Answers to the most frequently asked cruise ship cabin questions include…
How many different types of cabins are there?
Although it can sometimes feel overwhelming with some cruise lines offering as many as 20 or more cabin categories, it’s helpful to remember there are basically four types of accommodations on today’s newer ships.
- Inside / Interior Cabins
- Outside / Oceanview Cabins
- Balcony / Verandah Cabins
- Suites / Mini Suite Cabins
Interior Cabins are the most affordable alternative and often best suited for:
- Budget conscious cruisers
- Night Owls who plan on spending very little time in their cabinFamilies purchasing more than one cabin
Inside cabins have no windows. There is no natural light making it difficult to tell the time of day or the current weather without leaving the cabin and going up on deck. If you experience discomfort in dark or enclosed spaces you’ll want to consider selecting a cabin with a window. Generally, the bed configuration offers two twin beds convertible to a queen or king size. Some cabins have upper/lower berths (bunk beds). If sleeping together is important to you make sure you understand how the beds can be arranged.
Outside cabins, also called ocean view cabins, are often larger and include a window or porthole. The natural daylight will make the room brighter and give you a sense of more available space. Within this cabin category there are a number of window variations available:
- Porthole windows – while better than no window, may be quite small
- Partially obstructed/Fully Obstructed View – the ship’s structure or equipment (lifeboats) are in your view
- Large picture window – unobstructed views
The price difference between an ocean view cabin and interior cabin will be based on the type of view you select. Like an interior cabin, twin beds are convertible to a king or queen size. Besides making your cabin feel larger, a window provides some perception of time and the weather.
Balcony cabins are similar in size to ocean view cabins but with the addition of a private verandah that adds to the overall square footage. They are typically furnished with twin beds that convert to queen or king size, and the benefit of a large glass door to your own personal outdoor space. Perfect for morning coffee, a premium meal served for a special occasion, enjoying a sunset, the sea breezes or stargazing without walking to a public deck.
Balcony cabins are highly recommended for destination specific cruises like Alaska. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy the scenery and extended daylight hours from your stateroom
Suites and Mini Suites are the most elegant and spacious cabins onboard and often include a balcony or verandah. They can vary in size from 200 to over 1500 square feet depending on the ship. Cabin amenities may include a separate bedroom, bathrooms with double sinks and/or whirlpool tubs, walk-in closets, a spacious sitting area and a dining area with a wet bar. Many cruise lines pamper Suite passengers with additional benefits such as preferred check in and disembarkation, concierge service, internet web access, fresh flowers and even butler services. Luxury has its rewards.
How many people can I fit in my stateroom?
Occupancy varies by cabin category and cruise line. Most cabins comfortably accommodate two guests however; some cabins can lodge three or four guests (triple or quad occupancy). Carnival, Disney and Celebrity offer staterooms that accommodate up to five passengers (quint occupancy). Some ships even offer “family staterooms” that can house up to 8 guests. Specific occupancy details can be found online at the cruise lines website or referenced on the cabin category page of a cruise lines brochure.
Since the third/fourth/fifth passengers in a cabin pay less than the first two, this is an affordable way for many families to travel. Triple, quad and quint cabins are obviously very popular among families and limited in number. We strongly encourage you to book as far in advance as possible as these cabins sell out before others.
What’s a GUAR cabin?
A “GUAR” or “guarantee” cabin selection is where you pay for the cabin category you are willing to take but allow the cruise line to select the cabin for you. You’ll be guaranteed a cabin in at least the category selected. Your stateroom will not be assigned during the booking process and could be appointed as late as the date of sailing.
If your booked category is not available or oversold by the cruise line, you have an excellent chance of receiving a complimentary upgrade to a slightly higher category, usually within the same cabin type (inside to inside, outside to outside, verandah to verandah, etc). Beyond that, while it does happen, it’s rare to be upgraded to a higher cabin type. Reserving the lowest inside category on a guarantee will not result in your being given a deluxe verandah suite. It just doesn’t happen.
Guaranteed categories can be a great value, less expensive and sometimes result in upgraded accommodations. The only drawback is you don’t know where you’ll end up onboard. It could be the front, back or middle of the ship. If cabin placement is important to you a “GUAR” may not be for you.
Where is the best location for my cabin if I'm concerned about the ship's motion?
Today, most modern cruise ships are equipped with stabilizers that minimize any swaying and movement of the ship. These stabilizers do an excellent job. You will hardly know you’re moving, especially in the calm waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage. If you are prone to seasickness, selecting the right cabin location will minimize any possible problems with motion discomfort and allow you to enjoy your cruise.
The best room location to minimize the ship’s motion is actually in the dead center of the ship. The lower and more central you are, the less motion you will feel. The higher you are the greater potential to feel a left to right rolling motion. Request the lowest level and most mid-ship stateroom possible. This applies to balcony cabins too. Your second best choice, if a mid-ship stateroom is not available, is an aft cabin (towards the rear of the ship). A stateroom towards the very front of the ship would be the least enjoyable location for you.
Are accessible staterooms available?
Cruise lines make every effort to accommodate passengers with disabilities. Accessible cabins feature wide doors (for accommodating scooters and wheelchairs), large bathrooms with roll-in showers and handrails, hand-held shower heads and fold-down clothes racks at chair height. The number of accessible cabins on each ship is limited and typically cannot be booked online. Please note you may also need to provide documentation to qualify for and receive one.
Cruise lines also do their best to make Cruise Tours accessible as well. The major players in Alaska, Princess, Holland America and Royal Celebrity Tours, offer rail cars, motor coaches or vans equipped with lift-platforms to assist passengers in boarding and de-boarding. Please note that while all guests are provided assistance in boarding and de-boarding the ship, motor coaches and rail cars, passengers with disabilities must be able to travel independent of assistance in other situations or travel with a companion who is capable of providing assistance.
We cannot stress enough the most important thing to check and re-check is advance notice to your cruise line of any mobility issues especially, if your plans include a cruise tour. Even if you use a travel agent call the cruise line yourself and confirm this (sometimes this information is not communicated). It is so important they know you are coming and can ensure appropriate accommodation.
Is a balcony cabin worth it?
It depends on you!
Are you going to spend time on the balcony? Obviously, a stateroom with a balcony will be worth more to the person who spends a lot of time in their room compared to the one who would prefer to be out and about and only use their stateroom as a sleeping destination.
Would you enjoy it more than looking out from a common deck area? Private balconies are a great way to escape the crowds. If enjoying the view on a public deck compares to your own private one then don’t bother.
How much of a price difference is it? The less of a difference in price, the more worth an upgrade it would be.
Would you enjoy your room more? Having a balcony adds value to your overall cruise experience.
Is it part of your “dream cruise”? If you have imagined yourself celebrating a special occasion, like a wedding, then you may consider the cost worth spending.
In Alaska, at the very least you should have a stateroom with a window.
Would you stay in a hotel that had no windows?
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