The moment you walk through the door to your cabin could be the moment that makes or breaks your cruise. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised but unfortunately that is not always the case.The size of your cabin or the view of a bright orange lifeboat through your window when you were expecting to see the ocean are just some of the reasons you could be disappointed. Cruise brochures have clear deck plans to show where the categories are but things can get lost in translation between the booking process and the cruise itself. It is up to your cruise agent to give the right sales advice before you book but it is advisable that you take the time to ask the right questions and double check that you are fulfilling all your requirements.
What cabins are available?
Firstly you must decide what type of cabin you want. Do you want an inside cabin with no natural light, an outside cabin with a porthole or a non opening window, a balcony cabin or a suite? Your budget will usually dictate your choice however there are times when paying the extra is well worth it. For example, would you really want to wake up in Alaska and not be able to look out at the incredible scenery? It can work both ways too - for example, is it worth booking a balcony cabin on a transatlantic crossing in winter when it may be too cold to make full use of it? Sometimes cruise ships will offer passengers a "guarantee" cabin, which means you are paying for a category rather than a specific cabin. A guarantee cabin can be less expensive than choosing a specific cabin, but it might not give you the location you desire. You are taking a chance and leaving it up to the cruise line to assign you a cabin in a given category. But, by choosing a guarantee you have an excellent chance of being upgraded to a slightly higher category, usually within the same cabin type (inside to inside, outside to outside, verandah to verandah etc.). Beyond that, while it does happen, it's rare to be upgraded to a higher cabin type.
From time to time, a cruise line has a ship in which a certain category of cabin has sold out or is in an "oversell" situation, meaning that more cabins have been sold in that category than actually exist. The cruise line can hardly downgrade someone who has paid for their cruise, so they select certain passengers at random and upgrade them to whatever has more availability. That's where a guarantee category can be a good deal; as for the random selection, it's just the luck of the draw that can make certain people very happy indeed.
Location, location, location!Inside cabins are the cheapest option but as with all other cabin types, the higher you are the more you will pay. If you are on a budget but you cannot bear to have an inside cabin, why not ask for an outside with a restricted view - these are usually partially blocked by lifeboats but they do at least let natural light in.Being near a lift may be handy for those who have difficulty in walking but they can be noisy at night. Other areas that can be noisy are below the pool deck, below the buffet or near the disco so please bear these in mind especially if you are a light sleeper!! Noise isn't the only factor when choosing the location - if you suffer from sea sickness then the lower and more central your cabin, the better as that is the most stable place to be when sailing through choppy waters.If you are looking for a bit more privacy when in port, cabins at the front or back of the ship are a better option, they are usually bigger too.
Once you have had a balcony cabin you may not want to give up the luxury! The attraction is fairly obvious, somewhere private to sit in the sun, a place to read or snooze as well as the view and sound of the ocean.Balcony cabins are a fantastic choice when sailing to destinations of great beauty such as the Norwegian Fjords or Alaska but we aware that some ships have tiered decks that allow people above to peer down.
Suites are out of the reach of many budgets but those who do decide to take the plunge will not be disappointed. Suites come in all shapes and sizes but most have a separate sitting area and big bathrooms - many with a bath and shower, some even have a second toilet. Most have a separate changing room/area, double sized balcony and the latest in technology - dvds, plasma etc.If you choose to cruise with Crystal in a Penthouse suite for example, you get a personal butler while those who in a top-end suite with Silversea get a valet, free laundry service and plenty of champagne. NCL's newest ships have Garden Villas which have 3 bedrooms, a private courtyard with pool, hot tub and sun deck.
Travel enough and you’ll make your choices instinctively. Until then, make a checklist based on things that are important to you in terms of comfort etc and then seek further advice from a travel agent before booking.