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After 50 cruises, I’ve been in some less-than-ideal cabin locations. 

Most of the time, cabins with excessive noise and weirdly positioned balconies could have been avoided if I just checked the deck plans.

After I learned that deck plans give way more insight into what I could expect from my slice of home on a ship, I started to check them much more thoroughly.

There are 5 very good reasons to check out those cruise ship deck plans before you pick your cruise cabin.

Picking out your cruise cabin location is the fun part of the booking process.  At least it’s more fun than seeing how much taxes and fees will set you back.

Some cruisers will simply pick a cabin category that’s forward, aft, or mid-ship and be fine without checking anything else.

Before I sign off on that exact cabin, I like to look up the deck plans for the ship.  And there are several things I will look for that I will mention in this post.

Overlooking some key details in the deck plans caused some rather annoying situations in cruises past.

By the way, if you pick a guaranteed fare where the cruise line chooses the stateroom for you in exchange for a few dollars in savings, none of this will apply to you.

1. To avoid interconnecting cabins

Some cruise cabins have a door between them. This is great if you’re traveling with family and want access to another stateroom without going into the hallway.

However, the space around these interconnecting doors can allow sound to travel through. Cruise lines do a decent job of trying to minimize this, but I’ve noticed on more than one sailing just how much of a difference it makes.

On one particular cruise, I had booked a cabin with a connecting door and could hear even light conversation going on next door in the wee hours of the morning.

Deck plans make it very easy to spot cabins with doorways between them. These are usually marked by a dot or symbol to help group travelers stay together.

I use them to find which cabins to avoid.

Read more: What to know when cruising with a 3rd or 4th person

2. To see what is directly above or below my cabin

Photo credit: Cruise Fever

If you’ve ever had a cabin directly below a live music venue that operates until 1am, you realize the importance of this point. 

If you don’t go to bed until 2am or later then maybe this won’t matter as much.  But it could matter in the morning when you’re trying to sleep in.

With a stateroom right below the pool deck you might hear the scraping of deck chairs being placed into position.  I’ve had this happen on multiple occasions.

When examining deck plans I will look one deck up and one deck below to see if there is a possible venue that could be extra noisy. 

Often, I will try to book a cabin on a deck that has a passenger deck both above and below to help minimize this.   And then of course, you just hope you don’t have noisy neighbors.

I should mention that some modern cruise ships have better sound proofing than others.  This has been a problem cruisers have mentioned for years, and the sound dampening technology has gotten better.

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3. To check proximity to elevators

Cruise ship elevators on Carnival Celebration. Photo credit: Cruise Fever

This one can go either way.  On some cruises I want to be as close as possible to elevators.  On other cruises where peace and quiet is more important, I will try to avoid bustling areas on the ship.

If you have a disability or you’re using a motorized scooter on board, you might want easy and quick access to the elevators.

Some cruise ships have three main elevator areas, and some only have two – one forward and one aft.  I’ve found that the mid-ship elevator can be the most active on the ship, so if you’re concerned about excessive foot traffic outside your door you might want to avoid this location.

If the cruise ship you’re booking is going to have a more laid-back atmosphere (opposite of a spring break kind of ordeal), having an elevator and stairwell right near your cabin door can certainly make travel around the ship simpler.

And, if you’re the type of cruiser that wants to spend every waking minute doing something around the ship, then find a cabin on those deck plans right near the elevators.

Read more: Cruise elevator guide: 16 rules to avoid the madness

4. To see what kind of obstruction may be outside my balcony

Cabins with obstructed views are clearly labeled and categorized as such on a cruise line’s website.  So, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you end up with one.  But not every obstructed view is created equal. 

I’ve had entire lifeboats blocking my ocean view before, and other times the “obstruction” to my view was barely noticeable at all. 

Sometimes the deck plans of a cruise ship can give you more insight as to what kind of obstruction you can expect when you walk into your stateroom.  Then you can see if it’s worth the extra savings, since obstructed view cabins are slightly cheaper.

It also helps to see pictures of the outside of the ship too, so you can see a certain area of the ship and what obstructions some cabins can expect.

Read more: Oops, I booked a cabin right above a public pool

5. To be closer to the amenities I care about

Thermal suite on Norwegian Encore. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Everyone has a different style of cruising.  Want to go to the spa every day?  Is being close to the buffet or aft pool important to you?  Is there a certain lounge or venue you know you will want to check out on a regular basis throughout your cruise?

Cruise ship hallways are long — really long.  Having a cabin close to a place you will frequent can make a big difference. 

I’ve booked cabins before where I had to walk the entire length of the ship to visit the thermal suite on board and that just wasn’t ideal at all.    After all, when I was done I had to walk the entire length of the ship back to my cabin. 

And with modern cruise ships being over 1,000 feet long, that’s a lot of steps. 

The counterpoint is that it can help you keep the weight off during a cruise if you have to walk half a mile any time you leave the cabin. 

Read more: 19 things you should do on embarkation day of your cruise

Bottom Line

It might seem like a nerdy thing to do.  But cruise ship deck plans are a must-view before I ever pick out a cabin.  You don’t have to get too in depth.  Just know what you’re getting into. 

 Read more:  8 steps to picking the perfect cruise cabin for you

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