Choosing the right stateroom is an important consideration in determining whether you will have a great cruise experience. Unfortunately, there’s no absolute answer appropriate for everyone. A stateroom choice is a decision determined by your personal travel style and preferences, the ship, the itinerary and, of course, your budget.
Today’s cruise ships come in all sizes and offer varied onboard accommodations.
Booking an ocean cruise well in advance provides the best stateroom availability and choice of accommodations. The most expensive suites and the least expensive inside cabins usually sell first. If you are traveling with family, it’s important to know that triples and quad staterooms — accommodating three or four guests — and connecting staterooms book quickly as well. Staterooms with access for wheel chairs also are limited on most ships and should be reserved as early as possible.
A veranda stateroom is my personal preference for a Mediterranean or Caribbean cruise with four or more ports of call, or for a cruise with several days at sea. The value of a private outdoor balcony from which to view a magical sunset, or to enjoy a room service breakfast each morning as you sail into a new port, is important to me and worth the additional cost.
Travelers on a limited budget, especially those expecting to spend only sleeping hours in their room, frequently opt for an inside cabin. Yet, once they move to an ocean view or veranda stateroom on a subsequent cruise, they seldom choose an interior room again.
Stateroom size does matter, especially on longer itineraries. A 140-square-foot inside stateroom may be fine for some people taking a three or four-night cruise. You will be more comfortable, however, in a larger stateroom (190 to 225 square feet) on a seven-night or longer cruise. Meanwhile, suites ranging in size from 250 to 2,000 square feet (depending upon the ship) provide much larger luxury accommodations and added amenities, usually at substantially higher prices.
Selecting from among the many room categories can be a puzzling task. For example, some of today’s largest ocean liners have as many as 43 different stateroom categories. You may find room category designations such as 2A, 2B, 2C or 2D. These staterooms are essentially the same except for location: mid-ship, forward, aft or on a higher deck. Each category usually has a slightly different price point with the mid-ship staterooms on high decks commanding the top prices for that room type.
As ocean liners have grown larger and larger in recent years, several cruise lines introduced their version of a Ship within a Ship providing private access to certain exclusive areas and special amenities for guests selecting such accommodations. Concierge Class, Aqua Class, The Haven and Suite Class are four examples of how some cruise lines have adapted to the growing demand for a more personalized and special cruise experience.
To find the stateroom that’s right for you, I recommend selecting the largest stateroom within your budget range that provides the comfort and amenities important to you. Following this simple axiom, you will realize the most value for your vacation dollars and a memorable cruise experience.