How to Pick the Right Cruise Cabin By a Goldilocks-like process of elimination—this one’s too small, this one’s too loud—you can find a stateroom that’s just right.
On paper, choosing a cruise cabin seems pretty simple. There are four basic styles: insides (no window), outsides (with window), balcony, and suite. But booking a stateroom is not a snap. Even though there are just four room styles, cruise lines divvy them into as many as 20 price categories. A cabin’s location, size, and amenities determine the price, which generally increases the higher, bigger, and more deluxe you go. The trick is figuring out what’s worth paying extra for, and that depends on your priorities. If you don’t plan to spend much time in your cabin, feel free to book the cheapest price you can find. But if you think of your stateroom as a retreat, proceed carefully and avoid these not-so-ideal scenarios.
A CABIN THAT’S TOO SMALL Cruise cabins are designed for maximum efficiency, so they’re generally more than adequate as long as you’re neat and you haven’t over-packed. Some cabins, however, are just plain minuscule. Rooms on older vessels can be as little as 100 square feet, particularly for inside cabins. If this is your home for a week, you might feel like an inmate in a cell. When looking at cabin measurements, note that cruise lines often include the veranda in the overall square footage. A balcony cabin on Celebrity Summit, for example, may look about average size at 208 square feet, but that factors in 38 square feet of veranda. The cabin itself measures just 170 square feet. So the advice is: Think hard before booking a cabin that’s extraordinarily small—say, one that’s less than 150 square feet, not including the veranda. What to ask a travel agent: What’s the square footage of the cabin? Does that figure include a veranda?
A CABIN THAT’S TOO LOUD A ship’s deck plans, available at each cruise line’s website, are easily readable, like this one for the Carnival Ecstasy. It’s important to check what’s below, above, and around the corner from the cabin you’re considering. Avoid anything right under the lido buffet, as meals are served nearly around-the-clock. Unless you plan to close the ship’s late-night disco, don’t book a stateroom nearby. If your cabin is just below the pool deck, your morning wake up call could be the scraping sound of chaise lounges being dragged into position. Cabins on lower decks are cheaper largely because guests have to put up with the hum of propellers. The best bet is to choose a cabin that has staterooms above and below it—and then cross your fingers that the neighbors in every direction aren’t rowdy night owls.
What to ask a travel agent: How noisy will the cabin be? Are there restaurants, discos, pools, or public areas nearby that’ll keep me up at night? Every outside cabin pretty much looks out on a similar sea-and-sky vista, but there are some notable differences. Most are located either port or starboard, so you’re always looking sideways. A front-facing stateroom lets you see where you’re heading, but also takes the brunt of wind and rough seas—the big reason why these cabins rarely come with balconies. Backward-facing cabins boast the best views. There’s something incredibly Zen-like about gazing at the wake and the panorama behind the ship. Backward-facing cabins are hard to come by because most cruise lines devote that part of the ship to public spaces. Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruises are among the lines that regularly have backward-facing cabins.What to ask a travel agent: What’s the view like? Can I get a better view for the same money? A CABIN THAT FEELS LIKE GRAND CENTRAL STATION Many passengers prefer centrally-located cabins because they’re close to stairways, elevators, pools, and buffets. Still, there’s such a thing as too central a location. Stateroom doors are absurdly flimsy, so you’ll hear pretty much everything going on outside. There is no truly quiet corner of a cruise ship. But it’s smart to avoid lower deck cabins that are close to the ship’s atriums—the extravagantly designed openings, often several stories high, attract a lot of foot traffic. In a cabin around the corner from an atrium, you’ll hear the hordes milling or power walking past your door from dawn to dusk. What to ask a travel agent: How close is the cabin to the ship’s atriums? Is the cabin on the main walking path for people disembarking or re-boarding the ship?
A CABIN THAT’LL MAKE YOU SICK Newer ships have all sorts of nifty stabilizers that try to tame the sea and give passengers a smoother ride. Most people feel fine, even during mildly rough seas. But if you are unusually sensitive to movement, you may want to forego the higher decks. The higher you go, the more likely you’ll get not only back and forth (or side to side) rocking, but will also feel an unsettling swaying effect. Stick to the center, the most stable part of the ship, and by all means avoid any stateroom within a dozen cabins of the front.
What to ask a travel agent: I’m worried about getting sick if the seas get rocky. Can you book me in a cabin in the most stable location?
Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
Advance Planning Booking early is always the best way to get a great price and your choice of available staterooms. We recommend that you book your cruise even a year in advance, if possible; the earlier you book, the better the price and the availability. All Guests — including children — booked on a cruise that begins on or after January 1, 2008 will need a passport to travel to the Caribbean and Mexico. Start planning ahead now. Visit the U.S Department Of State Passport Page for the information you need to apply for a passport, including how much it will cost.
When Is The Best Time To Cruise Summer and holidays, including spring break, are the most popular periods for cruising and tend to cost a bit more than other times. If your schedule is flexible, sailing during non-peak periods — such as the fall — offers a great value. As always, the farther in advance you book, the better the price and the availability.
Cruise Itinerary Select an itinerary that fits your needs. Three- and four-night cruises offer a wonderful way to sail for a very reasonable budget — they’re great weekend getaways and ideal for first time cruisers who want to get a feel for cruising. Longer seven-night Caribbean and special cruise itineraries take you to more ports, along with days at sea to enjoy all the activities and entertainment aboard a Cruise ship. The Southern Seven Night Cruise out of San Juan, Puerto is a great itinerary. If possible you should arrive in San Juan a day before the cruise ship departure,spend the night in Old Juan,and the next day you boardyour ship by mid after noon and set sail around 8:30,spend the night getting use to the ship,eating and drinking,and what have you.If you should fall asleep, you will wake up facing the morning sun in another country. The golden rays of dawn early light just may be the morning warming sun of ST. Thomas or ST. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Tortola of the British Virgin Islands. Spend the day on one of these islands shopping,eating, snorkeling,scuba diving, swimming or just sun bathing on the beach. The process continues until Barbados or Grenada, then it is a full day of cruising back to San Juan.
Now, as a footnote, after the right cabin has been selected, as well as the ideal cruise itinerary all there is left to do is pack and hit the high seas. Now, there is one thing that must be included in your traveling bag, that is common sense. Like you would not leave home without your Master Card,Visa, American Express, Dinner Club,and Discover Card, don’t leave home without common sense. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, no matter how safe and secure the area may appear to be. Now, get out there and enjoy yourself, make some waves….
Part of this article was excerpted from “Smooth Sailing”, By Carolyn Spencer Brown,editor in chief of CruiseCritic.com
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Posted by: crossroads49 | November 6, 2011
Smooth Sailing: how to pick the right cruise cabin.
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