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Many stateroom options exist depending on the size of the cruise ship. Whether you’ve never taken a cruise before or were just unhappy with your stateroom, there are many things you can do to ensure that you pick the perfect cruise cabin for your next cruise. Take the stress out of selecting your ideal cruise cabin. Here are some essential things to consider when asking: where are the best and worst cabins on a cruise ship?
Things to consider when selecting your perfect cruise cabin
- What is your budget?
Your budget can determine a lot about your options. Inside cabins are the most affordable option. Inside rooms are located on almost every deck, whereas the more prominent and pricier suites are typically only found in specific areas of the ship. Once you’ve determined your budget, you can more easily select the type of stateroom that best fits you financially.
Your perfect cruise cabin may be one of these four main cabin types: inside, ocean view, suite, and balcony. (Photo by Cruiseline.com)
- Type of Cruise Cabins Available
While ships often have a variety of stateroom types, here are the four basic categories to consider when selecting the perfect cruise cabin.
The most affordable option, these cabins are located on the ship’s interior and have no windows; they are typically the smallest rooms as well. If you are traveling on a budget or don’t mind the lack of windows, interior cabins are a great option. Light-sensitive sleepers and those who experience motion sickness often find inside cabins more calming.
- Ocean View
Typically the same size as an inside cabin, these rooms feature an ocean view with various shapes and sizes of windows. Head to the front of the shop on the lower decks, below the balcony levels, to find these rooms. Some ships also have rooms with windows facing their atrium or promenade. These rooms typically run about $150-250 more a night than Inside Rooms but around $100-300 less than balcony cabins.
Rooms with a veranda or balcony are usually the priciest cabin options, save for suites. They offer a private ocean view with the sound and smell of the surf. The balconies are sometimes tiny, but for those who have claustrophobia or want a guaranteed chair to experience the sunset, a balcony is the way to go. If you are a smoker, it’s important to note that only a few ships allow smoking on balconies.
Suites are the only way to travel if you are looking for luxury. These cabins are not only more extensive than most staterooms on the ship, but they also offer more amenities. Perks range by ship and suite level but often include a concierge, upgraded toiletries, priority seating at events, and access to exclusive areas or restaurants. The price reflects these bonuses, often costing at least $500 depending on the ship and suite level.
- Travel Companions
If traveling with children or a group, you must consider how many rooms you want to book in the same area. You are more likely to find rooms near other people in your party if you book early. Many cruises have staterooms with adjoining doors, especially near the children’s club area. Other cruises have unique “family” rooms which have additional sleeping spaces. Larger groups (typically considered a minimum of 7-10 staterooms) are often eligible for discounts. These larger groups should book as early as possible to get the best assortment of rooms.
Depending on how far out you book, this will affect the availability for picking the perfect cruise cabin. Cruises are typically available to book around two years before the sail date, and many passengers worry about losing out on deals if they book too early. Many cruise lines now offer price protection for early booking, so their guests can still receive reduced rates if the price drops later. If you are trying to book a cruise within 2-3 months of sail, you won’t get much choice of stateroom location.
Consult your cruise ship’s deck plan to pick the perfect cruise cabin.
- Deck Plans
No matter what type of room you select, its placement on the overall ship will have much to do with your vacation enjoyment. Always review the Deck Plans. Deck plans allow you to spy on your potential neighbors to decide if they are compatible with your travel style. Imagine the ship is an apartment building – you’ll need to check those areas around your potential stateroom. Sure, your next-door neighbors might be quiet folks, but if there is a bar right above or below your room, it can make for a rough night’s sleep. If you plan to be among the late-night partiers, though, these cabins might be ideal for you. The deck plans will show you where high-traffic areas are on board so you can determine where to stay.
- Higher Deck Myth
A common misconception is that the higher you are up in a ship, the better the cabin. This myth is likely because most balconies and suite rooms are on upper levels. Cabins on cruise ships (especially interior rooms) on higher decks can put you directly underneath or next to very heavy traffic areas, such as the main buffet, lido deck, or gym, which are typically noisier and less restful. Higher decks can also experience more sway, which motion-sensitive passengers may dislike.
- Forward, Aft, and Midship (cruise terms you should know)
There is a considerable debate among cruisers about which is the best end of the ship. Each part of the ship offers benefits and drawbacks, especially considering the deck plans. The location of things can vary from cruise to cruise ship, so while the buffet may have been forward on your first cruise, it may be at the aft on your second.
The front of the ship is a favorite among those who want a great view of each port. Often conveniently located near the lido deck, spa, or gym, there is typically more foot traffic near forward cabins. With the front of the ship designed to cut through the waves, it can cause noise and motion that some guests find lulling, and others find distracting. Front-facing cabins often have a slanted roof, making them feel smaller.
There tends to be less foot traffic at the back (aft) of the ship, which can make for a quieter vacation. Since it’s often farther away from the entertainment hubs than other parts of the ship, expect to do a little more walking. These cabins frequently offer more oversized balconies or more unique layouts than other areas of the ship. Rough seas can throw you around, and the wake can be noisy or lull you to sleep.
If you are prone to motion sickness, this is the place for you! Midship also offers equal distance to different areas on the ship, making it ideal for those who plan to enjoy diverse activities onboard. These cabins can be more prone to obstructed views or located near elevators and venues. Many passengers find midship cabins more stable, even on stormy seas. Some ships also have midship interior-facing cabins for those who want stability but with a view.
- The Promenade
Some ships have interior-facing balconies or windows, usually located midship. Guests can look out on a scenic interior view, such as an atrium, boardwalk, or garden. These areas can be loud since there are typically bars in these areas and sometimes form an echo chamber. These can be a better balcony option for those who get seasick watching the waves. Promenade-style cabins can have limited privacy but are ideal for passengers who want to feel like they are in the middle of everything while at sea.
The perfect place for YOU on a cruise depends significantly on your individual needs, personality, and plans for a particular cruise. If you are cruising with young children, your vacation planning will likely differ from your style when cruising as a couple or with a peer group. When selecting the perfect cruise cabin, you should think carefully about the most frequent amenities you will use. Here are some considerations to think about:
- Child-Friendly Fun
Cabins ideal for families are all over the ship, and many have extra sleeping spaces or adjoining doors. If your kids frequent the youth club zones, look for cabins nearby. Outside cabins can provide a window to the world without the concern for balcony safety. Other parents find that easy access to the buffet or lido deck is ideal for their family.
- Soaking Up Sun
If you plan to spend your ship days sprawled out on a lounger with a margarita in hand, then a cabin near the lido deck is ideal. Having your balcony can also help you enjoy the sea breezes, but you are often too shaded to work on your tan. The lido deck is a popular area, so being able to arrive to claim your chair quickly will work in your favor.
- Romantic Getaway
Couples often enjoy splurging on a suite or balcony room for their perfect cruise cabin to benefit from cruising with the privacy and feelings of indulgence these cabins offer. Most cruise ships have a romance package regardless of stateroom that offers specialty dining, couples’ massages, and more. If you plan to stay tucked away in your room most of the trip, splurging on a suite in an area with less foot traffic might be ideal.
- Solo Traveler
Many cruises have studio inside cabins for solo travelers, and they often have singles clubs and events. Studio cabins are ideal if you are traveling alone and don’t want to pay for a full stateroom. Check the deck plans to see if the studio lounge or bars dedicated to solo travelers are nearby.
- Spa Relaxation
Are you looking to indulge in the salt room or spend your week pampered? Some ships offer specials on staterooms nearest or connected to the spa. Consider a cabin nearby if you plan to visit the spa facilities regularly during your cruise.
- Party Animal
Look for locations near the entertainment venues and bars, often midship on a lower deck. There are sometimes cheaper cabins near these venues because not everyone enjoys a midnight pub crawl or the noise they produce. Many night owls love rooms on the promenades. They have an energetic atmosphere but aren’t typically busy until later in the day.
Ships only have a handful of staterooms on each deck level for those who require accessible staterooms. Accessible balcony cabins are rare but an excellent option for those who don’t want to be limited to a porthole. These cabin locations may restrict your options if you are looking to book multiple cabins. (You might be interested in: Accessible Cruising: What to Expect from Cruise Critic)