While every cabin on a cruise ship is part of the same voyage with fine dining, fun activities, exciting entertainment and exotic ports of call, not all cruise ship cabins are the same. If you understand what factors can make some cabins less desirable, you will be able to choose the best accommodations for your ocean-going getaway.
Space is at a premium on a cruise ship and different cabins, even if the cabin types are similar, can have vastly different square footage measurements. Take note of your space requirements when choosing a cabin by size – if you will be having a third or fourth passenger in the room, if you’re a naturally heavy packer or are combining the cruise with a longer vacation and will have more luggage or if you just tend to feel cramped or claustrophobic, you will definitely want to avoid smaller cabins. Interior cabins tend to be smallest, but some oceanview cabins aren’t more than just a few square feet larger. Also note if balcony areas are part of the square footage measurements – this can make the brochure measurements seem much more generous, but the usable cabin space is still very tiny.
Still Book It! – A small cabin can be great if you don’t mind cozier spaces, are traveling solo or are a light packer and won’t have much luggage to store or need extra closet space.
Adjoining cabins with doors directly between adjacent cabin walls can be great for families and group travel such as reunions, church groups and bachelor and bachelorette parties. It is important to note, however, that those groups may spill out into the hallway as passengers in different cabins talk to one another, get ready for excursions or plan out activities. This can make the hallway much noisier and more crowded, and if your cabin is near a group of adjoining cabins, you can’t escape the noise. If your cabin has that adjoining door as well, you may find the handle rattling and feel like your privacy is at stake even though you aren’t part of the group in the next cabin. When in doubt, look for that adjoining cabin notation on a ship’s deck plans and choose a cabin well away from group-friendly accommodations.
Still Book It! – An adjoining cabin is great if you are part of a group or even if you’re just traveling with another couple. You’ll enjoy being able to open the door between cabins for the feeling of extra space without invading the hallway.
Views You Can’t See
Not all views from cruise ship cabins are quite the same, and an obstructed view cabin can be quite a disappointment if you were hoping for broad, uninterrupted vistas right from your window or balcony. The degree of obstruction can vary dramatically from barely any blockage to a stunning view of a lifeboat. Some cruise ship cabins, such as porthole cabins, may have technically unobstructed views, but the amount of viewing space they offer is minimal. Some ships may even have oceanview cabins with windows that look out onto a public or semi-private promenade, with other passengers able to walk by the window and peek in unless the curtains are continually drawn.
Still Book It! – If you want some natural light but aren’t fussy about the overall view, an obstructed or partial view cabin can be a great deal, since these cabins are often priced significantly less than rooms with more picturesque views.
Public Spaces Can Be Private Problems
Where a cruise ship cabin is located in relation to the ship’s public spaces can make a great difference in how busy the hallways are, how much noise is outside the cabin or even how many bumps, thumps and bangs are audible inside the cabin from activities in other areas. Cruise ship cabins directly above or below lounges and nightclubs, for example, may have some added noise when those venues are in use. Cabins below the gym or fitness center may be subject to the crashes of weights or thuds from exercise classes, particularly in the early morning when the gym is busiest. Rooms near laundry rooms, ice machines, atriums, elevators, children’s areas or even the galley may also all be subject to additional noise.
Still Book It! – Some passengers prefer cabins convenient to the areas of the ship they use the most. If you’re a karaoke king in the nightclub, you may not mind a cabin nearby. Similarly, if you’re up early to hit the gym and burn off a few extra buffet calories, you may appreciate a cabin closer to the fitness facilities.
Motion of the Ocean
Every cabin on the ship will be rocking and rolling if there is rough weather during the cruise, but cabins on higher decks or at the front or back ends of the ship – fore and aft – will roll and pitch more vigorously with every swell. Passengers who are more susceptible to motion sickness, or who have never sailed before and don’t know how susceptible they may be, will not want to take a chance on these more active cabins. Cabins that are more centrally located on the ship and on lower decks will be more stable.
Still Book It! – If you don’t mind the motion or even prefer the waves to rock you to sleep, these cabins can be a great find. Cabins right at the aft of the ship have incredible views of the vessel’s wake, while forward cabins are often closest to the spa and main lounges.
Acrobatic Sleeping Arrangements
Most cruise ship cabins have two twin beds that can be pushed together to make a king-sized bed. Some cabins, however, have fixed beds in bunk-style arrangements, with no ability to convert the beds to a different configuration. This means one person in the cabin will have to climb a short ladder into the upper bunk, a prospect that may not appeal to less acrobatic passengers or anyone with limited mobility, a fear of heights or the anticipation of intimacy with their traveling partner. Fortunately, these non-movable beds are usually noted on deck plans, so they’re easy to avoid when you select your cabin.
Still Book It! – If you’re traveling with a casual friend and don’t mind these unusual sleeping arrangements, a bunk cabin can be a fun throwback to campout days or dorm rooms. Because these are most often interior cabins, the fares are usually less expensive.
Extra Costs You’ll Never Use
Cruise ships are well known for the luxury they can offer, from gourmet dining to trendy spa treatments to attentive service. Some cruise ship cabins come with even more luxuries, however, including dedicated personal butlers or concierges, exclusive private lounges or promenades, priority spa or dinner reservations and more. These may seem like amazing amenities, but they’re only worth their price if you’ll actually use them. The fares for these cabins are typically higher to cover those extra amenities, and you must pay that price whether you actually take advantage of the services or not. If you won’t be using a personal butler, prefer the piano bar instead of a private lounge, aren’t visiting the spa and are more apt to eat dinner at the lido restaurant, don’t pay for these extra bonuses.
Still Book It! – If you will be taking advantage of the services offered by these extra amenities, the higher fare for those special cruise ship cabins can be a better deal than a-la-carte pricing. In that case, it can be well worth choosing one of these cabins.
Don’t Gamble on a Guarantee
Guarantee rate cabins – those that are guaranteed to be a balcony, for instance, but the actual cabin is not assigned until just a day or two before the ship sets sail – can seem like a great bargain, as they’re usually priced below any options to actually choose your individual cabin. This means, however, that you may also be placed into the least desirable cabin on the ship, or it could be the least desirable for your cruising preferences. If you have specific needs or desires for the type of cabin you want to be in for your cruise, whether you need a larger cabin, a specific deck or a popular location, it is best to pay for exactly the type of cabin you want and choose it yourself.
Still Book It! – If you aren’t fussy about the exact cabin you want on the ship, a guarantee price can be a great deal, and you still get all the amenities and excitement of the cruise. You may not end up in the best possible cabin, but you’re guaranteed the best possible price for the cabin you get.
Most important of all, always do your research about different types of cruise ship cabins on each ship you sail. Every passenger has different preferences for their cabin, and the better you understand the vast variety of options on board, the better you’ll be able to choose the perfect cabin for an unforgettable cruise vacation.