A look at the deck plan of a recently built cruise ship is enough to intimidate even the most seasoned cruiser! The rainbow of colors designating cabin / stateroom category (the terms are interchangeable) can exceed 20 on some of the larger vessels. How do you make sense of it all and pick the perfect stateroom? It’s a lot easier than it appears, once you know the basics.
Cruise ship staterooms are comparably smaller than hotel rooms, but are designed for comfort and efficiency. At the very least you can expect a bed, (often two twins that push together to become a queen), nightstands, a desk / dressing table with a mirror, a desk chair, dresser, television, and sometimes a loveseat and coffee table. For cabins accommodating 3 or 4 guests there will beds that flip down, sofa beds or trundle beds. All staterooms have a private bathroom with shower; tubs are usually standard in the suite categories. Disney Cruise Line is the exception, as its family-friendly stateroom design includes a tub.
Choosing your perfect stateroom is a matter of personal choice with budget and desired location being determining factors. Sometimes you must sacrifice one to get the other. At the most basic level, staterooms can be categorized as “inside” (no window), outside / oceanview (having a port hole or picture window), balcony / veranda (having a door that opens on to a small private balcony) or suite (a larger cabin, sometimes with more then one room). Inside cabins are the least expensive, with suites being the most expensive. Guests staying in a suite will be privy to additional amenities, depending on the particular suite and cruise line. Within each of the above categories, pricing is further determined by location. Midship cabins on higher decks will cost more than cabins on lower decks and cabins that are located forward or aft.
In recent years these four basic categories have been subdivided even further. On select ships Royal Caribbean has what they call interior “promenade cabins” with windows that look into the Royal Promenade area of the ship- a lively corridor of shops, bars and eateries. Royal Caribbean Oasis-class ships have “neighborhood view” and “neighborhood balcony” categories with views of Central Park or the Boardwalk are of the ship. Norwegian Cruise Line has studio cabins made for solo travelers on select ships, as well as the private and luxurious Haven complex. Celebrity Cruise Line and others now feature “spa” cabin categories, which give guests more direct access to the ships spa, as well as additional services and amenities.
Concierge cabins and butler service can take your cruise experience to a whole other level. The price jump is significant but many find the level of service they receive, as well as the additional niceties make it well worth the price. Among other things, the concierge can make dinner, show and spa reservations for you, and print airline boarding passes. Some cruise lines have a dedicated Concierge Lounge for private breakfasts and cocktails before dinner. Butlers will serve your meals should you choose to eat in your suite and even pack and unpack for you!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here is some additional information you should take under consideration when selecting your perfect stateroom:
* No cabin is “underwater”, even if you’re on the lowest passenger deck.
* Looking at a deck plan, keep in mind that below what you may perceive to be the lowest deck, are additional decks not shown (crews quarters).
* If you are worried about, or are prone to seasickness, select a mid ship cabin on a lower deck.
* If you have minor mobility issues look for a stateroom closer to an elevator bank.
* If you need an accessible cabin, keep in mind that there is limited availability, so book early.
* Watch for public areas or service areas nearby any cabin you are considering. A cabin on a deck that is sandwiched between other passenger decks is generally a quiet area.
* Beware of cabins directly beneath the pool deck. The set up of lounges in the early morning and / or late night pool parties can sometimes be noisy.
* A cabin ""guarantee"" is one in which you pay for the cabin category you are willing to take, but you allow the cruise line to select the cabin for you. You are guaranteed to get accommodated in at least the category you have selected; you will never get a lower category. Do not opt for a cabin guarantee unless you can honestly say it would not matter where your cabin is located. If you are hoping for an upgrade, you are setting yourself up for a big disappointment.
* Aft balcony cabins are sought after for a view second to none, as well as an extended balcony that can fit lounge chairs."