Cruise ship staterooms: what accommodation is the best for your trip afloat?

Destination? Check. Cruise trip and travel dates? Check and check. Almost everything is set for your trip to sea, but there's just one more decision that needs to be made: which stateroom should you choose?

What exactly is a stateroom?

A stateroom is the nautical term for a cabin on a ship. Staterooms come in four different types: interior, ocean view (or exterior), balcony and suite.

An interior room is inside without a view, an ocean view room has either a window or a porthole (a round window) to the outside, a balcony has, well, a balcony attached to the room, while a suite usually has separate sleeping and living quarters as well as a balcony.

How big are staterooms?

Stateroom sizes vary depending on the cruise line and the ship. Here's the breakdown for each type of stateroom.

  • Interior rooms: Interior cabins are usually the smallest on a ship. These rooms average around 140-square-feet. The interior cabin on the Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas ranges from 140 to 149-square-feet, while Carnival's Pride interior rooms measure 185-square-feet. 
  • Ocean-view room: For the most part, ocean-view rooms tend to be the same size as interior rooms, the only difference being the outside view. However, on certain ships, ocean-view rooms are slightly larger than interiors rooms. For example, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas ocean-view rooms are 179-square-feet. 
  • Balcony room: Balcony cabins are very similar to ocean-view rooms but they have a private, furnished veranda. The additional outside space usually adds about 50 to 80-square-feet to the room. 
  • Suite: After the balcony option comes the biggest (and most expensive) option of them all: the suite. A suite typically comes with separate living and sleeping areas and can range from anywhere to 300 to a little over 1,200-square-feet. Each ship offers different levels of suites. For example, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas' junior suite starts at 317-square-feet with a 101-square-feet balcony, while their largest, the presidential family suite, is 1,215-square-feet with a 810-square-feet balcony. 

Which deck is the best?

There's no bad deck to stay on during the duration of the trip. Just keep a few things in mind when picking a room, depending on your own preferences and needs. For example, if seasickness is an issue, the best decks for more stability and less ship movement are the lower levels.

The higher the deck, the closer to pools, bars, and other popular and crowded areas, so if you're sensitive to noise, try to stay away from the top decks.

Other considerations

Noise levels: Rooms on the lower levels may be subject to noise for various reasons: those on the lower levels near the front of the ship may be noisier due to the bow thrusters, while those in the back of the ship will be impacted by engine vibration. Cabins in the middle of the ship aren't soundproof either, but may still be impacted by other passengers' movements and conversation.

Adults only: Adult travelers looking for some relaxation and quiet on family-friendly cruises should search out the areas dedicated for adults-only. Princess Cruise Lines offers "The Sanctuary," an adults-only sundeck. However, this comes with a price from $20 to $60 per person, depending on the destination. Carnival has a "Serenity" area that is free of charge for passengers 21 and up. Meanwhile, Disney's Fantasy ship offers the "Satellite Sun Deck" that features a quiet pool and bar for passengers 18 and older.

No ironing: Keep in mind that clothes irons are not allowed on ships as they are considered a fire hazard. As an alternative, pack wrinkle-release spray to freshen clothing.