How to Pick The Best Cabin on a Cruise Ship
People often ask me “What’s the best cabin on a cruise ship?” My answer is: it depends.
Naturally, many may say that suites are the best cabins onboard as they usually offer a separate living room area, sometimes offering two bathrooms and a huge balcony. They also typically provide a separate area for meals and some lounge access. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford such indulgences.
Could other things make a cabin better than another? You bet! Some cabins are intrinsically good and cabins are personally preferable. Other cabins are not as desirable due to their location.
What’s The Best Cabin on a Cruise Ship?
As a general rule, the best cabins on cruise ships (regardless of the cabin type) are the ones located on the lower decks. Specifically, you will find the best cruise ship cabins in the midships area. Cruise ship cabins located on decks in midships rock the least when the ocean is rough. As a result, you will feel fewer symptoms of seasickness by booking a cabin on a lower deck in the midships area. For the same reason, these are usually the most expensive cabins in each category. Of course, if you don’t get seasick, then this doesn’t matter.
I try to avoid cabins that are to the aft are they are usually very close to the propellers. For this reason, they tend to be noisier, and you can both hear and feel the vibrations.
Cabins to the front of the ship can be noisy when the ship is anchoring. To be sure, anchoring happens only in port, and generally, in the morning.
Another source of noise in port is tender cranes. For example, when the cruise ship stops to visit a tender port, cabins close to the tender cranes will get quite noisy. Also, cabins that are below the gym, lounges, pools, or above the theatre are usually quite loud as well. As a result, and we avoid them as much as possible
It is always an excellent idea to check the deck plan when booking a cabin. Typically, the best cruise ship cabins are those surrounded by other cabins (above, below, and on each side). Some people don’t like cabins too close to elevators because they can hear passengers talking while waiting.
I prefer to be close to an elevator because I think it is more convenient. Another personal preference is cabins close to the pool because we like the convenience of getting to the pool quickly.
Another question we have been asked a lot is which side of the ship is better the port (left) or starboard (right)? In this case, the answer depends!
First, it only matters if you are booking a balcony cabin. If you have an inside cabin you won’t see anything anyways. Secondly depends on the itinerary. If you know that you are going to sail by a particular landmark that you really want to see from your balcony make sure your cabin is on the right side. How do you know that? The best way is to ask someone that has sailed that itinerary before or ask the cruise agent to find out for you!
Lets Explore Cabin Types on a Cruise Ship
Inside/Interior Cabins (i.e., No Window)
Inside cabins on cruise ships cost less, much less. As a result, for longer cruises, booking inside cabins can be an excellent way to save money. Moreover, by booking an inside cabin, you can likely cruise more (think budget). Interior cabins on a cruise ship are also very dark, making them ideal to sleep-in.
The downside is there is no natural light, and the air might get a little stuffy. Thankfully, we have a fix for that. Be sure to read the three best things to have on your cruise. To be sure, there’s an excellent tip to avoid stuffy air.
If the cruise is very port intensive, such as those in the Mediterranean, an inside cabin could be the best for you. Chances are, you’ll be out enjoying the ports rather than using the cabin. Well, perhaps other than sleeping in it, of course!
Obstructed ocean view cabins are the same size as the inside, but they have a window. To be sure, the window does not open Also, in this category, something (tenders, cranes, rafts, etc.) obstructs the view.
The difference between an inside cabin and an obstructed Oceanview is just the fact that you get some natural light, but that is it! So unless natural light is essential for you, there is no point in booking these cabins unless there is no price difference between this cabin and an inside.
Oceanview Cabins (Window)
The difference between these cabins and the previous one is the fact that you can enjoy the scenery from the cabin and have plenty of natural light. They are slightly more expensive than inside cabins and can have a mildly larger layout.
Balcony Cabins are The Best Choice for Most
Indeed, we feel that balcony cabins are generally the best cruise ship cabin for everyone. There’s little doubt that they are the passengers’ love balcony cabins. For example, it’s lovely to be able to go outside, enjoy the fresh air, maybe have breakfast or a glass of wine on the balcony.
Consider though, in some itineraries, the chances of using the balcony are minimal. For example, in cold destinations, the chances of being able to use the balcony may be minimal.
So if you are on a budget, you might consider a less expensive cabin for colder destinations. Also, if you are on a very port-intensive cruise, you likely won’t spend much time in your cabin on the cruise ship.
If you’re new to cruising, a balcony may be a better choice because most new cruisers think that they might be a bit claustrophobic inside.
Some cruise lines offer an upgraded Premium Balcony option as well. These are practically the same as a standard balcony cabin but with a bigger balcony and a higher price.
The cabins listed above, namely Balcony, Oceanview, and Inside, all generally have all the same bathroom type, as shown above. To be sure, the larger bathrooms come with Mini-Suite or larger cabins.
Mini-Suites: The Better Balcony Cabin on a Cruise Ship
Some cruise lines call these cabins Junior suites. These cabins are in between a balcony and a regular suite. For example, they have a larger sitting area, usually with a pull-out couch. Also, they are ideal for families with kids that can use the pull-out sofa as a bed, and the all family can share the cabin.
Notable mention: With a mini-suite, you often have a larger bathroom, consisting of a full bathtub and a separate shower as well. Generally, these cabins also have a larger balcony area.
Special VIP Class Mini-Suites
VIP Class Mini-Suites generally have the same layout of the previous type. However, the best areas on the cruise ship have the VIP Class Mini-Suites. Additionally, they may have a dedicated space at the main restaurants that allow guests to skip the line.
Suites: Generally the Best Cabins on a Cruise Ship
Suites are generally considered the best cabins, and indeed, the most expensive cruise ship cabins on board. They usually have a living-dining room separate from the bedroom.
Some suites can have more than one bedroom and bathrooms. Some suites have large wrap-around balconies.
Passengers booked on a suite on a cruise ship often have a separate restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinners. Furthermore, many cruise lines offer Concierge and Buttler service included in the suite fare- why would they? Suites are widely known as the very best cabins on the cruise ship!
On some cruise ships, there’s a separate lounge or a private bar for guests traveling in a suite. Additionally, there are sometimes specific suites that are connected with the spa and have unlimited access to the wellness center.
My Tips for Picking The Cabin On a Cruise Ship
- If we have been on the itinerary before we usually book an inside cabin on the cruise ship. You see, since we saw the ports before, we would instead save some money. And sometimes, with a little luck, we get an upgrade. Inside & oceanview cabins, in our experience, are usually the ones we get upgrades.
- On an itinerary that we have never sailed before or a cold destination, we usually book an Oceanview cabin, as our chances of using the balcony in an icy destination are pretty slim, but we still like to see outside.
- Avoid cruise ship cabins that are directly below bars, nightclubs, pools, the buffet, or the gym. Noise from above can severely impact your quiet time.
- Consider cabins that are closest to the areas you like the most. For example, if you wish to spend time in the sun, consider a cabin close (but not too close) to the pool.
- When we’re traveling to a new destination, and in a warm destination, we almost always book a balcony cabin on the cruise ship. To be sure, we like to lounge outside and enjoy the new scenery.
- Sometimes there are exclusive perks attached to a balcony cabin (i.e., free drinks or gratuities if you book a balcony or above). In that case, we tend to book a balcony.
- For longer cruises, we tend to book balcony cabins on cruise ships. To be sure, after ten days, an inside cabin tends to become claustrophobic. Indeed, we have to date sailed on two 21 day cruises on an interior cabin.
- In case the cruise is in a particularly scenic destination (like Antarctica as an example), a balcony becomes a must. To be sure, the reason it’s the best cruise ship cabin is that it allows us to take photos or videos from our balcony without being pushed around.
In our experience, we get upgraded, or at least a good offer for a better cruise cabin, about 60% of the time when we book an inside or oceanview room. However, we noticed on back-to-back cruises, the chances of getting upgraded are much lower. For example, the cruise ship cabin might not be available for both cruises.
Bonus: This is the Best Cruise Ship Cabin We’ve Ever Found
The new Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess (June 2020) and Discovery Princess (Expected 2021) cruise ships now feature a cabin called the Sky Suite. The Sky Suite by Princess cruises are about 1870sq ft, and accommodate up to five passengers. Furthermore, it features a 270-degree wrap-around balcony with front row seating to the Movies Under The Stars. incredible service provided by a concierge.
A Travel Addicts Reader, Gary Adamsky, recently stayed in a Sky Suite. Further, Gary has provided us with the following gallery of his latest trip on board the Sky Princess, in the Sky Suite, of course! Thanks Gary!
Generally, the best cabin location on a ship is in the middle of the ship on the lower deck, this because they are the one that rocks the least if the ocean is rough.
In our opinion yes they are. We love spending time on the balcony having breakfast or a glass of wine. However if you are on a budget an inside cabin will do.
The forward of the ship is the area that rocks the most in case of rough see. However the back of the ship can be noisier because that’s where the engines are. We prefer the front because we don’t get seasick.
In case there are unsold cabins close to departure, cruise lines promotes a special sale to fill them up. Also in case of unsold cabin cruise lines contact the booked passengers and offer up-sell.
It is the view of the ship’s wake from an aft facing cabin.
I hope these tips are helpful! Please feel free to comment and let us know (below) what your favorite cabin type is!
Andrea was born and raised in Northern Italy. At the age of 30, he moved to Vancouver Canada. Over the years he traveled extensively in North America, Europe, Central America, and Asia. He is passionate about traveling, cruising, and travel photography. He likes to write about his traveling and shows his travel photos.