Unless you’re an avid cruiser with plenty of cruises under your belt, you might not realize just how many things can go wrong when booking your cruise cabin.

If you’ve never really given the booking process much thought, and just merely picked out a balcony cabin because you wanted a balcony, or an interior cabin because you wanted to save cash, and you’ve always been satisfied with the results, chances are you just got lucky.

While the right cruise ship cabin can simply come with all the room and amenities you need, the wrong cruise ship cabin can nearly ruin what would have otherwise been a perfect trip.

So, to avoid booking the wrong cabin for your cruise, what do you need to do? Here’s what not to do when choosing your cruise cabins at booking.

Cruise ship cabins can vastly differ in size, and it’s important that you don’t overestimate just how large or small a cruise ship cabin is. For example, take Norwegian Cruise Line’s 100-square-foot single cabins.

While 100 square feet may sound spacious at first read, it’s not really a lot of room. Many cruise ships start their cabins at around this size and then go up from there, with the biggest suites on a ship sometimes going over a thousand square feet — the size of a single-family home! However, just because this smallest option is offered, and often at an economical price, don’t assume it’ll be right for you.

Small Interior Cruise Cabin (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

Think about it. If a cabin is a hundred square feet, you can assume it’ll be about 10 feet long and 10 feet wide, and within that space, you have to fit a bathroom, bed, storage space and sometimes even a couch and small table. That’s a lot to fit into 100 square feet and not a lot of clear floor space.

If you have any questions about whether or not a cabin will be big enough for you and your fellow travelers’ needs, plot it out. Break out the tape measure and see what 100 square feet looks like in your own home. You’ll be able to quickly get a sense of how big or small these cabins really are.

Yes, having an amazing cabin with a stellar view of the water can really turn a great trip into an absolutely spectacular trip — especially when you look at the luxurious inside-outside living spaces you can get with newer cabin options like the Edge series staterooms from Celebrity Cruises.

However, if you’re working with a somewhat tight travel budget, you might not want to drop the majority of your travel cash on that balcony or verandah stateroom.

Photo Credit: Maridav / Shutterstock

Yes, it can make for a luxurious experience, but how much time do you plan on spending in your stateroom? There’s so much to do on a modern cruise ship, especially on the modern cruise ships that feature some of these high-end balconies and similar, that you might not be in your cabin very often at all, except to sleep.

Plus, if it’s views you’re after, there are plenty of other places you can find them on the ship. Kicking back and watching the ocean with a cocktail in hand can be easily enjoyed elsewhere (again, if we’re talking Celebrity cruise ships, the Sky Observation Lounge is a good option), without dropping a huge amount of money on a specialty stateroom.

Save your travel budget for other cruise experiences, like specialty dining or shore excursions.

And while we’re on the topic of views, don’t just assume that what’s technically labeled as an “ocean view” cabin truly offers an ocean view. You might be disappointed to find that, once you actually arrive at your cabin, that ocean view, whether via window or a balcony, is obstructed by either part of the ship itself, or the ship’s lifeboats.

The good news? It is possible to avoid these misleading ocean views by simply checking the ship’s deck plans before you book. The deck plans will indicate whether or not a cabin comes with an obstructed view, or, as they’re sometimes called, partial view. Then, all you have to do is avoid booking those particular cabins.

Obstructed Cabin Balcony View (Photo Credit: AlanMorris)

For example, if you look at Celebrity Cruises’ deck plans for any particular ship, you’ll see that each deck is broken down into individual cabins and venues, and the cabins are color-coded, with certain colors letting you know that that cabin has a partial view.

It’s not just partial or obstructed views you should watch out for, though. Also, keep in mind that some ocean view staterooms have less than ideal ocean views.

Sure, some offer wall-to-wall windows (like the panoramic view suites on some of Royal Caribbean’s ships), but sometimes you just get a little tiny porthole or a rectangular window that’s so awkwardly positioned (like directly behind the bed) that you’ll hardly get to enjoy the ocean view at all.

So — if an ocean view is really important to you, know exactly what to expect before you book that cabin, or just go ahead and get a cabin with an (unobstructed) balcony.

Yes, as we mentioned above when detailing Norwegian’s 100-square-foot solo cabins, these solo or singles cabins can be small. However, if you’re traveling alone, they could be an excellent option for you, so don’t ignore them just because of the size.

Norwegian Cruise Line Solo Cabin

The thing is, if you book a regular cabin as a solo traveler, you’ll often be charged with a single supplement — an extra fee that the cruise line uses to make up for the fact that there won’t be multiple people staying in the cabin, spending extra money.

That’s not the case with singles cabins, though. You get to avoid that extra fee, and, in some cases, like on Norwegian, you even get extra perks, like access to a singles-only lounge where you can mix and mingle with other solo travelers.

Don’t worry — if you struggle with motion sickness, you don’t have to leave cruising off your bucket list for good. There are plenty of tried-and-true ways to cruise even if you get seasick.

Beyond, though, just packing your Dramamine, you’ll want to prep to avoid seasickness earlier in the process, by booking the right cabin. Don’t make the mistake of picking a cabin near the top or either end of the ship, if you get seasick.

View from High Up Cruise Cabin (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel)

Just like sitting in certain areas of an airplane can make any turbulence feel more extreme, so can being at or in certain spots of a ship make it feel as if the ship’s rocking and the waves are more pronounced. The best place to be, to feel the least movement possible, is toward the bottom of the ship and toward the middle of the ship.

Additionally, consider booking a cabin with a window or balcony. Being able to see the horizon can likewise lessen any feelings of seasickness.

Cruise ships aren’t necessarily neatly split into decks with cabins and decks without cabins. Some decks are broken up into both cabins and public venues. For example, if you look at the deck plan for Celebrity Beyond, you’ll see that Deck 3 has quite a few staterooms — but also the two main dining rooms, Grand Plaza, theater and kids’ clubs.

Elevators on Celebrity Beyond (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

If you want peace and quiet, don’t book a cabin near venues that are going to be loud at certain times of the day. For example, don’t book a cabin near the children’s clubs if you don’t want to hear the pitter-patter of running kids first thing in the morning. Likewise, if you don’t want to hear signs of nightlife, don’t book a cabin near the casino or similar late-night venues.

Before booking, just take a look at your chosen ship’s deck plans and analyze how close or far from the ship’s various venues your cabin will be.

(And don’t just look out for noisy venues, either. Stairwells and elevators can likewise draw loud crowds.)

Don’t just think that suites are overpriced staterooms, where all you get is a little more legroom. Thanks to many cruise lines’ adoptions of special, VIP ship areas that are exclusively available to suite guests, booking a suite can come with a range of extra amenities and complimentary experiences that very well could be worth spending the extra money.

Royal Family Suite with Balcony

For example, if you book a suite within Norwegian’s Haven space, you’ll enjoy access to a concierge, 24-hour butler, private sundeck, private restaurant and private lounge, plus priority access to restaurants and entertainment throughout the rest of the ship. You’ll also get a personal escort on and off the ship at the pier and ports.

Along these lines, don’t overlook the other special cabin classes. While you might not want or need a suite, you may really enjoy the special perks that come with some of the special cabin classes that are available on some cruise ships.

AquaClass Sky Suite

On Celebrity Cruises, as one example, the AquaClass is the ship’s spa-centric class, where cruisers enjoy special amenities related to the on-board spa experiences, without the need to upgrade to a suite.

These amenities and perks include access to an AquaClass-only restaurant, Blu; a spa concierge; and the SEA thermal suite. Plus, you get a complimentary fitness pass and discounts on spa packages.

When you book a cabin on a cruise ship, you may have the option to book what’s known as a guaranteed cabin. This is a cabin available at a lower-than-normal rate, but you won’t get to pick the individual cabin you’re staying in. Instead, the cruise line just “guarantees,” that you’ll get a specific type of cabin or better.

Carnival Cruise Line Cabin (Photo Credit: Cruise Hive)

Some cruisers like this option, because there’s always the chance that you get a better cabin and essentially an upgrade, if that’s all that’s left on the ship when your cabin is assigned. However, this is a risky game, as, while you’re guaranteed to get a certain type of cabin, you might get the least desirable cabin within that type.

So, if you want something very specific in your cruise ship cabin, just go ahead and book the cabin you want. Don’t gamble with a guarantee cabin.

Maybe you’re traveling as a large family. Maybe you’re traveling as a group of friends. Whatever the case, don’t assume that, just because your group is huge, you have to book a large suite.

Royal Loft Suite

Instead, you can book connecting rooms that allow you to turn a block of regular cabins into an interconnected space. This is an ideal option if you’re all paying for your cabin separately, or just don’t want to drop a bunch of money on a large suite, as well as if you want the possibility of a connected space — but also some privacy on occasion.

Read Also: Incredible Cruise Ships With Family Suites

Port, starboard, aft — Does it really matter where your cabin is located, so long as you’ve picked your cabin location based on whether or not you get seasick, and whether or not you’re going to be annoyed by noise?

Actually, yes! There are a few other things to consider when picking cabin location.

Cruise Ship Balconies

In some cases, you’ll find that certain sides of the ship are more desirable due to other aspects, like the views. For example, if you’re on an Alaskan cruise traveling northbound, you’ll want to stay on the starboard side of the ship, so you can see the coastline views. However, if you’re traveling southbound, you’ll want to stay on the port side of the ship.

In other cases, the view might be…well, you! If you book an aft balcony, you might not get any privacy on that balcony, as the people on the decks above will be able to see you and your balcony, due to the way most ships are configured.

The best way to know if any of the above will be an option? Talk to your fellow cruisers and look for cabin reviews for your specific ship.

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