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How to Pick the Right Stateroom: Which Cabins to Avoid on Your Cruise

As an experienced cruiser, I've got tons of tips to make your next cruise vacation a breeze.

Cruise liners offer a host of cabin options, but which one is right for you? Here are six tips to help you choose.

Cruise liners offer a host of cabin options, but which one is right for you? Here are six tips to help you choose.

6 Tips to Help You Choose a Cruise Cabin

Cruises can be a little intimidating at first, with most liners containing so many people they appear more like floating cities than ships. So you kind of expect that there might be a bit of noise in your room at one point or another. But I think we all feel and hope that our cabins will be different—our own little sanctuaries when we just want that bit of time alone.

Though most people don't want to spend that much time in their staterooms, they are a great place to center your energy and recharge. To help you decide what stateroom is right for you, I have come up with the following tips to help you dodge the duds.

1. Size Matters (No Matter What They Tell You)

It is worth asking yourself how big you need your stateroom to be before you book it, as it is going to be your sanctum for the duration of your cruise journey. In my experience, it's best not to make your choice of cabin based purely on price. You want the size of the space to feel as luxurious as it can, and you certainly don't want to be kicking the corner of your bed every night... that will definitely take the shine off your cruise vacation!

Check the Specs Before You Go

It pays to look at the specifications of the rooms that you are interested in (this information is displayed on most cruise ship sites). For example, Carnival's average inside stateroom on the Spirit and Legend is somewhere around 17.2 square meters. In comparison, Royal Caribbean's inside staterooms, like those on the Voyager of the Seas, are just 13.9 square meters.

It pays to keep in mind that just because the room is classified as an inside room, that does not guarantee that all of the rooms are the same. Also, Category 1A cabins are generally made up of their less-desirable rooms that are funnily shaped, in odd locations, and have pull-out beds or bunks. So keep that in mind when making your cabin selection. When it comes to balcony staterooms, be sure to check what is included in the size dimensions, as some sites include the balcony in the sizing.

2. Do Your Research Ahead of Time

My tip here is to do your research. Read the reviews of fellow cruisers as they discuss the rooms that they have experienced. Search for Facebook groups about the ship that you are wishing to cruise on and see what other cruisers' experiences have been like with that particular room or category. You might find groups whose main purpose is to give people access to images of cabins and provide their thoughts and feedback.

Is Having a View Important to You?

If you absolutely must have a view or access to the open air (and who could blame you?), make sure you have paid attention to what room you are getting. Obstructed-view cabins might end up costing you a few bucks less, but when it comes to the quality of the view, results can vary widely between rooms. I've stayed in partially obstructed rooms before; one only had a 4-inch-wide support beam going down the side of the divider between cabins, whereas others can be partially blocked out with the body and support structure of a tender boat.

Cruises can expose us to beauty beyond words, but you won't be able to appreciate it fully if you can't manage to sleep a wink.

Cruises can expose us to beauty beyond words, but you won't be able to appreciate it fully if you can't manage to sleep a wink.

3. Avoid Rooms Near Late-Night Hot Spots

Checking where your room is in relation to the various venues located on the ship is a definite must when it comes to booking a cruise holiday, especially those loud and late-night venues that exist on all ships. Below are several areas you may want to avoid if you are sensitive to noise.

Note: No matter where in the ship you end up, some noise is to be expected, so don't forget to bring your earplugs!

Late-Night Venues

  • dance club
  • lido deck
  • late-night restaurants, like 24-hour pizza
  • sports venues

These are likely going to mean some sort of noise above the average scrum that you might be used to. The last thing you want is the thumping bass of the nightclub pounding through the frame of the ship a deck below you or the thumping of children running up and down the hall around the lifts as they try to make as much noise as possible.

Worth noting is that even when things are closed to cruisers, they may be doing preparations for the next sitting or even just general cleaning, like in the restaurants and galleys.

Family Suites

If your ship happens to have larger suites for families, bear in mind that this could potentially equal more noise from kids wandering around and even just the hustle and bustle of the families moving in and out of their suite when heading out on port days.

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Stateroom Attendant's Access

On one particular cruise I went on, I learned that having a room near the stateroom attendants' access can be massively annoying. With them being constantly on the move servicing the needs of their clients, you may potentially hear that entrance to staff areas opening and closing.

Promenades, Staircases, and Elevator Banks

If the sound of footsteps keeps you awake, be sure not to book a cabin near any of the promenades or staircases. I've also had a few people complain about being near elevators, as you can hear them dinging when they pull up on your deck.

Rooms Near the Engine

Finally, for this section, there is the noise of the engine. Depending on your location you might hear a bit of the noise of the engine. Whilst it is usually just a faint hum, occasionally it can get louder. For some, the sound is like white noise and puts them to sleep—for others, it is a deep frustration.

The only time that it has actually annoyed me is when the weather was very rough one evening and all I seemed to hear was the engine chugging and vibrating as it was under strain by the constant unsteadiness of the ship (though by this point the motion of the ocean was more of a concern then the vibration of the engine).

4. Consider What Level of Privacy You Want

Whilst having your own slice of the sky and the ocean is always a bonus, be careful when booking your room, as there are now rooms that whilst having a view, might not quite be what you think. For example, cabins on the promenade decks have very little to offer in the way of a view, and for that matter, any real sort of privacy. You can have your curtains closed in these rooms and still not be completely secluded from the opposite cabin that is facing directly into yours.

A few other rooms that might not offer quite the level of privacy that you are after are the Boardwalk and Central Park areas on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas (VOS), Explorer of the Seas (EOS), Oasis of the Seas (OOS) and Allure of the Seas (AOS).

The last thing you want to deal with on your cruise is motion sickness. Staying in the right cabin can help avoid this common issue.

The last thing you want to deal with on your cruise is motion sickness. Staying in the right cabin can help avoid this common issue.

5. Factor in Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can be a massive pain and can really ruin a vacation. If you have suffered from motion sickness in the past or aren't sure if it might affect you, I would definitely suggest booking on the stable parts of the ship as this can be a real life-saver. My niece had the unfortunate luck of being placed in a room high up and sort of in the middle of the ship, and for that reason, she spent some time on that cruise looking a little green.

Stable parts of the ship are areas like the midship, usually as close to the core interior and the lower decks as you can get. When you are closer to the ship's center of gravity, the rocking is lessened.

Balcony rooms might feel like the absolute peak of cruising luxury to you, but if you think you might suffer from motion sickness, they can be the pits because you will be on the outside and less stable parts of the ship. If you do want the view, I suggest that you go for the aft of the ship. There, you have the weight of the majority of the engine, and it is the center of most of the force generated by the ship, so any movement felt on rough seas will feel more like a slight shudder than any kind of deep rolling sensation.

6. Reconsider Getting a Guaranteed Cabin

I'll never hold it against someone that takes a chance on a guaranteed cabin, but they are not without risk. Even if they do give you the chance of getting a nice upgrade occasionally, the problem is that you won't have any real control over where you are placed within that category, so you might end up having to deal with one or a couple of the above things on your next trip.

The allure of getting an upgrade is a great thing, and if you are on a budget, it can be a godsend. However, having a room alongside the ship's busiest elevator can also be a real downer on your next cruise.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: On a cruise ship where do you, the writer of this article, suggest is the best level and what part of the ship would you suggest to not get sick?

Answer: With any ship, I would usually suggest the middle and on the lower deck. Some find the back of the ship better because the sway is less there, though the sensation there on some ships can be more jarring as ships can shudder. The views at the back are often to die for, which is a major plus.

© 2019 Paddy Michelson

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