CRUISE ‘N’ SNOOZE
Puzzled by which cabin to book? Our cruise experts weigh up the pros and cons
Anxious about seasickness? Craving a room with a view? Or perhaps you’re travelling with a large family in tow. Whatever your situation or personal preferences, when it comes to choosing a cabin, it pays to do your homework.
Whether you’re a first-timer, an old hand cruise hound, or just a picky punter, the variety of cruise cabin categories and locations on-board can leave even the most experienced traveller scratching their head. But fear not, we’ve done the hard work for you – read on for expert top tips and tricks for selecting a stateroom that ticks your boxes.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?
The best way to begin your search is to identify preferences, and to be realistic, especially if budget is a concern. Are you a light sleeper? Are you a night owl? Do you spend most of your time outside of the cabin, thereby using it solely as a place to change and sleep? Or conversely, do you relish a private balcony and order room service for the majority of the voyage? All of this will then help you discern your ideal cabin type.
“Choosing the right cabin will depend on your approach to your holiday and your needs – everyone is different,” says P&O Cruises and Carnival Australia president Sture Myrmell. “If you plan to spend most of your time away from your cabin, you’ll likely want to book an interior or oceanview room, to save cash.”
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Cabins come in all shapes and sizes but across most vessels the main categories are: inside (the smallest with no window to the outside); outside or oceanview (a room similar in size to an inside room but with a window or porthole); balcony (a room featuring a private veranda); suite (a larger cabin, usually with separate living and sleeping areas and extra amenities). Deciding on your category will depend on personal priorities and budget.
Cabin choice for most travellers is motivated by price, so be savvy about what category you can afford.
“When looking at staterooms, consider the extras,” RCL Cruises key account manager Cameron Mannix says. “You may pay a little more for a balcony or suite, but often this extra cost is outweighed by extra perks, such as complimentary beverage packages, or on-board credit.”
Also, you may find that the cheapest cabin category is actually the most suitable for you. For example, inside cabins are generally the most affordable given the lack of natural light, but the blackout makes them ideal for troubled sleepers.
WHAT IF I WANT A VIEW?
If a view ranks high on your list then make sure to look at the itinerary closely before picking your crib.
If you’re doing a one-way trip to Venice or Alaska, you’ll want to make sure you’re on whichever side of the ship faces land so you get the best possible vantage point, especially if you’re opting for a balcony.
Even if you can’t afford the real thing, some ships are now using technology to make sure no one misses out on the view. Both Disney and Royal Caribbean have created virtual “windows” and “balconies” inside cabins that display real-time vision of the surrounding scenery.
TO BALCONY OR NOT TO BALCONY?
Passengers who spend all their time in public areas may find that a balcony isn’t worth the extra splurge if money is tight. Whereas for those keen to avoid crowds and to spend more time nesting in their cabin, a balcony is likely an essential.
“There’s nothing quite like stepping out into your own private space,” says Sture Myrmell. “Complete with its own outdoor furniture so you can unwind and just enjoy the view.”
It’s a sentiment Cameron Mannix agrees with: “For me, cruising is about enjoying the fresh sea air, which you can fully embrace from a veranda. In saying that, interiors are great for people who are light sleepers and prefer to sleep in total darkness.”
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
There are two main factors for cabin location on a ship – convenience and noise. Some travellers will want to be an easy stroll from their on-board gotos, be it the pool deck or the bar, whereas some passengers will have noise reduction as their top priority.
For serenity-seekers, steering clear of a location near the theatre, bars and the like, is a must, as is avoiding elevators and any area where there’s likely to be heavy foot traffic. If you have an aversion to noise, pay attention to the ship’s deck plans advises Cameron Mannix: “Staterooms located near these amenities are fine for heavy sleepers and night owls, but if you’re a light sleeper, choose a room surrounded by staterooms on all sides.”
Another consideration on some ships is the proximity to the engine, APT small ships product manager Mladen Vukic says: “Traditionally there has always been reticence to book aft cabins fearing engine noise, however most renovated or new modern ships have improved soundproofing, so it’s no longer a deciding factor.”
WHERE’S THE BEST SPOT TO AVOID SEASICKNESS?
For those unlucky enough to suffer from seasickness, cabin location is important, and while modern cruise ships have been developed for a smoother ride, booking a cabin midship (the lower and more central your location, the less sway you’ll feel) is still advisable.
“Staterooms located midship and low-down are best as you experience less motion,” says Cameron Mannix. “But many ships, such as Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, are fitted with special stabilisers which help reduce movement throughout the entire ship.
WHAT IF I HAVE A LARGE FAMILY?
Though cruising is a popular family holiday and more new ships are building accommodation with families in mind, if you’re travelling with a large brood it’s still a good idea to book cabins ahead of time to ensure you get the combination that best fits.
“Families can stay together in neighbouring rooms connected by doors – which offer a reprieve from the kids when needed!” Cameron Mannix suggests. “However, you need to get in early for these staterooms, particularly during school holiday sailings as they get booked quickly.”
YOU MAY PAY MORE FOR A BALCONY OR SUITE, BUT OFTEN THIS EXTRA COST IS OUTWEIGHED BY EXTRA PERKS
If you’re on a one-way trip to Alaska on a Princess cruise, you’ll want the best vantage point; and enjoy fresh sea air in a Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony on Anthem of the Seas.