You have finally decided which cruise line you want to go with and which destination you want to see.
Now is the big question though which cabin do you book out of the many to choose from?
Do you book a balcony or inside cabin, which deck is the best, should you stay port side or starboard side? Here are a few tips from what I have learned through personal experience as well from guests that I booked myself.
This mostly depends in my opinion on personal preference and to some extend income. Some people may only book if they can have a certain cabin type, others may not care too much about the cabin they stay in at all.
These are normally the leading categories and cost the least. Mostly located on the lower decks, depending on the size of the ships, they are fairly basic and normally slightly smaller.
They are good value for money if you are like me and spend only time in your cabin for sleeping and the rest of your time out and about on the ship.
As the name states these cabins are inside and do not have a window.
Outside cabins with port holes or a picture window are most of the time the next category up from the inside cabin. The amenities and size of this cabin type are mostly the same as for the inside cabin.
However, this type of cabin is nice as it allows for some natural sun light to come in and it allows you to watch the sea from the comfort of your cabin.
For most cruise lines there is a high increase in cost from the inside and outside cabins to the balcony cabins.
Balcony cabins are ideal for people who spend more time in their cabin and who want to retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the ship.
There is nothing better than to sit on your balcony with a nice cocktail and watch the waves, read a book or just sit and do nothing.
Balcony cabins tend to be more spacious than the inside and outside cabins and many cruise lines offer extra benefits when booking a higher cabin grade such as access to specific restaurants or lounge areas on the ship.
Suites are the highest cabin type the cruise lines have to offer. They are the most spacious cabins you can find on the ships with the best amenities and perks.
Of course, they are the most expensive cabins as well, but if you are able to splash out the cash this might be the cabin for you.
The main difference between a suite and a balcony cabin is first of all the size and secondly the perks you get. Suites have usually separate bedrooms as well as living rooms and the bathrooms are more spacious often with a separate bathtub and shower.
They are basically like a flat or even apartment, whereas the balcony cabins still only have a shared living and bedroom area with the standard bathroom size. Depending on the cruise line, suites can even be multilevel and come with their own private Jacuzzi!
And certainly the perks that you get when staying in a suite are quite something. Some examples are butler service, priority embarkation and disembarkation, concierge service, unlimited internet access, complimentary laundry service, exclusive access to certain lounges of the ship, access to the captain’s table, parties arranged exclusively for suite guests, complimentary canapes and the list goes on.
STARBOARD OR PORT SIDE
Starboard or port side, meaning should I book a cabin on the right or left hand side of the ship can in certain cases be really important. This depends entirely on the itinerary and the direction of sailing.
For example, when travelling in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean you are surrounded by either land or water nonstop. Therefore, it does not matter too much on which side your cabin is located as the views are more or less the same from both sides.
However, if you are travelling along the South American coastline for example going south, you may want to book a cabin on the starboard side (right hand side) as those cabins will face the shore whereas the port side cabins (cabins on the left hand side) will face the ocean. Therefore, you would get a better view of the land if your cabin is located on the starboard side.
For some people the location of the cabin on the ship can be crucial. Many people suffer from seasickness and where your cabin is located can influence this immensely especially when sailing in rocky waters.
So, if you are one of these people I would always recommend a cabin located in the middle of the ship. The middle is most stable compared to the front and back as the stabilisers as well as centre of gravity are located there.
Also, noise levels and vibration need to be taken into consideration when choosing your cabin. Cabins on the lower decks are closer to the engines as well as the propellers and anchors of the ship.
The ship needs to use the propellers to manoeuvre into the port and the anchors to dock safely. Therefore, if your cabin is located on the lower decks you may feel the vibration of the engines and you may hear the propellers and letting down of the anchor when the ship is docking. As the ships arrive mostly early in the morning in the ports this may wake you up. The propellers and anchors are on both sides and at the front and back of the ship.
However, noise levels can potentially be high on upper decks, too. If you have a cabin on the upper deck that is close to a public area for example the pool or the elevators then traffic can be high, meaning lots of people may pass your cabin.
Some people choose the cabin location based on the deck and what is located on that specific deck. For example, people with walking difficulties prefer to have a cabin close to the elevators so they do not have to walk so much. Other people like to have a cabin close to the theatre as they can watch the show at night after dinner and go straight back to their cabin to sleep.
Please make sure to check which cabin you have selected before booking it to avoid any nasty surprises such as booking a double occupancy cabin although you need a triple occupancy cabin.
Deck plans are colour coordinated to display the cabin types and they contain signs to tell you about wheelchair accessible cabins, cabins with interconnecting doors, room occupancy, cabin constellation etc.
Always look at the legend of the deck plans to see what the signs mean and if they are applicable to you and your cabin or not.
Lastly, have a look at the deck plan to see what is above, underneath and next to your cabin.
If the theatre is above your cabin you may hear the music of the performances at night. If you have a triple occupancy cabin next to you with a sofa or bunk bed, expect a family with children in the cabin next to you.
FINAL THOUGHTS …
I hope you find these tips and suggestions useful.
However, please remember that these are generalised and may differ depending on the size of the ship, the building quality, your own personal preference and needs and even the people on board.
I have had cabins on lower decks for instance and on one ship I did feel the vibration and on another one I did not.
This shows that not all cabins and ships are the same and one person might think cabin ABC is the best, whereas another person might think cabin ABC is the worst cabin possible.