Cabin Basics on Cruise Ships

When you get a hotel room, you don't think much about what "type" it is. But when you get a cruise ship cabin, it's important to consider your options.

First, the rooms are called "cabins". They can also be called "staterooms". Both simply mean they are a sleeping chamber on a ship. They contain at least one bed, a place to store clothes, and typically a bathroom too. They might or might not contain a window. Interior, windowless rooms are much cheaper than the outside, windowed rooms.

Cabins on a given ship are priced based on category. That category is based on many things - including the size of the room, the presence or absense of windows, and the floor of the ship. I find this last part fascinating. Usually the ships on the lowest floors of the ship are the most stable - and also furthest from the noise of the discos. But because in the origins of cruising the lowest class passengers were kept in the hold, while the upper class passengers enjoyed the upper levels, the prices still seem to reflect this. Also, to be fair, there are only limited elevators running on a ship. If you're up high, you can easily get to the restaurants and other common areas. If you're down low, you either face many flights of stairs or a long wait for an elevator.

In addition to this range of "regular" rooms, there are also suites of various levels. A regular room is typically very small - just enough room for the beds and bath. A suite has some actual "extra" space - maybe an actual sofa or chairs and other amenities. With a suite you have moved from "just enough space to fit" to "extra space to hang out".

If you have a window or balcony, there are other considerations. Some windows have a full view - while others are partially obstructed by lifeboats or other objects.

It is really important to look at the cruise ship's website and see an actual deck map when choosing your room. This will help you see how far you are from the key locations you're interested in, how close you are to noise-making rooms like discos and theaters, how many stairs are involved to get to food, and more.

Be sure to check out my sample cruise line category charts to get a sense of how categories work.

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