I think a bigger problem for you might be the crew bar and mess hall – two places that are often filled with smoke (depending on the ship). But overall, I don’t think you should have a problem staying away from smoke-filled rooms.

  5. Thanks Dave, I’m breathing easier already! I can’t emphasize enough what a great resource this blog site is!!! I wonder if there is a world record for the number of contracts a musician has done? Are there mental institutions for these types? (just kidding). I’m actually considering this as a long term career move but let’s see if my enthusiasm increases or diminishes after my first contract, hmmmmmm?


  6. You never know. Some people love it, some people hate it. I think how much you like it has a lot to do with your expectations going in – and I think the most valuable thing I can give people on this site is an idea of what to expect. I’m glad you like it!

  7. Hi!
    GREAT site!! THANKS for all the great info.
    As for the cocktail pianist who got the passenger cabin, do you
    remember what cruiseline that was?
    Thanks :)

  8. Yes! I would also like a passenger cabin, or at least one with a porthole. How come the officers, Cruise Director, Sound Technician, Disc Jockey, etc. get a passenger cabin in the front of the ship with room service privileges (Holland America and NCL) and we trained musicians don’t? After past experience, like David, I would say, negotiate your requirements beforehand and get it in writing!

  9. I am in the process of getting a job to work on a cruise line as a sound tech and was wondering if I’d be put in one of the tiny crew rooms or a passenger room? This will be my first time on a cruise ship (ever), and I’m nervous about the living conditions…

  10. Hi Dave,
    First I would like to thank you for all the info! Very insightful and helpful. Anyway, I was curious, is it possible for a first time musician on a cruise to take a cut in pay and get his own room? Also, what sort of restrictions do musicians have in regards to activities onboard that other passenger might take avantage of. I realize this may vary between cruise lines, but what sort of restritions, if any, have you experienced?

    Thanks again!

  11. I have another question! I will be working for Carnival and I was hired as the lead singer–there is just a lead female and a lead male with a team of dancers. What kind of living arrangements do you think I’d have? They said that I will have my own room, so that in itself is nice. Do you suppose there is any way for me to negotiate a nicer room or is that pushing my luck?

    1. Hi Beth –

      A nicer room might be pushing your luck, but you could ask anyway. If they say no to a passenger room, ask if you can have a room with a porthole. And get it in the contract!

      Actually, it’s funny you should as if I like cruise ship work. Nobody ever asks that. Actually…no! I only did one contract as a crew member and one contract (begrudgingly) as a guest performer. I had some laughs when I was out there, but it wasn’t really for me. Before I went out, though, I had no idea what to expect and my agency was no help at all in that regard. So I wrote this blog to explain to anyone that came after me what it was like out there. I thought it would help people.

      Regarding your question about cell phones, try these links:

      Cell Phones on Cruise Ships (from the forums)
      Internet Connection on Cruise Ships

  12. Hi David:

    Thanks so much for the detailed information, it is very helpful!! I have actually taken a job with a third party concessionaire for cruise lines, as an Art auctioneer and start in the next few weeks. I was wondering if you had any idea where they normally place the art auctioneer’s living quarters? I have been told that it is either in staff or passenger cabin… do you have any idea?

    Thanks so much! Please feel free to email me =)

  13. Hi David – Thanks for your post, I always enjoy the musical acts while we are cruising. I have always been curious about what the crews quarters are like, thank you for posting pics. Wow, they are small.

  14. Hi David,
    My wife and I are looking forward to play music on a Cruise ship . I am 58 and working as Computer Tech and in the process of retiering. We play in a Trio. I play Piano and sing, my wife plays Drum and Sing and also have a UB Bass Player. We also play sometime with no Bass using a sequence Bass instead and also electronic drums. We mostly play Great American Song Book ,French song and Bresilian (with our own personnel arrangement). No one read Music. Language spoken, French, English, pretty good German + Basic Spanish ( Would this help)

    My questions.

    – Do we have to pay Income taxes out of our revenu
    – Does Playing without a Bass Player would be OK and change our Income
    – Can we imagine playing 2 times 3 months each Year
    – Where and how many hours a day of playing with the type of Music
    – How many songs needed
    – Can you define a Band Leader on a cruise Ship and if any advantages

    Thx and congratulation for your site Very Interesting

  15. Hey! I just came across your page because I was trying to get a good image of what a crew cabin really looks like from a crew members view and it does seem really tiny. I just applied at 6 different cruise lines as a D.J. At the moment I am a assistant DJ at The Keating Hotel/ Sway Night Club in San Diego, CA (downtown,S.D.). Anyway, do you think if I requested for a regular/passenger room, would they give it to me? Because I am no ordinary Disc Jockey that plays CD players. I learned with vinyl… But anyway, my plan is to take my turntables with me so I can practice in my room during my off-time or whatnot. THANKS! Hope to hear your response soon. My email is


  16. Hi David

    Awesome website, thanks for all the info. I am applying for the first time to work on a cruise ship as a SINGER. Typically, do they place singers in crew cabins with a roommate? I would also like to repeat the question Kelly Jordan asked – can I take a pay cut in order to get my own cabin?

  17. Hi David

    Awesome website, thanks for all the info. I am applying for the first time to work on a cruise ship as a SINGER. Typically, do they place singers in crew cabins with a roommate? I would also like to repeat the question Kelly Jordan asked – can I take a pay cut in order to get my own cabin?

  18. love your blog, i got a job as a sales assistant , will i also get to live in this tiny room. I dont have a problem with the bath room, but the bedding, can i bring my own, is that allowed

    1. Hi Londiwe – Each crew room is assigned a cabin steward, just like a passenger room. The cabin steward cleans every day and changes the linens regularly.

      So I would guess that you could bring your own linens, you’d just have to make sure your cabin steward doesn’t change them (or take them).

  19. Hi David,

    Thank you for your informations that you provided.

    I have one simple question:

    I am asian, but I do speak english and other languages. So, do you think is hard for me if I want to get a job on cruises? Have you met any crew from Asia on the cruises you work in? In what position they are holding?

    Thank you so much for your time, David.


    1. Not big at all. I’m 6’6″, and considered myself lucky there was some space between the foot of the bed and the wall, so my feet could at least hang off when i wanted to stretch out. But, at our size, you get used to small beds. I can’t afford a California king yet.

      1. Thanks! I, too, am used to having my feet hanging over the end of beds, sleeping diagonally etc. No Cali-King either, yet…

  20. I would like to know, Im most proberly gonna be assigned as a Assistant Art sales man. How would my room look, and compare to all of these

  21. Hey Dave-

    Here is my situation. I play solo gigs, I play trumpet and flugel and also do vocal work. I use really good quality tracks that I run through my iPad. Would a gig like that go well as a lounge/piano bar gig on a cruise ship? I play traditional jazz classics, smooth jazz, pop, r and b and some blues, mostly covers but also have originals, any info would be great, thanks.

  22. i applied a job in a cruise line and i was thinking what kind of guests rooms do they have, is it a big one that you can run inside the room?i hope you can help me, i applied as a housekeeping personnel.
    thank you

  23. I can’t imagine any guest room large enough to run in; such a room if it existed would cost many thousands of dollars per week!

    Of course, as a housekeeper your room would be about the smallest there is, probably on the lowest occupied deck, and may well be triple-occupancy. Your only access to guest cabins would be as part of your work (but that’s more access than most of us, as guest rooms are strictly off-limits to crew except as part of their official function).

    You would have access to the crew gym, which would have treadmills for running.

  24. Great info David, I work on cruise lines and been on quite a number of them and most ships are the same with just slightly different guidelines. On ships there are Officers, (Captain, Hotel Manager, Cruise Dir. etc) then Staff members, (Musicians, Art, Spa etc) and then the crew ( Housekeeping, Bar, Galley etc) and each have privileges according to that rank. Officers having the most. The cabins are also assigned according to that rank also. Crew and most staff would share with a roommate (except NCL there are 5 in a room for crew) whilst the officers have their own room.

  25. I just got hired as a show band vocalist on carnival. Private room. How big do you think it would be. And do you have any tips for new hires who have never been on a cruise before let alone performed on one?

  26. Can anyone provide any info on shore gigs. Im a bass player gettibg ready to do w cruise ship audition. I love cruising as a passanger but Im having 2nd thoughts about cruise ship. Im really just trying to fill a 3 – 5 month void in performing during winter months…. I do mainly smooth jazz/r&b. R there other gig/agency that cater beyond cruise ship placement for freelance musicians? Any help is appreciated!! Thx…

  27. hi,i ask a question plz tell me ,if i m a crew member in a cruise ship,and i m complete my duty time then my free time can i goto a wholeship for a enjoying

  28. Okay so how is your roommate assigned by section? ABC order? By Chair? I play trumpet,flugel,tuba,trombone,french horn,and Barritone.My husband Is a pianist. Do you think it would be possaable for us to share a room?

    1. Usually it’s somebody within your department. Musicians are roomed with musicians. If you two get a gig on the same ship then there’s a reasonable chance you could end up roommates. Unfortunately you won’t know until you actually get on the ship, and then you might have to fight for it.

  29. Hi David,just to say thank you for all the information.Im sending my cv to harding bros today.I will be working in the cosmetics dept if im successful,but the room scares me a bit.I went on my first cruise last year and spent the first 3 nights on my balcony as the ship was a bit rocky going through bay of biscay.Im hoping and praying its not scary below the water level?

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