Travelers devote a lot of time to finding the right cruise, one that is a good fit based on a number of factors. The price is easy enough to find on cruise line websites or in brochures. Itineraries tell us where ships go as well as when they go there.
The onboard experience is something cruise lines do a good job of depicting online as well. One of the least considered factors, the exact category and location of your cabin. It’s something many cruisers write off as unimportant, until it is. Frankly, choosing the right cabin can make or break your cruise. Here’s why:
First to know, ‘cabin’ and ‘stateroom’ are interchangeable terms, both mean the same. Cabin location is a critical issue for cruisers with mobility issues or other special needs. Modified cabins that will accommodate wheelchairs, for example, are limited in number and often go fast. That encourages early booking, simply because availability (number of cabins to choose from) will be far less as the final payment date comes closer.
A big mistake: considering the sailing date as the target to make a decision. Final payment can be several months in advance of sailing. You better believe more experienced travelers have already booked, leaving you few locations from which to choose. The good news: modified staterooms are commonly located close to elevators.
Location is also important for those who really get into onboard programming or simply don’t want to have as far to walk. Midship locations not only provide a bit smoother ride in rough seas but make getting to and from events on board easy. Experienced travelers book as far in advance as possible for this reason
Price & Budget
While many cabins are identical within their category (inside, oceanview and balcony, for example) price changes with location. Midship cabins cost more than the exact same cabin further away from that desirable location. This is one of those little things that seems insignificant when planning at home. Least expensive usually means least desirable. That’s fine if considered going in. Not so fine if we wake because our cabin is right under the fitness center. Noise from there could make sleeping difficult and that savings insignificant.
Sailing for the first time to Alaska, for example, travelers often think a balcony is a must. Actually, a balcony is not the best choice for those who really see Alaska During glacier viewing from the ship, for example, a U.S. Forest Service park ranger boards before it enters those protected waters. From high up on the bridge, that ranger will narrate what can be seen on either side of the ship. Some travelers will park on their balconies while others are on the top deck for this event.
Believe me, when that ranger who can see what is on both sides of the ship says ‘there is a whale about to breach (jump out of the water) on the left side, you don’t want to be on the right side. Travelers on the top deck simply walk from one side to another to see and take photos of more. Budget savings between a balcony and an inside cabin can finance the most expensive but most desirable options: flightseeing.
Location, price and budget really should be considered together. As you can see, one does affect the other. I leave you with one obscure reason choosing the right cabin can make or break your cruise: your size. Large and tall people will have a hard time being the third or fourth person in a cabin, the one that sleeps in the bunk bed. They just might not fit. Believe me, no one will ask how big or tall you are at the time of booking.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com.