Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not all Cabins are Alike

Interior Stateroom with Two Twin Beds

Cruise Ship Accommodations

You've decided to go to your local hotel for a weekend getaway and you call reservations to book your room.   What are some of the questions the clerk asks?

How many people? Do you want a king bed or two double beds?  Do you want high floor or low floor?  Is anyone in your party handicapped?   Do you want to be near or away from the elevator?   Would you like the parking lot view or the pool view?

Just as hotel rooms aren't alike, neither are cruise ship cabins. You'll need to decide on the types of accommodations that will best meet you and your traveling companions' needs.

Main Cabin Accommodation Types:   
Interior, Outside, Balcony, Deluxe

Outside Cabin with Obstructed View
Pictured above is your typical Interior (inside) cabin.   As you might expect, it has no windows of any type. Imagine walking into a bedroom or walk-in closet that doesn't have any windows.   That's exactly what you should expect in an inside cabin.

These will be the lowest priced cabins on the ship.  If you like dark when you sleep, then this is definitely for you.  On the other hand, if you are claustrophobic,   then you definitely won't want this type of cabin.

Location, Location, Location

Just like in a hotel, not only does the type of cabin factor into the cost, but also the location.  Cabin types are further divided into categories.   Each cruise line has a different labeling scheme for categories, but what they have in common is grouping by deck and location on the deck.  The least expensive inside cabins will be found on the lowest decks, either all the way forward or all the way aft.   Cabins located in the center of the deck command a premium price as do cabins located on higher decks.

Rooms With a View

The next category of cabins is the Outside accommodations.   As the name suggests, these cabins aren't hidden away in some dark interior part of the ship, but rather have some sort of window that allows you to look out at the sea.    On the majority of the ships, the cabin may have a port hole or picture window.   These cabins tend to be on lower decks and could be across the hallway from an interior accommodation.   For families traveling with children, you may want to book an inside for the kids and an outside for parents.   We'll leave cabin size to another blog post by the way.

Location is still a price-determining  factor as was the case with the inside cabins.   Another sub-category is outside cabins that have an obstructed or partially obstructed view.    The picture above shows a cabin that is partially obstructed.   You can look out at the sea, but you'll also see a life-boat or other obstruction due to the location of the cabin.   You have a view with any of these cabins, but you won't get any fresh air since the windows do not open.

Balcony Stateroom

Balcony accommodations, like the cabin pictured here, are the next major level up from Outside cabins.  As the name implies, you have a private veranda (balcony) which is accessed via a sliding door in your cabin.   Most balconies have a small table and one or more chairs so that you can lounge outside your cabin and watch the sea go by or view the port as the ship arrives or sails away.

These cabins are primarily on the higher decks, although on some modern ships, there is a high percentage of balconies, which implies they could be found on lower decks.

Location is still important with balcony accommodations.   On some ships, there are balconies located on the "hump", or area of the ship that juts out further than the rest of the cabins on that deck.   These are typically in the center of the deck and command a premium price.   Royal Caribbean's newest ships, Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas have interior balconies that overlook Boardwalk and Central Park neighborhoods, but all other ships provide a view of the ocean from your balcony.

How Suite it Is

Deluxe accommodations come in various shapes and sizes and offer exclusive amenities to guests.  These cabins are also known as balcony suites on most cruise ships.   These deluxe accommodations are comparable to suites one would find in finer hotels on land.
Royal Loft Suite with Balcony

The cabins may have butler service depending on the cruise line.   They are larger than standard balcony cabins in most cases and may even have multiple bedrooms to accommodate families or groups traveling together.

Pictured here is one of the Royal Loft Suites with Balcony on the Oasis of the Seas.   This is a two-deck high stateroom with panoramic views.  Besides the multiple sleeping areas, the private balcony comes complete with whirlpool and dining area.   You may not want to leave your suite at all during the cruise.   We mentioned we'd talk about cabin size another time, but just to give you an idea, this is larger than some houses.

 Special Needs

Most ships have specially designed cabins for guests that have accessibility needs, such as wheelchair access.   These may be limited in quantity and cabin types, so you'll need to book early if this is a necessity for your cruise.

There are many types of bed configurations on ships.    The standard sleeping arrangement is two twin beds that can be together or apart.   Bunk beds, sleeper sofas, Pullmans, roll-a-ways, and even cribs can be found on most ships.    You'll want to be sure to discuss options with your cruise specialist.

Cabins are double occupancy for the basic configuration.  There are a limited number of cabins on most ships that can handle 3 or 4 guests.  If you have more than that in you party, you'll need multiple cabins or one of the deluxe accommodations.  Triple and quad-occupancy cabins are strictly controlled by the U.S. Coast Guard.   Once capacity is reached, the cruise line cannot sell any additional cabins of that type.   So, book early if you will have more than double occupancy in your party.

What Cabin is Right for You

Do you think you have this all figured out? You know exactly what cabin type and category you want for your cruise? Let me warn you. We've over-simplified things here. There are 37+ different categories of cabin accommodations on Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. That is the most extreme case at the present, but the majority of the ships have more than 10 different types of accommodations with multiple categories within type.

Many times we've had prospective customers ask about a particular rate they saw on some advertisement. They can't understand why the price we're quoting is higher than what they found. Probably the funniest story was a conversation with a honeymoon couple that saw a cabin with a lower price than we were quoting. When asked if they really wanted to spend their honeymoon in bunk beds, they saw the error of their ways.

It is best to work with a cruise specialist who can properly advise you about the various pros and cons of each cabin category. The last thing you want is to be sea sick because you picked a cabin location where you felt every wave during your cruise. Or perhaps worse yet, you got no sleep the entire cruise because you were right next door to the main elevator. There are reasons why the cabin is priced lower than others.

We have deck plans for all the ships on our website. Just select the cruise line you are interested in and browse the ship's photos, 360 views, and layouts.  Here are some links to photo albums on our FB page.

Allure of the Seas Staterooms 
(Photo Albums on our FB fan page)

Royal Loft Suite with Balcony

Sky Loft Suites

More Allure Staterooms

Norwegian Epic Staterooms
(Photo Albums on our FB fan page)

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