So you have decided to go on a cruise; now the fun begins. Cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes and with different cabin locations and configurations. You can cruise the open seas on a mega-ship that carries 3,000+ passengers or enjoy a relaxing river cruise that carries fewer than 200 passengers. Picking the right or the wrong cabin and location will have an impact on your cruise experience. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on cabins on mega-ship cruises.
Cabin prices are based on several factors. In general, paying more will usually result in a better cabin and location on the ship. The less you pay — well, “you get what you pay for.” Interior cabins are the least expensive and suites are the most expensive.
As the saying goes, location, location, location. With 32 years of travel industry experience, here are the cabins we recommend you avoid.
Cabin Locations To Avoid
1. Lower Decks
Lower decks can vary from ship to ship. Disney Cruise Lines start some of the passenger cabins on the first deck, but Royal Caribbean passenger cabins begin on deck two or three, and Princess’ lowest passenger cabins begin on deck four. You should avoid these if you are a light sleeper because they can be noisy. The lower cabins are in earshot of the areas on the ship that house storage and services, from food lockers to the laundry and the crew quarters. Being located close to the water can make passengers prone to seasickness. The lowest decks, one and two, are close to the waterline. Since you can see the waves rushing the ship, it could cause issues.
2. Near Elevators
Cruises are great because they have activities early in the morning and late into the night. But if your cabin is by the elevators, you will hear all the fun! It can be very noisy in these areas and can interrupt your sleep. On most ships, the elevators are located in the front and back of the ship, while the biggest ships have them in the center as well.
3. Near Activity Decks
Cabins located near the activity decks make it harder to get a restful night’s sleep. These areas include atriums, pools, gyms, dining rooms, casinos, and theaters. These are areas where people typically congregate into the late hours of the night. All cruise lines are different but the pool decks are usually on 14. Atriums, shops, dining, and clubs are typically on deck five or six.
4. The Front Or The Back Of The Ship
If you get seasick, these are the two areas to avoid. You can feel more movement in the front and back of the ship. Also, the anchor(s) are in the front of the ship. If your ship is moored when in ports and not always at a dock, the sound of the anchor being dropped into the water can be earth-shattering if you are fast asleep.
Pro Tip: Most cruise ships are fitted with stabilizing systems that limit much of the movement that can cause motion sickness.
These cabins are smaller, with no windows or natural light. They are located close to the interior corridors that are only used by the crew for transporting goods and services throughout the ship. These areas can be noisy due to the constant use by the crew. Some passengers may get claustrophobic and seasick without a window to look out. However, newer ships offer “virtual windows or balconies” broadcasting a real-time video of the scene outside the ship from the same position as your cabin.
Now, it’s important to note that interior cabins offer the best value on a cruise. You usually get all the standard amenities you would get with booking most other cabins. But you also could miss out on the reason you’re cruising in the first place. For example, on an Alaskan cruise, an interior room would prevent you from taking in so much of the breathtaking scenery, whereas a cabin with a sea view or balcony would allow you to experience it by just looking out your room window. Some people spend little time in their cabins, while others spend time relaxing, eating, or reading a book in their cabin. An interior room could feel like close quarters if you like to spend time in your room.
6. Guaranteed Option
When you book your cabin, we suggest not choosing the guaranteed cabin option. This is the option the cruise line selects for you any time before embarkation day. They can put you in a cabin, on a lower deck, with an obstructed view, looking out at lifeboats, near the elevators, or by the casino with noise and smell of smoke.
7. Upgraded Cabins
You might want to avoid the upgrade option. Most cruise lines offer an option to bid on an upgraded cabin. This allows the cruise line to move your cabin to another location on the ship. Although it may sound like a good option and you may end up in a nicer cabin, you also may be away from friends and family if you are traveling with a group. Or it may be in one of those areas on the ship that your travel agent helped you avoid in the first place!
Best Cabin Location
Mid-Ship Upper Deck
Now you know the cabins to avoid, but where is the best place to spend your cruise? We recommend this tried and true location for just about every cruise.
Mid-ship cabins are our pick for the best cabins on the ship. Pick a deck sandwiched between 2 other cabin decks. These floors are usually the quietest and most centrally located. We recommend cabins in the vicinity of decks 7 to 11 on most ships.
Pro Tip: We recommend first-time cruisers pick a balcony or ocean view cabin. Balcony cabins usually offer the largest selection on cruise ships and come in a variety of layouts. Ocean view cabins offer a window, or porthole, providing natural light and giving you a view of the sea and the surroundings.
A travel agent can also help you find the best cabins for your particular cruise based on people, activities, and accessibility. We would be happy to help you plan your next cruise. You can find out more about the latest deals and places to visit at DreamVacations.