Accommodation on a cruise ship is called a cabin or a stateroom and is similar to a hotel room, but usually much more compact. Cabins or staterooms fall into different categories, dependent upon location, size, and amenities.
There can be as many as 30 different stateroom categories or grades on each ship, but essentially there are four main types:
These are usually the smallest of all staterooms, located in the centre of the ship without any windows, portholes or views to the outside.
These are often a similar size to an inside cabin or slightly larger, with a window or porthole and a view to the outside.
These are often larger rooms with sliding doors to a Veranda or Balcony allowing private outside access from your stateroom (without accessing a public deck).
These are usually the largest of all the staterooms. These usually consist of a separate lounge and sleeping area and often have a wide range of extra onboard amenities and benefits.
Choosing the correct cabin can be overwhelming with so much to consider from location, size and amenities, to view and budget, but our Cruise Experts are here to guide you through the maze:
Your Cabin Location
Do you prefer a quiet location?
Most cruise lines tend to assign their nicest and most expensive cabins to the highest decks with the best views. These are usually just below the pool deck, however it’s usually the pool deck which creates the most noise so you may wish to be located far enough away from here to minimise disruption. Cabins located next to show lounges or bars or those situated low and at the back of the ship are also likely to be noisy due to the noise from the ships engines.
Do you tend to get seasick?
If you suffer from seasickness then cabin location can make a huge difference to your cruise experience. The lowest most central location will experience the least motion so you should always select the most midship cabin on the lowest deck that you can find.
Do you require easy access to any particular area of the ship?
Some cruise travellers, especially those with impaired mobility, may prefer for their cabins to be closer to specific areas of the ship such as elevators or the central atrium for easy access to all of the ships amenities. Cruisers with young families may also prefer to be closer to the kids club areas or the sports complex.
Do you prefer natural light?
Inside cabins offer no windows or views at all but have ample lighting and clever use of mirrors to maximise the brightness. These are typically the smallest and cheapest cabins onboard so are ideal for those on a limited budget who don’t intend to spend much time in their stateroom. An Inside cabin is not for everyone so it’s worth upgrading if the lack of natural sunlight will impact your enjoyment.
Your Cabin Size
What size of cabin do you require?
If your stateroom is simply a base for exploring the ship then a ‘standard’ sized cabin may suit your needs very well, but if you tend to spend lots of time in your cabin then you may want to upgrade to something a bit bigger. Often the decision on size of cabin is directly related to price so consider if it’s worth the upgrade.
How many are sharing the stateroom?
If there are just two of you sharing then a standard size stateroom should be fine, but when there are three or four sharing then you should make sure the space is big enough to accommodate everyone as well as all of their belongings.
Do you require an outdoor space or a balcony?
If you tend to spend most of your time in the public areas of the ship then upgrading to a balcony stateroom may not be worth the extra cost. It’s also worth considering what you require the outdoor space for. Would you rather spend your days here than up on the sun decks? If so then this is perhaps the right choice for you. Your cruise itinerary should also be taken into consideration as you may not spend that much time outside on a cold weather or transatlantic cruise, so a balcony may not be worth the additional expense.
Do you require the luxury of a Suite?
Suites are often the first category to sell out, mainly because there are fewer of them, and also because they often offer extremely good value with the additional perks they bring with them. When considering a suite think about your budget, how much space you really need and what amenities are most important to you. Most importantly try and book early if you can.
Your Cabin Amenities
What extra cabin amenities do you require?
All staterooms come with basic amenities, such as the services of a cabin steward, bathroom products (soap, shampoo etc), air conditioning, etc. but some categories do come with added benefits. Suites can come with priority boarding or bar and butler services, Spa cabins will offer spa-related benefits, concierge grade cabins will give you access to a concierge and solo cabins could even include the use of an exclusive lounge.
Spa Grade Cabins offer Spa related elements combined into your stateroom experience. If you are a Spa lover then this truly is the cruise for you. Spa staterooms usually include unlimited Spa access, bathrobes, slippers and a Personal Spa Concierge to arrange all of your Spa treatments. They may also include priority access to restaurants, pillow menus, and use of a wellness program to include fitness and relaxation classes such as meditation and yoga. Celebrity Aquaclass is a popular Spa grade stateroom as well as Costa’s Samsara Spa Cabins.
A concierge can take care of all of your practical onboard matters such as making dinner and spa reservations or booking shore excursions, leaving you to enjoy your cruise experience. The use of the Concierge Service is usually included in the price of most suites, and some ships may also have an exclusive Concierge Lounge where you can snack, drink and relax in private. Concierge grade cabins may also come with additional amenities such as welcome drinks, fruit baskets or afternoon canapes.
Butler Service Cabins
A personal butler service can be a wonderful cruise experience, with some cruise lines also including this as part of your fare when you book a Suite or Concierge cabin. These can really provide extra value to you by refilling your mini-bar to your personal requirements, bringing room service from speciality restaurants or serving in-cabin meals. Butlers can also unpack and repack your bags, assist you with your laundry requirements or draw you a luxurious bubble bath!
Your Cabin View
Do you require a view from your cabin?
If the view from your cabin is important to you, you should consider not only the direction in which your stateroom faces, but also how the ship's structure might get in the way of your view. If scenery is important to you, then make sure you look closely at your cruise itinerary before selecting your cabin as it may be worth selecting the side of the ship that faces the land to get the best views!
Aft-Facing Balcony Cabins
Aft-Facing Balcony Cabins (at the rear of the ship) are generally the most sought after due to their spectacular 180-degree views. These balconies are usually also significantly bigger than the standard balconies located along the sides of the ship. The location does mean that these are located quite far away from most of the facilities and onboard activities, and they are almost always overlooked from passengers in the cabins and on the decks above, but they are still usually first to sell out.
Forward-Facing Balcony Cabins
Forward-Facing Balcony Cabins are almost always suites, so if you don’t want to pay the suite premium then you really need to be quick off the mark in securing an aft-facing balcony.
Promenade Cabins tend to mainly be available on older ships as most modern ships no longer incorporate these in their design. These staterooms have windows looking out onto the open-air deck or walking track (promenade) that encircles the ship. The advantage of these is the easy access to fresh air without the added cost of paying a balcony supplement. The drawback however is that they tend to be quite dark due to the overhang of the deck above and anyone can look in, especially when the lights are on!
Obstructed View Cabins
Some Outside or Oceanview cabins will not offer full views, but will be obstructed due to the ship's design. These include cabins located close to lifeboats, forward balcony cabins close to the bridge and balcony cabins under the pool deck. Although the restricted view can be a disadvantage, the benefit of these is often the price as you can often receive outside staterooms for the price of an inside!
Interior View Cabins
Not every interior stateroom is without a view. Some Royal Caribbean ships have Interior-View cabins with windows which look out onto interior public areas such as Central Park (the garden area) and the Boardwalk (the amusement park area). These are usually priced somewhere in the middle of Interior and Oceanview rates.
Interior Cabins with Virtual portholes or Balconies
“Virtual views” are the newest and most innovative trend for interior cabins. Disney and Royal Caribbean now offer "magical portholes" and "virtual balconies" in some staterooms. These consist of LCD screens within the staterooms which display real-time images of the ship exterior including the sea and Ports using cameras located across the ship. The aim of these is to simulate real cabin windows or balcony views, which also assists with the addition of light into the rooms.
Do you have a budget in mind for your cruise?
Cruise prices are fluid and can fluctuate from day to day, all dependent upon supply and demand. When budgeting for your cruise don't forget to consider the other costs associated with your trip such as airfares, transportation to and from the Port and Shore Excursions etc. as you may discover that this may impact on your overall budget.
Are you happy to wait and book last minute?
Cruise fares will almost always be at their cheapest closer to the departure date, however this will often require compromise as the availability and choice of staterooms on offer will be greatly reduced. Bargain hunters who are relaxed about destination, cabin types, ship position etc can certainly hold off for reduced fares but waiting for a higher grade category to come down in price can be a risky business.
Do value added benefits such as onboard spending money matter to you?
Many cruise lines offer promotions at various times throughout the year for added value benefits such as Complimentary Onboard Spending Money, Free Drinks Packages, Flights or Gratuities. These can be a good way to free up some cash to pay for other holiday expenses, but are not always available on last minute cruises. If these are not of a huge concern to you then booking last minute may be the way to go.
Would you consider a Guarantee stateroom?
A ‘Guarantee’ stateroom is often the cheapest way of booking your cruise. These cabin types tend to offer the biggest discounts, however, these do always require compromise. A ‘Guarantee’ stateroom is booked on the basis that your cabin number will not be allocated until a later date at the cruise line’s discretion. This means that you will be guaranteed a minimum standard of cabin as indicated by the cabin grade, but you will have no further choice in how or where onboard the ship your cabin will be allocated. The main benefit of this is that you save money on the cruise fare, but another plus point is that there is also the chance of an upgrade. The real risk in booking this type of fare is that you give up the chance to pick your spot on board whether your preference be midship, high deck or low deck the decision is out of your hands.
No matter which stateroom option you select, you can be assured that it will have a private bathroom, TV, comfortable beds and most importantly your cabin steward will service your cabin up to twice a day with all the necessary requirements.
Our Cruise Experts would be happy to assist you in choosing the right cabin type and location for your needs. Call us today on 0800 197 8050