What to Expect on a Cruise: Choosing a Cruise Ship Room (2024)

What kinds of rooms are there on a cruise ship?

Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin or a stateroom, and there are four basic types or "categories." Though some cruise lines will present 20 or more categories, most fall into the four basic types.

Inside cabins are the smallest-sized rooms, with no window to the outside.

Outside cabins, also known as oceanviews, are those that provide a view to the outside world via a window or porthole (a round window). A standard outside cabin is usually slightly larger than an inside stateroom.

Balcony or verandah cabins each feature a semi-private verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck.

Suites are large cabins, often with separate living and sleeping areas, sometimes with two-levels, that offer a wide variety of extra amenities and perks.

Additionally, some cruise lines offer a cabin category, called a minisuite, that's halfway between a balcony and a suite.

Do I have a choice of cabin sizes?

You certainly do. Cabin sizes run the gamut from tiny 100-square-foot solo cabins on Norwegian Epic to the massive 4,443-square-foot two-bedroom Regent Suite on Regent's Seven Seas Splendor.

While inside cabins are the smallest rooms on most cruise ships, in some cases they may be the same size as or only slightly smaller than basic (sometimes called standard) outside and balcony cabins. On most major cruise lines (such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess and Holland America), the size of a standard inside cabin will most likely fall between 150 and 185 square feet, a standard outside 160 to 200 square feet and a standard balcony 175 to 220 square feet.

These are average ranges, and cabins can -- and do -- run smaller and larger on different ships. Non-standard cabins -- deluxe-sized, handicapped-accessible or designated family cabins -- will also run larger than their more basic counterparts.

Suite sizes are not standard across the industry by any means.

For many cruisers, the decision on what size cabin to get is directly related to price. The larger the cabin, the more you'll pay.

To read more about cabin sizes, check out How to Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know.

Is it worth the extra money for a cabin with a window or a balcony?

Only you can decide if the extra cost is "worth it" to you. For many cruisers who choose not to spend a lot of time in their cabins, a smaller, less expensive cabin is all they need. Others prefer more space or to hang out on their balconies to soak up the sun in private. However, if you need natural light or are prone to seasickness or claustrophobia, it's worth upgrading from a windowless inside to an outside or balcony cabin.

I'm traveling with my kids. Can we all stay in one cabin?

Not all cabins can accommodate more than two people, so you'll need to look for cabins with pulldown beds (called Pullmans), convertible sofa beds or a second room. Many ships have designated family cabins in a variety of categories that are larger and designed with families in mind, so they often have more sleeping areas and even 1.5 or two full baths.

Suites, even when not specifically geared to families, often can sleep four or more and may have family-friendly amenities, such as extra space, a second bathroom, separate sleeping and living areas, and priority boarding and debarkation (useful when your children don't have the patience to wait in long lines). Another option, rather than squeezing into one cabin or splurging on a suite, is to book two adjoining cabins that interconnect through an interior door.

I'm traveling by myself. What are my cabin choices?

Most cruise ships do not have solo cabins. Single cruisers must select a standard cabin (in almost any category) and pay what's called a single supplement. This is an additional fee, above the per-person fare. It's usually double the per-person fare, essentially forcing you to pay the price of two people since cabins are designed for double occupancy. Cruise lines do occasionally discount single supplements, sometimes slashing them by as much as 50 percent or even eliminating them entirely.

A handful of cruise ships do feature specially designated solo cabins, designed with single cruisers in mind. These rooms tend to run small and, for the most part, are inside cabins; however, the prices for solo cabins can be lower than what single cruisers normally pay for sailing alone in a standard cabin.

Royal Caribbean's Quantum-class ships have 28 cabins for singles, designated as studios, some with balconies. One Oasis-class ship (Harmony of the Seas) has 15 studios, some with ocean views. Six other Royal Caribbean ships have a handful of studios. Norwegian has studio cabins for solo cruises on six ships. Five of those include access to an exclusive Studio Lounge with snacks and coffee.

For more about taking a cruise by yourself, read Solo Cruise Tips.

What kind of questions should I be asking myself when deciding which cabin to choose?

The first question you must ask yourself when choosing your cruise ship cabin is "how much can I afford to spend?" Your answer to this will immediately define your choices; cabins get more expensive as they get larger or more amenity-laden.

Next, ask yourself what's important to you. Do you tend toward claustrophobia? Then you'll need to choose a larger cabin or at least a room with a window. If you do have a budget, would you rather spend the money on a larger cabin but have less left over for onboard expenses? Or, would you rather go for a slightly smaller cabin, but have more to spend onboard or on excursions?

Also, look at where you're sailing. For example, Alaska is very scenic; do you really want to be in an inside cabin? But it's a bit cold for standing on your balcony, so maybe a window is all you need.

I get seasick. Can I choose a cabin location that will lessen the chances of my getting sick?

There are no cruise ship cabins that will eliminate the chances of you getting seasick. However, if you are prone to motion sensitivity, you'll want to select a cabin that's on a lower deck and in the middle of the ship. The very last place you want to be is near the front of the ship.

You should also choose a room with a window or possibly a balcony if you want quick access to fresh air. Either way, looking at the horizon helps to ward off queasiness.

I'm a light sleeper. Are there certain cabins I should avoid?

If you have trouble sleeping when there's a lot of noise, you'll want to avoid cabins that are in the vicinity of high-traffic areas. That could include those near the elevators, across from crew entrances and under or over the casino, theater, lounge, sports decks and restaurants. That said, any cabin can be noisy if you have rowdy neighbors; bring a white noise machine or ear plugs to lessen the din.

I have special needs (use a wheelchair, am deaf or blind). Are there cabins that can accommodate me?

All mainstream cruise lines have a select number of accessible cabins designed for wheelchair users or travelers with mobility issues. Travelers who are blind or deaf can often request TTY/TDD equipment and portable room kits featuring visual and tactile alert systems for door knocking, telephone ringing and the like. Always mention your needs to your travel agent or cruise line when booking.

Also keep the location of your cabin in mind when selecting your room. You might want to be closer to the elevator to cut out long walks.

For more information on accessible cruising, check out A Beginner's Guide to Accessible Cruising and Best Ships for Cruisers With Disabilities.

How do I know where cabins are located on the ship?

To determine where cabins are located on a ship, check the deck plans for that ship. Deck plans can be found on each cruise line's website, as well as via a link from the Cruise Critic ship review page for the ship you want. Deck plans will show you where cabins of all categories are located on the ship. You can use them to find cabins in locations you like (near the elevator, steps from the pool deck) or, conversely, where you don't want to be (near the elevator, across from a crew entrance, below the casino).

How can I learn more about choosing a cruise ship cabin?

You might like the following articles:

  • How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know

  • Best Cruise Ship Cabins

  • Best Cabin Placement on Any Ship

  • Unusual Cruise Ship Balcony Cabins

  • Best Cruise Ship Inside Cabins…and 3 to Avoid

The What to Expect on a Cruise series, written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, is a resource guide, where we answer the most common questions about cruise ship life -- including cruise food, cabins, drinks and onboard fun -- as well as money matters before and during your cruise and visiting ports of call on your cruise.

What to Expect on a Cruise: Choosing a Cruise Ship Room (2024)


What to Expect on a Cruise: Choosing a Cruise Ship Room? ›

The best cruise cabin to book would be near ocean level at the ship's center, known as mid-ship. While ocean-level rooms aren't considered the most luxurious options, the closer you get to water-level, the less rocking you'll feel on the ship. Plus, these rooms are your best chance at seeing wildlife out on the ocean!

What level is best for rooms on a cruise ship? ›

The best cruise cabin to book would be near ocean level at the ship's center, known as mid-ship. While ocean-level rooms aren't considered the most luxurious options, the closer you get to water-level, the less rocking you'll feel on the ship. Plus, these rooms are your best chance at seeing wildlife out on the ocean!

How to answer the question why do you want to work on a cruise ship? ›

One of the main reasons people choose to work on cruise ships is the chance to travel to many places they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. Since they live on the ship, they receive room and board as part of their compensation. They travel the world without paying for expensive hotels and food.

What's the best deck to stay on a cruise ship? ›

The most stable part of the ship is its lowest point of gravity, so on a lower deck, at the center. You'd feel a lot less motion here than, say, in a stateroom on the upper decks a long way forward or aft (towards the back of the ship).

Is it better to get a room in the front or back of cruise ship? ›

The back of the ship tends to be considered the next best cabin position after midships. Whilst the front of the ship gets the most movement the back also does get some. Whilst it's nowhere near as bad as the front of the ship, you may still notice some movement in rough seas.

Is it better to have a room in the middle of a cruise ship? ›

You might get less seasick

The most stable place to be on any cruise ship is low down on the vessel near its equilibrium point, which is generally near its center. Since inside cabins are closer to the center of a ship than "outside" ocean-view and balcony cabins, they can be more stable in rough seas.

Is Level 7 on a cruise ship good? ›

Generally, Deck 7 is considered a good deck to have a cruise cabin, but it will depend on the ship.

How do I pass a cruise interview? ›

The way you dress and present yourself at interview (whether this is in person or over Skype) makes a huge impression on the recruiters who will be interviewing you. Cruise Lines are looking for presentable people who will be able to give a positive impression which reflects the company ethos to their guests on board.

What floor is best on a cruise? ›

Midship staterooms on the lowest passenger deck are the most excellent spot to be on a cruise ship in this instance because you don't feel the vessel sway as much.

What is the smoothest room on a cruise ship? ›

Midship cabins

These are the cabins that you should seek if you're particularly prone to seasickness. The big allure of a midship cabin is its stability. You won't feel the rocking of the sea in a midship cabin nearly as much as you will in a cabin toward the front or back of a vessel.

What is the best side to go on a cruise ship? ›

Eastbound cruises get the most sun on the port side; westbound on the starboard side. Watching a sunset over the ocean or seeing the sun slip behind distant islands can also be a reason for a side preference. To catch sunsets, you'll want to be on the port side on northbound cruises and starboard on southbound cruises.

What decks to avoid on a cruise ship? ›

The lowest deck

In the lowest part of a cruise ship, there's a whole lot of noisy stuff so you may hear the hum of the engine, the blast of the bow thrusters and the clanging of the anchor chain. Depending on the ship, you may also feel vibrations that could make the hangers in your wardrobe rattle!

Is it worth it to upgrade to a balcony on a cruise? ›

Balcony cabins on cruise ships are more spacious due to the outside space. They have spectacular ocean views, fresh sea air, and a private seating area. Although these cabins are more expensive, the rewards of a private balcony sometimes outweigh the cost. If it fits within your budget, balcony cabins are worth it!

Are prepaid gratuities worth it on a cruise? ›

Cruise gratuities are not a permanently fixed price, and for most cruise lines they typically rise every year. Prepaying your gratuities, when you are cruising more than a year in advance, could therefore save you money since you can lock them in at the older rate, before any rise is pushed through.

What is a good floor on a cruise ship? ›

On the typical ship, the top deck of cabins is directly below the pool and activity decks, which can be noisy during the day and even into the night (yes, the noise sometimes will waft through your ceiling). The cabin deck just below that top deck of cabins can be a good choice.

Where is the best position to be on a cruise ship? ›

You want to be as close to the pivot point as possible to feel the least movement. Avoid cabins near the front (bow) or back (stern) and on decks higher than the middle deck of the ship. So, on a ship with fourteen passenger decks, your best options are below deck seven.

What is on level 1 on a cruise ship? ›

Deck 1, or whatever the lowest deck is on a cruise ship that has staterooms, is not a prime location. If it is below the waterline, you are limited to Inside staterooms only. And if it's above the waterline, you will still at best have an ocean view only, and the view won't be great when you're so low down.

What are the cruise levels? ›

There are five levels in the VIFP Club:
  • Blue: Cruise Rookies.
  • Red: 2-24 VIFP Points.
  • Gold: 25-74 VIFP Points.
  • Platinum: 75-199 VIFP Points.
  • Diamond: 200+ VIFP Points.

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