If you’ve never been on a cruise, one concern you might have is whether you’ll be able to sleep while at sea. In fact, cruise regulars will tell you that you’ll usually get a better night’s sleep on board – thanks to the comfy beds, the gentle rocking motion of the boat and the simple fact that there’s no need to set your alarm!
1. Darken the room
If you’ve chosen an inside cabin, you’ll have one amazing feature that nobody else has – the ability to make your room pitch black. A complete absence of light is so important for a good night’s sleep, thanks to a group of cells called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) which are located in our brains in the hypothalamus. When the optic nerves in our eyes detect light, they transmit a signal to the SCN which tells the brain it’s time to wake up. Without a window, you can turn out the lights and enjoy a truly refreshing night’s sleep.
Of course, if you’ve got an outside cabin, you’ll have a porthole, panoramic windows or a balcony and even with window dressings, it won’t be quite as dark. Turn off all the lights and devices in your room and take along an eye mask to ensure the light outside doesn’t disturb you.
2. Choose a higher deck
Nowadays, you can barely tell you’re on a ship as you walk around – so the gentle rocking motion of the boat we mentioned can actually be quite hard to perceive. You’ll feel it slightly more on the higher decks so if you like the idea of being gently lulled to sleep like a baby in a cradle, consider this when you’re picking a cabin.
On the flip side, if you’ve ever experienced sea sickness, choosing a cabin on the lower decks towards the centre of the ship will ensure you don’t feel uncomfortable. Remember to bring your favourite sea sickness remedy with you just in case – you might not be able to get what you need on board or from any of the ports.
3. Avoid the noise
The pool deck tends to generate the most noise on a cruise ship but oddly, that’s usually where the best cabins are located. If you’re a light sleeper, choose a cabin on a deck that has other cabins above and below to minimise the noise. Avoid any service areas, laundrettes, bars or show lounges next to or above your room if possible. You should also steer clear of those that are low down at the back of the boat as you’re likely to experience vibration and hear more of the engine/anchor. Similarly, the boat’s thrusters can sometimes be heard in cabins that are lower down towards the front of the ship. To be safe, take some decent ear plugs with you (the soft foam rocket-shaped type that block out up to about 35 decibels are effective and comfy for most people to sleep on).
4. Go spacious
Whether you’re taking a 3 night whistle-stop cruise of Paris and Bruges or you’re heading to the Caribbean for a 21 night holiday of a lifetime, don’t underestimate how much the size of your cabin can affect your comfort – and therefore your sleep. A generously sized room will make you feel more relaxed and less like there’s always someone in your personal space. For a couple, Carnival Cruise’s Standard Inside cabins are a generous 185 square feet, while Royal Caribbean’s 166 square ft Virtual Balcony cabins feel more roomy because of the digital view.
5. Take your own pillow
We all sleep differently – some on our back, some on our side and some on our front. The type of pillow you’ve chosen for yourself at home is likely to have been influenced by your sleeping style. Back sleepers tend to choose memory foam or ergonomic pillows as these provide the right kind of support, while front sleepers will usually pick a flatter pillow. Side sleepers have a large gap between their neck and mattress to fill and need firm support. What are the chances that your cabin pillow will meet your sleeping style? Pretty low!
Whilst you might be struggling for space in your suitcase, taking your own pillow will go a long way towards getting a better night’s sleep on board. You’ll not only enjoy the right support but the small reminder of home will help you feel less homesick on your voyage.
6. Use the ‘do not disturb’ sign
If you’re napping during the day or you want a lie in, make sure you pop the ‘do not disturb’ sign on your cabin. The last thing you need is for staff to bother you when you’ve just drifted off into that perfect, peaceful sleep!
7. Sleep outside
It’s your holiday and you set your schedule – so if you want to take nap midway through the day, why not relax on the deck in the sun! There are plenty of places aside from your cabin that you can have a quick snooze – including comfortable loungers and cosy hammocks – so look for a quiet spot and enjoy a little extra slumber in the warmth of the sun. Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen!
We have cruise itineraries to suit every budget, from mini breaks in Europe to luxurious escapes in the Caribbean and beyond. Take a look at our full range of cruise holidays here.