Here are some tips that I found on various sites around the Internet for booking your room on a cruise . I thought I’d share my research for my friends who are going on the cruise with me next summer and for others who might find the info useful.
Note: These are not my tips, as I have not been on a cruise before. I am preparing for my first. If any of this info is wrong, I blame the random people and sites I gathered my info from :o)
Location of Your Cabin:
Pick the best location for your tastes. Besides having different types, the rooms on a cruise ship come in a variety of locations. Individuals that get seasick easily should avoid cabins in the front or rear of the ship, because these receive the most motion. Even so, aim for the back if you want a larger balcony and a magnificent view of the sea. Higher deck cabins are closest to the pool and sun decks, so book one of these rooms if you plan on sunbathing and would rather not climb several flights of stairs every day to do so or ride elevators often. Adventurers will prefer a room in the bow (front) of the ship, since ocean spray, high motion and fierce gales rock these cabins at every turn.
Finally, note the location of all dining halls and dance floors. If you like quiet, never book a room directly beneath them. Take into account how far your room is from the ship’s activities and note how much traffic will be passing by your door or window. Avoid a room near the engines or else you’ll be listening to their roar for the duration of your cruise.
Sometimes cruise ships will offer passengers a “guarantee” cabin, which means you are paying for a category rather than a specific cabin. A guarantee cabin can be less expensive than choosing a specific cabin, but it might not give you the location you desire. You are taking a chance and leaving it up to the cruise line to assign you a cabin in a given category. Be sure to do your research before you book a “guarantee” cabin (or any cabin). You might be delighted in the value for get for your dollar, but you might also be disappointed if other cabins in the same category are in much better locations. When reviewing deck plans be sure to check out what is above, below, or next to your cabin. I know from personal experience how noisy a cabin can be that is located under a dance floor! Also, an ocean view cabin on a promenade deck will have lots of passersby.
Types of Rooms:
Lower Deck Cabins
The inside cabins on the lowest decks are usually the least expensive cruise ship cabins. Although the lower deck cabins will give you a smoother ride in rough seas, they are also the furthest from the common areas such as the pool and lounges. You will be hiking the stairs or riding the elevators more from a lower deck, but you can also work off some of those extra calories. Therefore, even though standard inside cabins might be all the same size and layout on a ship, you can save a few hundred dollars by choosing to be on a lower deck. The same applies for standard ocean view cabins, but you might want to inquire about the size of the window, since the lower deck ocean views might only have portholes or a smaller window. Two problems that you might experience with cabins on the lower decks are engine noise and anchor noise. If your cabin is near the front of the ship, it can sound like the ship has hit a coral reef when the anchor is dropped. The racket will wake anyone up, so the only good thing about the noise is it can serve as an alarm. Newer ships tend to have less engine noise and their stabilizers suppress the ship’s motion, but you will still get that anchor noise a couple of times a day!
Higher Deck Cabins
Cabins on the upper decks usually cost more than those on the lower decks. Since these cabins are nearer the pool and sun decks, they are more desirable for those on warm weather cruises who plan to use these amenities. However, you will get more rocking motion up high, so on smaller ships those who are seasick prone might want to avoid a higher deck cabin.
Sometimes midship standard cabins are a good choice due to their central location and less motion. They are excellent for those who have mobility problems or who are seasick prone. However, a midship cabin can have more traffic outside in the hallways since other passengers will often be passing by. Some cruise ships charge slightly more for midship cabins or even have them in a separate category. If you are thinking of a midship cabin, be sure to check out the location of the tenders or lifeboats. They can block your view and be noisy when raised or lowered. Most cruise lines will tell you if a cabin has a blocked or limited view, but it is wise to check for yourself.
Bow (Forward) Cabins
Cabins on the front of the ship get the most motion and appeal to those who feel they are “real” sailors. You will get more wind and spray on the front. In rough seas, a bow cabin can definitely be exciting! Note that the windows on cabins on the front are sometimes smaller and slanted or recessed, meaning you can’t see as much as you might on the side or rear of the ship. Cruise ships often put suites on the front of the ships to take advantage of the unusual shape and opportunity to provide the passengers with larger balconies.
Aft (Rear) Cabins
If you want a large balcony with your cabin, look to the rear of the ship. These cabins also provide a panoramic view of where you have sailed. Cabins in the aft of the ship have more motion than centrally located cabins, but less than those forward. One disadvantage–depending on the shape of the ship, sometimes passengers in the lounges or restaurants can look down on the balconies of the aft cabins. Not much privacy! We had a wonderful aft balcony cabin once directly below the buffet restaurant. Each day we found all sorts of surprises–lettuce, napkins, etc. that had blown off the deck above. The balcony was quite large however, with plenty of room for two lounge chairs.
If/when you go to a cruise line web site you will see the various cabins listed by type, i.e., SUITE, VERANDA/BALCONY, OUTSIDE, and INSIDE. the category, and generally the square footage of each cabin type. The category will generally be listed next to the cabin type. The most expensive cabins (generally “Cat A and B”) are the penthouses and owners’ suites, which are like apartments and what you saw on the old TV program “The Love Boat”. Next are the jr and full suites (maybe “Cat C”). The next are the VERANDA or BALCONY cabins (you have your own private patio). The next lowest priced are OUTSIDE cabins (they have either a window or porthole). The cheapest cabins offered are always the inside cabins; those without a window or porthole. The inside, outside and balcony cabins are generally the same size on each ship, but may vary by ship and cruise line.
First of all the terms “cabin” and “stateroom” mean the same thing; the cruise industry prefers stateroom. The standard cabin that most people get (inside/outside/balcony) are generally between 175 and 200 Square feet, about the size of a 9 by 12 ft home bedroom (balconies are about 45 to 55 sq ft). Suites and penthouses can be between 350 and 1300 square feet. Each cabin has a two beds which can be made into a queen, a bathroom with a shower stall, a closet and some drawer space, a TV and telephone, a safe for valuables, and a life jacket for each passenger. Some cabins that are built to accommodate 3 or 4 people will have a pull down bed and/or a sofa bed. Its been my experience that Princess and Royal Caribbean have the best ship and cabin decor (also some of the best food.)
A balcony (veranda) cabin will cost you from 25 percent more to almost double the price of an inside cabin. Some cruisers would prefer to go twice as often and stay in an inside cabin. Others with more limited time might prefer to splurge on a balcony. Although I love a balcony cabin, these cabins are sometimes smaller than those with just a window since the balcony is replacing the inside space. Be sure to check when booking your cruise if size is more important to you than a balcony. This is a decision each person has to make on their own.