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How to pick the best cruise ship cabin - and the rooms you should never choose

Author: Sophie Chichester

Published on:

Updated on:

Cruise ship cabins are important to get right as picking the wrong room could end up ruining your trip. This is how to get the best one for you.

Cruise ship cabins vary enormously depending on the cruise line and ship.

While it might be easy to navigate smaller vessels' offerings, some of the big ships have up to 30 different grades of cabin, so selecting cruise accommodation can be confusing to the uninitiated.

Some cabins are big, some small, some with a window that doesn’t open, some with a restricted view, some for families... but which is best for you?

This is your guide to picking cruise cabins.

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How to choose cruise ship cabins

The first thing to know is that when you strip it all down there are just four types of cabin:

Inside

Inside cabins are the cheapest cabins, inside the ship with no window or porthole.

Outside

Outside cabins have a window or porthole but they won’t open.

Balcony

Balcony cabins have their own private verandas.

Suite

Strictly speaking, a suite has separate sleeping and living areas (either different rooms or a curtain between the two), but some cruise lines use this moniker to mean a more spacious cabin.

Inside cabin min
Cruise cabins: Inside cabins are the cheapest cabins, inside the ship with no window or porthole. Credit: Shutterstock

Another area of confusion for cruising newcomers is the term ‘stateroom’, which is simply a word cruise lines like to use because it sounds grander than 'cabin'.

But at the end of the day, it is still a cabin. Staterooms come with a range of fixtures and fittings as standard including a TV, minibar and hairdryer, and most have private safes.

- READ MORE: What to pack for a cruise holiday - eight top tips -

All have ensuite bathrooms with tubs or showers (or sometimes both); the best cruise lines provide toiletries. In short, everything you would expect from a modern hotel room – and sometimes more.

Cabin prices are determined by grade and location. Rooms on the lowest decks are the cheapest and they get more expensive the higher up you go.

Vv cabin min 1
Cruise cabins: Cabin prices are determined by grade and location. Credit: Virgin Voyages

The most expensive suites are often at the very front and back of the ship, but you also pay a premium for a more central position.

Which cabin you choose obviously depends on how much you want to spend, but there are other things to consider.

- READ MORE: Cruise ship rules and regulations you need to know -

If seasickness is a concern, pick a cabin on a lower deck in the middle of the ship as there will be less movement.

If you are sensitive to noise, avoid a room just below the lido deck or the gym, or close to the engine room; if mobility is an issue, pick accommodation close to the lifts.

Seabourn suite min
Cruise cabins: The most expensive suites are often at the very front and back of the ship. Credit: Seabourn

There are spa cabins and suites that come with perks, including free access to the thermal suite. If you are travelling with children, you may want to pick a cabin close to the kids’ clubs and children’s facilities.

Most cabins are for two people, although more companies are adding single accommodation to cater for the growing number of people who cruise alone.

- READ MORE: Which cruise ships have solo cabins? From P&O to Royal Caribbean -

Two-bedded rooms usually have a choice of double or twin beds, and many also have a third or fourth berth (either a sofa bed or a bunk that drops from the ceiling).

These are good for families but can be cramped. For more space, choose a family suite or two cabins with an interconnecting door.

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