Let's explore what the different types of cabins that are available, which locations are the most desireable and which locations you should avoid if possible.
TYPES OF CABINS
WHAT TYPE OF CABIN IS BEST FOR ME? This is a purely personal issue and mitigated by many factors such as preference, size needs, budget and of course, availability. If you don't need a cabin with a window and wish to save the extra money, by all means, take an inside cabin. They're an excellent value. If you're like me, and need to see daylight or are even slightly claustrophobic, take an oceanview cabin.
WHAT ABOUT BALCONIES AND SUITES? Do you need a balcony or suite and are they worth the extra price. Once again, this depends on your priorities, wants and needs. A balcony is a great plus if you like to have your own (Semi) private deck space to relax without intrusion from other passengers. I don't find them a "must" on a seven night Caribbean or Europe itinerary, but they are a nice extra.. Where I find they are really worth the extra cost is on longer itineraries and when cruising scenic regions such as Alaska, the Norwegian Fjords or the Panama Canal where prime viewing space on deck is at a premium. Balconies are a great place to enjoy morning coffee, an afternoon nap or evening cocktails as you watch your ship depart from port and once you sail with one you probably wont want to do without.
Mini-Suites and Suites will provide you with extra space, but that space comes at a price. You'll most likely get a separate sitting area, a sleeping area or separate bedroom and many come with a much larger bathroom, whirlpool tub and walk in closets. While suites tend to be closer in size to a hotel room, check out the mini-suites with caution. Many lines mini suites are simply standard cabins with a balcony.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Choose the location of your cabin with care. Look to see what areas are above, below and adjacent to your cabins. Showlounges, Discos, kitchens/serving areas and stairtowers/elevator lobbies can be a source of noise. If you have a jogging track or deck area above, you may be disturbed in the morning by the sound of crew members dragging deck chairs about or the thump-thump of passengers out for a morning jog. You should also avoid cabins at the very front (bow) and down low to the rear (stern) of the ship as you are more likely to experience movement and machinery noise from the bow/stern thrusters, anchors or propulsion machinery. A mid ship location is always best but don't be afraid to go forward or aft and if given the choice, go aft rather than forward. And while forward facing balconies overlooking the bow may present magnificent vistas and views, they can be quite windy. Midship balconies are the most plentiful, but if I can get an aft facing one overlooking the wake, I'd go with that.
WHAT IS A CABIN "GUARANTEE?" Yet another very important factor when choosing a cabin. In many instances, you will be offered the opportunity to choose and specific cabin or a "guarantee".
A "guarantee" is simply a guarantee by the cruise line that you will receive a cabin in the category you booked or possibly a cabin in a higher category. You may also be offered what is now referred to as a "run of ship" guarantee which means the cruise line is simply guaranteeing you space on the ship and can wind up with the lowest category or possibly a very nice and substantially upgraded accommodation.
It is very important to remember that when choosing a cabin on a "guarantee" basis you will have little to no say in what cabin you are assigned. If location is important to you, don't take this gamble. These can result in accommodations with which you are pleasantly surprised but can also lead to extreme disappointment if you are placed in a less than desireable location.
A cabin chosen with care can make or break your cruise experience!