Cruise Ship Laundry: What You Need to Know

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Packing for a cruise can be stressful, especially when you don’t know what to expect. For example, it’s difficult to gauge how many articles of clothing you should bring, and it can be even more confusing if you’re unfamiliar with how cruise ship laundry works.

Well, you’ve come to the right place to eliminate this confusion. This article explains everything you need to know about cruise ship laundry to help you pack and prepare for your upcoming trip.

Can You Do Laundry on a Cruise Ship?

Many cruise ships have self-service laundry facilities on each deck, including washing machines, dryers, ironing and detergent. Passengers can also use the ship’s valet laundry services for a fee, which includes washing, pressing and dry cleaning. Alternatively, guests can hand wash and dry within their cabin.

Wash and Press Services or Dry Cleaning

The first option is the cruise ship’s wash and press service and dry cleaning. Most cruise ships offer this service for a fee. The prices for this service vary by the cruise line as well as the article of clothing.

How it works is you put your dirty clothes in a laundry bag (that the ship supplies) for housekeeping to take when they clean your stateroom. You can often find the price list for this service hung up in the cabin closet. You should receive your clean clothes either at the end of the day or the next day.

For example, Royal Caribbean charges a fixed price of $34.99 per laundry bag for wash and fold laundry service, allowing you to fit as much as possible into the bag.

Norwegian Cruise Line Valet Laundry Service
Norwegian Cruise Line Valet Laundry Service (Photo Credit: James R. Martin / Shutterstock)

The benefit of this service is that you don’t have to spend any time on vacation doing laundry, which is the last thing most people want to be doing.

However, this can be expensive. For example, Carnival Cruise Line charges $5 to wash and press a single shirt. While some cruise lines offer promotional rates if you’re part of their loyalty program, the service is generally quite pricey and best reserved if you have a formal outfit that you need to be pressed.

There can often be unlimited laundry for guests booked in a suite or at one of the highest loyalty levels. World Cruises can also be found to include these services due to the length of the voyage.

Moreover, cruise ships generally do not assume liability for damaged or lost clothing, so you’ll be using these services at your own risk.

Self-Service Laundry

Self-service laundry is a much more affordable option offered by some cruise ships. The laundry facilities on a cruise ship are similar to a laundromat and work the same way.

On some ships, there can be a laundry facility on each deck. Each one will include several washers, dryers, irons, ironing boards and laundry detergent machines.

Carnival Cruise Line Laundry Room
Carnival Cruise Line Laundry Room (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

You’ll usually be charged by the load for these laundry rooms, using change or swiping your room card. For example, on Disney Cruise Line, you just swipe your Key to the World card. However, on higher-end luxury lines, self-service laundry is often complementary. Cunard is one of the cruise lines that offer complimentary laundry service.

You have to be careful when using the self-service laundry facilities as thousands of passengers are onboard and the washing machines are limited.

Try not to leave your clothes unattended too long, and if you are planning on returning once the washing is complete, make sure you return on time. When the self-service laundry rooms are busy, you might find another guest has already taken your wet clothes out of the washer and dumped them on the side.

Handwash Clothes in the Cabin

It might be better to stay away from the often busy laundry rooms onboard and, instead, get hands-on in the cabin. Passengers can use the sink in the room to handwash clothes.

With the sink being small, depending on the ship and type of cabin, using the shower to wash the clothes can also be a good option.

Cruise Ship Bathroom
Cruise Ship Bathroom (Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock)

When it comes to drying the clothes in the cabin, cruise lines do not allow clothes to be put out on the balcony to dry. Also, many passengers may be in an inside or ocean-view room. Almost all cruise ships have a retractable clothesline in the shower, meaning the wet clothes can be hung on to dry.

There is even a way to get your clothes wrinkle-free in the cabin. You can look at getting a crease release spray, which won’t only take out the wrinkles, but also have your clothes smelling fresh.

And just in case you were thinking about it, cruise lines don’t allow guests to bring a clothes steamer onboard.

Can You Bring Your Own Laundry Detergent on a Cruise Ship?

Cruise ships do not have any restrictions on small liquids so that you can bring your own laundry detergent/washing powder and fabric softener. This is a great option if you’re allergic to specific detergents.

Tide Laundry Detergent
Tide Laundry Detergent (Photo Credit: Calderson / Shutterstock)

That said, this is an option if you want to wash only a couple of articles of clothing. It isn’t very efficient if you need to do your entire family’s laundry, and you may be better off using a self-service option.

Can You Bring an Iron on a Cruise?

The last thing to note about cruise ship laundry is that cabins do not come with irons, and you’re prohibited from bringing your own iron or steamer onboard. The reason is that irons are a fire hazard, and cruise ships try to minimize fire hazards as much as possible.

The good news is that some cruise lines offer irons in their laundry rooms, such as Cunard. For others, you can request an iron from guest services or housekeeping.

How to Iron Clothes on a Cruise?

There are several ways to iron clothes on a cruise ship, including using the ship’s valet laundry service, the provided self-service facilities and even your own way in the cabin.

the easiest is to get your clothes perfectly pressed using the ship’s laundry service, which will cost a fee unless you’re on a world cruise. You can leave your clothes with the laundry service card for your stateroom attendant to take away. Ships have dedicated staff at the bottom decks of the vessel, that use large pressing machines.

NCL Laundry Pressing
NCL Laundry Pressing (Photo Credit: James R. Martin / Shutterstock)

Another way is using the ship’s self-service facilities, which often include a pull-down ironing board and iron. These rooms are specially built, in case of a fire.

If doing your own clothes washing in the stateroom, you can hang the clothes in the bathroom using magnetic hooks while you take a shower. The steam will help get all those wrinkles out. Another solution is packing anti-crease spray.

Carnival Cruise Line Laundry Services

Each cruise line may offer slightly different options when it comes to cruise ship laundry. Carnival Cruise Line has self-service launderettes and valet service.

The self-service facilities are on each stateroom deck and each room includes two to three washers, two to three dryers and just a single ironing board with iron.

The price for using the self-service laundry is $3.50 per washer load and $3.50 per dryer load. There is also a vending machine where you can purchase detergent and softeners at $2.00 per box.

Carnival Cruise Line Self-Service Laundry
Carnival Cruise Line Self-Service Laundry

Carnival’s valet service is available on every ship in the fleet. Guests just need to make sure the clothes are handed in by 9:00 AM to make sure they are returned by 5:00 PM the following day. There is an express option with clothes coming back completed at 5:00 PM on the same day.

Read Also: Are Carnival Cruises All Inclusive?

There can be specials on some sailings depending on the cruise length. For a wash and fold service on the same day, the typical price is $15.00 for one standard bag size of laundry. A press-only service for 12 items can cost $20.00.

It is important to know that the new Excel-class ships, including the Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee, do not have washers or dryers in the self-service launderettes.

Royal Caribbean Laundry Services

You might be surprised to know that Royal Caribbean does not have any self-service laundry facilities. The cruise line also does not provide any irons.

Instead, passengers will have to use the cruise line’s valet service, which is not included in the price of the cruise. There are special offers when it comes to cruise ship laundry, such as $34.99 for a small bag (provided by Royal Caribbean) of laundry. This will include the clothing being washed and folded.

Royal Caribbean Laundry Valet Price List
Royal Caribbean Laundry Valet Price List

The price list per item will be found near the provided laundry bag, in the closet. For a wash and press, typical prices start from $1.99 for underwear and socks, $3.40 for t-shirts, all the way to $8.99 for a dress.

Norwegian Cruise Line Laundry Services

NCL doesn’t have any self-service laundry facilities onboard its ships. However, the cruise line does offer a valet service to guests for a fee. This includes washing, ironing and dry cleaning, starting from approximately $1.95 for small things such as underwear and socks all the way up to $20.00 for more important dress clothing.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock

For guests that are part of Norwegian’s Latitudes loyalty program, the valet service is a lot more beneficial. Gold members will get a 50% discount on one laundry bag (paper laundry bag provided by the cruise line). Platinum, Platinum Plus, and Ambassador members can have a free bag of laundry.

Alternatives to Cruise Ship Laundry

As mentioned, if you don’t want to pay to do your laundry on your cruise, you can also bring your own detergent and wash your clothes in your cabin. However, depending on your cruise length, you may want to pack enough clothes not to worry about laundry.

Many guests tend to overpack for their cruise anyway and don’t wear much of what they pack. If you pack with intention and plan out your outfits for each day, you can spend less time worrying about your clothes and more time enjoying your vacation.

Wrap-Up: Several Options for Cruise Ship Laundry

To recap, here are your options when it comes to cruise ship laundry:

  • Wash and press or dry cleaning service
  • Self-service laundry
  • Washing your clothes in your cabin
  • Packing enough in your suitcase not to have to do laundry

The option you choose depends on several factors, such as how light you want to pack for your vacation or whether or not you want to spend time doing laundry. Either way, check with your specific cruise line to ensure you know what laundry services are available to you if you need them.

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