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What Are the Different Types of Cruise Ship Cabins?

Tips for Choosing the Best Accommodations


Silver Whisper Silver Suite

Silver Whisper Silver Suite

Silver Whisper Photo (c) Linda Garrison
Celebrity Reflection Balcony Cabin

Celebrity Reflection Balcony Cabin

Celebrity Reflection (c) Linda Garrison
Viking Njord River Ship Cabin
Viking Njord (c) Linda Garrison

Standard Cruise Ship Cabins - Inside Cabins (No Porthole or Window)

Many cruise ships today have standard cabins of similar size and accouterments, with the price differential being the location. The least expensive, inside standard cabins on a mainstream cruise ship run from about 120 square feet to 180 square feet. Since most cruise ships are relatively new or have been refurbished, the cabins usually are tastefully decorated with twin beds that can be pushed together to make a queen-sized bed for couples. The staterooms have wall-to-wall carpeting, individually controlled air conditioning/heating, dresser or storage space, closet, telephone, and satellite television. The television usually has news, sports, local on-ship channels for broadcasting information on shore excursions or from guest lecturers, and movies. Some cabins have VCRs or DVD players, and some televisions also have radio/music channels. The cabins also usually have a night table, reading lamps, and a chair. Most modern cruise ships come with a hairdryer, so you won't have to bring one from home. Some standard staterooms feature personal safes, table, desk with chair, convertible loveseat, mini-refrigerator, and even Internet access, although it is often much more costly than in the common Internet lounge. The cruise line brochure or Web site usually specifies what amenities are in each cabin.

The standard cabin bathrooms are usually tiny and most only have a shower (no tub). The shower usually has good water pressure, with the only complaint being the small size. Don't be surprised if the shower curtain keeps trying to attack you! The bathroom also has a sink, toiletry shelves, and a noisy vacuum toilet like on an airplane. Often there is a small step up between the bedroom and bathroom, perfect for stubbing your toe. The bathrooms also usually have a retractable clothesline for drying your swimsuit or hand laundry.

Standard Cruise Ship Cabins - Outside Ocean View Cabins (Porthole or Window)

Oftentimes the ocean view standard cabins and the inside standard cabins are almost identical in size and layout. The only difference is the window. Most modern ships have large picture windows rather than portholes, but these windows cannot be opened. So, if you want to have a sea breeze in your room, you will need to get a balcony. Some ships have both porthole cabins and those with windows. The porthole cabins are on the lowest decks and are less expensive. About the only view you have from a porthole is whether it is daylight or dark. Sometimes you can also see the ocean waves splash against the porthole while sailing--I call these "washing machine" cabins.

Cabins with Balconies or Verandas

The next step above an outside cabin is one with a balcony (veranda). These cabins have sliding glass or French doors giving you access to the outside. The sliding doors also mean you can see outside from anywhere in the cabin, i.e. lie on the bed and still see the ocean outside. Usually the balcony cabins are also larger than the standard cabins, and some qualify as mini-suites. which means they have a small sitting area with a loveseat or convertible sofa. The mini-suites also usually have a curtain that can be drawn to separate the sleeping and sitting areas. This feature is ideal for couples (or friends) who have different sleeping habits. I like to get up early and my husband likes to sleep in. I can pull the curtain, sit in the sitting area or balcony, and enjoy the early morning sunrise without waking up my significant other.

Most balconied cabins do not have verandas large enough for a lounge chair where you can lie down and sunbathe in private. The balconies are often narrow, just wide enough for two chairs and a small table. If you want a larger balcony, look for a cabin on the rear of the ship. The balconies on some ships offer no privacy. I often find myself standing at the balcony admiring the view and finding my neighbors doing the same! These balconies would definitely not be appropriate for daytime nudity.


A "suite" can mean you have (1) a small sitting area, (2) a curtain to separate the bed from the sitting area, or (3) a separate bedroom. It's important to ask and look at the cabin layouts before booking since the name can be somewhat misleading. Suites almost always have balconies. The suites are larger, and many have bigger bathrooms with tubs. A suite will have all the amenities found in the other cabin categories, and you might even have butler service. Suites come in all shapes, sizes, and locations. They are a wonderful treat, especially if you have a lot of seas days or want to spend a lot of time together in your cabin. Some luxury lines have all of their cabins as mini-suites or suites.


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