Guide to the Different Type of Cruise Cabins

When it comes to booking a cruise cabin there is so much choice and it can be confusing so it’s so important to do your homework. In this guide to cruise cabins we will cover the different types of cruise cabins and outline the pros and cons of all.

Cabins can be known as rooms, cabins or staterooms. They are similar to hotel rooms but depending on the type of cabin they are usually much smaller. They are usually long and thin or square-shaped with a bedroom area and bathroom featuring a toilet, shower, and sink. 

What is included in a cruise cabin?

Cabin amenities vary from line to line but all cabins come with a cabin attendant who cleans your cabin in the morning and turns down your cabin on an evening. If you need any extra pillows, towels, blankets or anything else call housekeeping or ask your cabin attendant.

In your cabin, you will also find a bed, TV, climate control, a desk, drawers, a closet for clothes and plenty of mirrors.

Most cabin bathrooms will have basic amenities like shampoo, hand soap, and shower gel but we recommend you bring your own. You’ll also find a hairdryer and towels which are changed daily.

Cabins never have irons in them and they are strictly prohibited from bringing them on board. If you need anything ironing you will need to use the laundry facilities onboard.

Type of Cruise Cabins

Most cruise lines make things a bit more confusing by splitting the types of cabins into different categories. Some cruise lines will present as many as 15 or more categories per ship. Now don’t be overwhelmed with this – there are essentially only four different types of cabins; Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Suites.

Jump to:

  • Inside Cabins
  • Oceanview Cabins
  • Balcony Cabins
  • Suites
  • Guaranteed Cabins
  • Accessible Cabins.

Inside Cabins

Inside Cabin
Inside Cabin on Holland America
©Cruise With Ben & David

Inside cabins are usually the smallest. They have no windows or balconies. They vary in size, from smaller shoebox cabins to ones with much more room. The larger the room, the more you will usually pay.

You also pay for location too, the real estate that your cabin occupies is important. Cabins near amenities, those higher up and those towards the center of the ship are usually more expensive as they have a more desirable location.

See also our guide to inside cruise cabins.

Pros an inside cabin

Some of the pros of booking an inside cabin are that you will obviously save a lot of money compared to booking a more expensive type. If you don’t plan on spending much time in your cabin this could be the perfect cabin for you. It’s also going to be super dark on a night so it can offer a really good night’s sleep with no light interference.

Cons of an inside cabin

Some of the cons of an inside cabin are that they can feel a little claustrophobic as you are essentially in a box with no natural light. They are also the smallest of the cabins so if you are traveling as a family or three or more they can be quite cramped.

See Also: How To Avoid a Bad Cabin

Oceanview Cabins

Oceanview Cabin
Oceanview Cabin on Holland America
©Cruise With Ben & David

Oceanview cabins, or outside cabins as they are also known, are cabins with a window to the outside but this window or porthole will not open. Oceanview cabins have three types of windows;

  • Porthole – A small round window
  • Picture window – Larger square window
  • Panoramic – Floor to ceiling window.

The size of oceanview cabins ranges dramatically from small, around the same size as an inside cabin, to larger family cabins.

Sapphire Princess Obstructed View Cabin
Sapphire Princess obstructed view
©Cruise With Ben & David

Some oceanview cabins will have what is called an obstructed view meaning something will be covering your window such as a lifeboat, on the one hand, these can be much cheaper. You will be informed when booking if you have an obstructed view (which can save you a fortune with no real obstruction. But they can vary from a tiny obstruction to a full obstructed view.

See also our guide to Oceanview cabins.

Video: Oceanview Cabins on Norwegian Encore

Pros of an Oceanview cabin.

Natural Light – These cabins will be brighter due to the natural light so it’s much easier to see what time of day it is by peeking out the window. It’s also much easier to wake in the morning with natural light.

Range of cabins available – There are some really cool oceanview cabins like those at the very front of the ship looking across the bow, and even panoramic oceanview cabins with floor to ceiling windows.

Cost – The lower grade oceanview cabins are usually not much more expensive than an inside cabin but with the benefit of being able to see outside.

Cons of an Oceanview Cabin

Location – The majority of these cabins are low down and if you are close to the engine they can be noisy. Oceanview cabins higher up are usually towards the front and back where you can feel more movement.

Lack of fresh air – Like inside cabins there is no air coming into the room as the windows do not open.

Balcony Cabins

Balcony cabins have access to your own private balcony outside.

Balcony cabins, also known as verandah cabins, are usually larger and more rectangular in shape with sliding doors to your own private balcony outside.

Newer ships feature more balcony cabins than older ships. The size of the balcony can vary drastically too between each cruise line. On your balcony, you will find chairs and a small table.

Again, you can book balcony cabins with obstructed views, the more obstructed the cheaper the cabin will be. We’ve grabbed some bargains with slightly obstructed cabins before.

Pros of a balcony cabin

Private outdoor area – Obviously your private outdoor area on the balcony is one of the biggest pros of this cabin. There is no need to leave the comfort of your cabin to find a public outdoor area. There is no better feeling than opening your curtains in the morning and going outside and having a coffee or breakfast on your balcony in a brand new country with a new stunning view.

Fresh air – It’s also really nice to get some fresh air in your cabin.

Cons of a balcony cabin

Price – You will pay a little more for this type of cabin and if you don’t plan to spend any time but sleep it could be an extra cost that isn’t worth it to you.

Fear of heights – Balcony cabins, especially on new ships, are very high up so you may not enjoy been so high. You may also be traveling with children and feel unsafe having them use the balcony.

Suites

Some suites have multiple levels like on MSC Belissima.
©Cruise With Ben & David

Finally, we have suites. These cabins are the best on the ship and come in at all shapes and sizes. These can be single, multi-room cabins or multi-level suites with two or more floors.

Suite feature a separate living space, a bedroom, and a larger bathroom usually with a bathtub and shower. Most suites have larger balconies and some even have things like sun loungers and a hot tub on the balcony. We’ve seen suites with walk-in closets, pianos, private pools, and deluxe marble and gold bathrooms.

Watch: Video tour of the Sky Princess Suite.

Suites come with premium amenities and services such as a concierge or butler service and there are usually extra perks that come with a suite such as priority embarkation and disembarkation. More ships now feature private exclusive areas for suite guests including restaurants, lounges, private pools and outdoor areas with a more upscale feel.

Cruise lines market something called mini-suites or junior suites but these are usually just glorified balcony cabins with a large surcharge in price. These come without the extra benefits of enhanced service or access to the private suite areas.

Pro’s of booking a suite

The cabins themselves – Suites are beautiful and of course, the service you will receive will be the best on the ship. You will be treated like royalty!

Multi rooms – if you are traveling with multiple groups a multi-room suite gives you separate bedrooms in the same cabin.

Access to private areas – These private restaurants, lounges, and pools are much quieter than the rest of the ship.

Service – The service, food, and amenities are going to be the best on the ship.

Cons of booking a suite

Price – you are absolutely going to pay for the premium of a suite. The bigger and more impressive the cabin the more you are going to pay, and let us tell you some of these cabins are incredibly pricey!

Availability – Because there are fewer suite cabins on ships they are usually the first to sell out so get in there early and book the cabin you want!

Gratuities – Those traveling in suites usually pay a higher daily gratuity charge.

Guaranteed Cabins

MSC Balcony Cabin
A “Guaranteed Cabin” could be anywhere on the ship.

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.

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.

Pros of a Guaranteed Cabin

Price – you are getting a reduced price which could be a significant saving

Upgrade – there is always the small possibility of receiving a free upgrade because if there are none of the cabins you choose left, they will upgrade you to a better cabin.

Cons of booking a Guaranteed Cabin

Location – You could end up in a less desirable part of the ship such as above a nightclub or under the lido.

Excluded from offers – 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 that you will be saving by booking a guaranteed cabin.

Accessible Cruise Cabins

All cruise lines feature accessible cabins across all different cabin types. Accessible cabins are limited so early booking is recommended.

Accessible cruise cabins include wider doors and step-free access to the bathroom and, if your cabin has one, the balcony. The main cabin area includes a larger space for wheelchairs, lower hanging rails and lower storage. The rooms are also fitted with a call button for emergencies.

Find out more about accessible cabins with Vision Cruise’s Accessible Cabin Guide.

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.

You may also find our Guide to Choosing The Right Cabin useful.

Ben Hewitt
I am a keen video producer and photographer. Before starting Cruise with Ben and David I worked for the BBC and Discovery Channel.