Choosing the right cruise cabin can add a lot of satisfaction to your overall vacation, and it might even influence your choice of ship, so it pays to give it some thought. Some of the largest ships might have as many as 20 categories of staterooms, and let’s face it – they all look pleasantly spacious through a wide-angle lens. Here are some guidelines on how to pick a cruise cabin that will enhance your vacation.
Types of Cabins
Regardless of the size of ship, cabins on everything from small ships to mega liners fall into three categories: Inside, Outside, and Balcony (or Veranda). Not every ship will have all three, but all cabins will fall into one of these categories.
Inside means that the cabin is on an interior hallway and doesn’t have any widow. Sometimes the décor will include a curtain to imitate a window, but there is no view behind it. Outside cabins do have a window – usually rectangular picture windows, but sometimes they are round porthole-sized. The windows don’t open, but you have a view of the water from inside the cabin. Balcony cabins have a glass door that opens to a veranda for a private place to enjoy the fresh sea air. The size of the veranda is subject to the ship’s design, but they normally accommodate two chairs and a small table at a minimum.
Size of Cabins
Let me be perfectly clear on this fact: Size does matter! The average cruise stateroom is considerably smaller than the average hotel room, regardless of what the photo in the brochure looks like. There may be multiple cabin sizes on any one ship, but as a point of reference a 120 2 ft cabin or less is quite cozy (meaning cramped) for two people. 180 2 ft is comfortable and a mid-range, average size. Luxury lines tend to have more spacious staterooms in the 225 2 ft range.
Most cruise ships have luxury suites that have room for guests to spread out. Suites start at about 250 2 ft, ranging up to the 3-bedroom 5,000 2 ft suites on the new Norwegian Breakaway. Here are some of the ultimate suites at sea.
Location of the Cabin
Typically cabins on the lower decks cost less than the same type cabin on a higher deck. Inside cabins normally cost less than outside and outside less than balconies. Suites on the top decks are the most expensive staterooms. Once you decide the type of cabin that’s best for you there are several location considerations when choosing the specific one.
If you feel that you might be susceptible to motion discomfort, pick a cabin in the center of the ship, both vertically and horizontally, where any motion is minimized. If you don’t walk well, try to get close to the elevators, but know that you may hear people coming and going often. Speaking of noise, if you’re sensitive you might want to steer clear of cabins directly under the disco (music vibrations), the Lido Pool deck (chairs scraping), and children’s areas (peals of laughter).
For expansive views, the largest balconies are often at the rear of the ship and you’ll see the ship’s wake as you sail, or if you get a balcony facing the front you’ll have the same view as the captain. One caveat to mention about views: “Obstructed view” staterooms are outside or balcony staterooms in which part of the ship’s structure or the life boats partially blocks the water view from inside the cabin. But not to worry – you should be advised at the time of cabin assignment if your cabin has an obstructed view, so there shouldn’t be any surprises upon arrival.
Now that you know the basic options and relative pros and cons, think about who you are traveling with. Families might enjoy a family suite with plenty of space for togetherness. Girlfriends might want a spa cabin close to the fitness center and steam room. Honeymooners would probably enjoy a large private veranda for moonlit romantic gazing.
Will you spend a lot of time in your stateroom or be out and about all the time? Do you want to start every day with some quiet reflection on your balcony or can you not get to the Lido deck fast enough? Do you need a bathtub or is a shower sufficient? Would you relish luxury suite amenities such as a butler or are you a self-sufficient unpacker?
The good news is that whether it’s your first cruise and you need help deciding or it’s your 100th and you know exactly what you want, Covington’s Master Cruise Counselors are ready to help you pick the perfect cabin.