Choosing your Cabin on a cruise ship

Ships are travelling at sea and can be both noisy and bumpy. There is a logic to apply. Having said that, beware the advice and work out what works for you. I say beware the advice, that is wrong, listen to it all and analyse is a better mantra. But beware, because like football following, religion or politics, people love their ship and their cabin and it can sometimes be no more than their preference and sometimes blind faith as well as great advice. Beware the cruiser that boasts they have done 40+ cruises and only ever sailed with the one company and on one ship, that is actually one experience, forty times. Hey, it is all advice, but after one cruise you will be very knowledgable and please post back here with genuine advice.


The promenade deck is normally the entertainment deck. The deck above it is normally the lifeboat deck, so that deck is cheaper because it is above entertainment venues and has a limited view out past life-craft… in general. It is where officers and entertainers are often housed. The deck below the prom deck is just above storage and where for some hours forklifts move stock about as bars and restaurants and kitchens are replenished – all logic. The lower you go the more you hear the noise and the propellers turn all night. Propellers are at the rear (prop noise), the front is the end that crashes the rough sea (so gets the bangs/beating). But being low you get less drift and less seasickness. Going higher you get more sway in bad weather, but up means you get away from the noise unless you are under the football pitch (not the best upgrade) or disco (some ships have that high like Queen Victoria). Middle, middle might be sounding quite good now, and this is when you start to realise why cabins have different prices. When someone says ‘my travel agent got me a great deal’ – ask where? It is like those cheap theatre ticket sellers in the west end who have all the top and behind pillars, seats to sell. Now, if it is a quiet flat cruise WIN WIN …. But, there is noise, and sea, and weather.

Deck Plans and what to avoid

Doors closing all night can be a problem if you are a light sleeper. So, being at the front low down might be next to the crew area entrance. Deck plans may not show the entrance to staff areas, they might just be white boxes. Beware white areas (and laundry rooms when ships have them). On most ships the staff sunbathing area is at the front below the bridge, their recreation rooms are at the front too, as is their dining. The guest cabins that far along are normally used by officers or entertainment staff. You will note their rooms as most of the day it says sleeping! The ones sold to guests that far down are normally the ones that might be found on offer or used for travelling family of staff. Avoid lifts, laundry rooms, staff entrances. Being above the theatre, below the football. Above the loading bay. These rooms will not command the high premium the middle with balcony rooms will.


LIGHT – Inside cabin?

There is some medical science for both. The purpose of the outside is the serotonin that is generated by being woken by natural light. This is mood enhancing and fantastic for you. BUT! If you sleep with the curtains closed that goes out the window – see what we did there, window! Sleeping with the curtains open is the health justification for a window whereas the body is said to require quality sleep. That is not Quality Street, lay off the chocolate! If you have ever worn a fit watch of any kind, you will see it monitors sleep time and quality sleep time. You will never sleep as well as in an inside cabin. If you need rest, if that is why you are going on holiday, you will sleep deeply in an inside cabin. Little will ever be as dark and as restful and you will wake up and say, “have you seen what the time is?” Some sleep with the TV on ‘Mast camera’ and then get woken up by light, that is a version of what is, outside, natural. I will not go into light quality and scales I am having enough problem getting the right light in my fish tank or the correct spectrum. The inside cabin is cheaper, and many good friends cruise more often and always inside. For their balcony, they walk to the deck where they can have breakfast outside when the weather is nice. Interestingly the artificial light windows which could be TV screens or lights were the most searched tec’ item on the BBC web last year.


This is the one we think you might like to consider. Where are you going to spend most of your time, and how far is that from your cabin. If you like the sun deck or an area of quiet retreat, how far is that from your cabin? Are you someone who likes to pop back and forth? If so what is the access? Are you near the stairs?  Near the lift? Do you want to avoid being near the lift? – some would.


We are all different. Some will go straight to their cabin after dinner, others will be the last out of the nightclub. Some will try and drink their own smuggled on booze on their own balcony, others will use the decks and bars. Why you cruise, how you cruise should be considered here. We use our cabin to sleep – beds are the same in nearly all cabins, and to wash and change – bathrooms are pretty similar in all. What will you be doing in the cabin? It is a hotel room and having spent a lifetime in hotel rooms and airports and planes, to be honest, the cabin does not play a huge part in our choice. If the cabin is important then you will find most cruise operators detail all the grades of their cabin on their websites, have detailed pictures, and we and others run films of them on YouTube. It is a hotel room; a suite is a larger hotel room (sometimes with a butler, but any room can call room service and they all have a cabin steward). The addition of a balcony can be a great feature in the Fjords watching majestic mountains pass, but on a Caribean cruise with a port every day it may be less important. If you want to sunbath naked, make sure your balcony is not overlooked by the decks above and they can be, on many ships in many places. Doing a nine-day transit to the Caribbean or an eleven-day sea transit to Tahiti, a cabin is worth considering. If it is your one big holiday a year, go for it. If it is your first cruise, you may be surprised how little extra you need have booked.

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For those who require the larger door and disabled facilities, each ship normally lists how many rooms they have which may suit. These can sell out fast which means you may fall into the group that has to book early and at list price, or book with ‘future bookings’ while on board taking their expert advice. No travel agent can know the prospective deck plan changes year in and year out as well as the company’s own bookings department.


Is you. The one that changes person to person. While the cabins all follow a format, and on most ships have very little difference until conditions get bad. Personal choice and opinion are individual.PORT GUIDES – SEE OUR LIST OF EVERY PORT IN THE WORLD and be INSPIRED – PORT & DESTINATION GUIDES MENU AT DORIS VISITS – click


Upgrades are often unlikely when on board because most ships sail full. There are guest crew who may have best available contracts which means they consume the odd better room when available by the time of sailing. Upgrades normally happen at odd periods before the cruise sets sail, and there are a number of ways upgrades work. Normally a sale is held to sell unused bed space – the operator often will not offer great rooms at cheap prices as this would cause unrest among guests. The sale buyers get the basic rooms that may have already been sold and allocated, so those who bought those rooms at full price get the upgrade to move them up the scale. Always check where your upgrade is before you blindly accept it. One guest complained that the new upgrade room was below the football court and it drove her mad, but she had complained about the previous cabin and accepted the upgrade. Obviously not a chess player.

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So, reading the above, you can choose whether a great deal is a great deal for you, and discard whether others think it is a great deal. 


A single or solo room can be expensive, the cost of a normal room plus supplement has been seen cheaper. Look before you book.

3rd and 4th in a ROOM

A better larger room or suite shared when there is a 3rd and 4th person sharing the room might work for close friends.


The front bumps, the backs wiggle, the middle is expensive. Wrist bands, eye cover, ear plugs and drink more…. ask on the chat sites, then make your own mind up. If your chat site has topics, try clicking the CABINS topic before wading through thousands of posts. The Doris Visits chat sites are all listed on the SHIPS, FLEETS and CHAT menu. Please join and add to the shared knowledge.

Across the fleets, there is a huge variety. We challenge you to look at the new SAGA ships to set a cabin benchmark! 


The short party cruises or three/four-day cruises are normally to Hamburg or Amsterdam and back. The day before you might find them ridiculously cheap, and that is a way to see a ship you do not know before you commit to a long cruise.  Hamburg is a great city.

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David of ‘How To Cruise’, seems to agree that inside means more cruising, here is his blog



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