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How to choose the best cabin on a cruise ship

Choosing the best cabin on a cruise ship may be challenging and often overwhelming. If you are a first time cruiser it’s even more demanding and it could take up a lot of time on research. Who has all that time…no one, right!? We would all rather spend quality time with our family and friends than sitting in front of a laptop trying to read all those reviews and figure out who we can trust. If you wouldn’t like to be this person, be sure you keep reading…

As a member of a cruise ship for over eight years, working on almost a dozen ships within the Carnival Cruise Line fleet I can freely say that I know every corner of those gigantic luxury hotels and I’m very excited to share all my secrets with you all. Did I mention that I have been working as an Asst. Manager within the Housekeeping department for several years, which means that I’m very much familiar with each cabin category and its advantages…but also disadvantages? Do you wanna call me your personal cruise advisor? You are most welcome to do so!

With this post, I will share all of the information you could possibly need to choose a cabin for your next cruise vacation within a moment of your time and make you say out loud “Yes to the perfect cabin”!

Just before we dive in, let me first get you familiar with all cabin categories you can find on one cruise ship. There are a total of 4 main categories: Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite cabins. Be aware that each of these categories can have its subcategories depending on a ship class, more about it some other time. But what is the difference?

All you need to know about Interior cabins:

Interior cabins on a cruise ship are cabins with no windows or natural light. I know you might find this spooky and who would even want to pay for such a vacation…but trust me it isn’t at all. You pretty much get everything you need. When it comes to square footage, on most cruise lines it ranges from 150 to 185 square feet. It is equipped with two single beds which can be put together to a king size, closet space, vanity desk with a mirror, tv, safety box, hairdryer and bathroom with a shower.

Some interior cabins would also have additional pullman beds in order to accommodate more people. Also, it is good to know that these cabins are located on each floor of the ship and there is this thing as connecting cabins, where you can travel with your family and friends in the cabins next to each other with open doors in between. Yup…you can become one extended happy vacation family just in a second!

Top 5 benefits of choosing an interior cabin:

  1. If you are on a tight budget, think no more and go for an interior cabin. These are the most affordable rooms and you can find them as low as $70 per person, per day. I know…right?!
  2. Going on a 3-4 days cruise. On such a short cruise, you will spend only a few hours at night sleeping in your room, trust me! There is so much to explore and enjoy from loads of entertainment to ports of call.
  3. You prefer spending money somewhere else…such as spa treatments, organized excursions, drink packages, casino…these are only some of the choices.
  4. You are a light sleeper. This way you don’t have to worry about not getting any sleep due to the wind whistling noise coming from outside and natural light to wake you super early. 
  5. Cruising solo? You will have more than enough space for yourself in this room and truth to be told…you didn’t come on a cruise to be all alone in your room the whole day.

Bonus tips: Some of the ships have ‘secret’ cabins under the interior category, which most people won’t tell you about…You are welcome!  

Those are cabins with a porthole or an obstructed ocean view. Why wouldn’t you pay little and still have a bit of a glamorous view of an ocean? Be sure to check out if your next desirable ship has something like that.

Not for you? Keep reading…

What makes Oceanview cabins different from Interior?

Enjoying in variety of TV entertainment available in the Ocean view cabin, Carnival Horizon
Enjoying in variety of TV entertainment available in the Ocean view cabin, Carnival Horizon

If you absolutely can’t get over the fact that your room won’t have natural light, an ocean view cabin will be the right fit for you. 

The main differences between the two are the window with a stunning ocean view and an additional sofa bed with a coffee table for you to relax. When it comes to the size, they are slightly larger, up to 200 square feet, while all other amenities remain the same.

Just like interior cabins, this one could have additional Pullman beds if there are more guests in the room. On some ships, these cabins can accommodate up to 5 guests.

Yes, they also have some rooms with connecting doors, but it’s very important to know that they are located only on the lower decks on the ship.

What about Balcony cabins?

If you simply love a roomier cabin on your vacation and the price doesn’t matter too much then a balcony cabin it is. Wait, does that mean that you get your own private oasis outside of your room? Yeah…you read it right!

Tell me where else can you get a morning coffee watching a sunrise while sailing out in the middle of the ocean or a glass of wine during a sunset? Those are priceless moments, you won’t ever forget.

When I say roomier cabin, I mean around 220 square feet, with a sofa in it of course and they can accommodate up to 5 guests.

Top 5 benefits of choosing balcony cabin:

Don’t you often find yourself stuck with a question when it is actually worth paying more for a balcony cabin?

  1. If you are booking an Alaska Cruise…Let me tell you, views of glaciers and fjords are what you are looking forward to the most. Enjoy the privacy of your balcony rather than getting cramped with other 4000 people.
  2. Your cruise will have more than two Sea Days. Hm…a few days at sea can be painful if you are looking for some privacy. There is nothing to relax you more than a glass of wine with your loved ones on your own balcony.
  3. Booking a Family Cruise? If you are a family of four with small kids, you surely don’t want to spend seven days in a cabin where kids are sleeping on two bunk beds above your head. Or even worse, you can’t move around the room as you should. This is the time when you shouldn’t think, but go with a balcony room.
  4. Yeeey! Time for your Honeymoon Cruise…Do I need to talk about how much privacy you need on your honeymoon? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Have the freedom of joining the crowd only when you really want.
  5. If you ever wished to have those ‘movie moments’ where happy couples are having breakfast for two in complete privacy…this is your chance! 
Views from the balcony while sailing through Cruise Glacier Bay, Alaska, Carnival Miracle
Views from the balcony while sailing through Cruise Glacier Bay, Alaska, Carnival Miracle

Bonus tip: You may have heard that if you are traveling in a group, by booking cabins next to each other, you can open balcony partition doors and that way hangs out with each other outdoors. Well, the truth is, that won’t be an option every time! See, due to safety reasons, some of those partition doors can’t be open as they would block off your main balcony door.

This is certainly one of the most common frustrating scenarios I came across through my work and unfortunately, nothing can be done at that time. So to prevent this, be sure you ask the company directly if this can be accommodated prior to the booking.

What is so special about Suite?

Hm…well, just about everything! This is a truly large cabin with a separate dressing room, spacious bathroom with a bubbly tub in it, extended balcony and living area. Sounds lovely, right?

They are perfectly located all on one deck (6 or 7), with some exceptions and convenient for any type of traveler. 

Top 5 benefits of choosing suite:

  1. Going on a journey cruise, which is 15 days or longer. Why wouldn’t allow yourself to sail with comfort? Yes, please!
  2. If you settle only for the best. With suite cabins, other than its comfort, you will enjoy a high-end service, priority lines, check-in, embarkation, debarkation, priority dinner reservations…Who would say no to this?
  3. Celebrating something? When is the best time to lavish yourself if not while celebrating your birthday, anniversary, honeymoon? 
  4. You love to be spoiled with presents wherever you turn! Here you will get loads of it…free goodies delivered multiple times during your cruise, complimentary bottles of water, bathrobes on use…
  5. Glamour is your second name? On some Cruise Lines, you will have exclusive access to certain areas on the ship. How cool is that?

Some extra “secret tips” from me:

Before I leave you to book your perfect cabin, let me share with you some more tips and be fully sure that after reading this post you won’t have a second of stress on your vacation due to lack of information.

  • Choose a cabin closer to elevators and all areas you like to spend time the most to avoid unnecessary walking,
  • Lower decks for lesser movements, 
  • Cabins away from the main show lounge, disco, casino if you are a light sleeper,
  • Choose central areas of the ship if you love to be in the heart of happenings,
  • Be aware of the location of the main kitchen area on the ship, main restaurant, main lobby…These areas won’t be quiet and who needs to listen to the door opening and closing, plates and trolleys moving around, live music until midnight? Not you for sure!

***Please note that cabin amenities, size and locations vary from Cruise line to Cruise line. 

Which cabin do you prefer to book the most? Add in the comments if you have any suggestions from your personal experience. We all here would love to hear them.


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About me

Hey there! My name is Marija – born in Serbia, 32 years old, leaving my life to the fullest for the past eight years working on cruise ships and having a dream job. I’ve always loved to travel but never knew that joining the Cruise industry will change my life entirely and open up new horizons, so I become a travel and cruise addict and haven’t stopped yet. 

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