Cruise TipsBookingPicking the Perfect Cruise Cabin: 8 Steps for Finding the Best Staterooms

Picking the Perfect Cruise Cabin: 8 Steps for Finding the Best Staterooms

You booked a cruise on a wonderful cruise ship.  You picked out the perfect itinerary. 

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But how much thought did you put into choosing your cabin? 
aft part of sky princess cruise ship as it leaves port.

*This article has been updated since its original publishing date.

You might think, “Hey, I’m on a cruise ship, and I have the same access as everyone else to the main areas, so who cares where my cabin is?”

And if you’re a night owl who thrives on hallway noise, enjoys scenic walks (especially the elevator kind!), and prioritizes maximizing your daily step count, then maybe the cabin location isn’t that big of a deal.

But a cruise cabin that is not suited to you and your idea of a great vacation can really ruin a cruise.

Knowing what cabins to avoid and which ones to focus on is a critical part of the cruise booking process.

Here are 5 important steps I like to take when choosing the ideal stateroom on my cruise.

1. Choose the actual cabin, skipping the guaranteed fare.

This one might be obvious, but letting the cruise line choose your cabin for you will only guarantee the price, not the best location.

Some cruisers will choose a type of cabin, whether it be a suite, ocean-view, or interior stateroom, and let the cruise line pick the deck and location.  Don’t do this if the cabin matters to you.

It’s just too risky. Sure, you might save a few dollars, but having the ideal location and type of stateroom could be worth more to you than the few dollars saved.

I always choose the exact cabin on my cruises and then follow the rest of the steps in this article, with only a few exceptions.

2. Pick a cabin that is surrounded by other cabins.

stateroom deck plans on cruise ship for choosing cabin

Having cabins on either side of you and both above and below your stateroom will provide a noise buffer from noisy venues.

It might seem counterintuitive to have other passengers surrounding your cabin, but certain venues can make way more noise than fellow passengers– hopefully.

This is important especially if you don’t plan to stay up late at night.  Some areas of the ship may have late parties and loud music that could disrupt your sleep and cause excess vibration. 

Let your neighbors buffer the noise and get some rest so you can hit those excursions with a well-rested mind and body.

I always check out the deck plans when choosing a cabin.  I will look not only at the deck on which I plan on booking my cabin, but I will also look one deck up and one deck down.  I’ve had cabins right on top of very active venues before that I would have noticed had I only studied the deck plans better.

3. Skip the cabins with interconnecting doors.

avoid interconnecting doors. deck plans for allure of seas
These deck plans on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas show which rooms have interconnecting doors with the black arrows. Other cruise lines use other symbols to show which rooms are interconnected.

Having an interconnecting door to the next stateroom is great if you are traveling in a group and actually know the passengers next door.  It’s not so great if you want to keep noise to a minimum.

These doors allow more noise pollution to leak through than you would think.  Even if your fellow cruise passengers are not talking loudly, often just shuffling around the cabin can be heard in some cases.

I’ve experienced this problem when the passengers next door were early birds.  While they were opening and closing closet and bathroom doors I was next door hearing every little bit.

So yes, that little door between cabins does make a difference.  I decided to make sure no future cabins had interconnecting doors.

This again will be clearly marked on most deck plans so you can see which staterooms have doors between them.  Skip over these cabins and find something with a solid wall on either side of your cabin.

4. Choose a mid-ship cabin.

midship balcony staterooms cabins

Take this one with a caveat, a big one!  Aft balconies and front-facing suites can be amazing.  You can read more on why aft balconies cost more and why it’s worth it here.

This step is more of a practical choice for most cruise preferences.

A mid-ship cabin will not only experience less movement at night when the ship is moving to the next destination, but it also allows you to be closer to all common areas of the ship.

My very first cruise had an aft balcony and I loved the views and sound of the water.  But areas at the front of the ship seemed just so far away.  Elevators are great for going up and down, but horizontal movement on a ship has to be done with legs. 

Now, I didn’t mind the extra workout and getting my steps in, but it definitely wasn’t a convenient location for getting around.

Having a cabin in the center of the ship allows you to always be half-way to any venue on the vessel.  The restaurants near the back of the ship and the theater at the front are always about the same distance.  And it’s nice when you forget something in your cabin and need to run back real quick.  We’ve all been there.

If you’re someone who has an issue with movement and sea-sickness a mid-ship cabin is ideal for you as well.  The difference in motion can be quite stark if the seas are a bit rough compared to the forward and aft parts of the ship.

5.  Choose a cabin between the promenade and lido deck.

In addition to being in the middle of the ship in terms of forward and aft, a cabin situated between the main promenade and lido deck can be ideal as well.

I had a cabin on deck 2 before.  And this was on a ship with 18 decks.  Anytime I wanted to go anywhere it required either a very long, arduous trek up the stairs, or many stops on an elevator that seemed to stop on every deck.

Most of your time on a cruise ship will be spent on the lido deck or decks near the promenade so being right in the middle of this area will mean you only need to go up or down a few decks to go anywhere.

I’ve had cabins right on the lido deck before as well, and this was very convenient for hitting the buffet or swimming in the main pool.  It did mean a bit of a descent for going to the main theater, but much of this depends on where you plan to spend most of your time on your cruise.

6. Check for special cabin features.

Want a bathtub in your cabin?  Feel like trying out an infinite veranda as opposed to a regular balcony?   How about having a USB charging port by your bed?  Is that important to you?

Know what each cabin category offers ahead of time so you aren’t left disappointed. 

And don’t assume that because you sailed with that cruise line before that the cabin will have all the same amenities.  Each class of ships is different, and even within a class there can be changes as some ships are updated before others.

7.  Book early for best selection of cabins.

I know many of our readers are big fans of last-minute cruise deals.  I am as well.  But if you want to have the ‘pick of the litter” so to speak, you will want to book your cabin shortly after the cruise bookings open. 

Here are some more reasons to book your cabin as early as possible.

The best cabins and suites do get booked first.  Cruisers are a savvy bunch and know what to look for.   Solo cabins often get booked pretty quick, and the same goes for aft balconies and interior cabins (mainly because they are the cheapest cabins on board).

Read more: Early booking vs. last-minute cruise shopping

8.  Use travel agents and online resources.

A good travel agent can help you decide on which cabin is best for you.  Just make sure that your agent has cruise experience and ideally has been on that particular ship before.

You can also find some online resources that offer non-stock pictures of cruise cabins.   I’m not a fan of the stock images the cruise lines show on their websites as they aren’t always quite as “realistic”.  Read over reviews for that cabin category and location if you are able. 

Sometimes you can even do a web search for a cabin number and see a video or image gallery of that cabin.

Final Thoughts

I realize most of the above is all about preference and your preference may be different than mine.  But that’s the great thing about cruising.  Thousands of passengers can all be on the same ship and have exactly what they want out of a vacation.

I just hope the above is helpful in making sure you get the kind of cabin you need to make your getaway something special and remarkable.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise TipsBookingPicking the Perfect Cruise Cabin: 8 Steps for Finding the Best Staterooms

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