Is it better to book a cabin in the front or back of a cruise ship? Will I get better views on the starboard or port side of the ship? Which deck is best on a cruise ship?
When you’re faced with choosing one specific cabin among the hundreds (or thousands!) of rooms spread across multiple decks on a giant cruise ship, these questions can be overwhelming. You want the best cruise ship location, but how do you know which room that is if you’ve never been on that ship before?
Don’t sweat it! Some of these decisions are already made for you. Many suites are on upper decks, spa cabins are on the decks near the spa, and porthole / oceanview window cabins are typically (but not always) on lower decks. If they aren't on the lower decks, you can usually find them in the front of the ship on higher decks.
Once you’ve picked your cabin type (inside, ocean view, balcony, family cabin, suite, etc.), you’ll have narrowed your choices to only the areas with those categories.
The best cabin position, ultimately, has to do with your personal preferences – what you like and what drives you crazy. Here, we list the best cruise ship cabin locations for a variety of sailing preferences.
Low and midship: Best cabin location to avoid seasickness
The best cabin location for those worried about seasickness is midship on a low deck. As a ship rocks and rolls in the waves, it is most stable at its lowest, most central point. Imagine the prow of a boat bobbing up and down in rough seas, and you get the picture.
There’s one caveat to this advice: If you tend to get seasick, or fear you might, you’ll also want access to fresh air, or at least a window to look out at the horizon (which helps regulate your dizzy brain). It might be advantageous to skip the inside and outside cabins found on the lowest passenger decks and choose the lowest, most central balcony cabin you can book. That way, you get the double benefit of a stable position and an easy escape outside.
Up at the top: Best cabin location for sweet sea views
If you’re all about the views, the best cabin location for you is at the top of the ship. Observation towers are high up for a reason; with an elevated position, you can see farther. It’s no surprise that most cruise ships place their suite enclaves or swankiest cabins on upper decks. You’ll enjoy amazing views of the ocean's horizon from your upper-deck balcony or walls of windows.
Plus, upper-deck cabins are convenient to many top cruise attractions, including the pool, buffet and some specialty restaurants, top-deck active pursuits (think zip lines, ropes courses, and mini-golf), and even the spa. You won’t have to go far to find the fun from a high-up cabin.
All the way aft: Best cabin location for roomy balconies and wake views
We cannot lie – if you like big balconies, the best cabin for you is at the back of the boat. Cruise fans go nuts for wake views, even though technically you’re looking backwards at where you’ve been rather than where you’re headed. Still, there’s something soothing about staring out to sea and watching the wake trail off into the distance.
The popularity of wake-watching dovetails nicely with ship shapes. Cabins at the back of the ship are often less cookie cutter than those along the sides in order to accommodate the ship’s superstructure. You’ll often find oddly shaped or elongated cabins with extra-long or extra-large balconies. These rooms can be priced the same as regular veranda cabins, giving you more bang for your balcony buck.
Some folks report that these cabins experience more ship vibration than others; others claim they don’t notice a difference. In any case, be aware when booking that your aft cabin might be a bit more rumbly.
By the elevators: Best cabin location for easy accessibility
If you have mobility issues, we recommend you book a cabin by the elevator shafts. It can be a little noisier in these rooms, given all the foot traffic, but you won’t have to trek down endless corridors to get to your cabin. To put that in perspective, Symphony of the Seas is as long as the Empire State Building is tall (minus its antenna). If your cabin is far from the elevators, it can be a long walk back to your room at the end of the day.
A convenient location by the elevators especially comes in handy when seas are rough. A rolling ship makes walking tough for anybody. If you already struggle to get around, you don’t want to have to walk long distances on a ship getting tossed around by the waves.
Buffered by cabin decks: Best cabin location for light sleepers
Cabins right above or below public areas – like the pool, the dining room, casino, bars, etc. – can be louder than you’d like at particular times of day. The rooms underneath the pool will hear the scrape of early morning deck chair set-up or the thumping vibrations of late-night deck parties. Rooms above the dining room or bars may hear the buzz of conversation or dining room song-and-dance showdowns (we’re looking at you, Carnival).
If you’re a light sleeper, the best place for you to stay on a cruise ship is in a room surrounded by other cabins. That means you have a cabin on either side of you, and cabin decks above and below you. Though it’s always possible to hear TV noise or crying babies. In general, cabins that house two to four people are much quieter than popular public areas that get lots of foot traffic by passengers and crew. When booking cabins, cruise lines often provide a key to tell which staterooms can hold more than two people. If possible, select a stateroom next to one that can only accommodate two.
Even better, choose a room that does not connect to the cabin next door because these are less sound-proof than staterooms without an extra door in the middle. Also, skip the cabins all the way forward as these can be loud when the ship drops anchor at tender ports.
Near your happy place: Best cabin location to maximize your fun (or relaxing) time onboard
When you cruise, where do you spend most of your time? The spa, the pool, the casino, the adults only deck, the kids’ club? The best cruise ship cabin location for you might be the one with the shortest commute to your happy place.
If you’re going to play poker every night until 2 a.m., choose a cabin that’s a quick walk from the casino. If you want to sleep as late as possible and still be the first person to snag a primo lounge chair at the pool deck, pick a room on the Lido Deck or one that’s steps away from the closet stairwell on the deck below. Do you want to roll out of bed and get breakfast? Choose a cabin that's a deck or two away from the buffet or main dining room. Spa cabins were designed to give spa lovers close proximity to their treasured thermal suite (plus, they come with some sweet spa amenities to boot).
Don’t waste time trekking down hallways and waiting for elevators. Position your onboard bedroom as close as possible to your favorite onboard destination to maximize your vacation time.
Still confused about cruise rooms? Learn more about how to choose a cruise ship cabin.