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Inside cabin vs. oceanview on a cruise ship

NCL Bliss studio

Are you stuck debating between an inside cabin and an ocean view cabin for your next cruise? They great options if you're trying to save money, as they are typically the cheapest available options. 

While you may not have a private balcony to soak in ocean views, that does not mean these options are not perfect for your next cruise. How much time are you planning on spending in the room anyway?

Learn what inside and ocean view (aka outside, window, porthole) staterooms are on a cruise ship, their similarities and differences, and why you might want to pick one style of cabin over the other.

What is an inside room on a cruise ship? 

10 Weird and Wonderful Cruise Ship Cabin Types | Cruise.Blog

Inside cabins are windowless rooms with no access to natural light. They are usually located in the middle of each deck, rather than along the exterior; however, some cruises have a few interior rooms located next to balcony cabins on the forward and aft of the ship. Since they have no natural light, they are the cheapest to book.

Additionally, inside rooms are often the smallest onboard. They are typically outfitted with a queen-size bed that can be converted into two twins upon request, a small desk or vanity area, a closet, and a small, private bathroom with shower. 

There are various set ups for interior rooms; the smallest won’t have a sitting area like standard balcony cabins, while larger versions might have a small loveseat. 

Carnival Cruise Line even has some inside cabins that sleep two in an upper and lower berth because the oddly shaped, small interior cabins do not have enough room for two beds side-by-side. These staterooms, obviously, are double occupancy only.

Disney Wish inside room

Surprisingly, inside cabins can often sleep up to four guests with two beds that pull down from the upper wall to form bunkbeds with the twins below. However, floor space could be tight with four people moving about the small space at the same time.

A few cruise lines have tried to make inside cabins more appealing. Royal Caribbean and Disney use LED screens in the cabins to create "virtual balconies" and "magic portholes" that broadcast images from cameras on the ship’s exteriors. This makes it so that you can check the weather, watch the waves, or get that first look at the port as you sail in, even without a true window.

If you are sailing on Royal Caribbean, you may have noticed that some of their larger ships feature staterooms that face interior public areas, allowing you to have a view of something, even if it is not the ocean. On Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis Class ships, these include Promenade View staterooms, as well as Boardwalk and Central Park View interior cabins on Oasis Class ships. 

However, they often cost a little bit more than a traditional window-less interior cabin. 

Carnival Cruise Line also has a few similar rooms on their newer ships that are called Interior with Picture Window (Walkway View), as well as Porthole Interior rooms. 

The walkway view rooms have a view of the observation deck outside and a sky view. They are, however, partially obstructed. 

The porthole staterooms actually have an exterior view; however, since the windows are so small, the stateroom is deemed an interior. 

Like the interior facing staterooms on select Royal Caribbean ships, these categories often cost more than regular interior rooms. 

Read more: Why an inside cabin is the best choice for a cruise

What is an ocean view cabin on a cruise ship?

DCL stateroom

An ocean view cabin, often called an outside cabin, is a room with a window that looks out to sea. The window is usually a large, rectangular picture window and is also the biggest difference between an outside cabin and an inside room on a cruise ship.

While the windows let in natural light, they do not open to let in fresh air like balconies. Typically, they are covered with blackout curtains that keep the room dark even when it is light outside. That way, you can choose whether you want a pitch-black sleeping environment, or if you would prefer to leave the curtains open a crack and let morning light filter into the room.

Note that some ocean view cabins are labeled obstructed view, meaning a lifeboat or other structural support blocks the exterior view from your cabin. Your window will still let in light, but you’ll mainly see painted steel rather than sand and surf. These rooms are often the cheapest outside options because of the obstruction.

Ocean view cabins range in size, depending on the ship and specific category. Some are roughly the same size as an inside cabin, with the same furnishings and lack a traditional seating area. 

Others are larger, with full sitting areas and pull out couches. Because room layouts vary, make sure to check your cruise line’s website for photos or blueprints to see how much space you’ll have. But often, when comparing an inside cabin vs. an ocean view, you’ll find that the outside cabin is bigger. 

Inside cabin vs. ocean view: Which should you book?

Harmony of the Seas inside room

We suggest you decide whether to book an inside or outside cabin on a cruise using the following criteria:

Price: If budget is a concern, inside cabins are usually cheaper, though often not by that much. The difference in price between an inside and outside cruise room can be small enough that it’s worth paying more for natural light and a slightly larger space. 

Sometimes, you may even be able to select an ocean view guarantee room for the same price as an interior room that you get to select. There are, however, pros and cons with letting the cruise line assign your room. First, you probably will be assigned one of the remaining staterooms that are left prior to departure that other guests deemed "less desirable." 

Second, if you are traveling with a group, there's no way to ensure that the rooms will be located near each other. 

But if it comes down between selecting an interior cabin ahead of time or letting the cruise line assign you an ocean view room, you may prefer the latter. 

Size: Check the specs for the inside and ocean view cabins you are considering. If an outside cabin will get you more space, it can be worth the extra money. This is especially important if you are sharing the cabin with more than two people.

Also, some ships will have inside and ocean view cabins labeled as “deluxe," “premium,” or "spacious." These cabins will have more space – and usually cost more – than the standard cabins in the same category. Don’t forget to include these cruise rooms in your cabin comparison. Some, such as staterooms on Disney Cruise Line and select Carnival Cruise Line ships, even feature a "split" bathroom concept. This could be beneficial if traveling with a family or large group. 

Oceanview room

Light sensitivity: Does you party all night and sleep all day? Then an inside cabin is perfect for you because no pesky daylight will wake you up from your noontime snooze. On the other hand, if you hate not being able to look outside and see if it is morning yet, you will want that window.

If you desire natural light at the cheapest price tag, an obstructed view outside cabin is a good way to split the difference between a cheaper inside cabin and a light-filled standard ocean view room. Or, if sailing on select Carnival Cruise Line ships, a porthole interior room. 

Cruise style: Travelers who are always on the go and use their cabin only to sleep, shower, and change clothes should save their money and book the cheapest inside cabin they can. These cruisers will not take advantage of a larger cabin space, but will appreciate extra cash to enjoy all the ship has to offer, such as speciality dining, beverage packages, and even shore excursions. 

On the other hand, if you like to lounge around your cabin, you will want the extra space, natural light, and sea views of an outside room to make your cabin time more enjoyable.

It may also depend on your itinerary. If you're a frequent cruiser who has sailed the Caribbean multiple times, you might not mind an interior cabin to save up for your next trip. On the other hand, if you're sailing in Alaska, you may enjoy being able to look outside and see the beautiful, picturesque glaciers from the comfort and privacy of your stateroom. 

Family harbor room

To sum up the inside cabin vs. ocean view debate...

Choose an inside cabin on a cruise ship if saving money is the most important consideration or if you plan to rarely use your room. There are other ways that you may prefer to spend that much, such as on shore excursions, drink packages, Wi-Fi, or even your next cruise vacation. 

Choose the ocean view room on your next cruise if you get claustrophobic without natural light or can afford (and will make use of) extra space and a window to the world outside.

No matter what stateroom you decide to go with there are some cruise cabin hacks that will help make your stateroom more livable and comfortable, such as bringing magnetic hooks or bringing a laundry hamper. 

Still confused about cruise rooms? Learn more about how to choose a cruise ship cabin.

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