At one time, cruise passengers were divided according to the level of accommodations they selected. Generally separated into first, second and third classes, the dining facilities, lounges and public spaces differed in food quality, layout and amenities. Passengers could enter a lower class facility, but never one above what they had booked. Vestiges of this system remain on a few transatlantic ocean liners, but most cruise ships offer equal access for all, regardless of cabin selection. Nonetheless, choosing just the right stateroom can be confusing.

Inside Staterooms

At 185 square feet, Carnival’s inside staterooms are among the largest of any cruise line. Inside cabins are located along interior hallways rather than the outer walls of the ship so they lack windows. Some people are bothered by the lack of natural light, while others enjoy the ability to sleep deeply in a fully darkened cabin.

Inside staterooms include category 1A and categories 4A through 4H. Category 1A cabins are the least predictable, stuck into oddly-shaped spaces on any passenger deck. These cabins have one set of bunk beds and may be smaller than standard inside cabins. However, a few 1A staterooms offer porthole windows. They are the least expensive cabins on the ship, and often represent an excellent value.

Categories 4A through 4H are labeled and priced according to their location on the ship, and all offer twin beds that can convert to a single king. Some inside cabins can hold one or two extra passengers in upper beds that fold out of the wall. 4As tend to be located on the lowest passenger deck or in less desirable areas such as under the disco. Category 4H cabins are generally considered the most desirable inside cabins, located on higher decks and in better locations.

Porthole and Obstructed View Cabins

Other than the occasional 1A with a porthole, most porthole and obstructed view cabins are considered category 4J. These cabins provide natural light, but the view is blocked by lifeboats or other shipboard equipment. If you are not looking for a specific view, category 4J cabins are often competitively priced.

Ocean View Staterooms

Ocean-view staterooms are categories 6A through 6C. Like standard inside cabins, they offer twin beds that convert into a single king. Some ocean-view cabins offer upper beds for third and fourth passengers. All offer picture windows, although some views may be partially obstructed. Category 6A cabins are in the least desirable areas of the ship, while 6Cs are the most desirable ocean-view cabins.

Balcony Cabins

If you want to spend some time in relative privacy outdoors, consider a balcony cabin, known as a veranda on some ships. Standard balcony cabins are 225 square feet including the balcony, although larger verandas may push the square footage up slightly. Categories 8A through 8F are traditional balconies. Some ships offer categories 8M and 8N, which are extended balconies, and 9B and 9C, considered premium balconies. Study the ship’s deck plan carefully before selecting a balcony cabin, as the location of your balcony can affect everything from noise to movement of the ship.


The largest staterooms available, suites range from one-room junior suites to multi-room spreads. The suite categories are JS, OS and GS. Suite amenities include whirlpool tubs, sitting areas and large vanities. Study a deck plan carefully or call Carnival directly to book a suite. Each suite is slightly different, so make sure you are pleased with the particular cabin before booking.