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I Worked on Cruise Ships for 6 Years. Here Are the 5 Best and 5 Worst Rooms to Book for Your Trip. I started my career in guest services, where I frequently dealt with passengers' room complaints.

By Sharon Waugh

Key Takeaways

  • When I worked on cruise ships, I learned that choosing the right cabin can make a big difference.
  • Staterooms vary in view and location, and each cruiser should select the best one for their needs.
  • Avoiding certain staterooms can minimize outside noise, extra fees, and other inconveniences.
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Sharon Waugh via Business Insider
Choosing the right cabin can alter your cruise experience.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

During my six years working for two different cruise lines, I learned how much a cruiser's cabin can affect their onboard experience.

Although I ultimately ended up as an entertainment host, I started my career in guest services, where I frequently dealt with passengers' room complaints.

Here are what I consider to be the best and worst staterooms to book on a cruise.

BEST ROOMS TO BOOK ON A CRUISE

lighthouse through cruise window

Ocean-view rooms are only worth it if the windows aren't obstructed. Sharon Waugh

Ocean-level cabins

  • If you're prone to seasickness, the center of the ship, also called the midship, is the place to be. It's the closest you can get to water level, where you'll feel the least amount of rocking.
  • The smaller the ship is, the more movement you're likely to feel, so those who feel queasy on the water may want to consider booking one of these rooms on a mega ship, which is a vessel with at least 1,500 cabins.
  • Passengers who suffer from seasickness should avoid sailing during hurricane season, which loosely runs from June to November, or traveling on rough bodies of water, such as the Drake Passage.

Studio rooms

  • Certain cruise lines — such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Virgin Voyages — offer single-occupancy staterooms.
  • In the past, cruise lines expected solo cruisers to pay a single supplement, a surcharge for individuals staying in staterooms designed to accommodate more than one person. I've never seen a single supplement required for those staying in a studio or solo cabin, which are intended for one person. It's always a good idea to check for extra fees ahead of booking though.
  • Some cruise lines, like NCL, have lounges near these cabins that are only accessible to people staying in single-occupancy rooms. There, solo cruisers can mingle and enjoy social events hosted by the entertainment staff.

Port or starboard staterooms

  • You might want to consider your ship's route before booking a stateroom with a window or balcony.
  • If you're going down a scenic coastline in one direction, know which side of the ship will face it. That way, you'll know whether to choose a port room, which is on the left side of the ship, or a starboard room, which is on the right side of the ship, to get the best views.

Cabins close to popular attractions

  • If you expect to spend a lot of your time in one place — such as the spa, pool deck, or casino — you may want to book a nearby stateroom, or at least one that's on the same side of the ship.
  • As an entertainment host who was often running around the ship to host different activities, I found that it was a lot easier to move around vertically than horizontally.
  • Having a cabin on the same side of the ship as your favorite attractions will save you a lot of time, especially on bigger vessels.

Rooms by elevators

  • Those who don't want to walk far or are physically unable to do so may want to book a room close to the elevators so they don't have to travel far to get to the ship's public areas.
  • Even though all US-based cruises are somewhat accessible because of the US Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), travelers with disabilities should always check each specific ship's layout, features, and accessibility beforehand.
  • Potential downside: Being located near an elevator may be convenient, but the extra foot traffic in the hallway can result in noise directly outside your room.

WORST ROOMS TO BOOK ON A CRUISE

cruise ship in water

Think about your priorities before selecting your room. Sharon Waugh

Staterooms directly above or below busy areas

  • Not every ship has noise issues, but if it does, those problems tend to originate from public areas rather than other staterooms.
  • Look at deck plans before booking to make sure your cabin isn't above or below the casino, buffet, galley, main theater, bar, gym, or pool deck. When I worked in guest services, noise complaints often came from people staying in staterooms located near these busy areas.
  • Staterooms surrounded by other staterooms tend to be the quietest. If noise issues do arise there, guest services can send security to deal with noisy neighbors.

Obstructed ocean-view rooms

  • Partially obstructed ocean-view staterooms have a window that's usually at least a little blocked by a lifeboat.
  • Although many people book these rooms because they're slightly cheaper than ocean-view rooms, the view ends up being more obstructed than expected most of the time.
  • I've heard many complaints about heavily obstructed ocean-view rooms, so I suggest saving your money with an interior stateroom or splurging on an ocean-view room to manage your expectations.

Cabins near the anchor

  • If your cruise goes to a tender port, where the ship anchors off the shore and transports guests to land on small boats, avoid rooms near the bow on the lower decks.
  • Crew cabins are usually located there, so I'm very familiar with the loud clunking and ticking sounds the anchor makes as it's lowered, which usually happens very early in the morning.

Adjoining rooms with other parties

  • Some cruise ships have adjoining staterooms with an internal door separating the two neighboring cabins. This option is convenient for families or groups that are traveling together and want to feel like they're sharing one large room.
  • If you don't know the people staying next door, the conjoining door remains locked for the duration of the cruise. However, the sound may carry through it a lot more than it would through a wall.

The wrong room for your personal preferences

  • Introverts and those who need their own space may find public areas crowded and overwhelming. They should consider booking balcony rooms, as having a private space overlooking the ocean provides a sense of calmness.
  • Extroverts who want to spend most of their time engaging in activities and enjoying the ship's features are unlikely to spend much time in their staterooms and might as well cut costs by getting an interior cabin. The lack of natural light may also help them sleep well and recoup for the next day's activities.

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