Cabin choice may seem to be an odd issue to consider if you’ve not cruised before. After all, you don’t choose a hotel room other than by its size and facilities. But you do get the opportunity to make a choice on a cruise ship, and here’s why it may matter to you.
Things to Consider When Choosing A Cabin
Let’s deal with the similarities to hotels first. On a ship, as on land, you get what you pay for. From suites (sometimes with a butler) to smaller more modest accommodation, there are all kinds of deals out there.
Suites vary in size and amenities, with many having butler service; some are in very grand duplex or loft style with facilities such as a piano or private gym. In a suite you will usually have a separate sitting room or sitting area, and in some cases there may be a second bedroom for your children. Most suites have an outdoor space, sometimes with a private whirlpool tub, and also facilities for outdoor dining.
One of the many rooms in Marina’s Owner’s Suite. You’ll also find a gym, outdoor space, bedroom and luxuriously appointed bathroom.
A balcony cabin will have some outdoor space which varies in size and shape by ship and deck; indoors you will normally find a sitting area alongside the sleeping area. As an example on Celebrity Eclipse, so-called “hump” balconies have extra space as they jut out to the side of the ship. You’d have room for a modest party or a couple of loungers and a dining space.
Looking aft from a hump balcony cabin on Celebrity Eclipse. The cabin itself has sofa and desk space in addition to the bed and en suite.
Outside cabins are normally arranged similarly to a balcony cabin, but feature a window or porthole instead of french doors to the outside.
And no, if you’re new to cruising, this doesn’t mean that everything else is outdoors. Inside cabins generally have no external windows. Instead you’ll find a feature mirror, or sometimes pictures, and maybe curtains to give the impression of a window.
This picture of an inside cabin on Marco Polo shows that there is still plenty of light in these spaces. In fact, an inside cabin can give you a great night’s sleep if you are affected by light.
Some newer ships now have cabins that classify as inside cabins, but do have a window. This may overlook the ship’s promenade of shops, for example, so you get a view of all that is going on there.
A Cabin with Cows?
One or two inside cabins have special features. On Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class Ships (Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas) there is a cabin above the Ben and Jerry’s shop. It appears on the deck plan as a normal cabin, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that the interior window overlooks the rear of the two cows that form the Ben and Jerry’s logo.
In order to compensate for the view of cow bottoms from Cabin 6305, this has become the “Ben and Jerry’s Sweet”. Book this cabin and you’ll receive a complementary ice cream voucher, and cow themed decor throughout. You’ll also get access to the Concierge Lounge, a perk for suite passengers.
Solo or single cabins
These tend to fall into two distinct groups. On smaller ships catering to an older clientele, there are normally a good number of single cabins, both inside and outside.
Newer built ships with more of a party vibe have a series of solo cabins. There are linked to a shared lounge, enable you to meet your fellow solo passengers for a coffee, and maybe make arrangements in that social space to go exploring together in port.
So how do you go about choosing your cabin? Here are 7 Tips to help you make up your mind
1. Do you want to Choose your cabin, or save money?
If you want to save money on your holiday, you can elect to book a guarantee cabin. This means that you will be allocated accommodation of at least – and sometimes better than – the grade you have purchased. The benefit is that you save money, and can sometimes end up with a better category of cabin. The downside is that you have no choice in where that cabin may be located on the ship.
2, How much time are you likely to spend in your cabin?
If you intend to enjoy all the facilities available to you on the ship to their maximum, and the cabin will be where you change clothes, shower and sleep, then it may not matter to you what kind of cabin you book. In which case, make sure you use those savings for many more happy holidays! But if you like nothing better than to chill on your balcony with a good book, then you might want to pay more attention to where on the ship you are located. Do you want a balcony that given you some shelter from the sun, and one where you are not overlooked?
3. Where on the ship will you be spending most of your time?
If you love the open decks, and a big ship is your cruise liner of choice, then a cabin on the upper decks will give you quicker access to the sun. Remember that some ships can have ten decks between you and the pool or gym, and while that might help with your fitness if you choose to take the stairs, it’ll also add to the time you spend getting to where you want to be.
4. Want to Walk Less?
If you would like to restrict the amount of walking you do on a big ship, then choose a cabin near to one of the banks of lifts. Consider where you will be dining, and look at a cabin with easy access to that part of the ship; it will save you from walking up and down a big ship’s long corridors each evening.
All ships have deck plans online, which you can consult before booking. If you are using the services of a travel agent, they can help you consider the position of your cabin in relation to the venues you want to access onboard.
5. Think about noise
If you like to lie in, think carefully before selecting a cabin at the bow, as you will hear most noise from docking at that end of the ship. Similarly, be aware of potential noise from restaurants, the gym and theatre when choosing your cabin. Again, the deck plans are your friend when it comes to working out your cabin choices. For maximum peace and quiet, it’s normally best to choose accommodation that has other cabins above and below.
6. Mal de Mer and mal de Debarkment
It is very unusual to feel much movement on the ship. Cruise lines want their passengers to enjoy the best experience possible, and will do their utmost to work around the weather to minimise any movement. I’ve often had to look outside to check if we’ve yet left port.
If you suffer, or fear you may suffer, from seasickness, choose a cabin lower down in the ship and in the middle, This will minimise any impact of the movement of the ship. The same goes for anyone who knows they suffer from mal de debarkment, which is a balance problem after you have left the ship. That’s certainly me, and there have been a few times that I’ve had to stop in the supermarket after my return because I still think the ship is rolling. This seems to affect me less if we’ve had a cabin midships and low down.
Ask for advice
There are lots of places to look for advice. Firstly, check out the range of online communities. There are many, many Facebook groups for crusing in general or specific cruise lines. There are also forums, such as the mighty Cruise Critic Forum. Here you’ll even find accounts of individual cabins on passenger ships if you want to go into that level of detail.
If you are using a travel agent, as them for their advice. (And perhaps audition a new agent if they don’t have any to offer!) There are many variations on the types of cabins available, and you might just find something different that suits your needs.
So when it comes to cabins, first choose if you want to choose. And then if you do, choose wisely!
To read more about life on board, check out these things you didn’t expect to find on a cruise ship and read about our experience trying out a cruise on the Queen Mary 2.