How to Choose the Right Cruise Cabin


MSC Poesia Balcony Cabin

Our MSC Poesia Balcony Cabin for 4 - (sorry that it is a little blurry)

Choosing your cruise cabin can be a very hard decision for some (including me!).  What to pick all depends on your priorities and availability.

Is cost your main concern?

If you are simply trying to spend the least amount of money as possible, go with an Inside cabin or the cheapest category available (possibly even a guarantee cabin- see below).

What is your family’s sleep habits?

Do you wake up with the sun?  Do your kids need the sun to know when to wake up?  Then an oceanview or balcony is for you.  If you travel in the summer and your kids go to bed early before the sun sets (they will miss out on fun in the kid’s program!), then go with an inside cabin so that the sunlight will not distract or confuse them.  The curtains are usually very good at blocking the sunlight, though.

What is your cruise itineray?

Are you going on a transatlantic or similar type cruise with very few stops and mostly just open water?  Save your money and go with an inside cabin.  Are you going on a very scenic cruise such as one to Alaska?  Book an oceanview or balcony.

Are you a reader?

If you are an avid reader and enjoy sitting out in the fresh air to relax in quiet and privacy, then book a balcony.

Timid Sunbather?

Do you enjoy sunbathing but are embarrassed by how you look in a swimsuit?  Book a balcony.

Love to look out at the ocean?

You can watch the ocean from almost anywhere on the ship!  Want to watch it from your bed or in privacy?  Get an oceanview or better yet a balcony.

Prone to Seasickness?

Book a cabin in the middle of the ship on a low deck.  Do not go with a forward cabin up on deck 12 as the ship will feel more rocky!

Have kids that will spend a lot of time in the kid’s program?

Book a cabin close to the kid’s program rooms.  You can be 2 decks up or down from the rooms and still be close or close can mean anywhere on the same deck.  On our last cruise our cabin was on Deck 4 forward.  The kid’s program was Deck 10 Aft (rear).  We got a lot of exercise that week!

Are you or your family members light sleepers or hate to hear noise while in your cabin?

Do not book a cabin near a doorway or near the stairs or elevators as these will be higher traffic and noisier areas.  If the ship will be tendering and using an anchor early in the morning, avoid the front of the ship on the low decks as you might hear an anchor being dropped.  Also avoid a cabin near the casino or a lounge used late at night.  A cabin at the end of a dead end hallway that is not near stairs or an elevator would be a good option.

Have a baby that cries a lot?

Try to book a cabin with only one neighboring cabin (or none if you can find it!).  This is possible if you are near a doorway, housekeeping closet, or at the front or back of the ship.  If your baby wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, this will put you at ease so that you do not worry about disturbing others. 

Want to see the action on the pier from your room?

Book an oceanview or balcony if you want to see what is going on in port.  The trick here is to guess which side of the ship the pier will be!   You could end up on the water side most, if not every time you are in port, as it usually just depends on what spots are open on the pier when the ship arrives.

What about gurantee cabins?

Gurantee cabins are just that – you are guaranteed the minimum category you pay for.  So if you book an inside guarantee you are guaranteed an inside cabin that will fit your family.   You could get upgraded to an oceanview, but DO NOT count on it!  You have no say in where your cabin will be on the ship.  If you have preferences, book the cabin you want.  My husband and I paid for an inside guarantee on the NCL Norway back in 2000 (no kids).  We were upgraded to an oceanview, but it was a porthole cabin with BUNK BEDS (only! – no double bed).

Want to get exercise without going to the gym and maybe gain less weight than you thought?

Look for the cabins the farthest from the action (food, theater, lounges, and pools) - such as those on the lowest deck and towards the front or back of the ship and use the stairs as much as you can!

Want to easily get on and off the ship at the ports?

It could be very convenient to be near the pier entrances and exits.  This is usually on the lowest deck shown on the deck plans.  It is quite convenient to easily walk off the ship especially when you have stroller and do not need to worry about waiting for elevators.

Need two cabins?

If you need two cabins because you are a large family or traveling with extended family, you really need to get your cabins close together – as in next door or across the hall.  Connecting cabins are a bonus, but not always possible.  Also, since cabins are so small to begin with, you will have lost “space” by having inner connecting doors.  If our cabins were connected on the last cruise on the NCL Spirit, there would not have been room for the small sofa (which was also a 4th bed).  Our balconies were connected on the MSC Poesia (cabin steward unlocked the door), so we could visit each other without going out into the hallway.

Other thoughts:

You really do not spend a lot of time in your cabin unless you have an infant or toddler that naps a lot or you get bored easily with relaxing in the sun, playing board or card games, or reading (on Sea Days mostly). 

We have been in oceanviews and balconies with kids.  Often, the cost to upgrade from an inside to an oceanview is very little money compared to the whole cost of a cruise.  Sometimes you will get a call from what some call “the upgrade fairy”, and you will be offered an upgrade for very little money.  Sometimes you can even negotiate the upgrade price!  We did this on MSC and got a balcony for a very fair price (I think it was $799 per person for a 10 day cruise – kids free!).

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