When you start to book a cruise vacation, you’ll have some things to consider. First, you’ll want to choose which cruise line you plan to sail on. Next, you’ll want to look at individual ships, itineraries, and dates. Once you’ve narrowed down the exact sailing, it’s time to choose your stateroom.
What is a stateroom on a cruise ship? A stateroom is like a hotel room, but at sea. While you will hopefully be spending lots of time exploring the ship and out at the various ports of call, you’ll still spend lots of time in your room.
It’s important to not only understand what the different stateroom types are (like balcony, interior, etc) but also to understand cabin location. Some people find that they have strong performances for the stateroom location, while other people won’t care. Cabin type is important, however.
Here’s the information you’ll need to know about choosing a stateroom, based on your preferences and budget. Keep in mind that every cruise line is a bit different in how it classifies staterooms, so you may need to do a little additional research on your specific cruise line.
Disclosure: We have been on some complimentary cruises and have paid for many of our own. This post contains affiliate links, but a purchase/click-through of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. All opinions are my own.
What is a Stateroom on a Cruise Ship and Which One is Best
Types of Cruise Ship Staterooms and Differences
Here are some of the most popular types of cabins. Not every cruise line/cruise ship will have every type of room, so you’ll have to look at the booking details and deck plan to see what is available on your sailing. You can choose your cruise ship cabins during the booking process.
Interior Staterooms: These rooms are often a great deal. They don’t offer balconies or windows, unlike outside cabins. I personally find that I need to have a view of the ocean, even for just the natural light. However, you can definitely save money by choosing an interior room, and they can be a good value.
Porthole Stateroom: This type of stateroom isn’t available on all cruise ships. With a porthole view, you’ll have a round, porthole as a window, rather than floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s no exterior access with this type of room.
Oceanview Stateroom: An oceanview cabin will typically have larger windows than a porthole stateroom. There’s a full view of the ocean, but you won’t be able to go outside from your room in an oceanview cabin without a balcony. Within this stateroom category, there are often obstructed view or partial view rooms, although there’s typically a large window.
Balcony Stateroom: This type of stateroom, also called a verandah stateroom (on Disney Cruise Line), offers a private balcony with access to the outside. Like oceanview rooms, sometimes balcony rooms have obstructed views or larger/smaller balconies. I prefer a balcony room because I really enjoy spending time outside, reading a book and drinking my coffee. While you can save money by choosing a room without a balcony, I personally feel it’s worth it.
Cruise Suite: If you are looking for a more luxurious experience at sea, there are also suites to consider. These can vary from a small junior suite to multi-bedroom suites, depending on the ship. Many cruise suites also come with concierge services, including special happy hours, extra service, and dedicated lounges and sun decks.
Locations of Staterooms
Another consideration is the location of your stateroom. In some cases, you’ll get a choice. If you book a GTY (guaranteed) stateroom, or sail on Virgin Voyages, you won’t have a room location option.
Some people care more about stateroom location than others. So you’ll have to think about your preferences before you book. Options will include the deck (level) as well as the location on the ship – forward, aft, or midship.
On smaller ships, the location doesn’t matter as much. But on larger ships, like the Royal Caribbean Oasis Class (including the Wonder and the Allure), you’ll really want to make sure you get a location you like.
Often the higher decks are preferable. However, you may not want to be under certain areas of a ship. This would include a busy nightclub, a pool deck, or a smokey casino.
Higher decks do sometimes feel more movement but may be closer to the action. You may want to think about what parts of the ship you going to be in the most, and consider a stateroom that will require the least amount of stairs. Lower decks typically have less movement but do not always have the best view.
In addition to the deck, you’ll want to decide what part of the ship to be in – midship, forward, or aft. Midship is usually the best option if possible. You’ll be in the center of the action and won’t have to walk too far in either direction to get to wherever you are going.
To me, the type of stateroom I book is much more important than the location. I’ve stayed all over cruise ships and have always had a great experience. If your sailing has an option for a guaranteed room, you may be able to save money if you don’t care about location. It can be a great way to save some money on your vacation – that you can use on drinks, specialty dining, or excursions!
You’ll also want to look beyond the deck and location. For this, you’ll need to look at the deck plan for your ship. In general, you want to look to see if you are near an elevator or service area, or are in an area where others can see your balcony from the top decks. These aren’t necessarily deal-breakers (unless you are a very light sleeper), but if you have a choice, it’s good to avoid these cruise staterooms.
General Stateroom Amenities
Before you set sail, you’ll want to see what stateroom amenities are offered. That will make sure you are fully prepared before you get on board.
Some things to look for are hairdryers, outlets, type of closet/space, bed configurations, safes, and bathroom setup. Keep in mind that regardless of what type of stateroom you book, it’s likely to be small. Even the most luxurious staterooms are still small. So don’t overpack and try to bring things that are easy to tuck into small spaces.
You’ll also want to see what the bed configuration is. Is there a king-size bed? A sofa bed? Bunk beds? Know in advance, especially when traveling with your whole family.
Choosing the Best Stateroom
If you’ve never sailed on a cruise ship, you may not know what the best staterooms are. Luckily, there are some resources that you can use to get reviews and learn more about rooms on various ships. One option is to do an internet search or Facebook search for your cruise ship. You may find some reviews of cabins.
Another option is the Cruise Deck Plan database. This website offers images and deck plans for a huge variety of popular cruise lines/cruise ships. You can look for one particular ship and see all the details.
Frequently Asked Questions
On most lines, you can, unless you book a guaranteed cabin (GYT). Virgin Voyages, however, doesn’t let you book your room.
Yes, staterooms will have a private bathroom, in every type of cabin.
I think it’s absolutely worth it because I typically spend lots of time on the balcony. Having your own private balcony can give you some additional space to spread out. While balcony staterooms do cost more money, I think it’s worth it.
No, a cabin and a stateroom are synonymous.
It can be important if you are concerned about shorter walks and noise levels in your cruise experience.
That can vary based on your preferences. I personally prefer a balcony cabin in the middle of the ship.
What is your favorite stateroom location on a cruise ship?
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