One important thing to decide when booking a cruise is which cabin to choose. Cabins are also known as staterooms, and there’s a huge choice, with some cruise lines presenting over twenty different categories per ship!

The price differences can be huge too, with the top suites costing at least ten times that of the cheapest inside cabins.

So, which cruise cabin is the best? Well, that depends entirely on what’s important to you – read on to find out!

What types of cruise cabins are available?

Cruise cabins generally fall into four categories – Inside, Outside, Balcony and Suite.

  • Inside – The smallest rooms, with no windows
  • Outside – A room with a window or porthole (small, round window), also known as an oceanview cabin
  • Balcony – A room with a private verandah, usually with two chairs and a small table
  • Suite – A larger room, usually with separate living and sleeping areas and a host of extra perks

Club Continent Suite

Cabin grades

When you’ve selected a cabin type, you’ll then select the cabin grade. There are several cabin grades for each cabin type, and these are denoted by letters and/or numbers.

So, when you see a price of £999pp for an Inside cabin, that represents the cheapest inside cabin. Other grades of an Inside cabin may be priced incrementally based on their individual cabin grades such as: £1029, £1079, £1159 and £1189.

But what is the difference between the different cabin grades? Well, usually the increased cost will get you a slightly larger cabin and/or a better location on the ship.

When you’re looking to select your next cruise, it helps to take a look at the deck plans to determine which cabin category and grade works best for you and anyone else you are travelling with.

Grandeur Deck Plan

What are the best cabin locations?

When choosing a cabin location, there are four key things to think about – stability, distance, noise and view.

  • Stability – The higher up the ship you are, the more you’ll feel it move. Likewise, the front of the ship can also move a lot, with the rear experiencing some movement, and the middle of the ship being the most stable. If you’re prone to seasickness, you’ll be wise to choose a cabin on a lower deck in the middle third of the ship.
  • Distance – The higher cabins are nearer to all the amenities – entertainment, dining venues and pools. Corridors can be long, so if you prefer not to walk far, choose a cabin nearest the lift.
  • Noise – Noise and vibrations coming from the engines can sometimes be heard in lower deck cabins. If you’re situated above or below a bar, nightclub or theatre you may hear some of that too. Likewise, cabins near the lifts can have noise from people congregating there. Interconnecting staterooms are often not as well soundproofed between the rooms due to the door between them.
  • View – The best views will be found from balcony staterooms and suites at the front or rear of the ship. If you’re heading somewhere with amazing views, like the Norwegian Fjords, these will usually sell out quickly. Corner suites enable passengers to see even more.

What are guarantee cabins?

A ‘guarantee cabin’ is when the cruise line picks your stateroom number for you. This can be assigned at any point between booking and the sailing date.

The ‘guarantee’ is that you’ll have a stateroom in the category which you picked, or possibly better. When the stateroom numbers are assigned, if the grade you’ve chosen has been overbooked, there’s a chance that you may receive an upgrade to a higher grade. Guarantee cabins are often cheaper than assigned cabins too.


Accommodation on Nieuw Statendam - Holland America

Special Cabin Types

There are certain cabin types which are a bit different from the norm, but offer a whole other cruise experience for you to e

Virtual balcony

Each Inside stateroom on-board Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-Class ships has a virtual balcony.

This novel invention consists of an 80-inch floor-to-ceiling HD screen which shows the view of outside via a camera which is mounted on the front or rear of the ship. The balcony has a virtual railing to make it look real, and the sound of the sea is played through speakers. You can control the volume of this, and there’s also a curtain which you can draw across the ‘balcony’.

Navigator of the Seas - Virtual Balcony

Virtual balconies are a great way to see what the weather’s like outside when getting dressed in the morning, and you may even see the odd school of dolphins swimming past! As well as being a standard feature on Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, there are also a limited number of virtual balcony staterooms available on-board  Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.

Inside balconies

On-board Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships, you’ll find balcony cabins which don’t look out to sea, instead they look out into the ship. These ships feature a ‘Central Park’ and ‘Boardwalk’ view in the centre of the ship, with balcony cabins overlooking these. A Central Park Inside Balcony offers a view of trees, plants and restaurants, while the Boardwalk Inside Balconies overlook the carousel and diving acrobats show.

Nightlife on-board Royal Caribbean

These cabins are great for people-watching, and ideal for people who like the idea of a balcony, without paying the full balcony price.


Single cabins are available with several cruise lines including Celebrity Cruises, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Cunard, Fred. Olsen, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean. If you’re travelling solo, booking a single cabin can be much cheaper than having to book a double and pay a large supplement. In most cases, supplements do still apply, and the amount varies depending on the cruise line. On many ships, the single cabins are all located together, making it easy for singles to meet their neighbours and make friends, should they wish to.

Accessible cabins

Most ships feature a number of accessible staterooms, although these usually sell out extremely quickly, so if you require one, it’s a good idea to book as far in advance as you can.

The facilities in disabled accessible staterooms vary, so be sure to give our Cruise Concierge a call on 0808 1234 118 to make sure that all your needs are met, and that there’s enough space for any mobility aids you wish to bring with you.

Family cabins

Every family-friendly cruise line will have a number of cabins available which sleep up to two adults and two children. The children’s beds may be sofa beds or may pull down from the ceiling to create bunk-beds over the main bed.

If you’re a family of five, you’ll unfortunately find that a standard stateroom which sleeps five are few and far between. It may be the case that you have to book two interconnecting staterooms or choose a family suite.

Which cabins sell out first?

When considering which cruise ship cabins are ‘the best’, it would make sense that the best cabins will be the first to sell out. Well on most ships, the first to go are the cheapest inside cabins and the most expensive suites. This is partly because there are fewer of them in the first place, but also because they tend to offer the best value for money.

The cheapest cabins

The cheapest inside cabins can be a real bargain. The next grade up, with a window, often costs around 20% more and adding a balcony costs around 30-40% more, which could be the price of a second cruise!

If you plan to spend a lot of time on deck and just use your cabin for sleeping, showering and changing, it makes sense to opt for the cheapest inside stateroom available.

Cruise lines make a lot of money from excursions, casinos, drinks, shops and spas, as well as making a great margin on the larger suites. So, if you opt for the cheapest cabin and don’t spend anything on-board, the cruise line could well be making a loss on your fare. Which means amazing value for money for you!

The most expensive suites

The priciest cruise ship suites can easily cost £1,000 per night, or more, and yet they’re the first to sell out. For passengers who have no limitations on their budget, the top cruise ship suites offer the best way to cruise. Featuring personal butlers, private balcony hot tubs, unlimited champagne and the odd grand piano, these suites are often larger than the average home and have everything needed to relax in luxury.

Add in free perks such as free flights and hotel stays, free spa treatments and a private car and driver in every port, it’s easy to see why those who can afford it don’t settle for anything less than the best.

Choose your stateroom and book today

Norwegian Bliss - Haven Stateroom

When you’ve decided which cruise you’d like to book, take a look at the deck plans for that ship to get an idea of the staterooms you’ll find on board.

When you call us to book, your Cruise Concierge will be able to talk you through the various stateroom options that are available and help you decide which is the best stateroom for you.

If you have any questions, call us on 0808 1234 118 for expert advice on accommodation and award-winning customer service with your booking.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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