Choosing the Right Cruise Cabin For You

Choosing the Right Cruise Cabin for You

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Choosing a cabin for your cruise is a very personal decision and depends on what you plan to do while on your cruise. I’m going to offer you a few tips to help you make the decision, but before I do, let’s get the basic terminology out of the way.

Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin and is basically your “hotel room” while on the ship. There are four main types or “categories” of cabins that cruise ships have and they vary in size and amenities. They are:

  • Inside – This is the smallest-sized cabin with no window.
  • Outside/Oceanview – This room has a window or porthole (a round window) with an outside view. These are usually the same size as inside cabins but can be a little larger.
  • Balcony/Verandah – This room has a private outdoor space that allows you to enjoy the ocean views, sounds, and breezes without having to go to a public deck. These rooms are a little large than the inside or oceanview cabins.
  • Suite – This room is more spacious than inside, oceanview or balcony rooms and often offer separate living and sleeping areas with extra perks and amenities.

Let’s also discuss very briefly directional lingo on the ship:

  • Forward – Front of the ship
  • Midship – The middle of the ship
  • Aft – Back of the ship
  • Port-side – The left side of the ship when facing forward
  • Starboard-side – The right side of the ship when facing forward

Cabin Location

Most cruise lines offer online deck plans which will tell you where all the public spaces are on each deck of the ship. There are a plethora of sites that offer deck plans for most major cruise lines. I recommend you find the deck plan of the ship you’re looking to cruise to help you make your decision.

Cruise ship deck plans are your best friend! Study them before booking to help you choose the best cabin for your cruise! Click to Tweet
Carnival Horizon Deck Plan courtesy of
Carnival Horizon Deck Plan courtesy of


Your cabin location on the ship can determine the price of your cabin. Cruise lines charge more for what they deem “premium” locations on the ship. In general, midship upper-deck cabins cost more than forward or aft lower-deck cabins. 


Study the deck plans to see if you want to be near any particular public space.  Some people like being close to the dining rooms or the casino because they plan to spend a lot of time there.  As an example, if you wanted a balcony cabin close to the pool, then deck 16 on the Carnival Mardi Gras is what you’re looking for!


By the same token, if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, being on a deck with a large public space is not for you as this deck will have a ton of traffic.  My sister loves being on the same deck as the pool.  Lots of families with children book this deck for that very same reason.  If you are wanting to avoid children, this is probably not the deck for you.

Also, consider that a deck under the pool might be noisy due to the scraping of deck chairs as people try to get comfortable or as the staff gets the deck setup for the day.

Deck 16 on Carnival Mardi Gras courtesy of
Deck 16 on Carnival Mardi Gras courtesy of


If you are prone to seasickness, cabin location is super important.  The lower, more midship you are, the less likely you are to feel the motion of the ship. You wouldn't want a cabin all the way forward on the highest deck of the ship as you will feel more of the roll and sway of the ship. Click to Tweet

Cabin Amenities

All cabins come with a few basic amenities like a room steward to clean your cabin, soap, and shampoo in the bathroom.  But some categories of cabins come with added amenities.  Suites can come with perks like priority boarding, concierge services, butlers and spa services.  It all depends on how pampered you want to be on your cruise as to whether these amenity-ladened categories are right for you.

Cabin Size

Most inside cabins average at about 140 square feet. Sounds tiny right? It’s definitely not as spacious as a regular hotel room. How many people will be in your cabin? That might be a little tight for a family of five. Some families book a balcony cabin so that members have a comfortable outdoor space to wait their turn for the bathroom. Other families book spa cabins so that adult members can use the shower in the spa area to make getting ready for dinner a faster experience for the family. Cruise lines now offer family cabins designed with more space to accommodate the number of people in the cabin. Be creative with space and different amenities to make it work best for you.

Guarantee Cabins

A “guarantee” cabin is where you pay a lower rate for the cabin type (inside, oceanview, balcony or suite) and allow the cruise line to choose the cabin and location. Sometimes you can get lucky and get assigned a higher category than you booked (i.e. you booked and oceanview cabin but get assigned a balcony cabin). On the flip side, you could get a cabin right under the disco that’s blasting music until 1 am or 2 am. If you choose to go this route, be sure that you’ll be happy no matter what cabin you get assigned.

What type of cabin does Your Cruise Girl book? I’m a balcony evangelist. ? I believe that cruising in a balcony cabin is the only way to cruise and that once you cruise in a balcony cabin, you can never go back to anything else.

When booking a cabin, I always ask for the following:

  • a balcony cabin (because I love the ocean).  If on a Carnival ship that has them, a cove balcony.
  • a midship cabin because it’s in the middle of everything and I don’t have to go too far forward or too far aft to get to anything.  Imagine you live aft but your dining room is forward ?.  It’s a looooong walk.  LOL
  • a cabin on a deck with cabins above and below (no noisy venues, only possible noisy neighbors)
  • port-side – I’m a people watcher and like to watch folks come and go after I get back on the ship.
One of many balcony cabins I've stayed throughout my cruise life
One of many balcony cabins I’ve stayed in throughout my cruise life

How do you choose your cabin?


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