You want to take your first cruise and you are not sure what kind of cabin best meets your needs and your budget. How do you determine what kind of cabin to book? It really comes down to the concept deciding what your total budget is for the cruise and then weighing the benefits of where you wish to spend that money. First, new cruisers need to understand what the features are in different cabin categories. Then (and this is the hardest part if you have never cruised before) try to estimate the where and when on which you would like to spend your money above and beyond the basics covered by the cruise price.
Differences between Cabin Categories.
Types of Cabins
Traditionally, on most cruise lines, the cabin selection only affects location, size and view. Usually, passengers receive the same public amenities no matter what cabin they select. However, the trend lately has been for cruise lines to offer extra benefits to upgraded, suite, or spa cabin passengers. These added benefits can range from a basket of fruit and fresh flowers, to private pool areas reserved only for surrounding suite guests. These suite benefits can vary from just a nice touch, to a near class system with the level of cabin booked determining the dining room and menu options. The important issue to research, is exactly what extras passengers in a particular cabin in a particular cruise line might receive in the way of extras. A good travel agent or a bit of web surfing can usually answer these questions. Make sure you know exactly what they are and itemize them for decision making process.
Shipboard Real Estate: Location, Size, and View:
The three basic types of cabins, lowest price to highest price are the inside cabins, the ocean view, and deluxe ocean view with veranda. For the most part these three cabin classes are all about the same size with the same amenities. Basic cruise ship cabins are much more compact in size than a hotel room but include many of the same amenities. A cruise ship cabin might compare to a very nice RV, compact but well appointed. Most rooms have a shower only bathing facility, toilet, and sink in the bathroom. The rooms usually have a bed that can be put together as a king or separated as two twins, seating area with table, vanity dresser, storage closets and cubbies, TV (flat screen HD in newer ships). Some rooms have a convertible chair or sofa or a 4th bunk located on the wall or lowered from the ceiling. There are always a few cabins that might have a configuration that is some how different than most others in the same price class. For example, some ships might offer an inside cabin price for a small ocean view with portholes because the beds can only be configured as twins in a L shape. Some ships offer the same size cabins with some additional benefits or features such as spa cabins or concierge cabins at a slightly higher price. Be sure to check out the lay out of your cabin choices on the different ships you are considering.
In an inside cabin you have no view or windows. Some larger ships have inside courtyard cabin that have a cabin with views onto an expansive interior courtyard. In Ocean View cabins, passengers usually have a picture window facing the ocean, though some might only have a port hole. The Ocean View with Veranda cabins all feature exterior balconies.
Location figures into the mix in that the ocean view cabins tend to be on the lower decks. Suites and more expensive of the standard size cabins tend be on the higher decks.
Size plays a major part in the mix when the word “suite” comes into the mix. Suites can be just a littler bigger than standard cabins to nearly the size of a land based hotel suite. Often there are several levels of suite starting at the junior level all the way to the Penthouse/Owners suits. Typically a suite will have an expanded sitting area, sometimes several rooms, an expanded dining area, and often a butler’s pantry. Some suites feature both a full bath and powder room. Often they have full bathing tubs or even jetted tubs. For people who like their own private space, the extra expense can be worth the extra luxury.
Some ships offer “family accommodations” which are priced somewhere between standard cabins and entry level suites which offer larger accommodations for families of four or more. Sometimes the cruise lines will allow couples to book these larger cabin if they have not yet sold in the final weeks before the sailing.
Other Items and Activities to Include in Your Budget
Your cruise fare includes all of your meals in the standard dining room, buffet, and usually room service. Most of your evening entertainment like production shows and featured entertainers. Most your on board activities staff led activities like game shows, karaoke, trivia, and some enrichment activities are included in your cruise fare. Non soda and non-alcoholic beverages like ice tea, regular coffee, and juice are included.
You’ll need to budget extra for the following items: Tips (Which can now be pre-paid), excursions, alcoholic beverages and specialty coffee, specialty dining, some enrichment activities or lessons, spa and salon treatments. For budgeting estimation purposes, you could figure about $2 for Sodas, $5 for beer, and $7-10 plus for wine. Cruise lines generally price excursions in the $60 to $120 range, but some can be higher or lower depending on the extravagance or simplicity of the tour.
Deciding What Space is Right for Your Budget
For those who enjoy going “all out” on a cruise and money is no object, our advice is to book the best cabin available. If you really want to do a particular cruise, and a suite is not available, consider booking two adjoining cabins. Two cabins would not only double your floor space, balcony space, and storage space, but also provide you with two bathroom facilities. For those with an unlimited budget or at least a generous budget, you really can’t go wrong with one of the higher end accommodations. However, if you can’t get the exact cabin you desire, don’t let that keep you from enjoying the itinerary of your dreams on the ship of your dreams. Most cabins are very comfortable for two people.
Intermediate Budget or Modest Budget
If you budget is such that the choice of cabin can either cut heavily into or loosen up your budget, you have to weigh the pros and the con’s of the price of the cabin vs the other activities you might wish to enjoy during your cruise. Consider the following issues:
Public time Vs. Private time
Are you the type of cruiser who likes to attend every activity hosted by the cruise activities staff? Or would you rather have time to your self. Today’s cruises offer so much in the way of both ship wide activities and in room entertainment, you need to figure out what type activities you would enjoy. If you think you will spend very little time in your cabin the you would want to let the other things on which you might wish to spend your money determine how much you want to pay for your cabin. On the other hand if you are planning lots of romantic time with the special someone, then an ocean view cabin or veranda cabin might be the best choice. If you enjoy watching movies on the ship’s in room entertainment system or think you might take advantage of the in room Wi-fi, then again a balcony cabin or at least ocean view might make you feel more in touch with ocean while you enjoy these activities in your room. On the other hand, if you are a real night owl, and like to sleep in or take naps, you might enjoy the darkness of an interior cabin.
Does upgrading to a higher class of cabin provide you with any “Public” benefits like dining room assignment or access to areas that are not available to the general public on the ship. If this is the case, then these benefits must too be added into the cost vs. benefits equation.
Is All Up to You
In summary, book the best cabin you can afford. To determine that price point, decide what your extra expenses would be for your “must do” extra activities with a surcharge, then subtract that from you overall budget to determine what you budget is for your cabin. Happy Cruising.