Think, dingy cupboards, tucked away on Deck Z with no natural daylight – that’s how many cruisers see inside cabins, writing them off as a desperate measure for the terminally cash-strapped.
But have these people actually been inside one? The cruise lines have been busy pushing the boat out with innovative designs to rival any balcony stateroom. Today’s inside cabins may still be windowless, and yes, they are still a great way to travel on a budget, but now they offer so much more: more space and more tech for your buck, as well as designer decor and even spa perks. Here are the top six reasons to book an inside cabin on your next cruise holiday.
1. They’re great for families.
How would your kids like a cabin with a magic porthole? Go inside on Disney Fantasy or Disney Dream, and that’s what they get. The Art-Deco style cabins offer real-time ocean views complete with pop-up Disney characters including Peach, the smiley starfish from Finding Nemo, as well as Dumbo and even good old Mickey Mouse. And when it’s time for bed, you can turn off the porthole with the flick of a switch.
Inside cabins are great for grandparents, too. Many older passengers see them as the perfect way to travel with small grandchildren – no balconies to worry about – and as a better alternative to paying a single supplement to go solo in an outside stateroom.
“On my latest cruise it was almost the same price to take my grandson with me for two weeks as it was to pay the supplement,” says Linda Jones, 61, from Llanelli. “We were always out and about and only slept in the cabin. I put the TV on as a focus in the room when we were getting ready to go out, and my grandson didn’t even notice that there wasn’t a window.”
It’s an option that appeals to many parents, too, who book an inside cabin for the children as a cheaper and often bigger alternative to a family cabin.
“Our boys are in the kids’ club or out with us the entire time,” says Samantha Payne, 42, from Nottingham. “So we thought it was a waste of money to pay for an outside cabin. We had a balcony cabin which was our family room, and the kids only went to the inside cabin opposite at bedtime. They liked the independence and we loved the privacy.”
2. They’re competitively priced.
For many cruisers, the prime attraction of inside cabins remains the value – and despite all the recent improvements this remains as good as ever, with prices up to 60 per cent cheaper than the next grade up. That helps cruising stack up very well indeed against other types of holiday, as Alessandra Pierleoni, marketing director at MSC Cruises, points out: “Inside cruise fares are really competitive against land-based alternatives,” she says. “And as the cruise price includes all your food on board, it’s a great way to travel on a budget.”
What will you do with the money you don’t spend on your accommodation? You could save it for your next holiday – or treat yourself on this one. Less cash for your cabin means more for onboard extras such as a drinks package or shore excursions. As Andy Harmer, director of industry body CLIA UK & Ireland puts it:
“Taking an inside cabin is great choice for guests who are looking to make their cruise budget go further. The amenity-laden ships of today, plus busy land-based holiday itineraries, often combine to mean that guests spend very little time in their cabins, preferring to take part in activities in public spaces, or explore the fascinating ports of call.”
3. You’ll explore the whole cruise ship.
If you splash out on an owner’s suite, chances are you’ll spend most of your time sipping cocktails on your wraparound balcony (got to get your money’s worth, after all). But with an inside cabin you’ll be out and about. You’ll explore all the restaurants, the pool, sun deck, the gym, spa and library, you’ll find time to go to that art class or learn some salsa moves. You’ll take all the excursions and you’re bound to make friends. Why hide away?
4. You won’t pack the kitchen sink.
Inside cabins do tend to have less storage space, but even that can be turned into a plus. It forces you to pack light, which means you can walk straight on to a flight rather than checking in your case. So no anxious wait at the baggage carousel, and more time exploring duty-free. For advice on how to pack for your next cruise, see Christine Fieldhouse’s top tips.
5. They’re much quieter.
While it’s still true that many inside cabins are tucked away on lower decks, that also means a lack of noise – a huge plus if you’re a light sleeper. And speaking of light, turn yours off and that inside cabin is properly dark, even if you’re in the Land of the Midnight Sun. That means you can grab 40 winks at any time of day, which can help you recover from jet lag, and it’s yet another helpful feature if you’re travelling with little ones. “My grandson usually wakes at 6am,” says Linda Jones. “But with no daylight peeping through the curtains in our inside cabin, he slept later and I could relax.”
6. You can make friends.
For solo passengers, avoiding the dreaded supplement isn’t the only advantage of going inside. On some lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), it’s even a way of making friends. Solo travellers on NCL ships have a communal area – the Studio Complex and Lounge – to meet, have a drink, watch the big-screen TV and relax. That fosters a community spirit, and many passengers leave the ship with new buddies from all over the world. For the best cruise line single cabins for solo travellers, read Angela Minor’s guide.