Travel & Destinations

How to Pick the Best Cruise Cabin

Have you dreamed of a cruise vacation but are overwhelmed by ship cabin options? You are not alone. For first-time cruisers, choosing accommodations can be as bewildering as ancient mariner maps. Yet, imagine waking to the ocean’s gentle sway with a new horizon every morning. 

Cruise the majestic seas, where each sunrise promises new thrills, and the day ends with a recap of cherished moments. The right cruise cabin can transform your dreams into reality.

Cabin Category Choices

Cabin selection is essential, whether prioritizing views, ship stability, budgets, or easy access to vital amenities. You’ll select a stateroom category and location long before you realize that each day’s big decision will soon be pool or buffet first. Cruise ship cabin categories range from compact, practical staterooms to luxury suites. 

Interior Cabins

Interior cabins without windows are cost-effective for travelers more interested in the ship’s excursions, restaurants, and onboard experiences than the view from their sleeping space. These dark rooms offer deep slumber while ocean waves gently rock the boat. However, on some modern cruise ships, innovative virtual windows offer live, sweeping ocean views that fill compact interior spaces with a vibrant, expansive atmosphere.

Cruise Ship Cabin with Oceanview Window
Oceanview cabin brings in natural light.

Oceanview Cabins

Oceanview rooms introduce natural light through windows or portholes for watching the sea’s ever-changing landscape. The horizon was directly in my line of sight in my ocean-view room. This unique perspective of nature’s infinite expanse added an unparalleled dimension to each day. 

Cruise Ship Cabin with a Balcony
A balcony room offers a view and seclusion. | Photo by John Goodrow

Balcony Cabins

Balcony rooms are my sanctuary at sea, offering seclusion while the ocean’s tranquil beauty unfolds before me. There’s joy in soaking up serene vistas, breathing in the crisp sea air, and savoring breakfast al fresco while the world gently stirs to life. These cabins boast private, panoramic ocean views and provide a personal retreat space for relaxation and contemplation. 

Cabin Suites

Suites, the pinnacle of ocean luxury, deliver spacious living areas and premium services. The splendor of suite living is unparalleled, from priority boarding to exclusive access to certain activities and amenities.

Cabin Location Options to Consider

Choosing the right deck on your cruise is an adventure, much like selecting the perfect floor in a sea-bound skyscraper. Each deck has its unique character and specific purpose. The lower decks, near the waterline, offer a stable embrace for those who might worry about seasickness. On the other hand, the upper decks promise a different kind of magic when you greet the morning with sweeping views of the vast ocean or quickly escape to the nearby sun decks and pools.

Breakfast at a Window Table on a Cruise Ship
Enjoy the cruise buffet with a view.

Mid-ship decks strike a perfect balance with ease and accessibility that’s hard to beat. The short stroll to restaurants, theaters, and lounges means every pleasure is within easy reach. For those with mobility concerns, a stateroom near elevators on these decks can make a significant difference.

But the choices don’t end there. The side of the ship (port or starboard) and the location (aft or forward) play pivotal roles. Port (left) cabins provide stunning coastline views on southbound voyages, while starboard is preferable for northbound routes. Aft cabins (rear) have expansive, often unobstructed scenes of the ship’s wake and deliver coveted sail-away views. Forward cabins, meanwhile, provide unique perspectives for anticipated landfall at each port. 

5. A portable power bank keeps you connected while exploring W jpg
Bring a portable power bank to keep you connected.

Insider Tips for First-Time Cruisers

Upon check-in, crew members will transfer your luggage to your stateroom, which might take a few hours. Start enjoying your cruise right away. Bring a day bag with essentials such as medications and swimwear. Cruise ship apps provide daily schedules with maps, so use the embarkation day to discover quiet lounges, unique viewpoints, and specialty dining.  

Cruise Packing Hacks

  • Plastic Door Organizer — Store essentials like sunscreen and makeup in an over-door shoe or cosmetics organizer. 
  • Highlighter Pens — Color-code your daily planner. Visual organization helps streamline your day.
  • Portable Power Bank — A power bank keeps your devices charged while you are on the go.
  • Small Flashlight or Nightlight — Navigating a dark, unfamiliar room at night is challenging. A small light prevents stubbed toes and makes midnight bathroom trips safer.
Two Cruise Ships in Port
Cruising it: There’s something for everyone.

Book Your Dream Voyage

Equipped with these insights and driven by a passion for discovery, you’ll find your cruise vacation promises to be extraordinary. Picture yourself enjoying a cup of coffee in a luxury suite as the sunrise casts a golden hue over the ocean or relaxing on your balcony after a day of adventures.

Embrace the call of the seas with confidence. Why wait? Plan your dream cruise today.


Gwyn Goodrow

Gwyn Goodrow is a travel journalist with a heart for exploration. Goodrow illuminates human connections in vibrant stories. Follow her adventures and reflections at and on Instagram @gwyngoodrow.

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