Are you planning a cruise and wondering what are the best and worst cabins?
I had the same question when I took my first cruise and picking the perfect stateroom felt like a huge mountain to climb. With half a dozen cruises under my belt, I now have a clearer picture of the types of cabins and locations to avoid (and I have learnt from past mistakes!).
To steer clear of falling asleep to the soundtrack of a nightclub or waking up to the clang of an anchor, I will share which cruise ship cabins to avoid.
Worst Cruise Ship Cabins at a Glance
In a hurry? Here are the worst cruise cabins in a nutshell:
A cruise ship deck plan is your best friend when it comes to pinpointing the best and worst cabin locations. Hone in in what is above, below, beside and opposite your selected cabin.
But these deck plans aren’t always perfect or easy to interpret. In these cases, I have found that cruise booking specialists are worth their weight in gold.
Cruise Cabin Types for Beginners
Your first decision when choosing a cruise cabin is the cabin type. Therefore, before we dive into which cruise cabins to avoid, here are the four basic types of cruise cabins (or staterooms as they are also called) to choose from:
- Inside cabin – no window or balcony (although on some cruise lines, these do have a virtual window). Cheapest grade.
- Oceanview – featuring a porthole or window
- Balcony (Veranda) – featuring a private balcony
- Suites – vary in scale from oversized balcony cabins thorough to luxurious apartment-like proportions. Most expensive grade.
Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
So where should you NOT stay on a cruise? Let’s take a look at which cruise staterooms to give a wide berth.
1. Cabins with obstructed views
Booking an obstructed view cabin can be a way of cutting costs on a cruise. However, if you do this, make sure that you know what is obstructing your view.
The extent to which the view is obstructed varies from cabin to cabin, from a very partial obstruction, through to your window artfully framing a lifeboat.
If your itinerary includes lots of tendering, there’s a chance that you’ll be woken up to the sound of the tenders being prepared.
2. Cabins with a connecting door
Many cruise lines offer cabins with interconnecting doors.
These are great if you are travelling with family or a group of friends as they allow free movement between the adjoining cabins. However, they are not so great if you don’t know who your next-door neighbour is.
Noise can be an issue, even to the point where you can hear people talking in the adjacent cabin, not to mention the television blaring at all hours of the day.
Deck plans will readily identify cabins that have interconnecting doors.
3. Those that are close to the lifts or stairs
I always avoid booking a cabin near the lift or stairs.
Apart from the chiming of the lift, these are areas of high footfall and are where people congregate and chatter.
4. Staterooms that are too far from the lifts or stairs
This doesn’t bother me so much but if your fitness levels aren’t what they used to be, you might want to reconsider booking a cabin that is too far from the lifts or stairs.
Newer cruise ships are huge: Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Sea has decks running for 1,187 feet. If your stateroom is too far from the lift and you struggle with walking, you will soon tire of travelling to the ship’s public areas.
5. Cabins near the laundry room
Some ships will have laundry rooms located on passenger decks.
Unless you find the whirr of a washing machine or the rumble of a tumble dryer restful, make sure that your cabin is not located close to the laundry room. This can be a busy area on cruise ships and there will be a lot of people to-ing and fro-ing.
6. Cabins with little privacy
Increasingly, newer ships have a promenade that runs through the middle of the ship, which can be overlooked by cabins. As these cabins offer little privacy, they should be avoided.
This can also be an issue with exterior promenade decks (my cruise agent warned me against such a cabin location when booking a cruise on P&O’s Iona).
7. Staterooms directly below public and entertainment areas
Avoid choosing a cabin above, below or near the cruise ship’s theatre, bars, nightclubs, buffet restaurants and Kids’ Clubs. Thumping bass sounds or the squeal of excited children is not always the best soundtrack to a holiday.
8. Cruise cabins underneath the pool deck
Do you really want to wake up at dawn each day to the scraping of sunloungers and tables being pulled into position for the day ahead? Or to be kept awake until all hours by the sound of partying fellow passengers?
If not, avoid cruise cabins below the pool deck.
9. Or those below the promenade deck
Equally, I’m sure that you don’t want your alarm clock to be the rhythmic thump of those doing their morning run along the promenade deck.
Many cruise ships have a promenade that wraps itself around the ship. Perfect for those wanting to take a stroll or jog to burn off those cruise calories. But if your cabin is underneath the promenade deck, pretty soon you’ll be wishing that these fellow passengers were also having an exercise holiday.
In short, the best passenger deck to choose is one sandwiched between other passenger decks. Whilst you might have the occasional noisy neighbours, they are not likely to have a bass-heavy sound system or dragging furniture at all hours of the night.
10. Cabins on very low decks
At the back of the ship, you may not be able to avoid the low rumble of the engine. The front of the ship is where the anchor is dropped.
Therefore, if you want to avoid engine vibrations and the sound of the anchor being dripped and weighed, don’t book a cabin on a low deck, particularly at the fore or aft of the ship.
11. Staterooms next to crew access areas
Cruise ship staff come and go all hours of the day and night. Therefore, if your cabin is situated close to one of their access areas, there’s every chance you’ll be able to hear them going about their work.
It can be tricky to identify where these crew access areas are, and you may want to check with your cruise agent or interrogate some of the cruising online forums. But, as a general rule, to avoid this type of cabin, make sure that you are surrounded by passenger cabins and that there are no mysterious gaps.
12. Guarantee Cabins
A guarantee cabin, or guaranteed cabin, is when you are not given a specific cabin allocation on booking. Whilst booking a guaranteed cabin is a way to cut cruising costs, it is a massive gamble.
You will be allocated any cabin within the cabin grade that you paid for but will have no say over where that cabin is located. As cabins above or below public areas are the least popular, there is a strong possibility that this is where you will be placed.
I did it once. I won’t make that mistake again.
13. Don’t tick the box for a cabin upgrade
My final tip for cruise ship cabins is to avoid an upgrade.
On the face of it, this is tempting. You might strike lucky and get an upgrade to a better cabin location. On the other hand, you could end up below the pool deck, opposite the crew entrance or above the anchor.
For me, it’s not worth the punt.
Thanks for reading my guide to avoiding the worst cruise cabins
I hope that this brief guide helps you pick your perfect cruise stateroom. Before you go, why not check out my favourite cruises?
- Western Mediterranean Cruise: Essential Tips, Ports & NCL Epic Review
- Baltic Capitals Cruise on Celebrity Silhouette: Review, Port Guides & Essential Tips
- Norwegian Fjords Cruise: Essential Tips, Review & Port Guides
- Highlights of a Western Caribbean Cruise
- The Ultimate Greek Islands & Adriatic Cruise Guide (on MSC Sinfonia)
Finally, to inspire you to book your cruise, watch one of my fabulous movies set on a cruise ship.
Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at email@example.com or follow her on social media.