Cabins, staterooms, suites: Untangling the lingo for the best cruise accommodations

For many people planning their first cruise can be hectic. They’re evaluating between Disney cruises, looking for the best views and overall cruise experience. Having a travel agent to guide you through this process would be very beneficial.

When looking at cruises many people want to know the best cruise ship, the best cabin and cabin location, and layout of the cruise ship cabin. When picking a cruise line it’s important to look at what you want out of the trio. Different cruises have different guest services and types of shore excursions.

Choosing a room on a cruise ship can be a bit daunting for those who aren't familiar with cruising lingo. But don't fret – learning the difference between a suite and a stateroom will turn you from a first-timer into a cruising pro.

What is the best room to reside in on a cruise?

Cruise lines each have their own unique features, but the basics are pretty universal. Typically, cruise ships have four different types of rooms, also known as cabins or staterooms: interior, ocean view, balcony and suite. Of these four, the best room to settle in during a vacation at sea varies depending on a person's needs. However, the best room on a cruise ship is the suite, which is by far the largest and roomiest cabin. Suites typically include everything that a balcony room has, but with more space and a bunch of extra perks such as priority boarding, butler service and sometimes exclusive lounge areas.

Lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line offer a variety of rooms including tiny, windowless, and more.

Midship cabins tend to be the most stable against the rocking current of the ocean. If you get motion sickness, this might be the best location and type of cabin for you. Midship cabins also tend to be at the center of all the activity, such as having easy access to the main pool deck. Looking at the deck plans will give you more insight into the location of activities, the front of the ship, the back of the ship, the dining room, and higher deck. Deck plans will also highlight where the lifeboats and public areas are for safety. First-time cruisers should look into the deck plan as well as online photos of the inside of the cabin to know what they’ll be getting into.

Seasickness stopping you from living your best life?

Getting motion sickness out at sea due to, well, the sea, shouldn't be an issue if you choose the correct room. The best room to stay in for those who easily get seasick are those located on the lower decks in the middle of the ship. These rooms are least likely to feel the roll and sway of the ship on the open water. But don't worry, some of the lower decks also offer balcony or oceanview cabins. Outdoor rooms or outside cabins feature a window or a porthole with a view to the sea that are very close in size to inside cabins.

Port or starboard: Does side matter?

Let's get the confusion between port and starboard out of the way. The two words are simply ship lingo for the left – port, and right – starboard, side of a ship that is facing forward.

But to answer the question of whether or not side matters, it doesn't. When a vessel is out in the middle of the ocean, both sides of the ship will offer much the same ocean view. The same can be said for when a ship is docked or during a scenic cruise. The captain will typically turn the ship 360 degrees so that everyone, no matter where they are on the ship, can experience the breath-taking views. However, dramatic scenery is best viewed from the top deck.

How big are the cabins on a cruise ship?

Cabin sizes vary based on the ship and the type of room. For example, Carnival offers larger-than-average rooms with the standard interior cabin starting at approximately 185 square feet; other lines tend to average at about 140 square feet. Interior, ocean view and balcony cabins are typically the same in size. The only difference is the ocean-view room has a window to the outside, and the balcony room has a little patio space for passengers to hang out without having to venture out to the decks. Many ships are moving away from balconies to floor-to-ceiling windows.

Designated Spa Cabins

Certain cruise lines have designated spa cabins such as Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise line, Holland America, and MSC Cruises.

Additional Tips

Many cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have ocean view staterooms that have partially obstructed views due to lifeboats. Having an obstructed view may affect the cost of your cabin. You can avoid these blocks by looking at the cruise lay out before booking a room.