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 size Occupancy Bed configuration Bathroom facilities Room facilities Room types
Carnival Cruise Line 17m2 Up to 4 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen Full private bathroom. Deluxe rooms can come with an extra half-bath TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, bathrobes Standard, family and spa rooms
Royal Caribbean 11–30m2 Up to 6 people Twin beds that can convert into a king. Pull-out sofa beds available in larger rooms Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, virtual balconies with real-time footage from the deck Standard
Princess 15–16m2 Up to 4 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen. Pull-out sofa beds available in some rooms Full private bathroom with shower, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, daily housekeeping and night turndown Standard
P&O 13–17m2 Up to 4 people Twin-, double-, triple- and quad-share available Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs Standard
Norwegian Up to 13m2 Up to 4 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen. Third and fourth beds available Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, fridge Standard

Standard outside rooms compared across major cruise lines

Room size Occupancy Bed configuration Bathroom facilities Room facilities Room types
Carnival Cruise Line 11–21m2 Up to 5 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen Full private bathroom. Deluxe rooms can come with an extra half-bath TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, bathrobes Standard ocean view, family and spa rooms
Royal Caribbean 17–31m2 Up to 4 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen. Pull-out sofa beds available in larger rooms Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar Standard outside view
Princess 15–17m2 Up 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 hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, daily housekeeping, nightly turndown, mini bar Standard oceanview and oceanview with obstructed view
P&O 13–17m2 Up to 4 people Twin-, double-, triple- and quad-share available Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs Standard outside view
Norwegian 15m2 Up to 5 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen. Additional bedding available for more guests Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, room service, sitting area, telephone, desk and chairs Oceanview 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 size Occupancy Bed configuration Bathroom facilities Room facilities Room types
Carnival Cruise Line 17m2 plus 3.2–7m2 balcony Up to 5 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen Full private bathroom Floor to ceiling doors that open onto your private balcony. TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, bathrobes Spa and premium
Royal Caribbean 16–20m2 plus 6m2 balcony Up to 4 people Twin beds or one king bed. Sofa can convert into a bed Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, virtual balconies with real-time footage from the deck Oceanview connected stateroom, deluxe obstructed oceanview, super studio ocean view, family oceanview, boardwalk view, Central Park view and superior oceanview.
Princess 20–22m2 plus 4m2 balcony Up to 4 people Twin beds or one queen bed. Sofa can convert into a bed Full private bathroom with shower, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, 24-hour room service, mini bar, phone, desk, daily housekeeping and evening turndown Deluxe and premium
P&O 16–24m2 including balcony Up to 3 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen bed. Third and fourth beds available Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs, private balcony with outdoor furniture Balcony.
Norwegian 19m2 plus 3.5m2 balcony Up to 4 people Queen bed, drop-down beds for more guests Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer TV, safe, closet and drawers, telephone, desk and chairs, private balcony with outdoor furniture Balcony 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 size Occupancy Bed configuration Bathroom facilities Room facilities Room types
Carnival Cruise Line 25.5–32m2 plus 3.3-10.7m2 balcony Up to four people King bed and convertible sofa Deluxe bathroom with whirlpool tub Private verandah, mini fridge, living room, walk-in closet, telephone, VIP check-in, television, safe and sofa Grand, spa, ocean and junior
Royal Caribbean 30–110m2 plus 16m2 balcony Up to 4 people King bed and pull-out sofa that can convert into a queen Full private bathroom with bathtub, vanity area and hairdryer Priority check-in, luggage valet, concierge service, 24-hour room service, balcony, sitting area, television, fridge or mini bar, bathrobes, boardgames. Optional jacuzzi and baby grand Suites and deluxe
Princess Mini suites: 28m2Standard suites: 40–63m2 plus 4m2 balcony Up to 4 people Mini suites: twin beds that can convert to a queen. Standard suites: king bed and pull-out sofa that can convert into a queen Full private bathroom with tub/shower, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, vanity area and hairdryer Champagne on arrival, private balcony with furniture, separate seating area, walk-in closet, writing desk, television, fridge or mini bar, and hot tub in select suites Suites and mini suites.
P&O 41–70m2 Up to 4 people Twin beds that can convert into a queen. Quad rooms feature double sofa bed. King bed only in the penthouse suite Full private bathroom with shower over bath, vanity area and hairdryer Private 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 service Mini suites, suites and penthouse
Norwegian 53–129m2 Up to 6 people Various configurations Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer Butler 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 ships Family, 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

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Family cabins compared across major cruise lines

Family room types Maximum occupancy per room Maximum room size Interconnecting rooms available
Disney Cruise Line Deluxe family staterooms 5 people 22.4m2 Yes
Norwegian Cruise Line Family staterooms 6 people 53m2 Yes
Carnival Cruise Line Family staterooms 4 people 17–21m2 Yes
P&O Cruises Australia Quad-share rooms and suites 4 people 13–70m2 Yes
Princess Cruises Family suites with balcony 4 people 43–64m2 Yes
Royal Caribbean International Family rooms and suites 8 people 25–54m2 Yes

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 size Bathroom facilities Room facilities Single supplement charge
Norwegian 9.2m2 Full private bathroom with vanity and hairdryer. Private lounge shared by studio guests, room service, television and safe. No
Royal Caribbean 11m2 Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer. Virtual balcony in inside rooms, room service and television. No
P&O 12m2 Full private bathroom with shower, vanity area and hairdryer. Drawer space, wardrobe, writing desk, television, telephone, safe, mineral water and pamper pack. Yes


Ready to sail? Here's our best cruise deals:

Fred. OlsenFred. Olsen

No single supplement

Book select cruises as a solo traveller and pay no single supplement.

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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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