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Aft vs Forward cabins


When you book a cruise, you're often able to choose the specific cabin that you'll be staying in. From selecting the right category, deck, and location, there's a lot that needs to be taken into consideration before making any decisions. 

One thing you'll have to think about is whether you want to be located in the forward or aft (back) of the ship. Both provide their own set of pros and cons, and the best option is based on what you prioritize. Forwards cabins, for instance, tend to have unique layouts, whereas those in the aft of the ship are typically located closer to dining venues. 

Though mid-ship is often considered the ideal place, cabins here are often the most expensive since they're an equal distance from all of the major amenities. Moreover, it is the best location for those who are worried about feeling too much motion. 

To avoid any surprises about your stateroom's location, here's a guide on whether you should choose an aft or forward cabin. 

Pros of forward cabins

Forward cabins may have more unique layouts


Onboard Royal Caribbean ships, many Ultra Spacious cabins are found at the front of the ship. These are ideal for families traveling together who want more living space but don't want adjoining cabins. 

Onboard Oasis of the Seas, for instance, Ultra Spacious Ocean View staterooms can be found at the front of the ship on Deck 11. These cabins measure over 270 square feet and have space for six passengers, whereas standard ocean view staterooms can usually only accommodate four. They're great for those seeking more space but don't want to splurge on a suite. 

Additionally, when I sailed on Carnival Vista, my Junior Suite was located forward on Deck 9. The spacious cabin included a large balcony, walk-in closet, and ensuite bathroom with a tub and double vanity. 

You may feel more secluded since there won't be a lot of foot traffic outside your room

Disney cruise hallway

Unlike staterooms located near elevator banks or in the middle of the ship, you won't have a ton of guests wandering the halls looking for their cabin. 

Since there's typically nothing worth seeing at the front of the ship on passenger decks, the amount of foot traffic outside will be minimal. This is ideal for those who want to minimize the chances of being awoken in the middle of the night by rowdy guests. 

While this means that they're less convenient since you'll have to walk further to reach certain amenities, they are usually cheaper than those in the mid-ship, which is another advantage. 

Read more: Forward vs. Aft: How to Find Your Way Around a Cruise Ship

Cons of forward cabins

They tend to experience a lot of motion 

Rough seas

Cabins in the forward of the ship often feel more swaying, making them less desirable for those who are worried about getting seasick. The front of the ship endures direct hits from the rolling waves, which results in more motion and sea spray. Typically, those on higher decks are more likely to be subject to intense motion. Plus, they're often more expensive due to the premium ocean views that they offer. 

For instance, I paid $3,600 for a Junior Suite on Carnival Vista that was located on Deck 9. The rocking that my cousin and I felt in the room was worse than elsewhere on the board. At times, the sensation resembled that of riding a roller coaster! Though the cabin came with some elevated perks, the intensity of the rocking was a major negative and would prevent me from booking the same room in the future. 

Moreover, there may be some instances in which the balconies are inaccessible due to inclement weather, such as if the wind is too strong to make lounging outside enjoyable. 

Read more: I tried the most common seasickness hacks to find out what works best

Some may be obstructed by the Bridge


Beware of rooms located above the Bridge, as it's likely that they'll have obstructed views. Even if the Bridge isn't in the way, ocean view rooms that face forward may have a view of the bow of the ship, rather than a full view of the ocean. 

Some cruisers don't mind obstructed views, especially if they don't plan on spending a lot of time in their cabin or aren't sailing somewhere scenic, such as Alaska or Norway. If you want to save money on your stateroom but still want access to natural sunlight, an obstructed ocean view room may be exactly what you're looking for.

Moreover, cabins that overlook the bow offer some pretty spectacular, albeit slightly blocked, views, especially when you're pulling in and out of port. Sometimes, they may even feature floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Read more: I paid $4,300 for an obstructed view cabin on Norwegian Cruise Line

Guests on the lower decks may hear the ship's anchor drop in port


Typically, anchors are found on lower decks near the front of the ship. If you prefer a quieter experience, you'll want to consider a cabin on higher decks, as those on the lower decks may be disturbed by the sound of the anchor dropping into the sea. 

Since the lower decks are often reserved for ocean view and inside rooms, those who want a private balcony likely won't have to worry about this. Moreover, early risers who plan on beating the breakfast crowds will have already started their day and won't be disturbed by the noisy anchor. 

If, however, you prefer more leisurely and peaceful mornings, you'll want to avoid cabins located at the foremost part of the ship on the lowest decks. 

Pros of aft cabins

Amazing views

Ocean wake

Cabins found at the very back of the ship will have a view of the ship's wake trailing behind, creating an immersive and tranquil backdrop for sailors throughout the voyage. Those located on the port and starboard side of the vessel won't offer the same expansive views of the wake. 

One negative to this, however, is that many cruisers report being able to hear the ship's movement more. Of course, some may see this as an advantage, as it is essentially a natural white noise machine! 

If you have a port-intensive itinerary, you may have fewer opportunities to lounge on your private verandah and soak in this unique view. 

Spacious balconies

(Photo shared by L454S on Royal Caribbean Blog's Discussion Forum)

In addition to the unique wake view, the balconies of aft-facing rooms tend to be larger than standard staterooms. Sometimes, they may even feature lounge chairs in addition to, or in place of, basic chairs, making them ideal for those who prioritize sweeping views, privacy, and comfortable seating.

Of course, this only holds true for wake-view rooms. If you select a stateroom on the port or starboard side, your verandah will be the same size as the typical balcony. 

Onboard Carnival Conquest, for instance, the aft-facing rooms measure around 245 square feet, including the balcony, whereas standard balcony cabins come in at around 220 square feet. 

Cons of aft cabins

If you don't select a wake view room, you'll end up with the same cabin that's available in the middle of the ship, just with a further walk


Unless you're interested in a cabin with a wake view, those located in the back of the ship will be similar to those found mid-ship, which are more conveniently located. 

Like forward cabins, though, standard aft rooms are usually cheaper than those in the middle of the vessel, simply because they aren't as convenient. If you don't want to worry about hiking back to your stateroom each evening, you won't like the location of an aft cabin. 

Read more: The absolute worst cruise ship cabins to avoid on any ship

Though not as intense as the front of the ship, those located in the back aren't immune to feeling the rocking of the vessel as it glides through the sea

Symphony of the Seas Interior Room

Forward cabins typically feel more motion than aft staterooms; however, that doesn't mean those found in the back of the ship aren't still subjected to the swaying of the ship, especially if cruising in rough seas. 

As mentioned earlier, the ideal location for guests who are prone to motion sickness is mid-ship, as it's where the effects are typically minimal. Additionally, passengers should elect for a stateroom on a lower deck. 

Though choosing a cabin at the aft of the ship may offer some stability advantages compared to those at the front, it doesn't guarantee a motion-free experience. 

You may feel vibrations


Cruise ship engines are often found towards the aft of the ship, meaning nearby cabins, especially those on lower decks, may feel its vibrations, which may cause the hangers in your closet to rattle, especially when the ship is maneuvering into port or operating at higher speeds. 

You won't have to worry about too much noise from the engine itself, though, as ships are built with plenty of noise reduction technology. 

When aren't you able to select your own cabin? 


Most cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and MSC Cruises, offer guarantee staterooms that are cheaper than standard fares which allow you to select your cabin. Choosing a guarantee rate means that you forgo the ability to choose your cabin in exchange for a cheaper rate. 

Guests who elect to book a guarantee cabin are guaranteed a cabin in their chosen category, so if you choose a guarantee balcony, you won't be downgraded to an interior cabin. 

The biggest risk is that you could end up in a less-than-desired location, such as in the very front or back of the ship, underneath the lido deck, close to the nightclub, etc. 

Read more: Are guaranteed staterooms worth the risk?

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