How to choose a cabin on a cruise ship

How to choose a cabin on a cruise ship

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In the previous article, we considered what types of cabins exist on cruise ships, and learned about their equipment. Suppose that you have already decided on the type of cabin (balcony, window, or inside) and now the question is about its location on the ship - what deck is better to live on, and in what part of the ship: aft, fore or center?


Seasickness sounds from the engine room and vibration can catch you in any cabin regardless of its type, whether it is an inexpensive interior or a luxurious suite. Also, limited sea views can ruin the cruise experience, especially if you specifically chose a cabin with a balcony to enjoy the views.


How to choose a cabin with a view on a cruise ship


It should be noted at once that extremely bad cabins on cruise ships don’t exist. We mean the cabins where the inconveniences interfere with the living seriously: for instance, constant strong vibrations or noises that disturb the sleep. If the sea view is partially blocked by boats, the company honestly warns about it when selling the cabin (obstructed view cabin) - such variants cost cheaper. But there are cabins with peculiarities connected with location - there can be noises or jolting while mooring. These problems are not permanent but can certainly cause some discomfort. in this article, we will just warn you against choosing such cabins.

Cabin arrangement on the ship

A lot depends on the cabin’s location. Check the deck plans carefully before you buy a cruise. See what staterooms of the ship are located next door, as well as below and above the chosen cabin. If the view from your balcony is important to you, be sure to locate your cabin in photos of the ship's exterior to avoid potential surprises.


Traditionally, cruise companies price cabins depending on their location - the higher they are located,  the more expensive they cost. The reason is that the upper decks have better views and are closer to the main centers of attraction for passengers: the buffet and the pools. But a higher cabin price is not a guarantee of problems’ absence.

Noise in the cabin

The central pool is the noisiest place on a ship, and it's usually where most people tend to congregate. So if you don't want to wake up in the morning to the sound of moving sun loungers or fall asleep to the sound of a party, don't buy cabins below the pool deck. Even though these cabins are the best in terms of logistics - leaving the cabin you can quickly get into the center of entertainment (one flight of stairs and you're there). For the same reason, refrain from cabins near bars, lounges, and self-service laundromats. The best cabin in terms of silence is the one with living quarters on the bottom, top, and sides. 


How to choose a cabin on a cruise ship - noise in the cabin


Also, there can be problems with a quiet sleep in staterooms located low in the bow and stern of the ship, due to the proximity of the engine room or bow thrusters. The author personally experienced these problems in cabin number 8001 of the MSC Divina ship, located at the very bow of the eighth deck. During mooring, the vibrations were so strong that sometimes it was even scary. One could forget about sleeping while mooring at all.

Distance to the elevator

Choose cabins not far from the elevators, there is nothing pleasant to wander along the ship's corridors (especially if you have mobility problems). You can not hear the noise in the cabin, and elevators save a lot of time and effort. Some people choose cabins to be close to specific areas of the ship. For example, near the pool or downstairs, closer to bars and restaurants. 

Which cabins are less seasick?

The lower and closer to the center of the cabin, the less rocking it feels. Do you want to know why? Let's take two basic types of rocking: onboard and pitching. Onboard rocking is the pendulum motion of the vessel around its longitudinal axis. The longitudinal axis passes through the ship's center of gravity, which is much closer to the lower decks than to the upper ones. Sometimes the ship's center of gravity is below the waterline, that is, below the lowest passenger deck.


Which cabins are less seasick?


Pitching is when the bow and stern of a ship are alternately raised. Such rocking is least noticeable in the center of the ship. The ideal cabin in terms of no rocking is the interior cabin, which is located on the lower decks in the central part of the ship. Staterooms on the upper decks as well as on the bow and stern of the ship are subject to rocking the most.



Tips for choosing a cabin with a balcony

If the view from the balcony is important to you, you need to be more careful when choosing a cabin. As we wrote above - balconies on the lowest decks can be obstructed by lifeboats, in whole or in part. Such cabins are usually sold at a discount. But even if the direct view is not obstructed, the lifeboat may be below and block your view of the sea. It is not blocking the direct view, but if you go to the balcony railings and look down you will see the lifeboat roof instead of the sea. If you want to have a direct, unlimited view, you have to study the exterior of the ship. 


For example, let’s take a look at the ship of the Italian company MSC Splendida.




We see protrusions and recesses in the ship's hull. Naturally, the view down to the sea from them is different. In the picture below, we have highlighted the different groups of cabins with color. 

  • Blue indicates balconies with an unobstructed view, both forward and downward. 

  • Green indicates balconies with an unobstructed view, as close to the sea as possible. If you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of underwater life.

  • Yellow indicates balconies with a "straight-ahead only" view. Below, there are the promenade deck and the lifeboats.

  • The red color represents the balcony from which you can see the lifeboat mechanisms.

Tips for choosing a cabin with a balcony

Let's take a separate look at balconies at the bow and stern of the ship. Forward-looking staterooms with a balcony at the bow of the ship are usually very expensive, as suites are usually located here. There are different opinions about the aft balconies. There are fans of such cabins because of the beautiful view of the ship's wake. In addition, the balconies of such cabins, as a rule, are larger than the standard ones. There are corner cabins with a bending balcony so one can look from it both after the ship and during the motion.




The disadvantage of aft cabins is remoteness from public places (pool, buffet, theater). Some travelers complain about soot and smoke from the ship pipes, deposited on the railings and sunbeds of aft balconies (side cabins have no such problems). From personal experience: on the same MSC Splendida ship, the garbage was stored a couple of decks below the lowest balcony cabins aft, and the smell on some balconies was like a dumpster.

Which side of the ship is better to take a cabin?

In most cases, there is no fundamental difference. Some people like to have the balcony facing the city while the ship is anchored, but there is no way to guess which side the ship is moored on. It can make a difference when you're sailing. In Europe, for example, ships very rarely go far from the shore zone (not counting days at sea), so you can see the shore quite often. Let's say you have a circular cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, in a clockwise direction.




Then, if you want to see the open sea during transitions, choose the starboard side, if the shore is in the distance - the left one. Also, the side may be important if you are going to smoke on the balcony. Some companies allow smoking on balconies on one side only. Check your cruise company's website for smoker's rules.

What else should you pay attention to?

Some ships are designed in such a way that the decks are staggered and from the upper balconies you can see everything that happens on the lower balconies. 


Unfortunate junior suits on the Crown Princess

Pic 1. The Crown Princess ship. You take a junior suit, pay a lot of money, and three decks are watching you.



Completely unfortunate staterooms of the Norwegian Epic

Pic 2. Completely unfortunate staterooms on Decks 8 and 9 of the Norwegian Epic: open to the public above, lifeboats are below. 


And in conclusion: do you want a pleasant cruise without surprises and disappointments? Study the cabin layout carefully before making a purchase!

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