Choosing The Right Cabin

The Haven by Norwegian
The Haven by Norwegian - © Cruise With Ben & David

When it comes to choosing your cabin it can be a confusing experience. Your cabin is your home away from home for the duration of your holiday so it’s important you choose a cabin that will suit your needs and budget. We have put together this guide to help you make the choice of which cabin is for you.

Cabin Type

Cruise lines offer an array of different cabins. From inside cabins to huge multi-bedroom luxury suites. You will find that cabins are generally smaller than hotel rooms – at sea, space is a premium! This doesn’t mean you lose out of quality – things are just a bit more compact. Lines offer an endless amount of different categories within each cabin type so it may seem overwhelming.

To save you any confusion we have broken things down into five different types.

Inside Cabin

Inside Cabin on Norwegian Star
Norwegian Star Inside Cabin – Norwegian Cruise Line

These are the cheapest cabins on the ship and don’t have any outside view. They are great if you are the type of person who just uses the room to sleep. Some cruise liners now have High Definition screens replicating a live balcony view giving you a “Virtual” balcony or porthole.

Within each category of cabin, you will see there are different cabin codes and price points – this all depends on the location and size of the cabin. A larger cabin in a better location will cost more than a smaller one in a less desirable location.

See also our guide to inside cruise cabins.

Interior View

Some liners offer an interior cabin with a window or balcony. This will overlook an indoor area of the ship. This can range from viewing the promenade or an outside space such as a view of Royal Caribbean’s Central Park or Boardwalk. Whilst these make your room feel bigger you can be sometimes paying a big premium for little gain. You may be overlooked by rooms on the opposite side and the areas you overlook can become noisy.

Ocean View

Sapphire Princess Oceanview Cabin
Oceanview Cabin on Sapphire Princess – ©Cruise With Ben & David

Ocean View cabins offer a window that will not open. They can range from a small porthole window to large panoramic windows. Ocean View rooms can range dramatically in price and size. With an Ocean View room, you have natural light and this can make your room feel bright and much less enclosed. The price of the cabin will depend on location, floor space and the size of the window. As a minimum, we prefer to have a view of the ocean as we feel we are missing out otherwise.

See also our guide to Oceanview cabins.

Balcony Cabin

Breakfast on Cruise Balcony
Enjoy breakfast on your balcony – ©Cruise with Ben & David

Balcony Cabins feature a private balcony that you can access from your cabin. For us, we enjoy a balcony as we spend time on it during the evening and morning – it’s lovely to be able to open the doors and get some fresh air in your cabin. We love waking up in the morning and opening the curtains to a brand new view.

For some cruisers, this does not bother them and they would be happy with an inside cabin preferring to spend time in the onboard lounges and pools. Balcony cabins range in size functionality and you can pay a large premium for a small balcony. You can usually bag a bargain if you are willing to book a balcony with an obstructed view, this might mean there is a lifeboat outside your balcony slightly obstructing your view.

Watch our video: Is a balcony cabin worth it?

Premium Cabins – Suites, Concierge, Spa Rooms Etc.

Norwegian Bliss - Haven Cabin
Haven Suite on Norwegian Bliss – © Cruise with Ben & David

We consider anything above a balcony cabin as a Premium Cabin. These could be a standard size room with added amenities, such as concierge or access to a spa area, or larger and split-level multi-room suites. Prices can range from a small extra charge on top of a balcony cabin to jaw-dropping prices.

If you are tempted by these rooms, think about what extras are offered and if it is worth the money to you. We have been tempted previously by a spa suite but after we thought about what we offered, we realised we would not use the spa facilities enough to justify the cost.

Guaranteed Cabin

Cruise Ship Cabin

Most cruise lines now offer what’s called a “Guaranteed Cabin”. You pick a cabin category (inside, outside, balcony or suite) and you’re guaranteed that type. But it could be anywhere on the ship. These cabins are offered at a lower rate and you can make huge savings if you are willing to forego picking your exact cabin location and number.

There are pros and cons to picking a Guaranteed cabin.

So for the pro side, you are getting a reduced price which could be a significant saving and there is always the possibility of receiving a free upgrade.

This is in no way guaranteed so our advice is to book the minimum cabin category that you WOULD be happy with. Any upgrades you receive are a bonus rather than a sure thing.

Now the downsides. You could end up in a less desirable part of the ship. For example, if you book a Guaranteed Balcony Cabin, you could end up at the front or back of the ship where motion is felt more or you could be allocated near a noisy part of the ship – near the theatre or under one of the entertainment venues.

Guaranteed Cabins are sometimes excluded from any offers that are running. For example, free drinks packages, onboard credit or free WiFi. So make sure you factor into the price what you will be saving by booking a guaranteed cabin.

You will be assigned your cabin number prior to sailing. This can happen anytime from a few hours after booking up to the day before departure.

Obstructed view

Obstructed View on Princess Cruises
A Obstructed View – © Cruise With Ben & David

A obstructed view cabin is a cabin with a window or baloney that has a obstruction. This can range from a tiny, un-noticeable part of your view to your whole window covered.

So, why would you book this cabin? The main reason is cost. These cabins can be much cheaper and sometimes only slightly more than a inside cabin. They benefit from a bonus of having a window and some natural light.

If you are on a budget or are simply wanting some natural light in your room. These cabins are the perfect solution.

What are the cabin codes?

Each cabin is placed into a cabin grade based usually on location and size. They are then given a code (such as A1) by the cruise line. Simply ignore these as they are only relevant to that cruise line.

Our top tip is to look at the size of the cabin, location and features. The more expensive the cabin the better location or size.

Location of your cabin

Norwegian Bliss Ship Model

Once you have decided the cabin category you would like, you need to think about where on the ship you would like to be. As a rough guide the more towards the centre (mid) of the ship and higher up you are, the pricier the room.

A few of things to think about when choosing your location:


If you suffer from seasickness you may wish to pick a cabin lower down and towards the centre (mid) of the ship. There is less inertia and movement here. Rooms towards the front of a ship are referred to as ‘forward’ and towards the back as ‘aft’.


When picking your cabin check where it is in relation to ship features, remember to check the deck above and below – you can do this by looking at the ship deck plans. Watch out for bars, clubs or elevators near to your room. Cabins under or above heavy traffic areas such as the buffet, theatre, pool area and gym could be noisy. Cabins located lower and towards the back can experience engine noise. We recommend you visit forums and check review sites such as Cruise Critic to check the exact cabin to see what others think about it.


We also like to check where we are in relation to the main parts of the ship. Mega-ships are long and your cabin can be a good distance from the nearest lift or stairway. #lazy 🙂

For more tips on location see our ‘How to Avoid A Bad’ cabin guide. 

So, which cabin is for me?

The Haven by Norwegian
The Haven by Norwegian – © Cruise With Ben & David

Think about what type of traveller you are when you stay in a hotel room. Do you like to be out and about and only use your room for sleeping? or do you like to spend time relaxing in your room? Do you suffer from claustrophobia? and do you like to splash out for a premium experience?

Then think about the location. Are you bothered where you are on the ship? Do you have mobility issues meaning you need to be closer to a lift?

Finally, think about your budget. Your cabin is just one part of the overall cruise experience and what you save choosing a lower grade cabin, you could be spending elsewhere.

Ultimately choosing the right cabin can be tricky and at the end of the day, it will be mostly based on personal preference. Doing your research first will help eliminate any disappointments when you get onboard.

Your Thoughts

We hope you find this overview about choosing a cabin helpful and if you would like to ask any more questions or have comments please let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

David McDonald
As one half of Cruise with Ben & David I am a huge cruise enthusiast and have sailed on over 30 cruises. On dry land, I am a Head of Design at a digital media company based in London. I have had the opportunity to work with brands such as the Financial Times and The Telegraph.