The Best Cruise Cabin for Every Type of Need
Not all staterooms are created equal. Here's your guide to picking the best rooms on a cruise ship based on your travel preferences and lifestyle.
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Cruise accommodations—also known as staterooms or cabins—are a vacationers’ home away from home while at sea. Far from a one-size-fits-all decision, there are numerous factors to consider when determining the best rooms on a cruise ship to fit your and your companions’ needs.
From size to location to view and beyond, there are many things to keep in mind when selecting your stateroom, says Gianluca Corneli, hotel director at Royal Caribbean International. “How many will stay in the room? Is your room a place to hang out or just where you sleep?” Also, think about what you’d like to be near on the ship. “For example, consider if you would like to be near the elevator for convenience or prefer a location down the hallway with fewer guests passing by,” she says. Also factor in any ways you’d like to elevate your stay, like maybe a balcony or a suite for your next Caribbean cruise.
It’s no wonder that some of the best cruise lines offer up to 28 different types of rooms on a single ship—they want to ensure there’s an ideal solution for every guest. Savvy cruisers already know all the best cruise tips, hidden cruise features and things you can’t do on cruises. Now, let’s focus on upgrading your room choice to the perfect fit for your specific needs.
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Best for avoiding seasickness
Choose: The middle of the ship, on a low deck
Picture a ship like a seesaw—the most movement will be felt on either end, while the middle stays fairly even-keel. “Middle and low, that’s where you want to be,” says cruise expert Dori Saltzman, senior editor with trade publication Travel Market Report. “While you don’t need to be on the absolute lowest passenger deck, you don’t want to go above the middle of the ship (vertical wise). You also want to try to be as middle (horizontal wise) as possible.”
If cabins in the middle of the ship aren’t available, she says to choose aft over forward, because the more forward a cabin is, the more you’ll feel the motion of the ocean. And while this may seem counter-intuitive, be sure to book a cabin with a window or balcony, so you can keep your eyes on the horizon if you start feeling queasy. Here’s a list of what to pack for a cruise—which includes meds for seasickness. Plus: These are some unexpected essentials you should never board a cruise ship without, too.
Best for great views
Choose: A cabin with a balcony, preferably at the back of the ship
While you can always go to the upper decks of any ship for 360-degree views of your surroundings, there’s no greater cruise ship luxury than enjoying the scenery from your own private balcony. They may also be called veranda cabins. Balconies are the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of champagne during a spectacular sunset and pretend you’re all alone at sea.
And some of the absolute best rooms on a cruise ship are located at the rear, where you’ll also be treated to the photo-worthy wake left behind, which is a fun way to mark your ship’s progress. Balconies are also nice for having access to fresh air when you want it, it can be very soothing to listen to the sounds of the ocean from your stateroom, and you’ll have a better chance of spotting wildlife along your cruise too.
Best for light sleepers
Choose: A deck filled with other guest cabins and away from elevators
Finding the best rooms on a cruise ship for light sleepers usually takes a little research, but that due diligence will pay off come bedtime. “You need your cabin to be located away from any bank of elevators, but also away from crew entrances,” says Saltzman. So being surrounded by other cabins of people who want to sleep too is a safe bet. “You also don’t want your cabin to be located above the ship’s main theater, underneath any restaurants where you can hear the chairs scraping on the floor or under/over any of the lounges that have music late into the night.”
Finally, you don’t want to be on a low deck that’s too aft or too forward, as you may end up above the engines or the anchor, which makes a lot of noise when it’s lowered and raised. You may feel a bit like Goldilocks trying to choose that perfect cabin on your next romantic cruise, but the reward of peace and quiet will be priceless.
Best for a little more space
Choose: A forward-facing cabin
While you aren’t likely to find a balcony on a forward-facing cabin, you may find more interior space than similarly priced mid-ship cabins. Why? There are some odd angles in forward-facing cabins that the designers had to work around, thanks to the slanted style of the front of a ship. Those odd angles may work in your favor when it comes to square footage.
It’s important to note that while these are some of the best rooms on a cruise ship for extra space, you will experience the most movement in a front-facing cabin, so this choice is not an ideal position for anyone prone to motion sickness.
Best for cruising with little kids
Choose: Family-friendly suites
Most cruise lines offer family-friendly cruises and specific cabins suited for kids, which can be a mix of in-room amenities and proximity to other areas of the ship children will love. “On Disney’s ships, all cabins have two bathrooms, one with a sink and toilet and the other with a shower/tub combo (a small minority of rooms do not have the tub) for families that need the little one to be able to take a bath, while everyone else is still able to wash up,” says Saltzman. “Another good option is the Family Harbor cabins on Carnival’s Vista-class ships (Vista, Horizon, Panorama) and Excel-class ships (Mardi Gras, Celebration). Similar to the Disney cabins, these have two bathrooms, one a full one with a shower, sink and toilet, and the other with a sink and shower/tub combo.”
Best for staying on budget
Choose: An interior cabin
Unless you’re worried about feeling claustrophobic—since there will be no porthole or window to the outside world—an interior cabin is a nice option for saving money (we’re talking $300 for 7-day cruises). Not only is it the lowest-priced cabin type, which means you’ll have more funds to put toward excursions, a drink package or souvenirs, but you’ll also be able to take midday naps or sleep in later because there won’t be any light sneaking in.
Another positive is that an interior cabin might encourage you to spend more of your free time roaming around the ship, meeting other people and getting more involved in activities, since you may not find it desirable to spend your time beyond sleeping and showering in a windowless box. These are the most affordable cruise lines for staying on budget in general.
Best for mobility disabilities
Choose: An accessible stateroom
For passengers with limited mobility or no mobility, most major cruise lines offer accessible staterooms in a variety of room types (inside cabin, ocean view and balcony). These options do vary based on the cruise line and the age of the ship, so it’s best to research this in advance and factor the accessible options available into your cruise planning process.
Accessible rooms tend to be larger than standard cabins to accommodate wheelchair or scooter users, and they also feature larger bathrooms. Additionally, some rooms will have emergency-call buttons or specific amenities for hearing or vision-impaired guests. For instance, the fully accessible rooms on Holland America Line provide adequate turning space, accessibility routes throughout the room, roll-in showers, wheelchair access on both sides of the bed, handlebars in the shower and hand-held shower heads, says Sissel Bergersen, director of rooms division, Holland America Line. Before you lock in a booking, it may be best to call the cruise line and explain your needs so they can help steer you toward the perfect cabin.
Best for being spoiled rotten
Choose: A cabin with butler service or a spa cabin
For travelers who like adult-only cruises or who are yearning for a little extra pampering, the best rooms on a cruise ship fall into one of two categories. The first is a suite that comes with butler service, where you’ll have someone helping with all the details you don’t want to spend your precious vacation time tending to—like reserving prime-time dinner slots at specialty restaurants, booking shore excursions, packing and unpacking and even drawing rose petal bubble baths. Rooms at this level may also come with exclusive access to private pools, clubs and lounges with more luxurious touches and solitude than you’ll find elsewhere on the ship.
The other category that’s becoming increasingly popular is spa suites. On Norwegian Cruise Line, the Haven Spa Suite, Spa Club Balcony Suites and Spa Balcony (available on the Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Epic) have varying amenities that range from more tranquil room décor with an oversized shower and body spray jets to priority access to Mandara Spa. And on Celebrity Cruises, the AquaClass staterooms are focused on wellness, with a pillow menu, complimentary fitness pass, preferential rates on spa packages, healthy room-service menu options, an exclusive restaurant, a spa concierge, access to the SEA Thermal Suite and a yoga mat for use onboard.
Best for solo cruisers
Choose: A cruise line that offers single rooms or waives single supplements
Solo cruises are a wonderful experience, yet so many cruise lines penalize single cruisers by forcing them to pay a “single supplement.” This surcharge is added to the fare of a solo passenger, since cruise room pricing is generally based on double occupancy. This fee can be an additional 10% all the way up to a full 100% of the rate, making solo cruising unaffordable for many travelers.
Instead, look for cruise lines that offer single staterooms, like Celebrity, which has the Edge Single Stateroom with Infinite Veranda (available on Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Beyond and Celebrity Ascent) and the Single Inside Stateroom on Celebrity Silhouette. Other cruise lines, including Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, also offer single cabins—these special solo and studio cabins aren’t subject to single supplements. Occasionally, you may even find cruise lines running special promotions and waiving their single supplement for a regular-size room.