Towels on Cruise Ships: Everything You Need to Know

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If you’ve never taken a cruise before, it can be tricky to know what to pack. If you usually stay in a hotel, you’ll be used to bringing your own towels to use at the pool and the beach. And in some self-catering accommodation, you’ll even need to bring your own bath towels.

But should you pack beach towels for a cruise? Here’s everything you need to know…

Woman wearing cruise pool towel

Do you need to bring towels on a cruise?

All towels are provided on cruise ships so you don’t need to bring your own. As well as bathroom towels, you’ll also find pool towels in your stateroom. These can be changed for clean ones as and when needed.

When you arrive in your stateroom, you’ll find one pool towel for each person. While bath towels are white, pool towels are coloured so it’s easy to know which is which.

The colour of pool towels varies depending on the ship, but every guest will have identical pool towels to use. This can make it easy to get your towel mixed up with someone else’s when you’re by the pool. To remedy this problem, towel clips are highly recommended on a cruise.

Towel clips come in lots of different colours and shapes. Rather than the plain ones, I like to use fancy ones like pink flamingo towel clips so that I can easily spot which sunlounger is mine among the rows of identical sun beds and towels.

Sunbathing with a pool towel and towel clips on a cruise
Me with my pink flamingo towel clips

It can get pretty windy on the sun deck of a cruise ship at sea, and a pair of towel clips are definitely worth it to stop your towel from blowing around your head while you sunbathe.

If you’re cruising with kids, towel clips can also be handy to secure the towel when you wrap them in it after swimming. Just drape the towel around their shoulders, clip on the towel and they can continue to play hands-free without getting cold.

Child wrapped in pool towel on cruise line private island
My daughter and I at CocoCay

What do you do for beach towels on a cruise?

Cruise ships allow guests to take pool towels ashore to use on the beach. You’re also welcome to take towels on your excursions.

If you head to the nearest beach from your cruise ship, you’ll often see lots of identical cruise ship towels on the beach.

However, it’s worth considering that cruise ship towels are usually pretty big and thick. You may not want to carry them with you, particularly if you plan on doing a lot of walking in addition to spending some time on the beach.

Oftentimes, we like to explore cruise ports on foot, spend an hour or two on the beach and have a paddle in the sea, but not swim. In this case, I find it better to take a beach sheet than to take the towels off the ship.

A beach sheet can be large enough for the whole family to lie on, yet small and lightweight enough to fold up into a tiny pouch.

Look out for one with corner pockets that you can fill with sand to stop the sheet from blowing away.

Can you take towels off a cruise ship?

You can take pool towels off a cruise ship at each port of call. But be sure to bring them back because if you don’t then you will be charged around $30 for each missing towel.

How often do you get clean towels on a cruise?

On a cruise, you can have clean towels as often as you like. You can get fresh towels each day or keep them a little longer if you want to do your bit for the environment by reducing laundry.

If you want fresh towels in your bathroom, just leave the dirty ones on the floor and they will be replaced when your room is cleaned. If you want to reuse your towel, just hang them up and your stateroom attendant will leave them where they are.

On a cruise ship, you can get fresh pool towels at the towel station by the pool. Just hand over your wet or dirty towels and you can exchange them for fresh clean ones. You can do this as often as you like.

How to dry towels on a cruise ship?

It is forbidden to hang towels to dry on any cruise ship balcony. As well as causing a potential fire hazard, it’s likely that your towels would blow away in the wind.

Instead, you can attach towels to the back of chairs, hang them in the bathroom or use magnetic hooks to hand towels to dry in your cabin.

Can you buy cruise line towels?

You can buy the pool towels for your cruise as a souvenir. Look in the onboard shop or ask your stateroom attendant. The price of beach towels on Carnival cruise ships is $22 each.

Of course, if you walk off the cruise ship with your pool towels at the end of your cruise you will be charged for them. But these will be second-hand towels that have been used by many people so you’d really be better to buy a new one.

Cruise ship bath towels are so soft, white and fluffy. If you want to recreate the fresh cruise towel feeling at home, you can buy Royal Caribbean bath towels here.

cruise towels

The bottom line

You don’t need to pack any towels to take on your cruise ship as bath, pool and beach towels are all available. However, towel clips are a good idea to stop your towels from blowing away in the wind and also to make it easy to recognise your sun lounger.

You’re allowed to take towels off the cruise ship for shore excursions, but you may find that a beach sheet is a better option, depending on what you have planned during your day.

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