If you’re planning a cruise, choosing a cabin can be overwhelming. Large ships have thousands of staterooms, making it difficult to decide which are the best and worst cruise cabins.
I’ve said on over two dozen cruises and have had my fair share of bad cabin selections.
Let’s look at the fourteen cruise ship cabins to avoid when booking your cruise.
Table of Contents
1. Cabins With an Obstructed View
Some cruise ships have cabins where a piece of equipment, a lifeboat, or even a portion of another deck can obstruct the view, known as obstructed view cabins.
Obstructed-view cabins cost less than those with full ocean views, but the quality varies from room to room.
Some staterooms have a partial obstruction, while others may have a full lifeboat blocking the view. Not only can the obstacle block your view, but if your ship’s itinerary has a tender port, you may be woken by the sound of the tender lifeboat dropping into the ocean.
It’s a good idea to research your cabin before you book.
Usually, obstructed-view staterooms are marked on the cruise ship deck plan. You can also visit cruise forums to read reviews by previous passengers to get an idea of the size of the obstruction.
2. Near the Elevators
The areas around the elevators on cruise ships can be very noisy. You’ll hear the constant flow of people making their way around the vessel, heavy foot traffic, the chiming of the lift, and conversations as guests wait their turn for the elevator.
On some ships, you will hear the “ding” every time the elevator doors open.
The cruise ship staterooms aren’t exactly soundproof, but the severity of elevator noise varies from ship to ship.
Some ships have elevators away from the cabin areas or a winding hallway to dampen noise. Other cruise ships may not have any separation between the lifts and staterooms.
3. Too Far From the Elevators
Unless you don’t mind walking, you’ll want to avoid choosing a cabin far from the elevators.
Cruise ships are big, some measuring more than 1,100 ft in length. If your cabin is on either end of the vessel, it may mean a long walk from your cabin to the ship’s public areas.
If you have some difficulty walking, it may be a good idea to book a cabin closer to the elevators.
4. Cabins Without Privacy
When you book an oceanview or balcony cabin, you might assume you will enjoy ocean views, but that’s not always the case.
Newer cruise ships have several cabin categories that overlook the vessel’s public areas.
Cruise ships like Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class have balcony staterooms lining the promenade. In other words, your balcony faces directly toward the cruise ship’s interior. You’ll still be able to enjoy breakfast on your balcony, but you will have to contend with a bit of noise and less privacy than you intended.
When you book a cruise room that overlooks the promenade deck, other passengers will be walking by, shopping, and even looking into your cabin (people are nosy!)
Even with the curtains closed, it’s often possible for other passengers to see into your stateroom.
You’ll want to avoid cabins that offer little privacy.
5. Cabins Above and Below Entertainment Areas and Late-Night Venues
It’s no secret that people love to party on cruise ships. Booking a cabin near the ship’s noisy venues like the nightclub, restaurant, theatre, bar, or atrium may sound like a good idea.
Who doesn’t want to be close to the party, right?
Although the cabins on cruise ships are relatively sound-resistant, you will probably hear music thumping well into the night. If you are a light sleeper, you will want to avoid these cabins at all costs.
If you are a night owl and plan to be parting all night, it might not be a problem for you. But you should know that rehearsals often take place in venues during the day. And they can be just as loud as the actual show.
Even if you aren’t returning to the room until the party is over, you might not be able to have a peaceful mid-day nap.
Those who enjoy early bedtimes or mid-day naps will be better off avoiding cabins close to nightclubs and late-night venues.
6. Cabins Near the Casino
Like avoiding a cabin near nightclubs and entertainment venues, picking a room above or below the cruise ship casino can lead to noisy nights. But there’s also the smoke.
Cruise ship casinos are the only interior venues where smoking on a cruise ship is permitted.
Celebrity and Oceania cruises have banned smoking in casinos altogether, and Disney cruises don’t even have a casino onboard. However, plenty of ships still permit smoking in the casino.
Many cruise ships try to contain the smoke with enhanced ventilation systems, but they aren’t perfect. Smoke and the smell of cigarettes can make their way to nearby areas of the ship, including nearby cabins.
If you’re sensitive to smoke or prefer not to smell it, check the ship’s deck plans for the casino and permitted smoking areas before you book your stateroom.
7. Adjoining Cabins
Adjoining cabins are great when you’re traveling with family or friends.
The adjoining door makes it convenient for families to stay together and not feel crammed in the small cabins. You can open the adjacent door and create a larger room for everyone.
But if you aren’t traveling with your adjoining cabin members, there is one significant downside – you will hear more of them than you wish.
The cabins on ships are not soundproof, to begin with, but the adjoining door can let in a whole lot of noise from the neighboring cabin. You might not be happy if you find yourself beside a loud couple or a family with kids.
Avoid booking a room with an adjoining room unless you are traveling with family or friends.
8. Near the Engines
Cabins near cruise ship engine rooms may feel the engine vibrations and the engines’ sound.
If you want to avoid staterooms near the engines, stay away from the lowest decks of the cruise ship near the aft.
9. Close to the Bow
Accommodations close to the bow are among the worst cruise ship cabins. Not only will you hear the crashing of waves, but it’s where you will feel the most motion of the cruise ship, especially during rough seas.
The front of the ship pitches a lot more in waves than in the center or back of the ship, which induces motion sickness.
If you want to prevent motion sickness on a cruise ship, avoiding cabins near the bow is best.
The severity of the motion depends on the itinerary and cruise ship. If you are sailing on a mega-ship such as Royal Caribbeans Oasis-class vessel or Carnival Mardis Gras, you may not feel any movement anywhere on the ship.
Destinations like the Caribbean have relatively calm waters unless a nearby tropical storm exists.
But watch out if you’re sailing on a transpacific or transatlantic voyage. You’ll feel a lot of motion out in the middle of the ocean.
The perfect cabin location to avoid seasickness is one that’s located mid-ship on the lower decks. A balcony or oceanview cabin can help alleviate seasickness symptoms.
10. Near the Anchor
Watch out if you book a cabin near the ship’s anchor. The ship’s anchor is not a gentle wake-up call.
I have been jolted awake in the early morning by what sounds like a freight train as the ship drops anchor.
Looking at the deck plan, it might not show the ship anchor. You can expect to find it near the front of the ship on the lowest decks.
Newer ships are configured, so that the anchor is far enough away from the nearest cabin that it’s not a concern for passengers.
Cruise ships don’t use their anchors when they dock at a port. But, if your cruise itinerary contains “tender ports,” you will want to stay clear of the front lower decks just to be safe.
11. Below the Pool Deck
You might think the pool deck would be reasonably quiet in the early morning and late at night.
But you would be wrong.
During the day, the pool deck is the location of events, parties, dancing, and live music, which create a lot of noise. Pool decks can sometimes be the location of late-night parties, loud enough to be heard on the decks below. Even in the early morning, you might hear crew members dragging the sun loungers around and setting up for the day’s events.
Avoid any cabins below the pool deck if you care about your sleep.
12. Near the Laundry Room
Some ships will have laundry rooms located on passenger decks.
While convenient, the rumbling of a washing machine or dryer doesn’t make for a restful night. Even if you can’t hear the sound of the washer and dryer, it is usually a busy area of the ship with lots of foot traffic.
13. Guarantee Cabins
Many cruise lines offer “guarantee cabins” at a discount. Rather than choosing a specific cabin, you’ll choose a cabin category, and the cruise line selects your room.
If you are lucky, you may even get an upgrade at no extra cost.
Although guarantee cabins are a great way to save money, you sacrifice your choice of location.
When the cruise line selects your room, they choose one that hasn’t been booked. In other words, you’ll receive one of the worst cabin locations on the cruise ship.
You may be located near noisy venues, the casino, the anchor, or have an obstructed view.
If you are cruising on a budget and don’t mind sacrificing your choice of cabin, guarantee cabins might be worth the risk. But if you are picky about location, it is worth spending the money and choosing your cabin location.
14. Cabin Upgrades
Cabin upgrades are exciting. Who wouldn’t want to receive a higher cabin category at a discount?
But like guarantee cabins, you’ll sacrifice any choice in room selection.
You might get lucky and upgrade to a better cabin type or suite, but you’ll often find yourself in one of the worst cabin locations on the ship.