How You Can Do Laundry on Cruise Ships: Tips & Tricks

Can you do laundry on a cruise and how? The answer is yes, and we cover it all in our guide to laundry on cruise ships.

How You Can Do Laundry on Cruise Ships: Tips & Tricks

When packing for a cruise and putting together outfits, you may wonder whether you can pack fewer pieces of clothing and do laundry while on the ship to save space. While the methods of laundry-doing vary based on the ship, the answer is yes — cruise ships have laundry facilities. How can you do laundry on a cruise? We cover it all in our guide to laundry on cruise ships.

Can you do laundry on a cruise?

When it comes to doing laundry on cruise ships, laundry service is an option where you pay a fee for crew members to do your washing and folding for you. Many vessels also include self-service laundry rooms where guests can do it themselves.

On most vessels, there are washers and dryers available on multiple stateroom decks that guests can use. For ships that don’t have self-service laundry rooms — or you don’t want to spend precious vacation time doing laundry — there’s valet laundry service. And we cover the specifics of each below.

Laundry on Cruise Ships

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Self-Service Laundry Rooms

Not every cruise ship has the option for self-service laundry, but on vessels that do you can expect to find a laundry room on some or all of the decks of the ship that are primarily dedicated to cabins. They include rows of washers and dryers, and usually spots to fold and iron clothes.

On some premium and luxury cruise lines, such as Cunard and Viking, self-service laundry is completely free — all the way down to the detergent. But most cruise lines charge separate fees for detergent and use of the washers and dryers. Guests can pay these fees in the laundry room usually using their cruise card (but you might find ones that accept change, as well).

Keep in mind that the number of washers and dryers is extremely limited and you should strategically plan when to do laundry to find an open washer. On a recent Disney cruise, I had to give up on finding an open washing machine for a while and come back later because they were all full — and when I did find one, it was many decks away from my cabin. Once you do find a washer, be sure to go back to the laundry room as soon as your clothes are done so that you can keep things moving for others.

Cruise Ship Laundry Service

For those who want their laundry done for them (you are on vacation, after all!) or your ship doesn’t have self-service laundry rooms, the ship offers wash and press laundry service and likely dry cleaning services as well.

To take advantage of this service, you put the articles of clothing that you want washed in the laundry bag provided in your cabin and then leave it out on your bed for your cabin attendant to pick up next time they clean your room.

Most cruise lines charge by article of clothing, with different pricing for different types of garments. Some lines let you fill the bag as full as you can and then charge a flat rate for the entire bag. Dry cleaning services are also available using the same pick-up method. Pricing details are usually on a piece of paper hanging in your stateroom closet. Clothes will typically be cleaned, folded, and back in your stateroom within a couple of days.

If you are building loyalty with a specific cruise line, look into whether laundry service is one of the perks of the higher tiers. Some cruise lines offer things like one free bag of laundry per cruise for those who have high loyalty status.

Laundry on Cruise Ships

Can you bring your own laundry detergent on a cruise ship?

When utilizing the self-service laundry option, you are free to bring and use your own laundry detergent if you wish. This is a particularly helpful option for those who are sensitive to traditional detergent that is available for use in the laundry room.

Which cruise lines have laundry facilities?

While pretty much every cruise ship offers some level of laundry service done by the crew, not every ship has self-service laundry rooms. Furthermore, on many cruise lines the answer to this question is mixed: some lines’ ships might have self-service launderettes while others in the fleet do not.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, look up the laundry services that are available on your specific ship prior to sailing. As an overview, these cruise lines have self-service laundry rooms on at least some of their ships:

  • Azamara (complimentary)
  • Carnival Cruise Line (fee)
  • Cunard (complimentary)
  • Disney Cruise Line (fee)
  • Holland America Line (fee)
  • Oceania Cruises (fee)
  • Princess Cruises (fee)
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises (complimentary)
  • Seabourn (complimentary)
  • Silversea Cruises (complimentary)
  • Viking Ocean (complimentary)

Notably, lines that do not have self-service laundry rooms include Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and MSC Cruises.

Laundry on Cruise Ships

Washing laundry on cruise ships by hand

As a third option for doing laundry on cruise ships when you’re in a pinch or don’t want to pay for washing machines or laundry service, you can always hand-wash items in your stateroom sink or shower.

You can bring detergent for this, or use some of the provided bar soap or shower gel if needed. This is a good option if you get food on a piece of clothing and want to wash it out as quickly as possible, or if you just have a few pieces you want to wear again later during the voyage and don’t want to go through the hassle and cost of laundry service.

Speaking of getting food on your clothes, it’s good to know how to remove common stains from clothes while traveling. An effective and easy option is to buy the Tide – To Go stain stick or the Shout Wipe & Go stain remover and spot treat stains as they happen. For many stains, things like baking soda or dish soap are also effective; if you/your family are prone to stains consider packing small travel sizes. If you get blood on your clothes, remember that cold water is best for getting it out.

How to dry clothes on a cruise ship

There are a few options for drying clothes while on a cruise ship. If you’re using the self-service laundry room, the obvious answer is to use a dryer once your clothes are done in the washing machine.

If you have articles of clothing that you don’t want to shrink and would rather they hang dry instead, the bathroom in your cabin should have a retractable laundry line that you can pull out and hang your clothes there. You can also hang wet swimsuits after a day in the pool or on the beach.

It may be tempting to drape wet towels and clothes over your balcony railing or across your balcony furniture to dry in the fresh ocean breeze. However, this is not recommended and many cruise lines have rules against it — and to enforce the rule, your cabin steward will bring them inside. This is because it’s easy for the wind to pick up things left out on the balcony and blow them off the ship or to a deck below, and no one wants belongings ending up in places they shouldn’t be.

Laundry on Cruise Ships

How to iron clothes on a cruise ship

One of the worst things about traveling where clothes are concerned is how wrinkly some of them are by the time you get there. Being packed tightly in a suitcase is not conducive to freshly-pressed looking shirts and pants!

First thing’s first on ironing aboard a cruise ship: you can’t bring your own iron or clothing steamer. If you try, security will confiscate it, and you won’t get it back until you get off the ship at the end of the sailing. Thankfully, you do have options that prevent you from walking around looking like you slept in your clothes the night before.

For ships that have the self-service laundry rooms, you should find an ironing board there along with an iron that’s free for guests to use. Unlike in a hotel, there isn’t an iron in every cabin on a cruise ship; there are far fewer irons than that and they’re usually in a communal space for fire safety purposes. If you want to utilize the valet laundry service option, your clothes will come back to you freshly pressed and ready to wear.

If you don’t really want to bother with laundry during your trip and don’t need your clothes to be perfectly crisp, pick up a small bottle of Downy wrinkle release spray. You just hang the piece of clothing, spray it all over, and let it dry. You can also hang wrinkly clothes in the bathroom while you take a shower, allowing the steam to hopefully release some of the worst wrinkles.

How does laundry work on a world cruise?

Laundry on cruise ships becomes more of a concern the longer a voyage is — especially if it’s a months-long sailing like a world cruise. Cruise lines that offer world cruises generally choose ships for those sailings that include self-service laundry rooms. In many cases, they make self-service laundry free — even if it usually incurs a fee on that line’s other shorter cruises. Sometimes laundry service is even part of the world cruise fare.

For example Royal Caribbean, which does not have self-service laundry on its ships, is currently on its first world cruise. To accommodate the special sailing, they outfitted the ship that’s operating the itinerary (Serenade of the Seas) with self-service laundry facilities that guests can use for free — they just have to provide their own detergent which is available to buy in the shop onboard. They are also giving world cruise passengers the perk of three free bags of laundry service per week.

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Do you typically do laundry on cruise ships? Do you like when cruise lines have self-service facilities or do you prefer to use the for-fee laundry services? Drop us an anchor below to share whether you typically take time to do laundry on a cruise.

Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015, and in that time has taken a dozen cruises and counting. Her favorite onboard activities include trying the casual dining options, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor
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How You Can Do Laundry on Cruise Ships: Tips & Tricks

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