FeatureImageNorwegianCruiseLine.BestCruiseRooms

How to choose the best cruise ship cabin

Sleep soundly knowing you’ve booked the best room onboard for your needs.

Comfort. Luxury. Room size. A window. They’re the kind of qualities that can make or break your cruise holiday. Get one wrong and you could find yourself moaning and groaning yourself to sleep at night.

With so many cabin or stateroom options available, you can find yourself scratching your head over which works best for your party and budget. With the help of our handy guide, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you board your ship. Bon voyage.

First, you should know these four things when choosing your cruise ships cabin

Now that you’ve got the type of room you’d like down pat, it’s time to consider where on the ship you’d prefer your room to be. Here are some things to consider to help you plan the perfect onboard experience:

  • The closer you are to the centre of the ship, the less rocky it will be. If you tend to get sea sick, opt for a cabin in the centre of the ship or at least close to the bottom. It doesn’t sound as glamorous as being high up on the deck, but the rooms lower down are a lot more stable.
  • The noisiest rooms are the ones closest to the entertainment venues and engine. If you want a good night’s rest, keep away from the entertainment areas, which are usually on the upper decks at the front or back of the ship. The engine is situated low and at the back of the ship, and if you’re too close it could also keep you up at night. If you do book in these areas, just make sure you have a buffer of a level or two to keep the noise at bay.
  • Forward, aft-facing and corner balconies often have the best view. Rooms at the front or back of the ship can offer larger-sized balconies and less obstructed views than rooms down the side. The downside to aft-facing balconies is that they’re sometimes stepped-out, so passengers above you might be able to look out onto your verandah.
  • For the best scenery, consider the route before choosing your room. If you’re planning a return trip it won’t matter whether you’re on the right or left side of the boat as you’ll see both views during the trip. However, if you’re only travelling one way, take a look at the route and decide which side of the ship will have the best scenery throughout your journey.

Cabin types

There are three main types of room on cruise ships: standard, balcony and suite. Here’s a breakdown of what each category generally includes.

1. Standard room

This is a low-cost budget option. It has all basic amenities such as a bathroom, desk, chairs and wardrobe, but may lack space and a view.

Standard rooms come in two types: inside and outside (ocean view). Typically their dimensions are similar, the main difference being that outside rooms have portholes which provide natural light. For this reason, ocean view rooms tend to be pricier.

Rooms in this category come in all shapes and sizes and can vary from a run-of-the-mill twin occupancy cabin, to family rooms with greater sleeping capacity, and spa rooms with a zen-like ambience and access to the ship’s spa facilities.

Image: Princess Cruises

PrincessStandardRoom.BestCruiseRooms


Standard inside rooms compared across major cruise lines

Room sizeOccupancyBed configurationBathroom facilitiesRoom facilitiesRoom types
Carnival Cruise Line17m2Up to 4 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queenFull private bathroom. Deluxe rooms can come with an extra half-bathTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, bathrobesStandard, family and spa rooms
Royal Caribbean11–30m2Up to 6 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a king. Pull-out sofa beds available in larger roomsFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, virtual balconies with real-time footage from the deckStandard
Princess15–16m2Up to 4 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queen. Pull-out sofa beds available in some roomsFull private bathroom with shower, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, daily housekeeping and night turndownStandard
P&O13–17m2Up to 4 peopleTwin-, double-, triple- and quad-share availableFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairsStandard
NorwegianUp to 13m2Up to 4 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queen. Third and fourth beds availableFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, fridgeStandard

Standard outside rooms compared across major cruise lines

Room sizeOccupancyBed configurationBathroom facilitiesRoom facilitiesRoom types
Carnival Cruise Line11–21m2Up to 5 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queenFull private bathroom. Deluxe rooms can come with an extra half-bathTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, bathrobesStandard ocean view, family and spa rooms
Royal Caribbean17–31m2Up to 4 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queen. Pull-out sofa beds available in larger roomsFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini barStandard outside view
Princess15–17m2Up to 4 people.Twin beds, many of which can convert into a queen. Pullman beds available for 3rd and 4th passengers.Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, daily housekeeping, nightly turndown, mini barStandard oceanview and oceanview with obstructed view
P&O13–17m2Up to 4 peopleTwin-, double-, triple- and quad-share availableFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairsStandard outside view
Norwegian15m2Up to 5 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queen. Additional bedding available for more guestsFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, room service, sitting area, telephone, desk and chairsOceanview picture window, family oceanview, mid-ship oceanview and obstructed oceanview

2. Balcony rooms

Balcony rooms offer the luxury of a private balcony, which means you don't need to walk onto a common deck to enjoy the view.

Room sizes vary from the same as a standard excluding the balcony, to a little more spacious. Balcony sizes can also vary depending on the room and its location.

Cost-wise, they are generally more expensive than a standard room.

Image: Princess Cruises

PrincessBalconyRooms.BestCruiseRooms


Balcony rooms compared across major cruise lines

Room sizeOccupancyBed configurationBathroom facilitiesRoom facilitiesRoom types
Carnival Cruise Line17m2 plus 3.2–7m2 balconyUp to 5 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queenFull private bathroomFloor to ceiling doors that open onto your private balcony. TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, bathrobesSpa and premium
Royal Caribbean16–20m2 plus 6m2 balconyUp to 4 peopleTwin beds or one king bed. Sofa can convert into a bedFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, virtual balconies with real-time footage from the deckOceanview connected stateroom, deluxe obstructed oceanview, super studio ocean view, family oceanview, boardwalk view, Central Park view and superior oceanview.
Princess20–22m2 plus 4m2 balconyUp to 4 peopleTwin beds or one queen bed. Sofa can convert into a bedFull private bathroom with shower, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, phone, desk, daily housekeeping and evening turndownDeluxe and premium
P&O16–24m2 including balconyUp to 3 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queen bed. Third and fourth beds availableFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs, private balcony with outdoor furnitureBalcony.
Norwegian19m2 plus 3.5m2 balconyUp to 4 peopleQueen bed, drop-down beds for more guestsFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerTV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs, private balcony with outdoor furnitureBalcony and spa

3. Suites

Suites vary a lot depending on which cruise line you are sailing with. They can include anything from a spa, to a prime position above the top deck.

More luxurious than other rooms, you'll pay for the extra amenities, room size, views and VIP treatment, but it’s worth it for the comfort that suites afford, especially on long sails.

Most suites include a balcony, though this is not mandatory.

Image: Royal Caribbean

RoyalCaribbeanSuites.BestCruiseRooms


Suites compared across major cruise lines

Room sizeOccupancyBed configurationBathroom facilitiesRoom facilitiesRoom types
Carnival Cruise Line25.5–32m2 plus 3.3-10.7m2 balconyUp to four peopleKing bed and convertible sofaDeluxe bathroom with whirlpool tubPrivate verandah, mini fridge, living room, walk-in closet, telephone, VIP check-in, television, safe and sofaGrand, spa, ocean and junior
Royal Caribbean30–110m2 plus 16m2 balconyUp to 4 peopleKing bed and pull-out sofa that can convert into a queenFull private bathroom with bathtub, vanity area and hairdryerPriority check-in, luggage valet, concierge service, 24-hour room service, balcony, sitting area, television, fridge or mini bar, bathrobes, boardgames. Optional jacuzzi and baby grandSuites and deluxe
PrincessMini suites: 28m2Standard suites: 40–63m2 plus 4m2 balconyUp to 4 peopleMini suites: twin beds that can convert to a queen. Standard suites: king bed and pull-out sofa that can convert into a queenFull private bathroom with tub/shower, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, vanity area and hairdryerChampagne on arrival, private balcony with furniture, separate seating area, walk-in closet, writing desk, television, fridge or mini bar, and hot tub in select suitesSuites and mini suites.
P&O41–70m2Up to 4 peopleTwin beds that can convert into a queen. Quad rooms feature double sofa bed. King bed only in the penthouse suiteFull private bathroom with shower over bath, vanity area and hairdryerPrivate balcony with outdoor furniture, floor to ceiling windows, television, telephone, safe, wardrobe with dressing area, desk and chair, fridge, priority boarding and disembarkation, pillow concierge, welcome glass of wine, bathrobe, slippers, shoe-shine serviceMini suites, suites and penthouse
Norwegian53–129m2Up to 6 peopleVarious configurationsFull private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryerButler and concierge service, sparkling wine on arrival, priority boarding, exclusive dining options, TV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs. Separate living and dining rooms on some shipsFamily, owners suite, deluxe and penthouse

Cruise ship room size: what do you need?

Ship cabins come in all shapes and sizes and once you’ve decided on an inside, outside, balcony or suite, you may still need to look further into deluxe and family rooms as well as the kind of suite you prefer.

If you’re a budget or solo traveller and plan to spend most of your time on deck, then a stock-standard room will serve your purpose. If you want extra comfort, consider a slightly more premium room, especially if you’re going to be sharing it with friends or family.

Balcony size is also worth considering. If you prefer the privacy of your own view without having to leave the room, a good-sized balcony could make all the difference.

Rooms for parties great and small

Family rooms

Family cruising is becoming increasingly popular and more and more cruise ships offer family-friendly amenities and activities such as kids’ clubs, youth shore excursions, youth-only dance parties and family rooms.

Family rooms can range from a four-bed cabin to interconnecting rooms for larger or multi-generational families.

Image: Carnival Cruise Line

CarnivalCruiseLineFamilyRooms.BestCruiseRooms


Family cabins compared across major cruise lines

Family room typesMaximum occupancy per roomMaximum room sizeInterconnecting rooms available
Disney Cruise LineDeluxe family staterooms5 people22.4m2Yes
Norwegian Cruise LineFamily staterooms6 people53m2Yes
Carnival Cruise LineFamily staterooms4 people17–21m2Yes
P&O Cruises AustraliaQuad-share rooms and suites4 people13–70m2Yes
Princess CruisesFamily suites with balcony4 people43–64m2Yes
Royal Caribbean InternationalFamily rooms and suites8 people25–54m2Yes

Studios for solo travellers

Single occupancy studios are still a rare find, however Norwegian Cruise Lines is paving the way for solo cruise accommodation offering one-bed studio accommodation.

It does not charge a single supplement, which is an extra charge for single occupancy of a double room.

Other cruise ships or tour companies that don’t charge a single supplement include Holland America, Fred. Olsen Cruises and G Adventures.

Image: Norwegian Cruise Line

StudiosforSoloTravellersNorwegianCruiseLine.BestCruiseRooms


Studio rooms compared across major cruise lines

Room sizeBathroom facilitiesRoom facilitiesSingle supplement charge
Norwegian9.2m2Full private bathroom with vanity and hairdryer.Private lounge shared by studio guests, room service, television and safe.No
Royal Caribbean11m2Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer.Virtual balcony in inside rooms, room service and television.No
P&O12m2Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer.Drawer space, wardrobe, writing desk, television, telephone, safe, mineral water and pamper pack.Yes


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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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