Selecting Your Cruise Stateroom
While it may seem obvious in deciding which room or category to book there are some points you may want to consider. For most people the decision comes down to what can you afford and should you consider an ocean view or a balcony stateroom.
On most cruise ships cabins can be grouped into five categories; inside cabins, outside cabins, ocean view, veranda (balcony) or suite. There are usually a number of variations from ship to ship like some have balconies that look inside the ship instead of out to sea. There are also some ships that are all balcony and others that are missing one or two categories completely. There are also some additional categories like deluxe or a concierge class that can include upgraded dining, spas and more services but most ships are somewhat similar in their offerings.
If the money is not an issue why not just book a suite? Consider first what you are expecting on your cruise. Is it a long cruise where some extra room might really matter or is it a three or five day cruise where you expect to spend little time in the cabin? Why book an expensive stateroom if you don’t see yourself using it much? We’ve also even discovered an advantage staying in an inside cabin. It’s dark – with no windows that usually means we sleep longer.
Will this be a cruise noted for its scenery or is it mostly going to be days at sea? We strongly suggest at least an outside cabin and strongly recommend a veranda for cruising Alaska as well as some other cruises. Consider what makes the best sense for the cruise itinerary.
Oddly, for somer cruises, like trans-Atlantics, you may discover that usually less expensive cabins may actually cost more. This is usually dependent on when you book as the cruise ships are trying to hold onto less expensive categories for thrifty last minute bookings (See our article on saving money when booking).
Oceanview and balcony cabins are actually very similar. They’re both usually about the same size and can be located on most decks, as well as forward and aft, though some cruise ships will not have balconies on lower decks. In addition most cabins have twin beds that will convert into a queen, a desk and a sitting area usually with a sofa or chairs. Many have convertible sofas or extra berths to fit additional passengers. Most work okay for families but can be too cramped if there are four adults cruising together. Bathrooms in both cabin types will vary, but usually feature a shower, sink and toilet and limited shelf space. Both usually have a set of standard amenities like a television, hair dryers, safes, and minifridge but vary by cruise line.
The key difference between ocean view staterooms and balcony cabins is, of course, one has a window and the other has a balcony furnished with a couple of chairs and a table. Oceanview cabins can have either a square window or a smaller round porthole, and most don’t open. Most balcony cabins have glass doors and an opportunity for sitting a watching the scenery glide by. If you’re cruising the Caribbean or other warm destination, you’ll spend some time out on your balcony but with destinations like the Baltic, Maritime Canada or Northern Europe probably not.
Again if money is not a consideration it really doesn’t matter but for most cruisers consider the itinerary and your options before booking a stateroom.