When visiting your travel agent to book a cruise, once youve decided on a ship, the next question youre going to be asked is what category cabin youd like to book. Even if youre a first time cruiser, don't worry, even very experienced cruisers can get easily stumped by the question.
This subject should really be quite simple; as it is easy to describe what you want in a stateroom. There are inside cabins (with no windows), ocean view cabins (with a window), balcony cabins (with a private balcony), and suites (cabins with private balconies, but the cabins are larger, and have more amenities). But if the decision were left to that, it would be much too simple.
Instead, the cruise lines apparently choose the number 1 prankster in their home offices to determine just how many variations of categories they can fit into a deck plan. The other part of the job entails giving a name to each deck, so instead of calling them Deck 1 through 12 (or however many decks there are), ships have names like Vista Deck, and Veranda Deck - and upper and lower Veranda Deck, and Navigation Deck, and Main Deck, while other lines have Caribe Decks, Baja Decks, and Riviera Decks, while others have Panorama Decks and Sunset Decks, etc. Theres no end to how many different names you can give a deck. The oddest I have ever heard is on Costa Atlantica where they actually "name" deck 8 the "Eight and a Half Deck," I kid you not.
It madness apparently started someone decided that aside from the standard inside, outside, balcony and suite categories, they could add family cabins, and balcony cabins with extended balconies, mini-suites, and Penthouse Suites. But then why stop there? So, now there are also Junior Suites, Sky Suites, Concierge Class Suites and Royal Suites. The newest claim to fame in the name game is Villa Suites. What a job; someone hands you a blank deck plan and tells you your job is to name all the spaces, and make it as confusing as you can for perspective passengers.
All kidding aside, it really helps to maintain a sense of humor. You have to laugh when your cabin is 1304, and when you finally find it, its actually on the 9th floor. Its rather like going into an office building, and finding office 206 is on the 11th floor. That would never happen because designers of office buildings have no sense of humor. Thats one of the things that makes cruising different; everyone, including the design team is having a good time, and a good laugh.
The most stable part of a ship sailing on the seas is mid ship, and low in the ship. So, most cruise lines put the least expensive cabins there. And following that thought process, generally the higher up in the ship (and less stable) you go, the more expensive the cabins become. Yet another great example of the sense of humor the cruise lines have.
By now Im sure youre asking yourself how this article is going to help you chose your cabin for your next cruise. The simplest answer is that the very best cabin is ON THE SHIP! Because, with rare exception, once youre on the ship you have access to all the ship the has to offer.
The rest is all a matter of personal choice, and budget. Going back to the basics, the least expensive cabins are the inside cabins (with no window), so for those who want to vacation on a limited budget thats the natural choice. Yet, I know people who book only inside cabins, regardless of the fact they could easily afford more expensive categories. The lack of a window or even a private balcony to them is a positive rather than negative, because the inside cabins are so dark they say they get their best sleep in those cabins.
Normally slightly more expensive than those inside cabins, are Ocean View cabins. These are like inside cabins with a window (which does NOT open). The difference being that you can look outside; see where you are, and more or less what the weather is like.
The next step up on the cost scale are the cabins with a private balcony. The standard balcony cabins are often slightly smaller in cabin square footage than the outside cabins. This is because some of the floor space is used to create the outdoor balcony. These cabins are equipped with regular swinging or sliding glass doors for access to the small balcony.
With private balcony cabin categories, those located closer to the middle of the ship are usually slightly more expensive than the same cabins forward or aft of center.
The different cruise lines all have their own variations of more expensive balcony cabins. Whether they are called mini-suites or junior suites, or sky suites, or concierge cabins, the bottom line means higher costs translate to larger cabins and usually larger balconies as well; sometimes with added amenities offered to those guests as well.
Once a cabin category gets a Suite designation you can be assured it is amongst the largest and most expensive accommodations on the ship, along with the top amenities available on the ship, sometimes including things like butler and concierge service.
The very best way to choose your own best cabin on a ship is to talk to a well trained and knowledgeable Cruise Travel Agent. Its a part of their job to take your personal preferences, combined with the budget you have in mind, and help you make an informed decision about which cabin you should book.